Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The ubiquitous political spectrum in Pakistan

In today's Pakistan, ideological politics has lost its meaning. We do hear about the mysterious 'Ideology of Pakistan', alongside with some explanation regarding 'Islamic Political Ideology'. But these rhetoric are mostly used to emotionally instil the general public.

Although many political parties exist in Pakistan, a number of them are by nature undemocratic. They are neither leftist nor rightist, neither Islamic nor Secular. All in all, they are a mixture of many paradoxical ideas that cannot exist alongside each other.

If an analysis is done on the political sloganeering in Pakistan, we get some interesting similarities:

1. Using Islam in political rhetoric
Whether it is PML(N) , PPP, PTI, MQM or PML(Q), all of them try to manoeuvre human emotions through utopian dreams that cannot be fulfilled by any pragmatic standard. All of them idealise a welfare state with the prefix of "Islam" in it. Meanwhile, they fail to explain the ideological differences between a "Western welfare state" and an "Islamic welfare state". Some parties prefix "Islam" with socialism, and hence comes the term "Islamic socialism". How can a materialist theory be squeezed together with religious idealism? I don't think it is ever possible. Some parties publicly call themselves "centre-to-right". They aren't fundamentalists, but they do have a bend towards fundamentalist ideologies. We can observe religious symbolism in their words:

"The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) has been playing a historic role for the supremacy of Islam. — Pervez Elahi (Daily Times: 02.11.2007) 
"Our vision is a strong, democratic, developed, prosperous and just Pakistan in which every citizen enjoys equal opportunities to develop and grow without any discrimination and a harmonious society based on universal principles of social justice as enshrined in golden teachings of Islam."  — PML(N) vision
"People view me as having bi polar views on religion. However, I claim to bring justice to society and that is what Islam promises to give to its society."  — Imran Khan (Business Recorder: 15.06.2012) 
"We need to revisit our policies towards other religions and should try to change our mindset. That is the doctrine that MQM and its leadership have been following."  —  MQM Blog
"This blend of Islam and Socialism steered a course away from Secular Dogmatic Marxism and came to be known as Islamic Socialism. "  —  PPP UK page
It should be noted that no aforementioned party is by definition a religious political party. All of them primarily use Islam as a political leverage. None of them can explicate how their vision is different from Islamic political party? How will they answer modern challenges? How will they maintain a decent standard of living? Similar to religious parties, these parties aren't able to answer these basic questions. They are either fooling themselves or the nation. The people are the best judges.

2. Hero worship
All Pakistani parties hero worship many personages. Generally speaking, Jinnah is the apotheosis of a South-Asian visionaries. He cannot be disputed, and cannot be criticised. Unfortunately, Jinnah — as a hero — has gone under a metamorphosis during General Zia's rule. Jinnah the secular was converted into Jinnah the Islamist. This metamorphism allows political parties to use Jinnah as a symbol in their religious rhetoric. All political parties maintain that they are the real owners of Jinnah's Islamic welfare state. They fail to recognize a simple fact that Jinnah was a 20th century secular leader, hence his problem solving techniques are not the only solution for our problems. Time has moved on, hence we need new visionaries for our new time.

Apart from Jinnah, many politcal parties also hero worship Allama Iqbal. In some case the political head of a party is sandwiched between Jinnah and Allama Iqbal. This is the funniest part of all. Iqbal loathed materialism in any sense of the word. He wanted to change the world through the power of spirituality, that he thought must be exercised by a Mard-e-Momin (a true believer). This  Mard-e-Momin can never guarantee a rising standard of living, because Iqbal doesn't acknowledge the importance of material progress. Can a political leader ignore the important of standard of living in his manifesto? In fact, the foundations of a political part rest on the pillars of material growth. The reason Karachites love Mustafa Kamal (MQM's mayor) is because he worked day and night for the material well-being of the people. He built roads, parks, sewage lines, placed new underground gas pipe lines that raised their standard of living. It was not about ameliorating spirituality! Iqbal's philosophy is not a populist ideology. Distorting Iqbal's ideas is yet another "mission accomplished" in fooling the nation. All in all, Iqbal is another demigod worshipped by many political parties to achieve political gains.

Imran Khan sandwiched
between Jinnah and Iqbal
source: siasat.pk

Nawaz Shareef sandwiched between Jinnah and Iqbal.
source: defence.pk

The whole PML(Q) sandwiched between Jinnan and Iqbal. Due to space
limitation the leadership is displayed beneath them. source: facebook/ pml(q)

Last but not the least, the personage which mostly diminishes all other party members around him is the political head himself. People follow on his command, they wreck havoc on his orders. They veraciously defend their leaders' political opinion. They fight and vulgarize their opponents in case the opponents criticises the political head. In fact, the political head is a king, a pope and a general combined. He tries to portray himself as a figure as might as Alexander the Great, but miserably fails to do so. (They don't use the name of Akbar the Great as he allegedly made a new religion!). Political leaders hate dissent. This allows the culture of hero worship to prevail and strengthen.

pictures of leadership is a prerequisite for printing a billboard
source: flicker.com 

Imran Khan is the most visible entity in this billboard.
source: pakimag.com

3. Pro Capitalist manifestos
In the modern world, it is quite impossible for a political parties on go an an anti-capitalist rhetoric. Secondly, they don't have the intellectual capabilities required to develop a system that can contour capitalist misuses. The real problem is, these political parties use Capitalism for their personal political gains rather than for the gain of the commoners. Negative capitalistic tendencies are present in all political parties. All parties have big capitalists on their candidate lists. There is a consensus between all political parties on accepting World Bank and IMF loans. It must be noted that there is nothing inherently wrong in these loans; unfortunately, political leadership use this money for their personal gains, hence plummeting monetary reserves of the country.

Capitalist prosper in all political parties. Sources:
Babur Ghauri revenue (paklinks.com), Asad Umar (express tribune)
Mirza Sugar Mills ( Bloomberg Businees Review), Sharif Group list (siasat.pk)
Moreover, political leadership controls major industries in the country allowing them to create a artificial balance between supply and demand. Commodity prices follow their personal whims. If they want to make money, they create a short artificial shortage allowing the commodity price to rise. When they want to reduce prices (for buying political gain in elections), they import excess commodity from the free market. This is the most pathetic use of Capitalism. It allows a minority class to grow rich at an unprecedented rate, while the majority waits for the infamous "trickle down effect" to change their lives. This waiting period is mostly infinite.

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