Has the “change” arrived?

28 Sep 2017

Has the “change” arrived?

By : Syed Zeeshan Haider

After Nawaz Sharif was disqualified, he raised a rather interesting question. According to him, it is said that he does not get along well with anyone; and if that’s actually the case, does this mean no Prime Minister in the history of Pakistan got along well with anyone? The question holds immense importance. If we go into the detailed dynamics of this question, it will help us understand the current state of ourcountry. After Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification and the results of NA-120, many developments have taken place regarding the political landscape in Pakistan. In order to understand that, it is important to first understand the quintessential mindsetof Pakistan’s politicians in the historical context; and realize that they are a mere reflection of our society.

We often get to hear in our usual social gatherings that one can only be successful in Pakistan if they are corrupt. Hence, we tend to overplay corruption and favoritism as cornerstones of success.The number of people who negate such ideas and talk only on the basis of facts is unfortunately small; a reflection of how immature we as a society are. While it is true that corruption is indeed a big problem in our country and a lot of successful people may have leaned on some unlawful activities to get things done, but to be honest, it is mostly their hard work and determination that underpin their achievements. Countless examples of people who have been involved in corruption and other unlawful activities and consequently ruined their lives are ignored. .. This narrative serves as scapegoat for the unsuccessful and the ne’er-do-wells. If we look at prosperous countries, their citizens generally do not possess such mindset. They believe in the virtue of hard work and that is exactly why they are way ahead of us. We need not to forget that politicians are a part of this society too and there is no surprise in the fact that their mindset resembles that of the general population.

Historically, our politicians have believed that if they compromise on principles and strengthen their ties with establishment, they’ll be able to reach the top.  . However, these shortcuts have never really worked in long term. We have seen these politicians ascend to power, but later, they had to abdicate their position or were ousted in the most humiliating of manners… Our politicians have been making this Faustian bargain with the establishmentbased on  the belief that once theycome in power, they will absolve themselves by working for the betterment of the country; and perhaps, lateron, “fixing” the system. However, such an approach has been provedto be disaster time and time again.

If we have a look at the mistakes of our politicians in the past, both Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif signed on Charter of Democracy. However, when the memo scandal happened, Nawaz Sharif himself showed up in the court. Similarly, the way Muslim League (N)dealt with the disqualification of Youssef Raza Gilani is a living testimony to the political immaturity that existed in that time. Maybe our politicians have learned from past mistakes and maybe they will not repeat them again but the effect of their bad political choices and moral blunders will continue to come back to haunt them like ghosts from the past for some time to come. For example, Benazir Bhutto went through the worst form of character assassination and was portrayed as unsuitable to lead a political party because of her gender by the same party that now had to appoint a woman to the political campaign in NA 120by- election. The way Maryam Nawaz was made the brunt of criticism recently reminded us of the 90s and it seems like politicians still haven’t learnt from the past mistakes.According to Albert Einstein, repeating the same process over and over again while expecting different results is madness. Well, take the hint. Now, the question arises, what is it that our politicians should do now?

Come to think of it, PPP is rather mature when it comes to politics. The way they supported the government in 2014 when PTI announced the Dharna and the way they refrain from carrying out opposition for the sake of opposition type of politics today is commendable. If our politicians really want the country to succeed, they’ll have to make sure that they stick to the democratic principles. It is also important to note that what works for one country and nation, does not work for everyone. People who are still of the view that only a slow transition towards  democracy marked with compromises on principles, condoning of constitutional subversions allowing certain elements of  society to operate with impunity,  can bring about a change in the country should realize that this has proved to be a really bad idea as far as the last 70 years go.

If we go beyond the big cities of Pakistan, we’ll see heart wrenching scenes of poverty. People are unemployed, a number of them are living below the poverty line, and there is frustration everywhere which means, somethinghad been goingterribly wrong persistentlyin the past 70 years. During thelast many decades, the mediaand education have been used to inculcate aparticular mindset into the youth. The remnants of Zia’s ideologies, disseminated through these ideological apparatuses, are still very much visible in the country. Even today, media, especially the social media, are being employed to instill a particular mindset in the youth. Today, political analysts present Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification as a case of real change to the youth. However, it is time that our youth takes a tour into the history of Pakistan to realize that ousting of a PM is not something new. In fact, it has been happening throughout the history.


Published in “Pakistan Today” on 28 September 2017

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