The crisis of our political process

By:Raza Kazim    

The fuel as well as lubricant for our political engine is cash and property sharing — unadulterated. Any consistent concern or committed involvement with the fundamentals and mechanics of maximising the growth and welfare of the nation as a whole are positively infra dig for the prevailing Pakistani political process

Over the last two decades I have witnessed the gradual emergence of civil rights organisations and trends. Probably they were our response to the fall of Bolshevism and the rise of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) — our local Stalinism, both being a combination of in-house patriotism and dictatorship. Despite my early doubts bordering on cynicism because of traces of post-colonialist anemia and an order of collaboration, I have observed the continuing growth and momentum, particularly in the last three years when the media took over the leadership of the emerging trend which now appears to have grown into a ‘civil society’ fighting for ‘democracy’ on an ‘as is, where is’ basis. And then I witness its gradual gravitation towards democratic and humanist ideals emotionally and intellectually.

On this note, having offered my humble confession, I would like to put a few points for the consideration of my democratic peers.

I submit that the problem of policies and personnel is secondary for our gestating democracy. The core issue, as I have observed for more than six decades, lies in the peculiar nature of our political process as a whole, leaving aside its frozen fringes. In our political mainstream, historically, we never paused to discover and create a new political process and its fundamentals for fulfilling the promise and responsibilities of a new country’s life in freedom. It was an inherited and non-combative political process, which we have continued to operate with minor variations with the addition of a competitiveness akin to that between shopkeepers in Anarkali.

The general description of the Pakistani political process would be that there are three to four tiers of political cadres. At the top, prominent and whole-time core group, having an abundance of political exposure in the media and public, possessing established resources of property and money set aside as investment in politics. In the second tier there are lesser clones at the district level. And the third tier has even lesser clones at the tehsil level. And, lastly, foot soldiers of our political process from the lumpen section of society who have no regular gainful employment and possess an addiction, an expertise, as the working class of our politics. And then there is a loose network of contacts in the bureaucracy and the media on a part-time basis.

The stock-in-trade is pure, unadulterated rhetoric. The argumentation must be clever but supercilious; the verbiage has to be like a balloon filled to the bursting point. The single-minded objective has to be a periodic achievement of bargaining power (called ministries and memberships of assemblies) within the colonial framework of state power in which the bureaucracy is crowned by the General Headquarters (GHQ) and ISI. The fuel as well as lubricant for our political engine is cash and property sharing — unadulterated. Any consistent concern or committed involvement with the fundamentals and mechanics of maximising the growth and welfare of the nation as a whole are positively infra dig for the prevailing Pakistani political process. In fact, this has been the line of demarcation between ‘serious’ politicians and ‘amateur’ visitors to politics.

I hope that large numbers of men and women of good will in civil society, if they confront with patience this issue, will come to the logical conclusion that out of this political landscape no flowers of democracy can bloom. Democracy, certainly yes! It is a truism that there is no alternative to it, but if the desire of civil society for democracy is to produce a reality, then it has to change the existing landscape of our political culture first and that will require a bigger and more concerted effort by civil society than its present, part-time involvement with democracy. This, I believe, is the crisis of our present civil society. If it persists in side-stepping this fundamental issue, then in future the question will be asked which democracy was it that we were speaking about.

I have mentioned the Bolshevik downfall and ISI dictatorship earlier and now it is necessary to mention the existing western or Bourgeois version of democracy, as it exists today. I submit it has come a long way from its days of glory when it holistically confronted feudalism in science, arts, literature and politics, on the battlefield and in the workshops, and produced a whole Renaissance in their societies.

Today, it is no longer a model for a people like us who need to urgently make a new renaissance for their survival. I do not elaborate upon this issue because there is enough material within the reach of interested readers.

(The writer is an advocate and director of Sanjannagar Institute of Philosophy and Arts).

NOTE:This is a cross post.

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Comments

  • Summaya  On November 8, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Democracy has long been a “buzzword” in Pakistan. It is also a “Eureka” word for most politicians who want the people of Pakistan to believe that electoral politics is a panacea for most of their problems. Although the Pakistani political system has long been alternating between various forms of electoral politics and dictatorship, nothing seems to have alleviated Pakistan’s chronic difficulties.
    Concerning the current crisis of confidence, democracy, and leadership in Pakistan under the various governments, diplomatic declarations of demonsrated “disappointment” do not suffice.
    Does Reza Kazim has an answer to the problem?

  • Rafiq Mian  On November 8, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    A sincerely well worth reading piece – I must say. Not that I totally and earnestly agree with it. But the thought process will work = sort of perhaps. Even bad systems will do well – if applied earnestly.

    But here is the caveat:

    It is only a piece of software. Software’s do only deliver the intended product if and only if the applicators will carry them through – here through the masses.

    Do we believe we have the masses ready and wanting for the software. Nada!

    Quite frankly, I am tired of this “we should”, “we must” and “why don’t we?”. I hear it on TV and discussions all along and I just simply cringe. Who are these “we” and how will these “we” take arms? Come on?

    The avalanche and sailaab is on, it has become too strong and deep against the likes of us to undo.

    On that count – just do what you do daily and SMILE !!!!

  • Mumtaz Paracha  On November 9, 2010 at 2:35 am

    “we will always remain in a political crisis for there is nobody to change the fundamentals of our politics. Rule of Law, Rule of Merit, Rule of Justice are the cardinal principles of good governance. None of these is there at the moment.”

  • owaise saadat  On November 9, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Reza Sahibs piece is dialectic…and hence a bit dense for the unsuspecting mind. But his points are very relevant. Until we change the political landscape nothing will bloom insofar as democracy goes. He is also absolutely right to describe property and money sharing as the lubricants of our polity today! I differ, with respect, on his perceived role for civil society..in the arena of democracy. There is not always a diect nexus /impact of civil society in nurturing democratic traditions…..civil society and media must insist on ” freedom of information” and expose persistently the slippery nature of what Reza calls ” lubricants’. As for our political structures….only an earthquake can dislodge it…..Marxist type or Islamic Revolution ( Khomeni Style)…Reza Sahib take your pick!!!!!!

  • Haroon Wasti  On November 10, 2010 at 9:36 am

    So where is the problem ?? Atleast I dont see one .
    It is simple and easy. I propose, Let us start shouting like Asghar Khan and Jamait-e-Islami in the past for the Marshal Law to come and as always , it shall so graciously oblige and we all would be saved and in HEAVEN with suger at Rs.60/-. A win – win situation for all.

    Do I have Seconders please ????

  • Riaz Jafri  On November 10, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Wasti Sahib: Glad you are up and doing. May Allah (swt) bestow upon you full health soon, ameen.

    I vehmently oppose the clarion call for the ‘usurpers’ and strongly pray for the long life of our dear and darling duly elected democrats to keep gnawing at the almost vanishing flesh of the naive awaam to the best of their heart’s content and never abating lust and avarice of building palaces abroad. May God save them from all evil for ALL time to come and May our children’s childern and even their children be ever hand-folded slaves to Bilals, Hamzas, Chaudries, Makhdooms and Vederas. How lucky they are to have them around ALWAYS?! We are all very happy to buy sugar at even Rs.10000000000000000000040 a kilo. It was the stupid weak hearted Ayub who gave in at the increase of only two annas a kilo. Our present leaders have Ma’Shallah nerves made of steel and know that their faithful awaam would bear any hardship gladly for their duly elected darling leaders.

    Anyone seconding my prayers?

    Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)

    • Dr M S Mirza  On November 16, 2010 at 12:10 pm

      Thanks Mr Jafri,

      Your comments are very true, but let us be the men of action. And resolve the political CHAOS of so called POLITICAL LOOTERS. Please join hand with POL. PAKISTAN OVERSEAS LEAGUE. INTEND TO CHANGE THE WAY POLITICS WORKS IN PAKISTAN.
      Be a part and power of POL and Pakistan.

      Dr. Muhammad Shahbaz Mirza
      Founder Chairman P O L

      PAKISTAN OVERSEAS LEAGUE
      E.MAIL>pakistanoverseasleague@hotmail.com
      WEBSITE>WWW.pakistanoverseasleague.blogspot.com

  • am malik  On November 11, 2010 at 2:38 am

    Well said. However next time would appreciate a simpler English – and in prose pl
    am

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