By Dr. Haider Mehdi
The common usage of the word “doomed” is meant to convey a state of an approaching destruction, death, and extinction. But the word can also be applied in an alternative meaning: to a terminally ill patient experiencing excruciating and agonizing pain, the approaching death or “doom” may, in fact, be a liberation. So, it is the painful, agonizing, and torturing existence that in essence is a “doomsday” scenario for those destined to a tragic fate.
Keep the alternative meaning and the above-mentioned definition of the word “doomed” in mind and ask the following question: Is Pakistan doomed? The simple and straight answer is “Yes!” The excruciating and agonizing existence of the majority of this nation’s citizens is not less than a “doomsday” scenario. We are already “doomed.” We are already sentenced and condemned to a tragic fate of existence. What else could “doom” be for the people of this nation?
Consider the following to make an educated and rational judgment on the issue: Asif Raza and his brother were killed days apart in the same manner: gunned down on the streets of Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi. Or consider what happened late last month: “Basti Shahdan, Rahim Yar Khan: A mother along with her 3 children aged 1,3 and 7 committed suicide by hurling herself and the 3 children onto a rail track… Body pieces were scattered all around. The main cause cited for the incident is poverty.”
Suicides, killings, and deprivations have become a way of life in today’s Pakistan under the so-called democratic dispensation of the incumbent PPP government and main opposition party the PML(N). The PML(N) leadership claims that its partnership and the “friendly opposition” with the ruling party is aimed at saving the “System.” One might ask the PML(N) leaders: What “System” are you striving to save when Pakistan is falling apart? When each and every democratic norm is being violated? When lawlessness has become the “law of the land?” When starvation, hunger, and death is the “fate accompli” of the majority of the people of this unfortunate country? When there is no electricity, water, food, education, or health available to the majority of people?
Mian Nawaz Sharif, let me ask you once again: As the leader of the main opposition party in a parliamentary form of government, what “System” are you protecting and why?
It would be instructive to remind the PML(N) leadership that in a parliamentary form of a democratically structured government, the ruling party stays in political power only as long as it performs the affairs of the state with efficiency and to the satisfaction of the majority of people. When the ruling party fails in the management of the states’ affairs, it must resign; there is no absolute condition that it must hold tenure for a specified period of time (as the PPP claims that it is elected for 5 years). It is the job of the “opposition” in the parliament to pull the rug from under, when the ruling party fails in its public mandate.
Let me ask Mian Nawaz Sharif once again: Don’t you ascertain a “doomsday” scenario descending over this nation under the incumbent PPP leadership? Don’t you feel the political decline, the approaching abyss, the utter national mismanagement that this unfortunate nation is going through under the present political regime? I am emotionally, intellectually and politically tempted to ask the same question again: What “System” is the PML(N) protecting? Why? And when is the PML(N) leadership going to honor its own public mandate as the main “opposition” party in a democratic set-up? Or has the PML(N) surrendered its legitimate and strategic role as the “opposition” democratic force because of some secretive concealed aims and personal interests of its top leadership? The Pakistani masses would like to have the PML(N) leadership answer these questions. Indeed, the political “doom” of this nation is very much in sight, isn’t it?
US drones are raining lethal terror on this country’s innocent citizens, organized violence has been unleashed against this nation by covert means, a determined enemy is manipulating the politics of this country by every possible manner, a so-called “war on terrorism” is the pretext to interfere and is being used for blatant foreign intervention in the political affairs of this country. And yet Mian Nawaz Sharif claims that his party is protecting the democratic “System.” How ironic!
This nation’s culture, history, faith, values, economy, socio-psychological structure, constitutional and legal institutions, national unity and even the geographical existence is under threat in the present political leadership of the PPP regime. And yet, Mian Nawaz Sharif, de facto Leader of the “opposition” says that PML(N) is protecting the “System,” so that democracy might not derail in Pakistan. The “doomsday” looming over Pakistan is not only the work of the incumbent government in Islamabad. The PPP has partners in its failed political, economic, foreign, and domestic policies, as well as its mismanagement of development planning and governance affairs. These partners are the opposition parties, most specifically the PML(N).
The management of politics by distracting, diversionary and evasive strategies is the “modus-operandi” of the Zardari- Gilani regime. Instead of the resolution of the most pressing national issues and problematics, the incumbent PPP top leadership is hell-bent on prolonging its ineffective, mismanaged and alarmingly undemocratic political existence by doling out money to collaborators, bribing voters and mutilating national institutions. Bar Councils are being funded to create dissidents amongst the Lawyers Movement, TV talk shows critical of government policies are being taken off the air covertly, journalists are being bought, critics are being paid and silenced, institutional corruption is being endorsed, constitutional norms are being violated, the Supreme Court’s judgments are being set aside and every national institution is being tampered with one way or the other.
This nation is being blasted into oblivion by media blitzes, emotional symbolism, political slogans, flag waving, temperamental presidential and prime-ministerial speeches, rhetorical excesses and excessive use of images of Benazir and Z.A. Bhutto delivering fiery speeches. The point is that all of this massively mismanaged political discourse offers no remedies to the aliments of the masses and their unfortunate tragic existence – akin to a “doomsday” scenario.
A recent episode in print-media illustrates the problem-distracting and issue-diverting approach applied by the incumbent PPP regime overseas, where a large Pakistani population resides. This past Saturday (July 3rd) a leading English daily newspaper in the UAE printed the following headlines on the front page: “On verge of extinction.” The headline was followed by a colored 11 x 6.5 inch picture of a young child with a full 2-page spread of 14 colored pictures of the Kalash tribe of mountainous Pakistan, believed to be on the verge of extinction by the Chief Reporter and photographer of the said English daily. Mind it, this glaring bold front page headline and quarter-page photo appeared the day after the colossal tragedy of the bombings at the Data Darbar shrine in Lahore. But the news of the calamity did not make the front page headline – the Kalash photo did. One wonders why the “Kalash” story was so important. Another story that could have made the headlines, considering worldwide football-mania, was the fact that Netherlands beat 5-time champion Brazil in a match the previous day. Interestingly, that news didn’t make the front page headline either. But the Kalash story did.
It is not a coincidence that the Chief Reporter and author of the “Kalash” story is a Pakistani national who was inducted as the President of the newly formed Pakistan Journalist Forum, U.A.E., only a couple of days earlier under the direct patronage and personal presence of Pakistan’s Information Minister. Do you see the connection? Do you follow the link to the diversionary tactics of real issues by the PPP regime? Do you understand the incumbent regime’s agenda of its latest multi-pronged approach to political management?
I am back to my observation: What else is a “doomsday” scenario for a nation?
And I want to ask Mian Nawaz Sharif the same question again: What democratic “System” is the PML(N) protecting from derailing?
The nation wants your response, Mian Nawaz Sharif!!
The writer is an academic, political analyst and conflict-resolution expert.