Our forgotten political history and today’s youth

6 Aug 2018

While guaranteeing the expression of freedom, Article 19 of Pakistan’s constitution simultaneously places a ban on the desecration of the judiciary and defense agencies. The contempt of defense institutions and the court is never acceptable under any circumstances. Abstaining from contempt of these institutions, however, does not translate into keeping them entirely out of the discussion. Some historical facts along with current and future political conditions have to be evaluated for any political news analyst to be able to interpret the situation and form an opinion.

When you look at any incident from its historical perspective, you can find future generations repeating the mistakes of the past generations. Is the ideology being followed by today’s youth with such excitement and sincerity completely new? Or has Pakistan lived through a similar situation in the past? Has the country seen any leader as popular as Bhutto after his demise? Did not a large number of young people from all walks of life, both rich and poor, stand with Bhutto during his life? No political leader has ever come close to being as popular among the general public as Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was during the‘70s. Unfortunately, today’s youth is oblivious to our history. The educational institutions, communication media, and elders of the society must be held responsible for this disconnect.

The general perspective of today’s youth is that many institutions in Pakistan, including law and justice, are now being mobilized for the first time. They have a staunch belief that the battle against corruption has never been fought before like it is being fought today. They believe that now is the first time in the history that this nation has witnessed a leader with such enormous popularity among the masses.

The pertinent questions that the present generation should be asking are: Was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto a corrupt leader? Was Muhammad Khan Junejo also corrupt? And was the prime minister who preceded these two also corrupt? Another relevant question would be, is Zulfikar Ali Bhutto more or less popular among the masses than today’s leaders? The young Pakistani generation can unlock the answers to these questions by investing some time in learning their history. A little internet research can also lead them closer to the answers.

The “social bubbles” created by the youth’s use of social media has proven to be the final nail in the coffin of their intellectual growth

These answers would give birth to new questions such as to why the governments and, in some instances, the lives of these leaders were taken away. Why did these leaders suddenly disappear from politics? Which political and apolitical tactics were utilized to end their governance? Why were they sometimes imprisoned and/or put on a leash? Which invisible forces were pulling the strings behind these political proceedings? All of these questions point towards an integral part of this country’s history.

The youth would be surprised to discover that many decades ago, in different eras, the youth of those periods were also determined to see the promises of hope and change come to life. Maybe they would be astonished to find out that even in the past many politicians were accused of corruption, breaking the law, and treason. These charges translated into legal proceedings and punishments for the guilty. It is essential that today’s youth find the answer to the following question: is having a non-corrupt and charismatic leader enough to change the fate of a nation? If yes, then why have the non-corrupt and charismatic leaders of past failed to bring about the necessary changes that the country needed?

They should at least acquaint themselves with a few incidents and political occurrences that make up an integral part of our history. For example, which forces were the ones to enforce restrictions on freedom of expression during the ‘70s and ‘80s?

They should also know the reason why true democracy has never flourished in this country. History would show them that the mother of the nation, Madar-e-Millat Fatimah Jinnah, was also defeated in elections. Why did the most non-controversial woman in the history of Pakistan not get elected as the head of the country? What forces were in play there? Was it fair to deprive the country of such sincere leadership?

The majority of the world’s lawmakers are of the opinion that the decision to hang Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was not right. However, in Pakistan, the media was used to spread the message that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was guilty and punished according to the law. This went on until the ‘80s and ‘90s. The generation that grew up in that era believed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to be guilty and glorified Ziaul Haq, the dictator, as their savior. With the passage of time, the truth of who was the hero and who was responsible for ruining the country was revealed.

The youth at that time was also brainwashed by the propaganda of the media and educational institutions. There were few media outlets and access to media was limited at that time. Today’s youth has internet access and can easily search for the facts. But despite this, today’s youth is too easygoing and does not want to learn the truth as they lack the courage to challenge their own ideologies. The “social bubbles” created by their use of social media has proven to be the final nail in the coffin of their intellectual growth.

The last question that the youth should ask themselves is: if they succeed in getting their popular leader elected, would they really be able to bring about change in the country? And, how can they be sure that their leader will not meet with the same fate as more politically powerful and honest political leaders of the past?

Published in Daily Times, August 6th 2018.

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