NEWS & VIEWS
Indeed, a positive signal has emanated from broad-section of the people, as of late they have started thinking about the social inequities that have permeated the society. Voltaire had said: “When once a nation begins to think it is impossible to stop it”. Candidates like Jamal Leghari, Sikandar Bosan and others were questioned by their voters as to what they have done during the last five years? The other day, former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbassi went to his constituency Kahuta to hold a meeting, workers of the PML-N shouted slogans against him for not fulfilling the promises made before last election. Former Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, Zaeem Qadri and Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor of PML-N have challenged their top leaders. Workers of other parties like PTI and the PPP also protested for not having been consulted while awarding tickets to the candidates of their constituencies.
Despite claims by the outgoing government about robust economic growth and poverty alleviation, fact remains that majority of the people are living in the gloom of stalking poverty, squalor, want and deprivation. Economic disparity, socio-economic injustice, rampant corruption, rising crime rate, energy crisis and ineffective criminal justice system especially in lower courts are the challenges that must be met. The general thinking among politicians is that nobody should question them during their 5-year tenure in the government, taking the plea that people will reject the party if it fails to deliver. But it is members of ruling elite comprising 2000 families who control all the resources of the country. In this backdrop one can say that it is not democracy but plutocracy. From 2008 to 2013, elections were held twice and assemblies completed their terms, but the nation sees same political dynasties and same faces.
Politicos insist that nobody can judge them or question them whether they are involved in corruption or in activities against national interest. There is a perception that PPP and PML-N governments have by design created economic mess to weaken the national economy and resultantly the defence of the country to appease the US. During the PPP tenure, there was Memogate scandal and during PML-N government it was Dawn Leaks; and the objective was to put military on the mat. The people are aghast and miffed and stand utterly flummoxed and nonplussed, completely at a loss to comprehend the shenanigans of their elites across the spectrum and deeply worried at the nonchalant way their country is perceptibly being dragged on to a perilous precipice. They contemptibly saw the elites’ divisive politics at its peak and their power games in a full-blooded play.
It has to be recalled that the memo had accused the then Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani of planning to bring down the government in the aftermath of the raid on Usama bin Laden on May 2. It asked Mike Mullen to use his influence to stop it. It said: “The government will allow the US to propose names of officials to investigate bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan, facilitate American attempts to target militants like Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri and Taliban chief Mullah Omar, and allow the US greater oversight of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons”. The objective behind Dawn Leaks was unarguably the same i.e. to denigrate Pakistan military. The impression was conveyed that the PML-N government wanted to have good relations with India and wanted to toe American line so far as Afghanistan was concerned, but military did not allow it.
No one in his right sense would hold brief for military dictators; but when feudal culture and outlook pervade all strata of society; when politicians consider their parties as personal fiefdoms, and the state apparatus fall victim to personal whims of the ruling elite, the people start pinning hopes on anyone who promises to emancipate them from economic misery and want. For the last seven decades, the ruling elite did not care for the problems faced by the people of Pakistan. It was in this backdrop that almost every government became irrelevant for the people. Of course, people of Pakistan want a better deal and are crying for a change in the system. They wish to see basic changes in social structure whereby they can have fundamental rights. They want to get rid of poverty; they want respect for the human beings and equality in law in social milieu and equal opportunities.
In Pakistan ruling elite never tried to meet the basic needs of people vis-à-vis access to clean water, education and health, and of course food, clothing, shelter, etc. And they gave overriding consideration to their personal interest over national interest. In Pakistan, due to ineptness, profligacy and corruption of our leaders more than 40 per cent of population is living below the poverty line despite the fact that Pakistan is endowed with resources to ensure a decent living for its people. One can listen to their shrieks of despondency, frustration, disappointment, joblessness, inflation and lawlessness. The circumstances exist for a revolution but in the absence of revolutionary leadership, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the environment is not right. At the time of French Revolution in 1789, France practiced feudalism; the nobles and clergy enjoyed special privileges. Common masses hated the privileged classes and were revengeful. Pakistan should resort to land reforms to bring about the soft revolution.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.