NOTES FROM A SOCIAL SCIENTIST
By Dr. Haider Mehdi
If you have not watched Francis Ford Coppola’s epic film, The Godfather, you should. In fact, every Pakistani ought to watch this film. This movie is instructive in many ways in understanding the intricacies of how political influence is bought by money-loaded “Mafioso,” and how the Mafia acquires the power to control political events through corruption, bribing, violence, deceit, concealment, stealth, subterfuge, deception, secrecy, evasion and cover-ups. And on top of that, the narrative of this film is based more on reality rather than fiction – just the way today’s Pakistan’s so-called democracy has turned itself into a “Criminal Empire.” In the land of the “pure” and the “pious,” the entire state and political leadership indulges in open and blatant corruption, bribing, stealing, looting, underhanded dealings, nepotism, lies, cover-ups, defiance against the law and ethical practices, violence against its own citizens; above all, making money and using it for limitless politically-motivated objectives has become the modus-operandi of the state functionaries and national affairs managers.
The “Familygate” scandal has opened yet another floodgate of information on how the current political dispensation works and operates – how unspecified amounts of money are made and then used to influence national events, the country’s politics, media “gurus”, opinion-maker “pundits,” and the overall national political discourse. Irrespective of the facts of who said what to whom and why, who showed what evidence to whom and why, who was briefed by whom and why at a certain point in time, who was bribed by gifts of expensive automobiles and costly villas in upper-class estates, and why the recipients accepted these gifts, for what purposes and intentions, with what professional or ethical justification. Who did business with whom, who financed whom with enormous amounts of money, who paid whose holiday bills in thousands of British pounds for whom and why, and so on and so forth. But one single-most important fact that stands glaring in our faces is that this country is being deliberately pushed into becoming a “Criminal Empire.” The entire ruling elite is decisively committed to engineering and organizing a national political structure, oligarchic in nature, more oppressive and regimented than traditional feudal systems, with the objective to divide the nation between a ruling elite with enormous financial and political resources vested in them, and a largely marginalized populace majority subjected to the ruling elite’s political control for an indefinite period of time in the future. We live in very dangerous political circumstances now.
Indeed, judicial decisions and judgments will have to go through the normal legal processes and procedures in the “Familygate” case. But the Chief Justice of Pakistan’s prompt “suo motu” action against his own son has once again reinforced Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s personal credibility and professional integrity. In fact, it has set an unprecedented example of submitting to the rule of law no matter what might be at stake and who might be affected. Appreciable, isn’t it?
But the time has arrived for the nation to react and rebel against the ruling elite’s incessant political atrocities and national mismanagement. It is a moment to make enlightened, rational, philosophical and ethical-moral judgments in regards to national politics, and set a constructive discourse for the country’s political renaissance and reform in its political culture. It is time for a revolution to be instigated by the masses themselves. It is a moment for deliberation, reawakening of national consciousness, transformational change and political action to get rid of the entire incumbent political elite, its reactionary, regressive and backwards leadership, and the contemporary implicit planning to subjugate this nation to another era of vested-interests controlled regimes.
What Pakistan needs today is a “Tahrir Square” political movement of its own – political action on a scale that should rock the very foundations of the present-day political structure and bring it to its final demise. Enough is enough – the “Criminal Empire,” its political actors, its theatrics and its presence should no longer be tolerated. We still have time to save ourselves.
A Pakistani columnist on a recent TV talk show predicted a violent, chaotic and formless political disorder in the country within the coming months. Raja Mujtaba, founder of O. M. Center for Policy Studies, sees the coming of a French-style19th century revolution in Pakistan. During the above-mentioned show, the anchor Nasir Sherazi suggested the need to eliminate at least 30,000 heads to make the country peaceful for 300 years. Obviously, one interpretation is that it would entail an absolute and ultimate political abyss leading to bloodshed, death and destruction. One may or may not agree with their analyses or perspectives, but what cannot be denied is that the abysmal political ground realities in Pakistan threaten its present and future existence.
The question is: Must we wait for the chaos to engulf us in its flames and fires, and destroy us from within? Can we not find alternative solutions to our national predicaments? Do we not have other options to save ourselves from ourselves? Are the masses so powerless, so timid, so apathetic as to tolerate their own destruction at the hands of a few? Or are we waiting for a “messiah” to liberate us from ourselves? Let me share my own considered political judgment on the subject: celestial interventions never happen in the affairs of nations when people choose to remain indifferent to their own plights, and decide not to change and challenge their own destinies. That is the law of nature – and fundamental aspect of this view is the need to make ethical and moral judgments in one’s own personal and political conduct. Are we doing so? The void has to be filled. The question is: Who will fill this void – this gap – this empty political space – this destruction of us by our own hands?
Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University, in January 2012, wrote a remarkably enlightened and intellectually provocative article: “[People all over the world]… are calling for more justice, transparency and true democratic procedures. They feel alienated, disrespected; their social benefits and rights are slowly being eroded and lost. They do not see a future beyond the chaos and they realize that only a few people and institutions are deciding their future far from any democratic process. What is the point to vote if neither the citizens nor the elected people have an effective say about the final decisions. Who then is guiding us?”
Today’s Pakistan remains guide-less, radar-less, direction-less, point-less — driven to the making of a “Criminal Empire” by those who, in fact, are politically irrelevant to the nation’s needs, ideologically insolvent, morally and ethically bankrupt, and absolutely indifferent to the need for making a people’s welfare state.
Let it be a reminder: “The nations are born in the hearts of the poets; they prosper and die in the hands of the politicians.”