NOTES FROM A SOCIAL SCIENTIST
By Dr. Haider Mehdi
A profound proverb in the Punjabi language on understanding human behavior is as follows: 'Kah kawah dey the prah prahwah dey.' The meaning is quite simple: Folks of the same breed always stick together. But an in depth comprehension of this saying provides a wealth of wisdom on how people behave, why they do what they do, the importance of genetic script, the impact of social-psychological-environmental factors, the attributes of the human mindset and an explanation of how intrinsic habits serve as barriers in attitude change. Another similar saying is: Chor chorion javay herion perion to na javay. A thief may stop stealing but can never overcome the compulsive habit of indulging in small deceit. A simpler interpretation is: A conman will always be a conman – no matter what. Quite true and logically understandable.
In Pakistan’s traditional political culture and set-up, to which the PPP’s and PML-N’s incumbent leaderships belong, the compulsive attitude of sticking to outdated political norms and practices continue. Both leaderships are right-wing, both temperamentally and ideologically, and basically adhere to the politics of political status-quo in the country. Both are excessively rhetorical in their approach to political management. Both have failed in economic planning. Both have been unable to mobilize the masses for an economic resurgence and a wider and effective participation of the people in democratic processes. Both are lacking in giving self-reliance programs to the nation. Both have been completely unsuccessful in ending poverty, illiteracy and common deprivations. Both have made little or no progress in resolving intra-province conflicts. Both have mismanaged national security and the internal law and order situation in the country. Both leaderships are totally and strategically committed to American-centric foreign policy, and Pakistan’s global diplomacy has suffered repeated set-backs under their respective watches. Both have subjected Pakistan to massive debts by borrowing from the IMF and The World Bank and other international financial institutions, thereby relegating the country’s domestic economic and foreign policy to continuous external intervention.
The dilemmas of PPP and PML-N politics are even more alarming at another level: both the leaderships are family-based and increasingly ancestral-focused: both have been accused of and charged with massive corruption and amassing tremendous wealth at the nation’s expense. Both have assets, property and business interests in foreign countries. And the leaderships of both the parties have been dismissed in the past from the highest political office of the country on charges of incompetence, corruption and inefficiency.
Isn’t this lengthy charge-sheet of corruption and incompetence enough to make the PPP and PLM-N leaderships politically redundant in the future politics of the nation? Whether these charges are factual or not is beside the point – the reality is that it is the overall public perception of both the parties. Isn’t the dismal political-economic performance of the PPP and PML-N, present and past, in itself, an indictment against their leaderships. On top of that, the PPP and PML-N’s 3 ½ year theatrics of so-called democratic reconciliation politics have kept a most inefficient, incompetent and corrupt regime at the helm of national affairs. Consequently, this has resulted in bringing the nation to the brink of ultimate political collapse. How long can this political charade continue?
The fact of the matter is that the PPP and PML-N leaderships and their modus operandi in politics is outdated, redundant and irrelevant to the present emerging political demands, realities and dynamics of the nation. In today’s Pakistan, a people’s revolution is brewing: a selfless nationalistic leadership committed to an economically viable welfare state, a democratic dispensation with a sense of purpose for the empowerment of people and bringing ordinary citizens into the mainstream of Pakistan’s politics is the only option that can save the country from impending disaster. Pakistan needs a new kind of politics, a renaissance in its political culture, a revolutionary transformation of its political leadership that the PPP and PML-N cannot and will not provide to the nation. There is a widespread demand for moral and ethical political discourse.
There are too many behavioral, ideological, conceptual, historical and politically fundamental errors that are common in the political conduct of both PPP and PML-N’s current leadership. All of these errors have worked contrary to the interests of the masses and cannot be reconciled with the future political demands of Pakistan. Although in recent weeks, the PML-N has been attacking the PPP leadership with unprecedented fury, with a show of street power and anti Zardari- Gilani public demonstrations, in prospect, the political agendas of both leaderships remain the same: 1) not to relinquish hold on future political power, 2) the continuation of the political status-quo in the power structure, 3) the perpetuation of right-wing economic policies, 4) the reliance on foreign investments and borrowing from international financial institutions as fundamentals of a national economic policy, 5) an American-centric foreign policy and a largely military-based strategic approach to conflict-resolution, and so on and so forth.
The problem is that both the PPP and PML-N leaderships are philosophically, ideologically, and conceptually incapable of offering anything new or of instigating fundamental change in Pakistan’s present political culture or in its traditional power structure. As the Punjabi proverb goes: “Folks of the same breed always stick together” – The Sharifs may challenge the Zardari-Gilianis and vice-versa, but the mutually-shared attitudinal approach to politics and Pakistan’s power structure makes them “folks of the same breed.” Given the frozen mindset of Pakistan’s contemporary ruling class, this compulsive political behavior cannot be altered easily, if at all.
What Pakistan requires today is a people’s powered political revolution, a fundamental transformation of its political culture and present power structure. The Pakistani people are demanding a “Brave New World” of multiple drastic changes in their lives and in their country. The fact of the matter is that the PPP and PML-N leaderships cannot deliver it – nor are they even capable of fully comprehending what the people want or deserve. Indeed, past history has proven it.
Both the PPP and PML-N leaderships are outdated, irrelevant, and politically spent – past their time! No question about it!