Morality in politics

Dr Muhammad Khan
With a democratic character, the God gifted state of Pakistan had strong moral basis in its origin. These political and moral bases were primarily drawn from the ideology of Pakistan, which the founding fathers of this state clearly defined even prior to the passage of Pakistan Resolution in March 1940. The Fourteen-Points of Qauid-i-Azam and the famous Allahabad Address of Allama Dr Muhammad Iqbal clearly laid down the demand for a Muslim state in South Asia. Unfortunately, the post-independence state system could not be run as per the political and moral principles, set-forth by Quaid-i-Azam and his colleague mainly owing to their early demise. Thus, the development needed for flourishing a strong political system based on morality and social equality could not be attained.
Whereas, Islam is a “religion of mercy, dignity, justice, peace and love” all embedded in the ideology of Pakistan, the practice in today’s Pakistan is contrary to these golden principles. Indeed, the morality which was the essence for the political dispensation in Pakistan is hardly visible in the contemporary political system of Pakistan, being practiced by all political and religious-political parties. This all could have been done through three salient factors; One, “a reconstructed theology based on love of One God and his centrality”, Two, “Sharia as a set of virtues and moral values” and Three, “the concept of the secular nation-state.” In essence, this entails inclusion of all aspects of a modern nation state and the basic tenets of ideology of Pakistan.
It is worth mentioning that, the modern nation state system has its origin from Peace Treaty of Westphalia-1648. Though the treaty was signed on October 24, 1648, but it took centuries to really put in practice, the essence of the Westphalian orders even by the Europeans. In later years, Europeans (Britain and France in particular) colonised most of the Asian and African countries. Today, the European claims that, they are the architect of modern state system and proliferated it in Asia and Africa through colonialism. Today’s international relations are governed by the Treaty of Westphalia, which keeps the ‘state sovereignty’ at the forefront in inter-state relationship. The intra-state relationship however follows a hierarchical model.
Compared to Westphalia, the state system devised by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) through Medina State, deals with all aspects of a plural state; the domestic as well as the external relationship. It is the first constitution, ‘the Madina Charter’ in written form. Signed 1400 years ago, its clauses and contents makes it acceptable to today’s world, being pluralist and modern in nature. “It was promulgated for a plural society, giving equal rights to every citizen as well as giving them a say in governmental matters.” Madina Charter was consisting of 47 clauses and established the first ever modern nation-state in the world with a federal structure having centralised authority. Besides being consisting of a ‘plural citizenry’ it was based on “nationalism, or more exactly patriotism.”
Unfortunately, what we see today in Pakistan is contrary to the charter of Madina State and the ideology of Pakistan which is essentially based on Holy Quran and Sunnah of Holy Prophet (PBUH). The politics of almost all political parties of Pakistan is centred around few families and few individuals. There is no democracy within the political parties of Pakistan, therefore, it is hard to conceive a democratic character, while these political parties rule the state of Pakistan. In essence, the democracy as a form of government is; of the people, by the people and for the people. If established on these principles, this is an ideal form of the government, where people are at the center stage and everything else revolves around them. This indeed is being practiced where political leadership and masses understand their obligations and responsibilities and both remain accountable to each other. In the real and mature democracies, there are neither personal agendas nor the interests of a particular political group; rather it is the national interests of the state and welfare of masses as the agenda.
This brings into debate, statesman and a politician. James Freeman Clarke, an American theologian and author, writes; “A politician thinks of the next election and a statesman, of the next generation.” In Pakistan, we have bunch self-centered politicians whose primary concern is, about winning an election for their family and political party. In the process, a politician do what all is against the morality and interests of state and masses. The statesman on the other hand remain concern about the development of state and welfare of his people. While governing, the statesman make constructive decisions, state oriented, rather personal oriented. In the wordings of second U.S President, John Adams, “a politician fears man, but a statesman fears God.”
A leader, who leads a nation, must have a clear vision, a vivid picture of where to go and an outline, as how to achieve it. For this, a leader must be a man of morality and integrity, honest and predictable. In this entire process, he should demonstrate dedication, magnanimity and humility and respect for others including institutions.
Analysing the tangibles, we can say that, dynastic politics of Pakistan has very little to do with the morality and welfare of the masses. It rather serves the purpose of an elite club, who would like to have their turns and wait for next tenure. Besides, ‘In true sense, ‘Political ethics (also known as political morality or public ethics) is the practice of making moral judgements about political action and decisions. Morality speaks of a system of behaviour in regards to standards of right or wrong.’ In today’s Pakistan, there is a pressing need of implanting morality in the sphere of politics.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.
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