There is no boring day in the politics of Pakistan. Each day is filled with excitement. We make it into news almost every day. At least for the last one-year, we are creating international headlines every now and then. From the removal of the chief justice, the lawyers movement, the return of popular leadership from exile, to the imposition and withdrawal of emergency, the suicide attacks, the assassination of Pakistan’s twice elected Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, to the holding of elections and then the subsequent formation of the new government and the swearing-in of the provincial assemblies. There is never a dull moment.
People sit on the edges of their chair, biting their nails and watching the unfolding of incidents that they had only read about but never watched them with their own eyes. It has become a never-ending drama staged in a natural environment with a cast of thousands of people, each man rendering their best talent.
The electronic media has a field day. Without paying script writers, without bearing the cost of lights and stages, without paying actors and actresses, they are presenting reality dramas full of excitement and sensations. No wonder we have so many news channel, each competing with the other to give a wider picture and a new angle of the prevailing politics. It is said that people have stopped watching entertainment programmes.
Gone are the days of social dramas, carnivals and shows, all what they want to watch is politics. Actors and actresses, make-up men are out of job these days. The common activist knows that he has acquired the centre stage and he also knows what headlines are made of.
He knows that with a slight ingenuity and innovation, he can be in the camera. Thus each person is trying to outdo the other. But unfortunately, this spirit of competition has not invoked new avenues of talent and intelligence. It is not channelising the great potential that exists in our people. What kind of image are we creating for ourselves in the comity of nations? Are we coming across as smart people? As intelligent people, or as sensible people, or as tolerant people? Can we hold our heads high? The answers may not be in the positive.
From the scaling of walls of the election commission by the lawyers, the thrashing up of the then minister of state of information by journalists, hurling of stones on Aitzaz Ahsan by the state police to the shoe beating of a former chief minister by political activists and the dragging of a former minister for law and parliamentary affairs by the lawyers and the burning alive of six lawyers in a building, the people of Pakistan have come out as brutal, intolerant and insensible.
It has become a place where reasoning has ceased to exist, where rationality is an unknown trait. We have become a nation at war with ourselves. We have stopped listening, we have stopped hearing.
We don’t want to tolerate any opinion other than ours and we don’t like to follow rules and regulation. For us freedom means no restriction, no restraints, no checks and no limits. We are self-righteous in our attitude, in our behaviour and in our way of life. We try to find escape by blaming others for our misfortune, for our failures, and for our deprivations. We never look at our own self. Introspection is a word non-existent in our vocabulary. Shielding ourselves behind the argument of decades old dictatorships and the over-bearing role of security apparatus can no longer hold any ground. We have to come out from this escapist mindset. Had the agencies been so effective, they would have certainly sabotaged the lawyer’s movement long ago. Tried, they must have. They could not succeed. But all of a sudden when the new democratic dispensation is about to take off, we find ourselves vandalising our own institutions for whose supremacy we have been struggling so long.
The struggle for democracy, the movement for an independent judiciary is now at stake. The rejoicing of the victory by the political forces in the general elections, the euphoria about creating an environment of reconciliation and understanding acquired so painstakingly by the leaders of the two major political parties Mr Asif Ali Zardari and Mian Nawaz Sharif is under threat. Both the leaders had pushed aside their political differences and agreed to work together to build up bridges between and amongst the people and to provide a healing hand to the people of Pakistan.
Their understanding paved the way for a new democratic system that is aimed to work for a stronger parliament, a sustainable democracy and a dynamic polity. But the chain of events starting from April 6 till date is threatening the process and encouraging divisive forces to regain their lost ground. As a nation are we suppose to sit quietly and let the matter slip out of our hand and allow anarchic forces to take over the situation. Sensibility demands to exercise caution and strict application of reasoning. This is our pitch. This is our game. This is our system; we have to insure that no harm is inflicted. If politics is to remain then we all have to work to strengthen the new democratic system. It is now or never.
Source: The Nation, 21/4/2008