By Qaisar Sultan
I have been searching for the answers to the present chaos and corruption in the government, military and judiciary for last three years; somehow we have learnt to live or be complacent with what has been choking and destroying the state. The fact is that the ordinary people do not really get involved as they have too many problems of their own. But what is incredibly uncharacteristic of the precise nature of democracy is the facts that our people vote for bad and corrupt leaders- once elected the elected politicians do not serve the interests of those who elected them. Some may argue that voters are under duress or under some kind of threat to vote for a party or a person; and the leaders they vote for belong to the feudal class who own land and businesses where the voters make their living from. Where there seems to be some truth in this view, there happens to be more than feudal reality of Pakistan- The political equity does not exist in the country. We rightfully argue why we do not have sincere, honest and competent leadership. The idea of the leadership is in the eye of the beholder. There is supposed to be a conscious awareness in the public and their set of values and choices are based on their free will. That idea of free will of people was totally fictional in the social contract that was understood by the rich landowners, military generals, religious politicians and anyone with ten cows (This a reference to Tutsi’s phenomenon where the Belgium declared anyone with ten cows a Tutsi). Right from the start, even before the formation of the country, Pakistani culture was not based on the association on economic concern of the masses; it was traditionally one way street. We can say that it was a political arrangement based on master and slave culture; those were the ways of this part of the sub-continent. The vast majority was not educated and was extremely poor; that allowed the structural basis of a typical tenth century European style aristocracy and feudal set up. Years of practice and acceptance of an unfair society developed a system where they do not seem to have any capacity for a sense of justice and conception of good (Rawl’s mature theory of justice). Off course, the obvious thing for an individual to do is to look out for his welfare and the end that he seeks in his life. But in Slave and Master Culture the loyalties are so lopsided that we wonder why those people would do and support that is not in their best interests.
Then we see a different phenomenon in big cities, such as Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta; there are vast numbers of educated populations in those cities- Why then the city people vote for certain irresponsible and unscrupulous parties, groups and individuals. One of the facts is that the political power and the majority to rule come from the rural votes as the population is mainly concentrated in those areas. Now, the interests of political activists and some of the population are being served through individuals, groups and parties who may assume power through elections, dominated by the votes in rural areas. We see that most people in big cities are aware of who and what they were voting for; in other words they are implicit in their decision making for their votes (Idea is based on Globe Research Finding). The fact is that the choice is implicit; and seems to have strongest possible passion. The educated people in urban areas understand their environment, their past experiences, and their history, system of rewards and punishment, fears and what is good for them in terms of their personal concerns. Those who can’t share the feelings of certain urban population in Pakistan wonder why people vote for PM-N or Q, ANP or MQM. The secret of the urban votes lies in the ethnic interests explicitly or implicitly expressed and carried on by these parties for their people; that is what the leaders make people to believe, “our people”, meaning the ethnic identities attached to the economic and social interests. Pakistan is not the only country facing these division and lack of civility and ongoing fissure among varying groups of population; African countries have faced similar problems since the independence. Take Kenya as an example, the presidential elections of 2008 divided the country on tribal lines to a point of thousands being killed. The neighbors killed friends who lived together for centuries. The tribal identity became very important to them. The president, Kibaki was from the tribe of Kikuyu; the challenger, Odinga, was a Luo – They both had support of other tribal groups. Finally, UN general secretary Kofi Anan got involved and arranged a peaceful solution of creating a new job of Prime Minister for Odinga. In that election, Kenyan population found out that one’s ethnic identity has to play an important role in their security, protection of property and social welfare. That was something that President Bush ignored when he started listening to Nathan Sharansky- a great Zionist and supporter of Israeli government against Palestinians. There is no doubt that Sharansky had good ideas as long as they fit into his agenda; the prerequisite prescribed by him is market economy, federalism, rule of law, civilian control of military, and independent judiciary; out of five last four are not doable realities in Pakistan, at least for now. Sharansky went as far as writing that the nation has to be sacrificed for this higher purpose for democracy (Do we wish to sacrifice the “nation”). The neo-conservatives ran with the idea and convinced the Bush administration to take out Saddam Hussain; as he was the only autocrat and tyrant in the Muslim world! – They supported general Musharraf and Saudi king at the same time.
If one of the great attributes to a true democracy is supposed to bring in trustworthy and law-abiding government, then we can say that people ought to vote for honest and competent people and not on their loyalties. That is not the ways of our people. The democracy promotes the rule of law and dispenses the benefits of the government’s to ordinary people; and their actions and decisions are meant to decrease the pain and suffering of poor masses. But, it does not happen in poor countries where educated population is at minimum and per capita income is less than $3,000/ year and a diversified population despising each other- Democracy only enhances corruption and ethnic turmoil.
Recently, we had a military president who understood the demand of the time. We can criticize the military and ISI as much as our hearts desire; the fact is that we have only one institution that is organized and produce competent people in the county. Our people have spoken; they wanted corrupt and incompetent people to run the country. And, if we allow one more election, they would vote for same corrupt and bad characters. We are at a crossroad in this critical moment of history where ongoing corruption and inefficiency of the government may damage the state forever. The country has experienced the worst and the most corrupt government. The democratic voices have been heard. The democratic government has refused to follow the decision of judiciary; there is an absence of rule of law; the market economy is collapsing; and federalism may help those who have their own designs. Our democratic government has gone in the opposite direction to every possible attribute of the democratic ideals. How long poor people have to endure the sufferings under “Pakistani style democracy”; to vote for corruption and inefficiency is not really a democracy.