Everything has an aesthetic aspect. Politics is one of them. The political aesthetics appears, among other things, in two forms: Mannerism; and, Language. The others may be: the beauty of political ideas; the way a politician connects his/her ideas; the reality of political ideas in contrast to wishful political slogans; the beauty of a political vision; the beauty of words and terms chosen by a politician; consistency in the ideas of a politician, etc. The second list is controversial; it’s useless to discuss it here. The first one is sort of methodical, and I would dwell on it. One may raise objections on this or that type of Mannerism or Language; however in Pakistan too there exists a consensus in this regard.
Let it be stated here that certain political leaders did not spare the methodical things also. To them in politics everything, good or bad, is permissible. They exploited them for their own political purposes and build their images. Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and Cuba’s Fidel Castro are prominent among them. For instance, where it is required that one ought to be in formal attire they appeared in informal and casual dresses. They exhibited a mannerism that is not formal and against the etiquettes, but which was used to deliver a message to other party that they had not taken them seriously, rather denigrated them.
With this startup, let’s focus on the present political scene. Never have I felt so much ugliness about the politics of Pakistan that is being thrown now upon the face of the citizens from the lush green capital city of Islamabad. The two political parties, Pakistan Tehreek-e-insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek, sitting in the center of Islamabad, are day and night churning out ugliness by way of their Mannerism and Language. It seems leaders of both parties have gone crazy in their political pursuits so much so that they have lost every semblance of aesthetic sense. Did they ever possess such a thing, in the first place, one must ask?
No one from the PTI or PAT is minding his Mannerism or Language. In their desperation, Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri are using the language of thugs and blackmailers. Likewise, their Mannerism is so outrageous that no sane and civilized person may see them and listen to their tirades for long. It is this Mannerism and Language of Imran Khan especially that he has been likened to Sultan Rahi, a legendary actor, who invented an original style of acting of his own, and in his private life, was a far better person and human being than all the politicians combined together.
Obviously the leaders of both the parties have an air of arrogance about them. Their Mannerism and Language is reminiscent of fascists, but with one difference: the fascists may be counted as the most disciplined. But the fascism of PTI and PTA is most conspicuous in their desperation and arrogance towards other politicians and their target, the prime minister particularly. That puts an ugly face on the politics of both parties!
As for Imran Khan, his demeanor, his way of talking, his choice of words, his gestures, his deep-seated contempt for others present him as a man who is outrageous and has never been trained in manners! It’s a horrible experience to see and listen to him speaking. He has no trace of sobriety, rationality and humanity let alone of a concerted and consistent stream of thought running through his speeches, which are replete with volleys of abuses and scorn for his imagined enemies.
Same is the case of Tahir-ul-Qadri. Despite his scholarship in religious sciences, he seems to have no inkling of moral sensibility. Though, his tirades are much less uglier than his rival Imran Khan; but Tahir-ul-Qadri is equally harmful and destructive to political aesthetics. Hence, the politics of both of them requires more of a psychological and aesthetic analysis than a political one!
Also, PTI and PAT may be compared with the Taliban, who were/are a lot of thugs and blackmailers, practically believing in creating ugliness by executing by force their fascist scheme of things. They relax/relaxed in ruthlessness and killings and blood-letting: the ugliest remnants of a tribal culture. In the same vein, PTI and PTA may also be likened to Sikandar Malik, who successfully managed a one-man-show for hours in Islamabad. Just because he had in his company a woman and a kid, and a loaded gun in his hands! That created an ugly scene for the whole country to watch!
In comparison, PTI and PAT have their followers, living individuals, as their loaded guns to blackmail the government and the state. That’s the logic of mob, which through unleashing chaos is always fatal to the beauty of order, and thus in its rampage trample every value and norm. However, as Sikandar Malik was and the Taliban are being finally dealt with sternly, the PTI and PAT may not be, because they are political parties. That means if you are a religious or political leader, you are absolutely free to say anything and to do anything! In a nutshell, both parties are behaving like thugs and blackmailers. That’s how the beauty of rule of law and equality of all before law is being sacrificed. That’s creating ugliness and defacing the beauty of rules and laws which bring order into chaos.
Thus it may not be far-fetched to propose that Pakistan is an unfortunate state as both at home and abroad it remains associated with the ugliest values of terrorism and feuding politicians fighting since day one for the capture of the state. The gist of Pakistani politics paints an ugly picture of starved vultures intent upon eating living human beings. As of now the only way left for Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri is to get dozens of dead bodies to save their ugly faces: i.e. ugliness breeds ugliness.
So for the Pakistani citizens who possess an aesthetic sense the most crucial question facing now is: how to cope with the Ridiculous and Ugly Politics? Centuries back, Greeks defined beauty as residing in proportion; and the ugliness in disproportionateness. In the social chaos and disorder, it were rules and laws which helped bring order and beauty, without which no aesthetic pursuits could be possible. However, as in arts it is said that breaking rules is permissible only for masters. Likewise, it is not for duds like Imran Khan and Tahir-ul- Qadri to bring order out of the disorder they are intent upon creating. Thus negotiating with such political thugs will encourage other such groups to adopt the same ways to get what they want. That will set a rule in motion for everybody to take recourse to in order to create ugliness by breaking all the rules and norms on which depends the beauty of a social and political order!
This article was carried by Pakistan Observer on August 21, 2014.