NOTES FROM A SOCIAL SCIENTIST

“Do whatever you desire. If you are caught in an inappropriate act, deny it. Lying consistently and with a straight face will turn a lie into truth eventually. You will be surprised that you yourself will come to believe your lie as truth.  It is the magic of human untruthfulness.”                                                                                                             -a media guru’s edict

By Dr. Haider Mehdi

Scandals abound in today’s democratic Pakistan: The NRO scandal, the mother of all scandals. Financial scandals of unprecedented and unheard of proportions.  Political scandals of the nature that are unimaginable in any civilized society of the 21st century. Constitutional scandals that baffle one’s mind and constitutional amendments that deliver nothing to common citizens. Scandals of unethical and immoral turpitude. Scandals of governance. Scandals of extreme nepotism. Foreign policy scandals. Foreign aid scandals.  IMF scandals. The Raymond Davis scandal. Scandals of drone attacks. Scandals of CIA operatives doing free and open “wheeling and dealing” all over the country. The scandal of 4000 visas issued in a day by Pakistan’s foreign ambassador in Washington. The scandal of missing containers loaded with arms and ammunition from the country’s ports and ground transportation routes. US-NATO supplies scandals. Faked killing of Bin Ladden in Abbottabad scandal. The  President’s approval of the US SEALS attack on Pakistan’s territory in a military garrison town scandal. The “Memogate” scandal. The “Mehran Bank” Scandal. The “Wahida Shah Thapper (slap)” scandal. The bogus voters scandal. Name any humanly imaginable scandal and democratic Pakistan has it. And now the mother of the comedy of errors “I am not a Peon” scandal. Welcome to an age of utter political insanity, vulgar and imprudent audacity in the so-called democratic Pakistan.

Behavioral and social scientists who study the relationship between “actions” and their “reactions” claim that it is entirely possible to control “reactions” in human conduct by a careful, controlled and meticulously planned organization of ideas. Hence, it is politically manageable to deliberately stage “scandals” with the explicit objective to manipulate public opinion and alter public perceptions. The questions are: Was the incumbent Prime Minister in Bahawalpur attempting to do exactly what the behavioral scientists and media gurus call “scandalizing public opinions”? Was the PM trying to provoke the Supreme Court judges to seek a response that could give him the kind of political “Shahadat” that the PPP has been hoping for its defiant leader? Was the PM simply foolish – after all, who in their proper mind could make an argument that a Supreme Court judgment would undermine the country’s constitution? Is the PM so naïve as to believe that his blatant disrespect for the Supreme Court and failure to carry out his constitutional duty to execute a Supreme Court decision would make him a national hero? Does the PM consider party loyalty above loyalty to the nation? Has the PM assumed that this nation of 188 million can be satisfied and politically managed by provocative rhetoric, linguistic and sloganistic vandalism? Has the PM lost sight of and the appreciation for the dignity of the high office that he occupies and that demands precision and refinement in thought processes as well as the use of polished language in public communication in addressing national issues at national forums? Whatever the case, the Prime Minister’s Bahawalpur’s public address has been an utter disappointment, a failure in public diplomacy and hitherto the ultimate mother of all scandals.

In my considered political judgment, I find the PM’s recent speech of “I am not a Peon” as the most imprudent of all scandals. It is because this is the kind of public address that indicates the political mentality, the determined, cognitively conceived “mindset,” of a selective group of political elite that consider themselves above the law of the nation, not obligated to observe the limitations of respectable conduct towards national institutions, and deem themselves completely and totally beyond respecting the norms of democratic conventions and democratic values cherished all over the world. It is seeing and analyzing them though this perspective that we, as a nation, can come to understand why a horrifying political compromise amongst several ruling and non-ruling actors, such as with the NRO, could be reached and implemented in this country.

No less important is to comprehend the socio-political-economic-cultural consequences of the foreign-brokered NRO. It resulted in an externally patronized and manipulated democracy imposed on this nation. As a consequence, a political leadership of inefficient, corrupt and incompetent national political managers took over the affairs of state that has brought the country to the verge of an economic-political collapse and the ultimate scandal of “I am not a Peon.”

It was the colonial British Raj that used the term “peon”: the impoverished native folks who served their masters with unrelenting obedience to make a living. After all, “peons” are also human beings – indeed, less fortunate than some guddi-nashins (people who inherit religious-political power from ancestors) – and these are the people who work hard to make an honest living and support their families. The Pakistani Prime Minister, one hopes, is cognizant of the fact that “peons” once belonged to the most socially underprivileged and financially poor segments of the society – a condition that the majority of poverty stricken population face in today’s Pakistan under the PPP incumbent government of no less than Yousuf Raza Gilani. Then why has the PM used the analogy of a “peon” for himself?

The PM claims himself to be the most powerful and longest serving Executive Head in Pakistan’s history. Does he consider himself a “British Raj Sahib” above and beyond all laws and institutions of the country as ruler of a nation of “peons?”   Does he feel insulted to consider that his personal purgatives of governance and personal interpretations of laws have been questioned?  Does he feel he has been personally affronted by the Supreme Court order to carry out a decision in the national interest?  I believe only the PM can respond to this and he should be asked to explain himself to the nation – reminding the PM that Pakistan is a democracy now – or is it not? Noam Chomsky, in a recent article on ruling elites political behavior, observed: “(it is a) familiar ruling class perception that anything short of total control amounts to total disaster.”

Whereas, today’s democratic Pakistan should have experienced socio-economic miracles, marvelous political advancements and cultural renaissance, the incumbent PPP regime and its allies have pushed the nation into unprecedented poverty, daily deprivations, unheard of levels of unemployment, unimaginable internal and external problematics and a million scandals of all kinds.

And the latest national scandal is that the serving Prime Minister of Pakistan says that he would consider himself to be a “peon” if he is asked to carry out a decision of the Supreme Court which is in the national interest and in accordance with the role and obligations of the office of Prime Minister under Pakistan’s constitution.

Mind boggling, isn’t it? And yet, some claim “democracy” is saved in Pakistan.

Indeed, media “gurus” are having a field day! Aren’t they? 

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