Pakistan; Political Ethos; By Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)


Winston Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried." And the same very sage also said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." What has the average voter in Pakistan to say about the present democracy, should not be difficult to ascertain? He is not only dismayed and disillusioned but has also started remembering fondly the era of the usurper. It must ring alarm and cause great concern to the politicians. The main reason for the malaise to my mind is the substandard material found in the secondary and tertiary tiers of the political parties – that is the MPAs and the MNAs. The political parties seem to be dependent more upon the personalities rather than their political ideology and as such try to field the candidates accordingly overlooking the ir obvious failings to contest the elections. For example, during the recent bye elections a gentleman who had been unseated from the assembly for committing forgery – presenting a fake graduation degree – was again given the party ticket to contest now that the graduation condition had been removed by the Dogar court. Agreed, the graduation condition was un-necessary but the big question remains that had the person in question committed the act of forgery or not? If he had and was convicted by the court, does his character not stand blemished? And, should a person with a blemished character be allowed to sit in the august assembly of the honourable legislators to frame the laws for the nation to follow? What a mockery of the law framed by a person with such character failings? Similarly, a lady MPA was caught red handed by the CCTV camera of a jeweler’s shop using a stolen credit card of someone else! Another legislator was allegedly accu sed of raping a helpless woman at gun point in a hotel. Yet ! another gentleman was accused of manhandling the customs staff at airport and again misbehaving with the lady parliamentarian(s). What kind of honourable people they are and what are the constraints and compulsions faced by the party higher command to retain them. On the other front, some of the honourable legislators and legal wizards accused of naked corruption and that too in the apex court of the country have not only been retained but also elevated to higher positions. One wonders why? Where is the thing called “conduct unbecoming” and why it is not being applied? The party higher command should know that now people have started voting for the parties with programmes instead of the personalities. Had it been not so, the recent bye election results in Rawalpindi, Lahore and even other places would have been different. A relatively unknown candidate of TI got around 10,000 votes in Lahore against a stalwart of a powerful religious party and another nomin ee of one of the largest parties with the alleged backing of the provincial government. Under such circumstances 10,000 people voting for the TI candidate is a no mean achievement by any standards. People did not vote for the candidate but for Imran Khan’s party - Tehreek e Insaf and its manifesto. The trend is set for the future and it is a happy augury for democracy in the country. It is, therefore, time that the political parties realized the ground realities and publicized extensively their manifestos and programmes for the welfare of the masses and not auctioned party tickets to the rich and the nouveau riche. How can a person who invests millions first on ‘buying’ the party ticket and then on his electioneering campaign remain selfless and keep the interest of the masses above his own interest? It is just a plain and simple fact of life that he/she makes an investment in a very lucrative business and when elected to power not only recover s his/her initial capital but also makes profit for his/her ! coming s even generations. Unfortunately, corruption among the ruling elite has become a norm to the extent that one sitting minister counter-questioned the TV anchor on a talk show, “why, is it not our right to be corrupt?!”. What he meant was if others could be corrupt then why not his party men could also be corrupt. The punch line delivered by him was too realistic that anybody not making money these days would only be a fool! If that is the sole intention of some of the politicians entering the corridors of power then would it not be wise to ban their entry into it. As a matter of fact any one having an interest should not be allowed access to power. It reminds me of a dictum from Hazrat Ali, “Do not elect a person for an office who offers himself for it. He has an interest in it. Instead elect the best amongst you and ask him to take the office. And, if he shows unreasonable reluctance, force him even at the point of the sword, if required, to serve the people”. Keeping this irrefutable truth in mind the political party command must nominate only the honest, capable and dedicated men and women, and not necessarily the feudals and the vederas to contest the future elections. I assure them that the people have woken up now and are aware of the power of their vote, they shall vote only for the party that could ameliorate their lot and put the country on the road to progress. Only, then we will have the right kind of political leadership in the country who will strive, work selflessly and find Pakistan – a nuclear power and a nation of 180 million people - its rightful place of honour and respect in the comity of the nations, Inshallah

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