Friday, January 2, 2009

Is Another French Revolution Around the Corner?

By Saeed Qureshi

President Zardari, on more than one occasions, said that the best revenge against the enemies was democracy. By these comments, perhaps, he meant revenge against the assassins of Benazir Bhutto and bringing the former President Musharraf to justice. Definitely democracy is taking its revenge but against whom? Not against the enemies of Pakistan or those who wronged this great country. As the situations stands now, the victims of the revenge are the very people of Pakistan and not their tormentors.

The revenge of democracy is a smokescreen to protect the thugs of both the past and the present who brought this magnificent country to such an abyss. It’s not a genuine democracy that the people of Pakistan voted for. It is a blend of oligarchy, aristocracy and plutocracy. The party in power is doing just the opposite to its charter, manifesto and the elections pledges. From President down to an advisor, the ruling cabal looks insensitive to the appalling and spiraling public woes. The best strategy adopted by the President of Pakistan is to keep mum, duck and lend a deaf ear to the deafening public outcry. So is the prime minister and so are the ministerial legions.

The governance is in a state of paralysis. The country called Pakistan is reeling under a regime whose conduct of the state affairs not only exudes incompetence but a criminal dereliction of their responsibilities towards a nation that foisted them to power through their votes for a change: a change for the better and not for worse. That a government can be so non-challant, devious and unmindful of country’s downslide, is hard to believe. The attitude of the ruling junta is attuned to protect the status quo of the past regime, although they have not been able to uphold even that ignoble objective. The power outrages, the shortage of gas and petrol, the soaring prices, the rampant lawlessness, the dysfunctional state institutions and public and private departments and lack of any apparent inclination by the government to find solutions, speak for the unspeakable state of anarchy Pakistan is steeped in.

While the clique in power is either apathetic or evasive to the country’s drift towards a failed state syndrome, the political forces on the other side of the isles are negligent too to come forward and throw a challenge to the party in power and proffer an action plan to stem the rot. In time of crisis the contending political forces rouse the civil society, rekindle hope and provide a way to alternate leadership. There seems to be all quiet on the front of other political parties whose responsibly is to challenge the writ of a corrupt and mismanaged government.

With the Pakistan army fighting a war for others and killing its own people, a united Pakistan is under severe threat of disintegration. Even if it survives such a dreadful eventuality, it would still function on weak foundations of diverse divisions ranging from ethnic, sectarian to regional and soci-economic disparities. The lurking issues of giving an independent status to the judiciary, setting in motion a transparent and unalloyed accountability and justice process, reforming the institutions, removing the repugnant clauses from the constitution, making the parliament strong and supreme, enforcing law for peace and security, weeding out corruption, restoring national sovereignty, unfurling a revolutionary economic charter and so on.

Was Pakistan ever in such acute troubles that the people are deprived of at least a hope for a better future? A government that cannot even start a process of finding the killers of it’s party chief cannot be expected of showing any serious concern for the people’s afflictions. The Pakistan Peoples Party, a truly grass root party, for the first time, is fast losing people’s support and sympathy. The reasons are obvious. It has become part of the loot, lethargy and the custodian of a corrupt and decadent system that the people wanted to throw off.

The quid pro quo between Asif Zardari and former president Musharraf was “I shall baptize you like as a new born and you give a complete reprieve for my sins” is at the root of all the pervading rot. People of Pakistan wanted a complete break with the despicable past. The PPP government is more willing to dance to the foreign tunes than their unworthy predecessors. The PPP party that should have demonstrated a revolutionary posture is laid flat in front of foreign masters. Besides it doesn’t have any vision to drive Pakistan out of the prevailing hurricane of problems.

Undoubtedly, People of Pakistan wanted a truly democratic government but with that they also aspired to see the end of the sufferings and suffocation of the 9 years authoritarian rule of Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The democracy that has been ushered in Pakistan is tainted with many a question marks. The incumbent government has a stamp of the dark past. The democratic dispensation of PPP that should have been ideologically and conceptually against the dictatorship is resigned to be an extension of the unpopular and hated regime of Gen Musharraf.

So where do we go from here? After full one year of saddling in power, the PPP has earned only the ire of the people of Pakistan. Its indolence, adhocism and diffidence to even acknowledge the existence of the problems, what to speak of resolving them is, heavily telling upon the image of the party. The lack of interest in even initiating any investigation in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto besides Asif Zaradri’s ‘go easy’ style with a tainted past are fast eroding the esteem of the party in the public view. The PPP is caught unaware in an internal mounting crescendo of myriad problems while externally it is the recipient of a shameful legacy of making Pakistan as a mercenary and surrogate of America and the West.

Frankly, its cadres and leaders were not prepared for an unexpected take over of power that came sooner than later. Their inability and paucity of experience in politics and governance is the main impediment in coping with the big challenges that keep piling up by the day. The rank and file of the PPP now running the show are either novices or newcomers to the galore and glamour of power. Their revolutionary spirit seems to be subdued and overwhelmed by the amazing and awesome glare of power wielding. They might be thinking to make hay while the sun of power was shining, leaving aside the thorny challenges of amelioration and betterment to others. Alternately, they might be under the delusion that they were still popular as they were before their advent in power corridors. Still another possibility is that they believe that the current bad times would soon wither away and the stability and peace would come back.

With these three strands of mindset, let the PPP echelons be cautioned that they will soon have to face the bulging and swelling wrath and fury of the people haunted and hounded by miserable living conditions. The signs of such a public outcry and rebellion are manifest in lock-outs of the industries, the squatting of the roads and highways as well as the frenzied rallies. The PPP’s unpopularity graph was never low and it had never fallen from people’s grace as now. Is another French Revolution around the corner?

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