Changing Pakistan’s Political Culture

(Abu Hassan, )

Muhammad Rehan Rasheed

“There are no desperate situations, there are only desperate people.” ~ Heinz Guderian

Unfortunately, Pakistan was not the outcome of any major endeavour between the haves and the have-nots because such a contest would have brought a matured political culture and democratic norms to the nation. Pakistan has its own politico-economic and psycho-social environment, peculiar to Pakistan alone. How can you bring the change where regional issues are preferred over the national interest? Our political culture is predominantly parochial, rich in societal schism and hinged on local feudals, urban bosses and their followers. No change in power structure because it is circulating within the family members. Our leaders are selected on the basis of kinship and it is the sole cause of our catastrophic political development.

This fact is cogently explained by AnatolLieven in his book “Pakistan; A hard country” that “Defense of the honor and the interests of the kinship group usually outweighs loyalty to a party, to the state, or to any code of professional ethics, not only for ordinary Pakistanis, but for most politicians and officials. It is therefore important to understand that much Pakistani corruption is the result not of a lack of values (as it is usually seen in the west) but of the positive and ancient value of loyalty to family and clan.” Therefore, politically and socially it is a frivolous pursuit to attain any kind of revolutionary good. There are no short cuts for the social and political reforms. Political development requires political socialization which is a hard and moderate process.

The fidelity to the family, clan, tribe, cults, kinships, class and creed always outweigh loyalty to the “NATION” and people consider it as their social compulsion. Regional parties are always preferred over national outfits based on ethnic discrimination, linguistic division, religious fanaticism, sectarianism, tribalism, provincialism and regionalism. Similarly voting in our society is based on personalities and rhetoric. Our citizens are ignorant anddon’t have the ability to make informed choices. Unfortunately, the future of Pakistan is decided by these illiterates constituting the major portion of our population. It is rightly asserted that the results of our elections are spurious and unreliable as a result sensible voters become politically apathetic because they are not playing any role in the political game of snake and ladders.Our people will remain blind followers till the time there have been radical changes in the mindset of people.

Our social and political life has not observed any radical change yet. Corruption, injustice, illiteracy, nepotism and above all intolerance are at the grass root level.How can you bring the change when the people are not ready for it? People have not comprehended the essence of change yet. It requires years to understand and uncountable sacrifices. The root cause will remain the same that is “trust deficit” towards politicians which has already made our people impatient, intolerant and always ready for intense criticism. Definitely, there should be no reliance because the government is always run by the corrupt plutocrats. How can one trust them? You keep paying taxes like good little minions and they will devour it like a beast.

The country’s economy is deteriorating day by day. Despite this alarming state our leaders are wasting the poor country’s revenue on the show piece projects. Can’t they think beyond the perishable, imprudent and injudicious ventures? We need exigent reforms, policies and projects for health, education, technology, justice and security. But we explicitly know that mega projects mean mega kickbacks and ultimately mega corruption where political supporters are awarded mega contracts for their loyalties. Billions of rupees have been doled out from development funds to their own relatives.Misappropriation and misuse of power lead to unjust distribution of resources and opportunities. We are having all trends of political, moral or fiscal corruptions which have percolated in our society.

To quote Karl Kraus “Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual; the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.” Governance performance can exactly be conceived through poor economic reforms, obscure foreign policy, deteriorating health status, failure in the educational sector and abortion of power devolution but What will happen if people don’t have “Naya Pakistan” (New Pakistan) after this election?What about others who are plundering the nation’s wealth? Right now, I don’t have any answer to this.

Merits and accountability are the essence of any successful system but unfortunately these attributes are alien to our society. To cite Lord Bryce, “There is no better test of excellence of government than the efficiency of its judicial system”.There is no accountability in any department and anyone who is in the top is above the law. Even those supposed to be enforcing the law are breaking it. Lack of institutional capacity, professionalism, specialization and experience resulted in the deterioration of public services.In a society where no heed is paid to the life of commoners will always lose confidence in their future. Today the entire hullabaloo is because our citizens are not enjoying the right balance of opportunities and resources.

It is the responsibility of all the institutions to work together within their constitutional perimeters and to involve the entire society. Democracy is a self controlled system therefore it is necessary that all the institution should not be under any influence. We are still waiting for the independent and unbiased judiciary and free media to protect our constitutional fronts. It is said that education is the cheapest defense of a nation which creates national integration by spreading political awareness. We need a dialectical education system with special emphasis on character building. The nation is still in search of a visionary Messiah who will give us hope and direction, to save us from going into the abyss of disintegration and chaos.

(The author is freelance columnist based in Quetta)


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