Ethics and morality in politics | By Dr Muhammad Khan


Ethics and morality in politics

WHEREAS, the state is the basic unit in an anarchical international system, at domestic level the political, economic and social activities of its masses revolve around the state and its interests. The political forces (political parties) pursue the state’s interests through a political system while making judicious use of all elements of national power. In the domestic politics, the activities of political forces in any state are bound to follow some set rules, morals, values and actions which are known as political ethics. Indeed, “Ethics and politics are inseparable” hence must be practiced and demonstrated accordingly. In the politics of Pakistan, there have been some of the leaders whose moral values and ethics seriously hamper the religious and social tenets of the country.

The relationship between ethics and politics is deeper and intimate for the states like Pakistan which follow an ideology of a Divine religion; Islam. In the wordings of Allama Dr Muhammad Iqbal, “Jalal-e-padshahihoki jam huritam asha ho, Juda HoDeen Sayasat Say To Reh Jati Hai Changezi”. This clearly reflects the picture of politics where there are no values (since religion is all about morality and values) and in the absence of values, it is all the ‘law of jungle’. The law of the jungle depicts a situation where there are no tenets, no rules and people use force to get what they want. The Constitution of Pakistan is based on golden principles of Islam which is an advocate of morality, values and ethics. The leaders of political parties should be specimen and true reflection of the values and ethics for rest of the masses and society they represent. Indeed, they derive power from the masses and the people whom they governed subsequently. In order to be effective leaders, the political parties must demonstrate ethics which give them moral ascendancy over law of jungle. Unfortunately, some political parties in Pakistan are publically demonstrating a culture which has no values, no ethics and no morality. This is in fact is a violation of their written party constitution and manifestoes besides the religious and social values of Pakistan. Their publicly demonstrated activities give a wrong message to general masses especially the youth, which is the future of Pakistan and constitutes over 60% of the total Pakistani population.

Whereas, the power should come from the people, the demonstrated brand is that, it comes from artificial narratives, violence, mayhem, use of forces, abusive language, money, political bribe and immoral practices. The political forces should demonstrate the compliance of law and its enforcement through a fair play and ethics. But, the practices are totally different and indeed, contradictory in nature. Practically, the political forces are promoting a system of; political violence and antipathy, social fragmentation and intolerance and religious bigotry and revulsion.

While, state and its interests should be the focus of all political parties, the demonstrated practices are otherwise. National interests and masses are the missing links in the power politics of some politicalparties of Pakistan. Their immediate aims are to grab power (through any means may be illegal) and the subsequent objectives are to remain in power even through on unjustifiable grounds. They claim to be the only champions of the democracy. Away from state-centric national politics, the political parties of Pakistan are individual based family-centric, irrespective of capabilities and potentials of members of these dynasties. In this few individuals and family centric politics, other dedicated members of the respective political party cannot lead the party despite they are better in all aspects; politically prudent, senior in age, prolonged-political experience and excellent capabilities to run both, the state and party. This is true with all political parties of Pakistan. This is the basic dichotomy in the democracy based political parties of Pakistan. This indeed is negation of democracy within political parties of Pakistan, which publicize democracy and claim as the exponent for the supremacy of democracy in Pakistan. Some leaders are the dictators and do not accept the opinions of the party members. Recently top leadership of a political party has been found involved in activities which contradict political and social ethics of Pakistan. These activities are not only unethical but also contradictwhat is the manifesto of the party and repeated sayings of the leadership. The happenings at Zaman Park Lahore and what happened in the Judicial Complex Islamabad on March 18, 2023 is really a reflection of the disrespect for the law. Leaders should not promote violence (firing, stone pelting and petrol bombs) nor should they introduce mob mentality in the politics. Moreover, using human shield for self-protection and coverage goes against the political ethics. All these actions of the political leadership are setting wrong precedence in the politics of Pakistan. Indeed, such acts by top political leadership is destabilizing the state, undermining the government, abating the institutions, dividing the society and disparaging the judiciary and law enforcement agencies of the state. The unethical politics in Pakistan cannot be expected to nurture a political culture in the country which brings morality, values, fair play and ethics. Similarly, the hereditary politics of contemporary political parties in Pakistan is not anticipated to encourage democracy in the wider politics of Pakistan. Besides, there are cartels (interest groups) of virtually all types who firmly support the current format of politics in Pakistan.

Under such unjustified and discrimination based individual centric approach, the state of Pakistan cannot realize its true potentials domestically as well as internationally. The question arises; what to do at this most trying time of our history. A smart answer is; let’s aware the masses, empower the people, revamp the national educational system, debate issues of national interests through academia and media and strengthen the institutions as per Constitution of Pakistan. Besides, let’s aware the masses not to blindly follow and vote for the politicians whose moral values, ethics and devotions are not in line with the constitutional provisions of Pakistan.

— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.

[email protected]