Oct 052008
 

The election of President Asif Ali Zardari reminded me of the days when I used to teach Psychology in a college. I was trying to define the concept of ‘normal and abnormal’ while teaching Abnormal Psychology. I explained to the students that the terms of ‘normal and abnormal’ were subjective concepts that drew their meaning and significance from the environment a person lives in. Behaviour considered normal and acceptable in a society may be considered abnormal and inappropriate in a totally different society. A person in a clan of thieves and robbers would be considered abnormal if he deviates from the norms of his or her clan. The Chief in such a society or village must always be a robber or thief because this is the acceptable norm of that particular society.

 

Before the elections, the Pakistani media provided tremendous amount of information to the public regarding the background of Mr. Zaradri. Everybody seemed to be well aware of the facts. But all information fell on the deaf ears of the electors. The legislators had their own priorities and their own mindset. Anjum Niaz, a leading free-lance journalist, has described in detail the behaviour of the legislators of Peshawar Provincial Assembly in an article in ‘The News’ of 16 September, 2008. Their attitude, together with the attitude of the officials of the election commission and the monitoring staff was very shameful. If that is the Psychology of the legislators what good work one can expect from the process of legislation taking place in such a legislative assembly? The parliamentarians are the representatives of the public. The people have voted for them to be their voice and their hope. They have been placed in the assemblies to decide about the fate of the people of the area.

 

Had this situation been in Washington, London or Tokyo, things would have been absolutely different. The judicial system in those countries is so strong and so independent, it is impossible for a person with checkered background to be able to contest for the most prestigious public office. The general public in those societies thinks very independently and rationally without any fears. The civil society and human rights organizations hound the black sheep out of the fold. But the values and morals of our society in Pakistan have deteriorated to such a low level that no one gives importance to personal integrity, honesty and character. Whether it is shopkeepers, businessmen, highly qualified professionals such as physicians, engineers, educationists, public servants or law enforcing agencies, no one seems to be trustworthy. The doctors have been caught practicing openly in the public using veterinary medicines on human beings. The engineers and builders have been found using substandard building materials thus endangering precious human lives. You do not know what the shopkeeper is selling to you. Is the milk or the milk product sold in the food shop is of genuine quality. The water in the mineral bottles has been discovered to be tap water. Dishonesty and corruption is so rampant that it has almost become a norm, a value and a pre-requisite for gaining success and prosperity in our society.

 

I remember once I bought yogurt from a shop in Tokyo. Being a Pakistani I, as per my conditioning with shopkeepers in Pakistan, asked the shopkeeper if the yogurt was fresh and of good quality. The shopkeeper, hearing my question started sweating. His face became red and he did not know how to answer my question. I asked my Professor the next day about that incident enquiring why the shopkeeper was so nervous. My professor told me that in Japan no one sells bad or outdated things. There is no dishonesty. There is no cheating. Hence, they are not prepared to answer such questions. Nobody even thinks about such inappropriate ways and means to earn livelihood. This is the psychology of a nation that is leading the economy of the world. It has won the trust and confidence of the international community by building their credibility. Nobody doubts the efficiency of any Japanese product. The values of honesty and integrity are the hallmarks of Japanese society.

 

The Islamabad Marriot Hotel bombing of the past week indicates definite security lapse on the part of the National Security Advisor, Mr. Rehman Malik. But neither Mr. Malik nor the Government have the moral courage to accept responsibility for this serious incident. This again reminds me of the Japanese attitude in such circumstances. I met a very senior Japanese business executive who had resigned from his job in a very elite business organization. When I asked him the reason of his resignation he told me that one of his subordinates was found involved in embezzlement. In Japan the senior boss will always resign from his position if an employee of his section is found involved in an act of dishonesty or corruption. This is the way of a nation that lives in the world with honour and respect.      

 

I will not accuse Mr. Zardari for breaking his commitments or deceiving his political partners. I will not accuse the legislators for not using their rational mind and honest opinion. It’s not their fault. They are part and parcel of our society where dishonesty and corruption are the values and norms. Zardari, Naek or Dogar, are all part of this society of ours and they are all very normal and intelligent people. Yes, they are normal because they fit the norms of the state and society whereas the behaviour of Iftikhar Chaudhary, Aitizaz and company is considered inappropriate and unacceptable because they are misfits. They do not conform to the norms of our society and state.  

 

I feel sad for my friends in media, civil society and lawyers’ community for uselessly wasting their time and energy in trying to put the wheels of society back on the old tracks of honesty, faith, trust and justice, the values for which the country was founded. I feel sad for the poor people of this country because I do not see any hope and any future for them. All the legislators of the country are financially very, very wealthy people. The country’s president’s estate values billions of dollars. No one knows the origin of his wealth nor is there a system to enquire about it. On the other hand the general public lives below the poverty line. In the house of a common man, the whole property consists of a simple cot, a water pitcher, a steel plate and glass. The people in the house do not have access to a single proper meal a day. The overall scenario in the life of a common man is utterly appalling and horrendous. It is these utterly poor people who have enabled the rich and wealthy class to get entry into the country’s legislative assemblies. This wealthy and rich class, which has been elected by the poor public to be their representatives, has never ever seen poverty. It has never suffered the heat or cold of the weather. It has never felt the need to know how much a bag of flour costs. Can anything valuable be expected from such legislators? Will they really be able to formulate laws based upon justice and equality? Do they know what justice means? With these legislators in the parliament will JUSTICE ever come to rescue the poor people of Pakistan?

 

Mumtaz Shah

Email: banesai7@gmail.com                                                      24 September, 2008

  2 Responses to “Pakistan Politics: Normal and Abnormal”

  1. good job! the article is food for thought. It make me think where we stand as a nation among abother nations like Japan, and of developed countries which offer a role model of fair dealing and honesty.

    Itis a high time for Pakistanis to think about our national character. Such kind of articles really help us to measure our level of honesty. Keep it up!
    thanks

    Tab

  2. Well… it about time that the people of Pakistan realized the true picture of the politicians of our country. Everybody on the upper level is fight a battle against each other. Promises are being made and are not being fulfilled.

    I would say logon ko jag jana chahiay… I quote Shehzad Roy’s song laga reh in the end it say “Logon ko jaga nay ka time aa giya hai and the politician say: Inko maat jagao ye kisi zarori kaam sey soo rahay hein”.

    May God Help Pakistan

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