By Dr. Haider Mehdi
– Hazaroh khwaihishay aisi kay har khwahish pay dum niklay
– Bahot niklay mere arman lekin phir be kum niklay
– Nikalna khuld say Adam ka suntai ayai hain lekin
– Bahot be-ab-roo ho kir teray koochay say hum niklay
There are a thousand such desires that each would require an entire lifetime; Many of my wishes have been gratified but even those were too few.
We have always heard of Adam leaving (being made to leave) the primal paradise, but
I was much disgraced when I left (was made to leave) your abode.
Ghalib, translated by William Stafford
For Zardari-Gillani and their “cheerleaders,” the time has come to go – paradise is lost. They must quit now, not only because they have plundered paradise, but for the more important reason that this land of their forefathers cannot afford to gratify any more of their thousands of unfulfilled desires. Enough is enough: They have already driven this nation to despondency and desperation.
Pakistan, under the incumbent PPP regime, lays mismanaged and impotent, shattered and devastated, with a crippled economy: feelings of hopelessness, anger, frustration, helplessness, vulnerability, defenselessness, and bitterness at smashed lives, destroyed dwellings, and crushed hopes are widespread. And yet, the present leadership claims that democracy is working at its best– as if “democracy” is a stagnant lifeless concept that ends and fulfills all of its inventive energy and tenacity with the process of voting a parliament, prime minister, and a president into political power. Little does this leadership know that “democracy” is a vibrant, reverberating, resounding, active, ingenious, imaginative and versatile reflection of resilient political phenomena whose assets are ingenuity and expedient resourcefulness to resolve and respond to public aspirations. The Zardari-Gillani administration has done nothing of the kind.
Imagine Islamabad’s feeble reaction, abject resignation and contemptuous negligence of the devastations of recent summer floods: 100,000 square kilometers have been ravaged and 20 million Pakistani citizens have been directly affected. Islamabad should have established a full-fledged National Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Secretariat on war footing to rebuild people’s lives and livelihoods. Instead, the democratic government of Zardari-Gillani has deserted the flood victims to their own fate of destitution and suffering. “The government is currently distributing $230 to each household, but that is woefully inadequate,” wrote The Economist recently. International donors, aid agencies, NGOs and even Pakistanis themselves, in and out of the country, are unwilling to contribute to the government relief fund raising efforts fearful that the money will be embezzled by the incumbent corrupt political administration. Such is the level of the loss of credibility in the Zardari-Gillani leadership. Disarray of the financial management of relief funds is written all over the administrative landscape as the “UN agencies, Western governments, and non-governmental organizations are duplicating efforts and eating up big chunks of aid money in administrative costs.” In Punjab, a bafflingly low amount of $2 for each person affected is being provided. Pakistani democracy is seized into absolute helplessness by a mismanaged, corrupt and tarnished political leadership.
Institutional confrontation, the favorite creed of the Zardari-Gillani leadership, is at the height of temperamental conduct: The President has turned down the Army Chief’s request to fire controversial and corrupt elements in the administration and has vowed to keep his trusted lieutenants serving in spite of massive public disapproval. The Supreme Court’s decisions on several essential national issues, such as the NRO, have not been carried out yet. The democratic importance of the opposition in the parliament is being minimized by administrative and political manipulations. The process of democratic governance has been held hostage by the incumbent regime in Islamabad and has virtually come to a total standstill.
Zardari “is in a confrontational mood,” warned The Economist last week “believing, apparently, that he will benefit whether he survives or is thrown out, since in the latter event he would win kudos as a political martyr and improve the chances of his Pakistan Peoples Party whenever the next vote is held.” It is amazing and ironic that a democratically elected president of this country, even at a time of unprecedented national crisis, is hell bent on the future continuation of a dynastic rule, to be politically propelled on a symbolic martyrdom syndrome rather than serve the country to the best of his abilities and win mass approval, admiration and a future place in the political landscape of this nation. Indeed, it is an indication that the President, holed up in the egocentric narrowness of the political vision of self interest, self aggrandizement and dynastic megalomania, is absolutely unaware of what democracy is all about. It is a fearful and agonizing experience for the nation to have to deal with such political leadership – it is as if Pakistan is back in 16th century politics.
On global politics and foreign policy fronts, things are further deteriorating for Pakistan: NATO gunships have violated Pakistan’s territorial integrity by repeated incursions inside its borders and killing its defense personnel. US drone attacks have increased phenomenally – 21 drone attacks in the last month alone – killing innocent civilians and aggravating an already grave situation. Pakistan’s envoy in Washington has justified the increased US drone attacks, and the US President Barack Obama has said “…the cancer (meaning terrorism) is in Pakistan.” Pakistan has been labeled “the most dangerous place on the face of the earth.” Fabricated US-Western media blitzes and propaganda on suspected terrorist attacks in Western Europe emanating from Pakistan are the headlines these days. The threat of the Pakistani Taliban, in virtual political non-existence, is deliberately exaggerated by the US-West to create a political environment of fear and psychological warfare to justify their wars and the agenda of global dominance. Another diplomatic failure of the Zardari-Gillani regime is that the Pakistani ambassador at the UN has supported India’s membership bid to the Security Council, which obviously goes against the interest of Pakistan.
And yet, the Zardari-Gillani diplomatic response to all these events has not only been feeble, it is simply not adequately forthcoming. Indeed, how could Islamabad act even remotely independently and anger its masters in Washington, London and Paris?
Pakistan today, for its future survival, requires national independent policy-making, non-aligned diplomatic status with US-Western Europe, a total end to drone attacks on its territory, a final “no” to the so-called “war on terror,” efficient fiscal management, a political renaissance, and a visionary and imaginative nationalist political leadership that is credible, honest, independent and above personal, egocentric and dynastic megalomaniac dreams and narrowness. We need a political leadership that completely understands what “democracy” is all about – who comprehends the fundamental importance of the explicit ‘social-contract’ between the elected and the governed – that the former exist only to serve the latter. Period.
We now know that the last election over two years ago did not deliver and produce a truly democratic dispensation in the country. We now know that the incumbent regime has failed in honoring the “social contract” implicit in democratic governance. We now know the Zardari-Gillani leadership has failed “democracy” itself – it has, in fact, violated the very fundamental ethics of parliamentary democracy.
In fact, we should “make them leave – as we have always heard of Adam leaving the primal paradise…”
As Ghalib would say: Paradise is lost. It is time to leave!!!
The writer is an academic, political analyst and conflict-resolution expert. He is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.