By Dr. Haider Mehdi
There is so much hoopla in Pakistan these days, orchestrated by both the ruling PPP and the main opposition party, the PML-N, about hard-earned democracy and saving it from some kind of assumed destruction that one ought to feel as if we have recovered a paradise lost. As if the golden age of democracy has dawned on this nation. As if we have ushered in an era of prosperity, of cleansing our socio-economic mess, of fulfilling our democratic rights, of attaining of our socio-cultural aspirations, of ending corruption and political vandalism, of a revolutionary transformation of our backward political culture, of becoming free from the curse of an American-centric foreign policy alliance, of independence from the clutches of international financial institutions, of release from dependence on US military aid and of the full restoration of our national sovereignty and dignity. That is, if one is convinced by the hoopla charade and deliberately disregards the reality of our actual socio-economic political existence.
The fact of the matter and the reality of our overall existence is that Pakistan and its people are in unbearable agony. Not only that – this country is also headed towards a suicidal political discourse – courtesy of its leadership, both the ruling junta and the main opposition party, the PML-N, in this dangerously ever-evolving and ever-expanding volatile state of national affairs.
Whereas this nation requires “out of the box” solutions to its predicaments and an urgency in resolving its problematics, the entire national political leadership is hell-bent on preserving the status quo which, in the first place, has been the causal factor in the strategic misconceptualization and political mismanagement of the contemporary democratic dispensation in the country. Except for Imran Khan of Tehrik-e-Insaf, who has been endlessly advocating mid-term elections as a legitimate democratic process and the appropriate political discourse to stop the free-fall of this country into an ultimate political abyss, the rest of the entire political leadership has been conducting theatrics and behind the scenes manipulations to play dirty politics with this nation.
The questions that every Pakistani has on the tip of the tongue are: Will the PML-N leadership, the Sharif brothers, play their legitimate democratic role and lead a people’s revolution? Will the PML-N, as the second most popular (as it claims) organized political party mobilize the masses towards the democratization of this nation’s backward political culture?
Does the PML-N leadership understand that without a revolutionary transformation in Pakistan’s political culture, our so-called democracy will not survive? Is Mian Sahib and his party prepared to take a pro-active role and participate in a truly people’s democratic revolution in Pakistan? (Democracy without pursuing public welfare is a sham.) Will the PML-N leadership lead a public revolutionary campaign in Kalma Chowk in Lahore and call for a radical change in Pakistan’s politics – similar to what happened in Tahrir Square in Egypt? Has the PML-N offered an alternative blueprint to the nation that will transform Pakistan from a purely have and have-not society into an equitable socially and economically integrated community? Is the PML-N ready and willing to pursue a non-US-centric foreign policy? And how does it propose to disengage Pakistan from this most problematic alliance?
Let me be blatantly honest here: We must disregard Mian Shabaz Sharif’s recent threat to organize a long march against the drone attacks in Pakistan. Frankly speaking, it is a political ploy to gain time and a carefully crafted political strategic tactic to cultivate a nationalist image in the public eye for a leadership that hopes to come across as cognizant of the people’s sentiment. The rhetoric is purely for the masses’ consumption. An act of political defiance such as a long march against drone attacks is outside the political capabilities of the PML-N leadership. This call is the paper tiger’s helpless roar of its own inherent limitations. There are no political moralists within the ranks of the PML-N leadership, neither are there any insightful visionaries who could appreciate the need for a radical transformation of Pakistan’s political structure, nor is there anyone who could be prepared for the massive personal sacrifices that will ensue with such a political discourse. A nation like Pakistan can only be built by political-moral “saints” – and we haven’t got any – not within the genre of PLM-N leadership. Period. Let the realism of our political poverty be realized and acknowledged candidly and openly.
So, where does the political realism of our reactionary, recalcitrant, diehard and permanently agitated existence lead us? We are a sick society – solely by virtue of our successive leaderships, and unfortunately there seems no end in sight to our misfortunes at the hands of our contemporary leaders. They are not prepared to depart from the political landscape of this nation nor are they willing to enact a political discourse of revolutionary transformation. Neither are they capable of reformation from within – the intrinsic nature of their political evolution, expansion, subsistence, and personalized entity forbids such a course of development to take place. Pakistan is at a dead-end; it is at the crossroads struggling for its survival – and the present leadership has no clue as to how close we have come to our ultimate annihilation as a nation. The PPP and the PML-N have settled for preserving the political status quo – no matter what it costs the nation. That is how they remain fully entrenched at the helm of national affairs and in absolute control of the present political system – while Pakistan burns.
Balochistan is about to explode – and yet there have been no political settlements aimed at its predicaments, nor has there been an end to the savagery that its people have been subjected to. Drone attacks in the north have practically turned the entire area into a mortuary and hapless orphanage – and yet our leaders continue to own a foreign military occupation as our own war. Poverty, death and destruction loom all over the nation – and our so-called leaders revel in the lap of such luxury only compared to ancient royalty. Self-reliance, indigenous industrial growth and socio-economic development are at an absolute standstill, and yet our leaders brag about the so-called democratic “panacea” we have attained. We are stuck with a pandemic US centric foreign policy, and yet our leadership claims that we are completely independent in our global engagements and international conduct.
Our foreign debts are mounting – and yet our leadership is completely oblivious to the consequences that will decimate our future. We have become slaves to the dictates of international financial institutions to the extent that our domestic economy is completely subjected to IMF and World Bank’s instructions – and yet our leaders are fully satisfied with this kind of oppressive and destructive fiscal management.
Our roads, schools, hospitals and the entire national infra-structure and national institutions are in gradual collapse – and yet our leadership seeks no urgent remedies to redress these vitally important national crises. While the Muslim world, in its entirety, is moving towards people’s democratic revolutions, Pakistan’s present political leadership is steadfastly promoting neo-conservative, reactionary, semi-democratic political capitalism at home and is in cahoots with the imperialist US-West global anti-people democratic movements. We have become baggage carriers of the US-Western powers’ corporate interests. And the irony is that it can get even worse.
The PPP and the PML-N hoopla about saving the hard-won so-called democracy will continue. And so will the brutal reality of our savage existence – and the ultimate abyss of our nationhood.
The hoopla and the reality of our existence are at the apex of their contradictions – Pakistan is at the crossroads!!
A change in ruling elites and system of governance ought to be the goal of the people’s anticipated revolution in Pakistan. Nothing less will save Pakistan from its hoopla-infected present political culture.
That, in some, is the nature of our political reality!!
Let us have an all-Pakistan Tahrir Square –style revolution at Kalma Chowk in Lahore or, even better, on Constitutional Avenue in Islamabad!!