"To cleanse the society, the austerity must start from the top; also as a society do not extend any respect to the corrupt." Raja Mujtaba
By Dr. Haider Mehdi
Even in the politically diehard, neurosis-stricken and paranoid America, TV talk show hosts, satirists and comedians are poking fun at the nation’s ill-tempered politics. Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, two of the most celebrated satirists in the US, drew tens of thousands of people at a “Sanity Rally” in Washington DC in an act of political activism to express the growing dissatisfaction of the politically disenchanted. Interestingly and symbolically, many protesters dressed-up as bananas, wizards, Martians and Uncle Sam – while others carried blatant protest signs. “We live now in hard times,” Stewart said at the end of the rally, “Not end times.”
Pakistan too “lives now in hard times”— gradually but surely being pushed into “end times” and into being a “banana republic” by a political regime in Islamabad gone “bananas” as a “protégé” of Uncle Sam and its subservient global financial institutions.
Today’s Pakistan is a country that is run purely on the dictates of Washington DC and other European capitals. We are not an independent country anymore (if we ever were) – we are the hired assassins killing our own people literally – politically, economically and sociologically leading the masses to a slow agonizing and distressed existence almost to the verge of total desperation, hopelessness, chaos and an ultimate collapse. The “Emperor” and his “clan” are “naked” in Islamabad – Pakistan is in a grip of political insanity at the hands of its own elected political dispensation.
Aren’t there any politically disenchanted people in Pakistan anymore? This is worse than Musharraf’s era of political darkness and national betrayal – the incumbent regime has gone totally radar-less; it has lost its bearings, if it had any to begin with.
Why not a “Sanity Rally” in Islamabad to demonstrate that we have had enough of this regime’s “insanity” and will not take it anymore? Where are the champions of parliamentary democracy? Why don’t they mobilize the masses? Why don’t they cry foul? Where is the political will and compassion to serve the public interests and welfare?
The government has increased the price of petroleum products yet another 9% to further cripple the economy, a 2% increase in electricity tariff is in the offing, inflation and fiscal management are out of control, education is run by managers and entrepreneurs rather than educationalists, corruption is rampant, prices of daily consumables are sky-rocketing, poverty is increasing rapidly, unemployment is unprecedented and growing socio-economic class segregation is the only accomplishment of this regime.
The President and his accomplices, Pirs from Multan, are making a mess of Pakistan’s foreign policy: There were 21 drone attacks in September in North Waziristan, nearly double the previous month, and at least 20 such attacks took place in October. According to the Pakistan military’s estimates, 2421 army and paramilitary soldiers have been killed and 7195 wounded so far since the mindless so-called “war on terror” began, and more than 3740 people have been killed in suicide attacks and bombings. Civilian causalities including displaced persons due to military operations are countless: the collateral damage, the psychological scars, the inflicted psychological pain, agony and resentment because of the loss of near and dear ones cannot be quantitatively measured. And all of this misguided political mismanagement is at the behest of the US and its allies whose long-term strategic global objectives remain diametrically opposed to the overall political-economic-military interests of this country. And yet the “Masters” of Islamabad’s political spectacle of an anti-nationalist megalomania, born out of the US-West European patronage in the shape of the present oligarchic regime, seems not fully satisfied and continues the mantra of “do more” –or else threats that the dollar influx will dry up and direct unilateral military intervention inside Pakistan come our way. Imagine how much is at stake for the territorial and sovereign integrity of this nation!
Why do we need this political dispensation in Islamabad? What has it accomplished for this nation and its people? Why should it be allowed to retain political power?
This is the end of the first decade of the 21st century. It is time when many nations in Latin and South America and other parts of the world are experiencing political maturity, pushing forward progressive economic and political agendas, seeking independence in domestic and foreign policies, experimenting with self-reliance, asserting their nationalist identities, acting with profound confidence in their political conduct to reassert national sovereignty and the tenacity of their national dignity.
Take for example, China, India and Iran, our immediate neighbors, Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela in South and Central America and scores of other countries throughout the world. Fundamental themes run through all of these “reborn” transformed nations. First, there is a realization that an absolute dependence on the US-West’s model of political-economic development is outdated. Secondly, a resurgent and resilient political leadership has emerged from within the masses (Bolivia, Brazil, China, Iran and India, as opposed to right-wing elitist military-civilian regimes in Pakistan). Thirdly, there is a determined willingness and resolve on the part of these nations to adopt alternative models of development and modernity that are geared to uplift the economic-political conditions of the masses. In the majority of these cases, many nations have delinked their domestic and foreign policies from the US-West’s authoritarian capitalism and hegemonic global agendas. These nations have liberated themselves from the yoke of US-Western imperialistic conduct and are in the process of shaping a new world order based on the equality of all nations – a task that has been set in process but may take many years to be completed.
Consider Brazil’s president Lula da Silva, a former union leader and shoeshine boy: “He maintains an 80 percent approval rating and has a rabid following among the nation’s poor… Silva’s generous social programs have helped pull 20 million people out of poverty and thrust another 25 million into the middle class since he took office in 2003.”
China has become a world power (China and Pakistan gained independence about the same time 6 decades ago) and a center of global commerce, innovative industrialization and technology, with massive public welfare programs, and an unprecedented rise in nation-building in human history. Indeed, this could not have been possible without espousing alternative models of modernity and development: China’s real power is not its economic might – its real strength is its people and the prosperity that has been attained within a relatively short time.
Unfortunately, India has now partnered with the US-West’s global strategic goals, abandoning its historical non-aligned status – the consequences will be further deprivations of its already massively poverty-stricken masses. The US-Western model of capitalism and development cannot function without an implicit linkage to domestic political-economic dynamics and cannot flourish without exploitation at the expense of someone – that someone will have to be the Indian masses – only time will tell.
It is tragic that at a time when other nations in the Third World are forging ahead with innovative strategies of political-economic-social models of development, Pakistan remains a docile, non-progressive, backwards, non-innovative, time-stuck nation embroiled within a reactionary, out- dated, ideological alliance with the US-West that negatively impinges on the socio-economic-political structure of this nation. It is not a coincidence that the sociological and economic segregation of Pakistan’s society, resulting in the widening of gaps between the haves and have-nots, has expanded explosively during all these years. It is the direct result of Pakistan’s permanent state of subservience, its foreign-policy and its unending one-dimensional relationship with the US and its allies. It is precisely because of the nature of this “special relationship” that has bred an aid-infected, global financial institution-supported economy (marginalizing the national self-reliance concept) and bestial, inefficient, incompetent military-civilian dictatorships, time and again. The point is that the “Saint President” and the “Pirs” from Multan and their “clan” are incapable of comprehending what it means to be the people’s “leader”. Still worse, is the fact that they cannot even appreciate the vital necessity of a “People’s Leadership” in a country like Pakistan.
We are in a dismal state of affairs…!
It’s time for a “Sanity Rally” in Islamabad!
The writer: a professor, political analyst, conflict resolution expert