Who thinks that a square-root is a genetically modified potato? Isn’t it quite absurd? And yet, some of us live by such a manner of thinking.
To live, believe and conduct national politics by unthinkable edicts is intellectual anarchy. It is a conceptual disorder. It borders on nihilism. Only the most presumptuous and absolutely misinformed would argue that a square-root is, in fact, a genetic modification of some kind. Such reasoning defies and violates the very fundamentals of rationality and logical thinking. It is ignorance at its worst.
The national and international media have reported that the Pakistani incumbent Prime Minister has categorically stated that no one within his political management team, at the helm of national affairs, will resign on the basis of moral and ethical considerations. If the media reports are true, one is baffled at the political mindset and philosophical conceptualization of “politics” by the incumbent PPP leadership at its very top. To disassociate morality from politics is truly the kind of logic that believes a square-root is a genetically modified potato! There is not a shred of reason or even a simple sense of political correctness in this kind of thinking. It is an outrage.
Perhaps, the Honorable Prime Minister, had a momentary imaginative failure and confused the word “morality” with a similar sounding word “monasticism” (monkhood, priesthood or locally mullah-hood) or “mogul” (as capitalist financier) or even “modish” (referring to stylish, fashionable) or another aberration of some kind. Otherwise, how could the Prime Minister reduce the centuries-old importance of the concepts of ethics and morality in political discourse and in the development of human civilizations to zero?
Since the days of ancient Greece, philosophers and political thinkers have tried to frame rules of moral conduct to deal with ethical-moral dilemmas and determine what to do when faced with conflicting predicaments. It is instructive to note that Socrates in 470-399 B.C. preferred to end his life by drinking poison than to compromise on a matter of moral-ethical principle. Aristotle, in the fourth century BC considered “ethical excellence” as the exemplified virtue of a statesman who should practice moral principles to the extent of an absolute art. In the subsequent political movements and in the development of political thought, throughout the following centuries, the discussions on moral and ethical imperatives in political conduct and practice have remained paramount and fundamental to human progress, sociological evolution and in the developmental process of organizing politics for the betterment of humanity.
The entire Islamic political thought is based on a single most important element: the exercise of moral ethical imperatives every step of a state actor’s personal behavior and in the institutional conduct of state functionaries.
Have the Prime Minister’s advisors, political pundits, public relation gurus and the speech writer checked the “facts sheet” of the modern state and political management manuals and guidelines that have evolved over centuries of human intellectual efforts? Of course if they had, they would have known that the Prime Minister of Pakistan would be way out of line to utter such an unacceptable statement. Obviously, it has caused a complete collapse of a fundamental element in the functional process of a democratic governance. Indeed, the Prime Minister’s statement on the lack of the political importance of “morality” has adequately demonstrated his inability to fully understand the dynamics of political processes required in present-day Pakistan and has irrevocably damaged the PM’s credibility as a national political leader.
Self-defense and the defense of one’s political party, associates and national management team is the legitimate right of a political leadership. Yousef Raza Gilani is entitled to it, as he should be. But the “right to defend” is not the issue here. The “issue” is altogether different: Can a basic principle of good governance, the people’s political mandate and a solemn undertaking by the PPP leadership to fulfill the citizens’ sentiments and national aspirations be revoked in the defense of the ruling party’s managers and some of its political actors? Even a political novice knows otherwise. A self-belief in this particular issue is not a justified moral, ethical or political defense: The Prime Minister might earnestly believe that the political actors in his management team are all innocent of the accusations – that might be true as well – but it has to be proven beyond any shadow of a doubt. In the meantime, it is the PM’s moral, ethical, legal, political and national duty to make sure that the accused associates step aside from the positions of power and governmental decision-making. The PM must keep in mind the fact that the evidence produced so far against the accused incumbent members of his ruling team is quiet formidable and convincing; the doubts have to be cleared.
“…, one of the ironies of democratic politics is that, in order to accomplish something, you first have to get elected. But accomplishing something, not getting elected, is the major work of politics”, wrote an author on the ethical and moral dimensions of democratic governance. The PM and the entire PPP leadership have devoted its endless energy in defending its mandate to rule for five-years. In the process, the PM and the rest of the party have completely ignored the golden rule of democratic politics: Accomplishing something, not getting elected, is the major work of politics!
Will the Prime Minister explain to the nation: How is this administration going to “accomplish something” when it is charged with such moral, ethical, financial and governance irregularities?
Let me remind the Prime Minister: the public confidence in the present political management team and its leading managers is absolutely at ZERO level- the contemporary chaotic conditions in every aspect of national life speak of volumes of political mismanagement and failure of this administration’s performance in national policy making.
On top, the nation is told: There is no potential harm in keeping the national status-quo as it is – and let the political actors who have lost credibility continue to run the show. After all, they have a five year public mandate! Does it make any sense?
To rub salt on the wounds: the rules or guidelines governing how to make ethical/moral choices in politics is of no consideration to the incumbent political administration in today’s Pakistan – the land of the Pure…!
“A square root is a genetically modified potato,” claims the mainstream leadership in the PPP! That’s what they are saying, but isn’t it absurd?
The fact is that a potato is a potato – and a square root is a different thing altogether!