Let us start this article from the bottom up: conclusion first – but details later. It is rather an unusual practice in English journalism, but this imperfection is desired here to alert the readers of the argumentative improvisation that is going to be an impetus to reverse reasoning. For as witnesses to history, we, as citizens of a country and as human beings, go backwards into the past to examine events and historical realities. How else can we get to know anyone, any nation, or for that matter, a political leadership without going into their past?
Clarity about important national issues are also linked and intertwined with the past. In other words, neither appreciation nor understanding of vital national events are possible without reference to past history. To go forward, we need to step backwards first – that in itself is the definition of history’s significance.
Let us get back to the moral of the story: It is shameful to personally submit to an idea, concept , notion, ideology or specifically to a particular political leadership when such a submission leads to the loss of personal integrity — when one loses one’s balance of rationality and intellectual equilibrium, against all common sense, to an extent that it compromises the fundamentals of decent and appropriate political behavior—by, in effect, setting aside moral and ethical responsibilities to accept a certain political activist or a political actor or a political leadership.
I have always wondered in absolute amazement how the stalwarts of a national political party in Pakistan that had immense popularity of the masses at one time and founded by no other than a formidable personality, Zulfikhar Ali Bhutto, could have handed over the reins of this political machine to a person on the absolute bizarre production of a piece of handwritten paper. But a more important question than that is: What democracy on earth gives the right to a person to establish a hereditary hierarchy in a democratic political structure? In fact, in a democratic sense, this kind of thing is unheard of, unfathomable, and unimaginable and unknown in the annals of democratic history. And yet, it is true. It has happened in Pakistan amazingly and unbelievably. Not only that, it is happening again – repeatedly and without any serious challenge or formidable opposition to it by anyone, especially the very stalwarts of the two major political parties, the PPP and the PLMN.
Z.A. Bhutto aggressively promoted his daughter, Benazir Bhutto, as his successor and leader of the party as if the People’s Party and Pakistan was the personal prerogative of the late PPP leader. Benazir allegedly handed over the leadership to Asif Ali Zardari on a piece of handwritten paper napkin. And now, obviously, Asif Ali Zardari has unilaterally and undemocraticly handed over the leadership to his son, Bilawal Bhutto.
Sadly and unfortunately, this undemocratic practice is also being wholeheartedly espoused by the so-called Sher-i-Pakistan, Mian Nawaz Sharif, the disqualified ex-Prime Minister of Pakistan, who has imagined in absolute earnest that no one other than his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, should rule this unfortunate nation following his unceremonious exit from Prime Ministership. The promotion of dynastic rule seems to be a vital element of Nawaz Sharif’s future political plans and landscape. The former Prime Minister has already unilaterally elevated his daughter Maryam Nawaz as the de facto leader of the party, the future Prime Minister in waiting. The absurdity of this situation is that Mian Nawaz Sharif sees no contradiction to democratic principles in his dynastically planned political disposition; democracy is being turned into a family-owned enterprise. Is not that absurd?
The two major parties have devised this future for our “democratic” Pakistan. And it seems some people loyal to Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, respectively, are buying into this idea of family rule.
After all, perception management is a reality of our times. Who knows what propagandists are capable of. As we all know, an American public relations company in Washington, on the payment of a massive fee, has convinced Nawaz Sharif that his political comeback in Pakistan is within reach. Mind it, this PR establishment was recommended to Nawaz Sharif by no other than Asif Ali Zardari, who, at present, is attempting to negotiate yet another NRO for himself and his family with immodest insolence and shameful unscrupulousness. It appears that all of these Pakistani political actors consider the Pakistani masses as a herd of sheep and a crowd of fools. They think they can get away with anything.
The real problem in this respect resides with the prominent stalwarts of both the PPP and the PMLN. Let us start by examining the political behavior of some of the major political actors of the PPP. Naturally, to begin with, I’m tempted to question the political wisdom and claim to the adherence to democratic principles of the famous and talented constitutional lawyer, a long-time prominent leader of the PPP, a former law minister, a leader in the movement for the restoration of honorable judges during the Musharraf era, a well-known revolutionary writer and poet, a darling of TV talk shows, and above all, a life-long self-proclaimed democrat to the core of his bones. A reasonable and legitimate question to ask him is: Why does the honorable Senator and constitutional law expert, a democrat, stand behind Bilawal Bhutto, a political novice to Pakistani culture, language and politics, a nominee to party leadership by his father, the ex-President of Pakistan, widely known for his alleged massive corruption and questionable political moral-ethical credentials? Does not the respected Senator see a blatant violation of democratic principles in solidarity with the advancement of hereditary leadership? How does the Senator justify this peculiar political behavior – which is, in absolute essence, a subversion of democracy and an instrument to promote an anti-democratic structure and culture in Pakistani politics.
An even more important question is: Why doesn’t the said Senator challenge this brand of Zardari politics and leadership in Party elections? Indeed, the Senator is well-qualified, capable and perhaps popular enough to attempt it. The vital question is, democratically speaking, what holds him back?
Similarly, Qamar Zaman Kaira and Sherry Rehman, among many other long-time party stalwarts, are not challenging the Party leadership and are continuing in an alliance of perpetual subversion of fundamental democratic covenants by supporting inherited leadership in a major national political party.
It is about time that someone in the People’s Party takes the first step against the heightened excesses of personalized politics and let democratic values flourish. There has already been enough of Bhutto-Zardari damage to Pakistani politics and society. Enough is enough – and it needs to end now. Someone within the party needs to tell the mega-rich, pseudo-democrat, ex-president and co-chairman of the party that his time is spent, and neither he nor his protégé and designated chairman of the party are needed. The PPP and its workers are awakening from their slumber now, and so are the Pakistani masses.
The PMLN is even more irrelevant to contemporary Pakistani politics. Instead of presenting the required legal evidence to the court and the nation, the Punjab Lion has unleashed the Punjabi Lioness, his daughter, to get consolation through a meaningless soliloquy against national institutions, including the Supreme Court and the military establishment. The issue is simple: Tell the courts and the nation how you have amassed such massive wealth, seemingly beyond your known sources of income. As such, it is expected that you have amply misused your political power for unmitigated economic gains. In simply political parlance, it is defined as corruption. A democratic nation cannot allow a corrupt leader to run the affairs of the country. A corrupt leader is akin to cancerous cells in a human body. Cancer cells inevitably lead to the destruction of human life and must be removed. Similarly, a corrupt leadership is fatal to a nation and poses existential threats to its existence. It must be removed – there are no two ways about it.
This is, in essence, the point of democratic dispensation and rules. There are no two opinions on this subject anywhere, anyplace, with any ideology or in any form of government.
The issue is: How can Pakistan survive with a corrupt dynastic political leadership on either side of the coin?
The moral of the story is: it cannot. Period!