Saturday, December 13, 2014

Crimes and the political alibi

“I am a politician; I cannot commit any crime; I am perfectly innocent!”

That is how, as we know at least in Pakistan, politicians argue. That manner of political self-defense clears the two-way traffic: criminals may become politicians; and, politicians may become criminals. Pakistanis have enough of both. And the breed is multiplying like rabbits. All the more, species belonging to other realms of social, economic, military, cultural, religious have started aping the politicians. They have learned the art of politics from them. That’s a hundred percent fool-proof method of overcoming any odds.

Also, that has rendered all the systems of accountability inefficacious. Why? Because, and it is awfully baffling that, all the systems of accountability are conceived, detailed and legislated by the criminal politicians or political criminals. Who can forget the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO)? And it is these politicians, tainted with criminality, who appoint the heads to these accountability systems, just like Chaudhry Qamar Zaman, has been appointed Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Just like the leader of the opposition party in the National Assembly, Khurshid Shah, has been made Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Such systems are a product of the political-criminal complex in Pakistan.

The latest episode from this complex unfolded a few days earlier when on May 29 an anti-corruption court issued non-bailable warrants for the arrest of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and Makhdoom Amin Fahim, former commerce minister and a member of Gillani’s cabinet. Both are senior leaders of Pakistan Peoples Party. Seven others include the list of the accused in this case which allegedly involves major irregularities of Rs.7 billion in granting freight subsidies to fake trading companies by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP). Previously both politicians were issued three notices to appear before the court. As the notices were ignored (note their arrogance!), then bailable warrants were issued. Now non-bailable warrants have been issued with hearing adjourned till June 17.

The same day the former prime minister issued a statement and said: no case in this country was completed without implicating him whether it was the case of OGRA, NICL, NRO, TDAP or Haj scam. He added: the beneficiaries of the NRO had been exonerated but he was still facing the music. His political alibi was worded thus: ‘He asked the government to avoid crossing the limits of victimization and unleash it to the extent they could also bear it tomorrow. They had no stomach to tolerate even the fraction of what was going on against him.’

No sooner this news item flashed than the political machinery of Peoples Party got switched on and statements started pouring in the newspapers and TV channels to beat the drum of political victimization. Very next day co-chairman of the PPP and former president Asif Ali Zardari ‘deplored the victimization of former prime ministers Yousaf Raza Gillani and Raja Pervez Ashraf and former federal minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim behind the façade of accountability as witch-hunting.’ He warned: ‘that bodes ill for the politics of tolerance, accommodation and reconciliation.’

This narrative of Political Victimization is very much typical and repeats itself on various occasions and for various personalities. Now it’s Asif Ali Zardari’s turn to mouth it: in his statement he pretended to be shocked while, according to him, the PPP was seeking to protect the democratic system through political reconciliation the government was chasing political opponents and thereby undermining the unity of political forces. His tirade is totally based on political alibi: he said that decisions in national policies whether in the rental power plants or subsidies or concessions in importing commodities were taken collectively and transparently by the cabinet in the light of objective realities and singling out the prime minister is patently wrong and smacks of political victimization. Also he found a poignant similarity between the hounding of Benazir Bhutto in late 1990s for the decisions jointly taken by the cabinet at the time and the chasing of Yousaf Raza Gillani, Raja Pervez Ashraf and Makhdoom Amin Fahim now for decisions taken by the cabinet. He advised the government to review its policies and stop witch-hunting and victimization of political opponents.

This narrative of political victimization amounts to this: all the decisions politicians make while they are in government, whether they prove to be good or bad, must be treated as unquestionable; since by dint of their electoral mandate they are innocent; and more than that by virtue of their being politicians and representing the people they cannot make any wrong decisions. In short, in their capacity of being politicians, they are infallible. And while they win elections, they place themselves beyond every norm, value, principle, and morality and law; thus, their infallibility perfects. Gillani’s and Zardari’s words quoted above are based on these presumptions. They may be termed as the Political Alibi.

Thus the political alibi claims the politicians must be considered and treated as beyond the law of the land. That means they are King, who used to be law unto himself. So they, the politicians of Pakistan, are law unto themselves. No need to try Yousaf Raza Gillani, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, or Asif Ali Zaradri for any wrong-doing; they are infallible; they are themselves law of this land.

Or otherwise, if this or any other government think of trying or tries them, their narrative by implication means to say that, they will not protect the democratic system; they will give up political reconciliation; and so on. In this sense, the political alibi conceals threats of undermining the system. Just as psychological alibis provide criminals with excuses for their crimes, such as harming others, or murders in the name of honor, etc; in the same way, politicians use the political alibis as excuses to hide their inefficiencies, incompetencies, corrupt and dishonest practices, scamming, nepotism, cronyism, and misappropriating the public exchequer.

Finally it may be reminded that the law of Pakistan provides for no such alibi to any one, be they politicians. That was why they took recourse to the NRO; otherwise, such a law would have come to their rescue. If any charge is made against any politician, he / she should present himself / herself in the court of law and prove his / her innocence. Political alibi is no way of proving ones innocence; it may prove the guilt, instead!

This article was carried by Pakistan Observer on June 5, 2014.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Depoliticization and its causes

What’s a depoliticized Pakistan; how is it different from a politically apathetic Pakistan; how is it damaging both for the society and its state; who does now represent it, such questions were discussed in A depoliticized Pakistan on the rampage. In the present piece, some other questions will be dwelt on such as: why doesn’t a depoliticized India or Bangladesh exist in India or Bangladesh, for example?  Why that’s so only with Pakistan? Why is Pakistan so fecund for such elements? What are the elements that feed milk and butter to a depoliticized Pakistan?

Since long it has been my contention that the main culprit for the backward Pakistan is Politicians. In this case also, the main culprit for a depoliticized Pakistan is again Politicians. The previous article argues that it is barren politics that among other things may have caused Political Apathy to take root. That’s natural. Decades of experience made people learn: ‘Politics, Sir, is a cow that will yield such people no more milk, and so they are gone to milk the bull.” (Samuel Johnson used Truth in the place of Politics!) Though sort of a “Development Politics” entered the political arena, but it could not change the political paradigm. In the midst of present Islamabad Dharna, one must have noticed the top leadership of the Pakistan Muslim League-N harping on its development projects in vain.

It’s no denying that Political Apathy contributed to the solidification of a depoliticized citizenry. Moreover, it is consecutive martial laws which banned political activities, curbed political liberties, surgically operated political parties, built up artificial political structures, and last but not least, destroyed an independent political culture. Whoever ventured in politics made it a point that in order to succeed he needs to be part and parcel of the so-called establishment! It was the most successful short-cut to power in Pakistan. That it inspired a depoliticized Pakistan to love no-politics is evident.

Despite the voluminous charge-sheet against the imposers of martial laws, it may be argued that no martial law did ever succeed without the complicity of politicians. Let the generals impose martial law, and let no political party come to their aid, you will see the generals running back to their barracks! It is politicians who partner with the generals and give them constitutional cover. It is like reprieving a murderer from the gallows. In response to an objection that politicians are an amorphous entity and thus are vulnerable to insinuations, one may retort that politicians are well-organized in political parties with a devout following, and may prove an invincible citadel if they plan to act so; however, they always choose the path of submission and subservience. In this sense martial laws did not create such conditions which proved conducive to the growth and spread of a depoliticized citizenry, but it is the political opportunism and political cowardice on the part of political parties which helped a depoliticized citizenry most in fortifying its depoliticized vision for Pakistan.

Also, it is political parties which did not create an independent political culture in Pakistan; they always let their trees grow in the lawns of in-service or retired generals. Practically they behave in a manner as if the source of power lies in the General Head Quarters (GHQ). It’s strange and at the same time perplexing that no political party ever seems to believe in the constitution which unequivocally declares power as residing with the people of Pakistan. They do vie for the people’s mandate but never abide by its implications. Once they come to power, they do not remain in contact with the people whose mandate makes them rule the same people. That does strengthen the depoliticized Pakistan.

Another factor is the same old refrain: political parties did not deliver, political parties do not deliver. That translates into a fact that politics do not deliver; so let it be passed, let it be part of the past. Surprisingly it is characteristic of a depoliticized Pakistan that it does not delve into the past; it focuses its eyes only on the future. It is in this sense that a depoliticized Pakistan discards all that is part of a political past; it lives in the future. This especially explains the politics of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf: Imran Khan and his followers have no inkling of Pakistan’s political past and they present the PTI as the first true political party of Pakistan, trashing all others. That’s not mere arrogance of an ignoramus; it is inherent in the politics of PTI that it’s the only true political force, whereas all other parties are just corrupt entities. That’s depoliticized Pakistan in action!

One more thing requires some elaboration as it is far more confusing. That’s about the number of people who participate in the PTI Dharnas, meetings and rallies, the latest one held in Rahim Yar Khan on Nov 9. Actually, numbers must not be mixed up with principles. Hitler had much following in Germany; but at the end of the day he was a fascist, who finally set out to conquer the world. Imran Khan has a substantial following of those sections of a depoliticized Pakistan which believe in political power legitimately belonging to them, and as their privileged right like divine right of the Kings of medieval world. It is fascism pure and simple. Imran Khan also wants to conquer the whole Pakistan, but what is characteristic of him and his politics and a depoliticized Pakistan also which he represents is his non-political politics, or his anti-political politics (a contradiction in terms). He seeks power in non-political ways.

As for India, there may be a depoliticized citizenry too weak to be noticed; it may be more vibrant in Bangladesh; but for the same reasons a depoliticized citizenry seems stronger and more damaging in Pakistan. It means it is not in martial laws (Bangladesh has had its share of which) that the rationale for a depoliticized citizenry may be found; it is in the quality of politicians that the process of depoliticization grows its stuff and substance. It is politicians themselves who depoliticized Pakistan, who fed it with milk and butter; now they are condemned to face the same depoliticized Pakistan! [Concluded]

First part of this article: A depoliticized Pakistan on the rampage

This article was carried by Pakistan Observer on November 20, 2014.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Pak polity – racing backwards

So to say, in about 70 years, the political gains Pakistan’s polity has been able to make are dismal! Pessimistically, it’s NOTHING! Optimistically, it’s merely the Constitution that itself came to be agreed upon about 25 years after the country’s emergence on the map of the world. That casts a heavy doubt on the credence of Pakistan’s polity. Politically speaking, things stand in the same mould now they stood on the first day. The final verdict on the quality of the Pak polity may thus be worded: The citizens still live at their own risk in a country which is consuming itself by its own pseudo-nationalist, religious, militarist rhetoric!

No wrangling, the fact is that no politician and no political party find the constitution and its provisions tolerable to their will and temperament; they trample them whenever they see any of it obstructing what they want to do or to achieve. Not only that, they make use of it against its spirit; amend it at their will; or suspend it whenever they do not need it; ignore it when it doesn’t serve their purpose; and validate any amendments stuffed into by the military dictators. To the Paki politicians, the constitution is like a toy!

The latest example in this regard is the ruling party’s attempt to weaken and tame the higher courts whose newly obtained sort of independence proves to be a thorn in their heart. One parliamentary committee is already busy formulating such proposals which may help cut the judicial panel down to size. No doubt, all the parliamentary parties will be on the same page to bring the judges back into their pockets. Hopefully, if the civil society organizations especially lawyers fail to stop this onslaught of politicians against the judiciary, once again there will emerge judges of compliant character inside the High Courts and Supreme Court. There is one more hurdle to it; it’s the Supreme Court itself, which may send back the amendment (thus passed) to the parliament for review, if it does not find sufficient grounds to annul the same.

Hence, one very important gain obtained by the citizens of Pakistan, i.e. sort of independent judiciary, which is in fact an essential part of the constitutional scheme for the country to run, is going to be lost to the politicians’ lust for absolute power. That speaks volumes about the state of the polity in Pakistan! That leaves no hope alive that the Paki politicians and political parties will ever learn one or two things. How unfortunate! After about 7 decades they are still intent upon running a country of more than 180 million citizens like a principality! Everything, be they moral or social values, or rules and laws, is like something they must break and trash in their Ashraafist vein. That’s their way!

In 2013, for the first time one civilian government completed its constitutional tenure, general elections were held and a new government sworn in. No doubt, it should be a matter of routine in a democracy, not something both notable and noticeable; however, given the Pakistan’s political history where no civilian government was allowed to rule for its full tenure, it’s a Herculean achievement. In the midst, another event of unprecedented magnitude and significance took place: a usurper general was brought to the court for the highest crime allegedly committed by him, i.e. of suspending the constitution of the country; the case is sub judice. Both of these happenings may be overlooked or underestimated in the heat of the moment; which otherwise must be reckoned as the steps forward, no matter how small, as far as political evolution of Pakistan is concerned.

It is in the above-discussed context that both Inquilabi and Azadi Dharnas which took the capital sort of hostage this August need to be seen and explained. Whatever both of these parties, i.e. Pakistan Awami Tehreek of Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf of Imran Khan, and their allies, in or out of the state, aim to achieve and for that to achieve whatever they do and are doing need to be weighed against the gain of political evolution for Pakistan. Will that especially what the PTI is aiming at help Pakistan’s polity to evolve or not? Or, will it push it backwards? That’s the crucial question which must be answered by all having any concern for Pakistan!

Although the PAT concluded its Inquilabi Dharna at the end of last month, it is still not out of the game; and no doubt it has declared its parting of ways from the PTI and Imran Khan, it may join the 30 November call of the PTI to stage another Dharna in Islamabad, and be back in the game. That’s the same politics like of which both have been playing in the month of August this year when they were planning their marches to move together and when they landed in the capital and played their tricks in unison, till the PAT left the capital late in October. Under the circumstances, it may be conjectured that they may join hands again. That means the race to the corridors of powers is intact, and that there is no doubt about it this struggle is non-political.

How this struggle for power fares vis-à-vis the political evolution of Pakistan is the real problem to be dealt with! In addition, regardless of the apprehensions of majority of political analysts about the sponsored nature of the PAT and PTI’s offensive struggle, it may be suggested that what is more important is not who is behind them but what impact they are having and may be having in future on the political evolution of Pakistan. As to this, the writer’s considered opinion goes like this: The way PAT and PTI are conducting their fight is certainly impacting the polity of Pakistan extremely negatively: first, it’s distracting and confounding the constitutionalities; and second, it’s presenting no competitive challenges to other political parties including the ruling ones in a positive sense to move forward, it’s detracting them instead. That’s pushing the Pak polity race backwards!

This article was carried by Pakistan Observer on November 27, 2014.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A depoliticized Pakistan on the rampage

The pivot of politics is always seeking power, so that a political party is able, so to say, to implement its program on the basis of which it wins voters’ mandate. That’s an ideal statement of an ideal polity! In reality it doesn’t happen like that. There are betrayals, treacheries, and opportunism on the part of political parties. There is perennial interference, for instance in the case of Pakistan, by the players who are external to the political realm but are always intent upon unleashing political instability and uncertainty in the country. Also, there are other elements different from both of the above, who now and then venture to seek power but in non-political ways. For such elements the society of Pakistan has always proved unimaginably fertile. That’s what may be termed a depoliticized Pakistan!

Let’s try to understand what it is that’s called being depoliticized! In Pakistan, everyone who has a bit of interest in politics knows well a term, Political Apathy, the usual use of which stopped probably after the Lawyers’ Movement (2007-09); though the Apathy still exists. Maybe because it’s that Movement that refreshed the interest of the people in the political affairs of the country! Prior to that, the term, Political Apathy, stood to mean people’s insensitiveness to matters political, and it was also argued that it was this factor which kept the voter turnout in Pakistan too low.

As far as causes of the Political Apathy are concerned, one is more important than others. First, regardless of the fact which party is in power, no civilian political government ever tried to deliver, so people became impervious to whatever was happening in the political arena. They turned to themselves and to their homes. Here it may be of interest to point out that with the introduction of “Development Politics” in the nineties, the credit of which goes to Pakistan Muslim League-N, the interest of the people in politics got a boost at least in Punjab. The Development Politics, however, did not succeed in changing the political paradigm; it’s too slow to make inroads. It’s in the general elections of May 2013 that the construction of Metro Bus Service may be said to have PML-N won the vote from Lahore.

Indeed, presently there is no talk of Political Apathy; but that doesn’t mean there is none, it is there. The voter turnout in the last elections is 55%. But the argument of the present writer does not base on the concept of Political Apathy. It lays its whole emphasis on the notion of a depoliticized citizenry of Pakistan. It may both be non-political and/or anti-political. The concept of Political Apathy is altogether different from the notion of a depoliticized citizenry. The Political Apathy is a reaction from the people to a fruitless and barren politics. It leaves politics on its own; it withdraws its interest from such politics. In contrast to that, a depoliticized citizenry is something very dangerous; simply because it overrides politics. It outdates politics; it predates politics. It does not lose its interest in politics; rather it is overwhelmingly interested in politics. However, it’s concept of politics is sort of unique. It’s sort of a supra-politics.

As in Political Apathy, people are least interested in what’s happening in the political realm; a depoliticized citizenry is most interested in whatever is happening and may happen both in the present and the future political realms. The overriding interest of a depoliticized citizenry is more fatal for a society and its state than the insensitivity of a politically apathetic citizenry. A depoliticized citizenry may destroy and dismantle whatever political culture a society enjoys and whatever political structure a state consists of and stands on. Since a politically apathetic citizenry has nothing to do with politics, it may damage it in an indirect manner; whereas a depoliticized citizenry positively and intentionally damages the polity of the country.

In a nutshell, a politically apathetic citizenry is indifferent to whoever seeks power and whoever comes in power, it knows it’s not going to change their fate. A depoliticized citizenry, as it is ardently and desperately interested in politics, does not believe in seeking power through political means; it derives its inspiration from an imagined future. It is in this sense, that it is said to be depoliticized. It is the essence of depoliticized elements, whatever their form is: they always seek power hungrily and seek it in non-political ways. As a matter of principle, political elements, their betrayals, treacheries, and opportunism aside, somehow come to believe in political ways while seeking political power. As against this, depoliticized elements are naked power seekers; they want power at any cost by any means. That’s their substance and hallmark as well.

One more explanation may help understand the nature of a depoliticized Pakistan the politics of which is being witnessed in the shape of Imran Khan (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf), Tahir-ul-Qadri (Pakistan Awami Tehreek), Chaudhry Shujat Hussain and Pervaiz Elahi (Pakistan Muslim League-Q), Sheikh Rashid Ahmad (Awami Muslim League). They are all seeking power in non-political ways, whatever their excuses and slogans are. In fact, it is all the martial laws which veritably nursed such power seekers. They crafted ever newer ways for non-political power seekers; and opened a whole new world for such non-political politicians. In addition, a constituency for such politics also emerged. That created a depoliticized Pakistan, which think and act non-politically. It derides politics. Some of the political parties learned a lesson or two not to seek power in non-political ways; but there is no dearth of newcomers and the old stalwarts who are still clinging to the old habits of seeking power. 

Imran Khan’s would have proved to be a promising party for the politically apathetic citizens also, had it gone for seeking power in a political manner. Unfortunately it has opted for an alignment with a depoliticized Pakistan, which believes in non-political ways only. Political problems require political solutions. Likewise, in seeking political power in non-political ways, one party may succeed, but in the process what damage it wreaks to the state and society it may never realize. Now it is PTI which represents a depoliticized Pakistan; it’s strengthening it also. It’s on the rampage to destroy a political Pakistan, it must come back to!  

This article was carried by Pakistan Observer on November 6, 2014.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Prosperity is here in Pakistan, Mr. PM!

Countries may be likened to individuals who are resourceless and in order to grow and progress need help from their near ones, dear ones or they borrow from a professional lender. That may be understood as the reality of setting-up a business for which capital is a sine qua non. Such attempts of likening countries with individuals appear quite promising, but are paradoxical. The case of Warren Buffet may be used, for instance, for Pakistan to follow. Is it so? Or it tears apart the likeness between both?

In the first place, individuals are individuals, and countries are countries. One cannot be both. In the second place, countries are political-legal entities wherein millions of individual human beings inhabit. Thus one man’s struggle may not be likened to the struggle of millions of individuals under a state. An individual may be resourceless or resourceful; he may borrow from his relatives to set-up a business, or from his friends or a professional lender or lender institutions. He may fail in his struggle, and then may join another successful business. Or he may come out as a successful business. Or when failing, he may have financial, practical, professional, or moral help extended to him by his relations or friends or well-wishers. Or he may continue with his business on a sustaining level and be happy with it. There are billions of real examples being lived, shaped and created by billions of real individuals. Against this, as far as countries’ examples are concerned, there may only be few ones, and those too turn out to be individuals’ efforts at making their countries adopt such policies which free their individual citizens to bring progress and prosperity.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, the first thing to see and realize is that Pakistan, or for that matter any other country, is a real place on this planet where millions of individuals full of life and urge to live live. Mr. PM, you cannot replace their individual plans with your plans for them from the above. Mr. PM, why don’t you look back and see your father struggling with a small business and finally transforming it into a big business empire? Did your father require a government or for that matter government of Pakistan to help him make progress? So unlike your father why do you think and act like a government which in your view brings progress and prosperity to the country? Mr. PM! It was your family business which brought progress and prosperity to Pakistan; not the government of Pakistan which brought progress to your family business!

The second thing to see and realize is that the sole task of a government is to let its individual citizens make their own plans and implement them in an environment of peace where their life and property enjoy complete protection. Such a government is not one which imposes itself from the above; it works among the citizens ensuring them security of their person and property and dispensation of justice as its foremost function. No doubt, in performing this function diligently such a government makes sure the citizens are free to enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms and no individual or groups or state itself are encroaching upon their personal freedoms.

However, altogether opposed to such thinking and approach, I see your government completely obsessed with foreign help/loans to bring prosperity to Pakistan. Mr. PM! I see it as a misleading economic philosophy. Rather it is the economic philosophy of Pakistan’s Riyasati Ashrafiya (State Aristocracy) and one of its two ingredients is: Prosperity comes down from the above, i.e. prosperity is a prerogative of Riyasati Ashrafiya which it allows to flow downward to its subjects. It means prosperity is brought by a country’s government. Its second ingredient sees prosperity as something imported from abroad. Certainly, it is too Ashraafist to see prosperity as something imported; at the same time it is quite natural for Riyasati Ashrafiya because it lives and thrives on that. This ingredient has developed into an independent Ashraafist model of progress and prosperity. This model stands on the proposition: Progress and prosperity of a society is the function of the magnitude of foreign help, grants, loans, which its government succeeds in procuring for it.

This Ashraafist model of progress serves both parties: which gives and to which is given. The first party pursues its politico-economic objectives in giving, be it grants, loans, etc. The second party, which otherwise may make good use of it, always aims at many a target in receiving what is given to it, which include from hefty appropriations for itself to political good-will at home. You know Mr. PM! You and your party in the heat of Islamabad Inqilab and Azadi Sit-ins have been harping on the visits of this or that country’s delegation and especially of Chinese President’s visit as a result of which agreements worth billions of dollars between the two countries were to be signed and which these Dharnas obstructed; which finally would bring forth prosperity to Pakistan, it was argued.

Now when you have signed a lot of agreements in China, it is being argued that it would bring prosperity to Pakistan. No sooner were you back from China than you went to Germany, and it is reported after that you would be proceeding to UK. Very good progress, Mr. PM! That means there is something wrong with your prosperity model for Pakistan. It’s not that an individual or a country needs no help or loans to prosper; it needs both but only when it desperately requires that. No individual or country espouses taking loans as a philosophy of life; it’s about 7 decades that Pakistan government is living with this philosophy in the name of prosperity which is still a far-fetched dream.

Mr. PM! Progress and prosperity lies here within the individual citizens; why do you look for it abroad! Trust the Pakistani citizens! Only let the market forces under due regulation work to create wealth. Let them freely trade either with China, Germany or India wherever they find a good deal. Only reform your state and its machinery to the effect that it’s not there to control but to facilitate. And you will see, Mr. PM! Progress and prosperity sprout from within!

This article was carried by Pakistan Observer on November 13, 2014. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Political Kingdom of Pakistan

The Government of India Act 1935 declared “Pakistan” only as an independent dominion. Then in the constitution of 1956, the state was named as the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan.” However, when the constitution of 1962 was promulgated, the state of Pakistan found a new name, “Republic of Pakistan” with the prefix “Islamic” dropped. The same was restored to its original position in 1963. Down the road, the constitution of 1973 retained this nomenclature for the state of Pakistan; so the name resonates to this day.

But one question has perennially been raising its head through the 7 decades of the history of Pakistani state: Did this naming, renaming, i.e. conversion and neutralization of the state of Pakistan make any difference to the life of the ordinary citizens of Pakistan? Has the politics which produced, abrogated, suspended or put in abeyance these constitutions been able to provide the ordinary citizens with what a state is in any case is required to provide them with as its first and the foremost duty? Did the state of Pakistan regardless of its nomenclature protect life and property of its citizens? Did it help them live a life of their choice? Did it help them live in freedom? Did it help them realize their dreams?

The answer to all such questions is a big and desperate NO! In fact, from the very beginning, the politicians set to build a kingdom of their own. This was despite the controversy which entrenched its feet even earlier than the death of the Father of the Nation. This controversy survives to this day and revolves around the crucial question concerning the nature of the state of Pakistan, i.e. what kind of a state Muhammad Ali Jinnah wanted Pakistan to be? After about 68 years, this question is being debated probably more forcefully now than in the early days. What is strange and rather magical is that both the politics and polity of Pakistan are oblivious of that debate; what little difference it could make and made may be seen written in the constitution and other books of laws, which are again have nothing to do with the real day-to-day life of the ordinary citizens.

How this political kingdom came to be established is a long-winded story which may be summarized thus: Political parties monopolized politics by politically enslaving their workers, sympathizers, and voters; this they do by inculcating in them personality cult of their leaders; the political leaders in their power politics never espouse any values and principles and these characterizations of their politics trickled down not only to their lower cadres but found a fertile soil in the populace also; political parties solely focus on their own party interests (read personal agendas of their leaders) and they never think of political evolution of Pakistan which is borne out by the unfinished debate about the nature of the state of Pakistan; political parties divided the country into their political principalities (read geographical delimitation of vote banks) and use them as the support-base of their political kingdom; political parties use all of their politics just to keep their hold intact on their political principalities so that they are always able to seize political power; political parties always befool their workers and voters under the guise of deceptive slogans which never come to serve the interests of the people; political parties always opt for the politics of non-issues such as problems of personality, family, larger and bigger shows and processions, etc; political parties never do the politics of real issues which the people miserably face daily; they never tell the people how they would be taxing them and regulating their life, and how they would be spending their tax-money; etc.

No doubt, if one deciphers that manual of Paki political parties some of the rules of which have been listed above, one may see how the political kingdom was built and maintained, and how it perpetuates. All this trickery is performed under the pseudonym of Democracy. This magical democracy provides politicians with alibis to violate morality, rules and laws and social values. It is this character of the political kingdom which this specialty of the politicians explains well: they live, behave and act like kings and princes with no fear of accountability; they submit to no rules and laws; whenever such a fear takes shape, they would manipulate the relevant rules and laws; they put themselves above all rules and laws and morals, and in their ultimate existence they are law unto themselves.

This political kingdom of Pakistan seems like a fantasy, but it’s more than real. Its existence was very much noticeable a few weeks earlier when the Azadi and Inqilab Marches of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek respectively were making headlines in the newspapers and TV channels. Actually this political kingdom has no vital and reciprocative relation with the ordinary citizens; it descends down only when it is in an emergency in the face of challenges (read threats) from the elements external (read security establishment) to it; but this kingdom’s ambivalent relationship with the security establishment is too obvious to be legitimized; it needs to be understood in the context of a power tussle, and not in the context of what the constitution of the country dictates. That highlights the unconstitutional character of this political kingdom.

It is in this perspective that the politics of all the political parties needs to be explained and understood. No matter it is Muslim League-N, Peoples Party, Muslim League-Q, PTI, Jamat-e-Islami, Awami National Party, Jamiat-a-Ulema-e-Islam-F, or others, all of them are part and parcel of this political kingdom. And a kingdom can never be devoid of intrigues and conspiracies on the one hand, and treacheries and betrayals on the other; that is what History tells. Who’s a friend today may be an enemy tomorrow, i.e. the parties which support democracy today may be undermining it tomorrow. Asif Ali Zardari who is standing with Nawaz Sharif today may be abandoning him tomorrow in his bid to conquer back PPPP’s principality in the province of Punjab. It’s a political kingdom, where nobody knows what’s going to happen the next moment; it’s not a constitutional state, where whatever is going to happen tomorrow is constitutionally predictable!

This article was carried by Pakistan Observer on October 30, 2014.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Cynicism in Pakistan

The title of this piece appears to be problematic. One can argue how cynicism may be confined to geographical specifications such as one of Pakistani type. But Pakistani cynicism may be justified on the ground that whatever its general meaning, the way a cynicism formulates in a society makes it special. Thus this piece tries to identify specific Pakistani attributes of cynicism.

Let’s try to have an idea of what cynicism generally stands for. First, it implies that all the ‘people are motivated by selfishness.’ Another most important and most common trait is that a cynic’s ‘outlook is scornfully and often habitually negative.’

As a philosophical term cynicism means something quite different. It was ‘a sect of ancient Greek philosophers who believed virtue to be the only good and self-control to be the only means of achieving virtue.’ So, philosophically cynicism relates to the Cynics and their beliefs.

In order to understand the wider meaning of cynicism, a diving into the history of the word may prove interesting. The word cynic comes from the Greek kunikos, which was originally used as an adjective meaning "doglike," from kun, "dog."  Thus a cynic equates this human life with a dog's life. Probably that was why the word was applied to the Cynic philosophers. The great Greek Cynic, Diogenes of Sinope was nicknamed as Kun. It is told he used to bark, urinate, and masturbate in public.

The first ever English instance of the use of the word cynic meaning “faultfinder” dates back to 1596. It is in this sense that the word cynic found its modern meaning. However, this sense of the word may also be attributed to the Cynics who were wont to find flaws in others. It is this faultfinding which helped formulate the belief characteristic of the cynics of today that human behavior is determined by selfishness. (This discussion of the word is based on an online dictionary.)

So it’s two attributes which may generally be associated with cynicism: First, negativity; and, second, faultfinding. That means that every cynic, be he/she Pakistani or otherwise, would usually be showing a negative attitude towards every thing; and that he/she would, almost as a rule, find fault with every thing. What’s wrong with this? When the things are really negative, they must be dubbed so! When the things are really faulty, they must be dubbed so! What’s wrong with that?

In the context of Pakistan, where most of the things most of the times are negative, why they must not be dubbed negative? And, where most of the things most of the times are faulty, why they must not be dubbed faulty? Why then such a Pakistani, who calls a spade a spade, not be called a Cynic? In the same vein, why then such a trend or attitude not be diagnosed as Pakistani Cynicism?

Actually there is a truth, which is theoretically uncontestable, but practically sometimes may be contestable, and that is what I want to contest. Here is an attempt at building the various shapes of things they may possibly take.

First, all the things are negative and faulty all the times. Second, all the things are negative and faulty most of the times. Third, all the things are negative and faulty some of the times. Fourth, most of the things are negative and faulty all the times. Fifth, some of the things are negative and faulty all the times. Sixth, some of the things are negative and faulty all the times. Seventh, some of the things are negative and faulty most of the times. Eighth, some of the things are negative and faulty some of the times.

Hence, it may be concluded that in a real situation what may practically be not undeniable is that some of the things are not negative and faulty some of the times. It is this truth which every cynic is blind to see and admit; or he/she develops or adopts an attitude which makes him/her see every thing as negative and faulty. This they do as a rule which may only exceptionally admit of an exception. Of course, all the Pakistani cynics are like that; but it is not in that that they show any characteristics specifically Pakistani cynicism exhibits.

No doubt, Pakistani cynics see every thing as negative and faulty. They do not admit of any thing as not negative and not faulty even some of the times. Apart from that, what is specifically Pakistani about them is that they themselves are not negative and not faulty. This should rather be phrased thus: The Pakistani cynics believe they are not negative and not faulty all the times. In contrast to that, every thing is negative and faulty all the times. That’s their first Pakistani attribute.

The second attribute of the Pakistani cynics is that they believe whatever negativity (or negative things) and whatever faultyness (or faulty things) exist responsibility for that rests with all the other Pakistanis, and they themselves are never ever to be blamed a bit for that. Associated with this second one is the third attribute which smacks of an exclusive claim to the possession of the truth that the Pakistani cynics believe only they have a claim to. It’s quite possible that this or that cynic, be he/she Pakistani or otherwise, may be a perfect arrogant, since he/she is in possession of the truth and since he/she plays no role at all if all the things have gone negative and faulty; however, that may not be identified as one more attribute characterizing Pakistani cynicism.

In the end, it may suffice to add that in Pakistan the cynicism has found its way in all the domains of life, but the one which is most dangerous is political. Some of the Pakistani political cynics, such as Imran Khan, are playing havoc with the political system. The others such as Najam Sethi, Ayaz Amir, Ayesha Siddiqa, are there to confound, in varying degrees, already rampant confusion, and are influencing the political opinion negatively and to the detriment of the long term interests of the citizens of Pakistan. (In another piece, the writer would like to elaborate upon this political cynicism and its impact on the political evolution of Pakistan.)

This article was carried by Pakistan Observer on October 11, 2014.