Novices in the Pakistani politics | By Zaheer Bhatti


Novices in the Pakistani politics

THE tragedy of this nation is that there are scores of them who qualify as politicians having gone through the mill; without naming names, but are for some God-forsaken reason content at playing second fiddle behind novices in the field; thrown up by family fiefdoms who neither have training nor traversed the hard terrain of politics, and almost never experienced the trials and tribulations of the masses who they mercilessly use as fuel and fodder for their political ambitions; whoever knew or heard of Bilawal and Maryam anywhere in politics when their parents were around! The present breed of Pakistani politicians out of inexperience and lack of proper exposure excels at making irresponsible statements tarnishing the image of the State.

They open their mouth on foreign relations and sensitive issues out of sheer ignorance and fail to fathom the repercussions of their loose utterances; such as Kashmir over which besides gladdening the enemy and serving its rhetoric; accusing the sitting Government of selling out to the enemy without looking themselves in the mirror as to what damage their own Party when in power had done to the cause.

The recent case in point was the electioneering campaign in Azad Kashmir in which this breed of novices led by Maryam and Bilawal not only foul-mouthed against each other and the PTI Government, but PML(N) went miles further by unwarrantedly dragging India and Afghanistan into the foray; one of its candidate calling for Indian help to save him of alleged PTI bungling; as if the Indian Government was all hunky dory, while the PML(N) Supremo sitting abroad gave audience to the Afghan puppet Government Security Adviser who had called Pakistan a brothel-house.

The logical result was, complete rejection of the Party in Azad Kashmir; thanks to the father and daughter; together ritualizing the last rites of their ill-conceived Party.

Although political parties are supposed to belong to the people in a democratic set-up, in Pakistan it has either been military rule elbowing out politicians or for better part of its existence, made subservient to family fiefdoms particularly after Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who first laid the foundations of dynasty rule when in his lifetime he first nominated his totally apolitical wife as stand-in Chairperson when imprisoned and then indoctrinated his daughter into politics in preference to his sons.

While Benazir proved to be a quick learner, her end was cleverly crafted by those who benefited the most from her murder.

Waving a piece of paper styled as the departed leader’s will, Asif Ali Zardari her husband found it fit to pass the mantle of the Party to his only son Bilawal as if the Party was inherited property of the family; ironically further, he chose to give his son the family name of the Bhuttos in preference to his own Zardari nomenclature.

So donned a novice still at college, the robes of the Party Chief eventually bearing a hybrid name of both grandparents; something never heard of, with Party stalwarts merely looking on and accepting the fait accompli without even a semblance of a query leave alone protest; thereby legitimizing the farcical take over.

Only Maulana Kausar Niazi, one of the founding members of the Party who was instrumental in soliciting support of the Religious Parties to make the 1973 Constitution a consensus document, had the courage to raise question over Nusrat Bhutto’s nomination as co-chairperson of the Party when Bhutto went to jail; only to be eventually shown the door.

This went to prove that within family fiefdom parties which were run as monarchies or civilian dictatorships, there was no room for dissent.

Not that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s family deserved to make the political party he founded in trying times a family affair, Nawaz Sharif who was born in politics in the military lap and introduced to politics in Ziaul Haq’s non-party elections, eventually came to style his faction of the Muslim League after his own name, which only reflected how self-centred he was from the very start, as were the various other brands of Muslim League; such as the Convention League thrown up by Kh Nazimuddin supportive of Ayub Khan’s dictatorship and the breakaway Council Muslim League opposed to military rule led by Ch Khaliquzzaman; Qayyum League named after Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan in the Frontier, followed by a plethora of XYZ Muslim Leagues.

All these factions that emerged, showed rank disrespect to the Founding Party of Pakistan which if anything, ought to have grown from strength to strength and should never have been allowed to be fragmented and should at best have been renamed replacing India with Pakistan.

During elections in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan’s ruling PTI chief came up with a formula which was at complete variance with Pakistan’s stated position on the unfinished Agenda of Partition.

Referendum is perhaps a form of UN-mandated plebiscite for the Kashmiris to decide whether they wished to join Pakistan or India.

To that extent there would have been nothing wrong in Imran Khan’s Trarkhal announcement had it been meant for both sides of Kashmir.

But for the Pakistani Premier to suggest that after exercising that option the Kashmiris could also decide if they wished to be Independent, is not only grossly flawed but demands an explanation; not just a clarification from him as to what mandate he had to make such a declaration.

As a matter of principle, political parties both in India and Pakistan must have no role in elections in areas of Kashmir under their respective control, nor should they be allowed to contest polls in an area still pending resolution.

Pakistan in particular, having allowed a separate Constitution, a Constituent Assembly and a Prime Minister in Azad Kashmir having only underwritten Defence, Finance and Foreign Affairs, ought to be obliged to showcase to the world that it was not attempting to influence the Kashmiris politically, pending settlement of the issue according to the UN Security Council Resolutions.

—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.