Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Plea to Messrs Tahir-ul-Qadri and Imran Khan

July 24, 2014
By Saeed Qureshi

My question is that why both of you, the eminent personages want to derail the democratic system in Pakistan? Supposedly if Imran Khan comes into power by a weird turns of events, what change is he going to bring about that he claims? 
Let us suppose also if Mr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, (lately as Canadian citizen) succeeds in capturing the government would he also as per his loud declaration usher Pakistan in a revolution similar to that of Imran Khan or a different one? Or is it possible that in case of an electoral victory by one of these stalwarts, the other will put his eggs in the same basket and go along?
These are mere conjectures that come to mind after listening to the bombastic rhetoric and tall claims of these two guys who seem to be entirely divorced from the ground realities in Pakistan. These trumpeters of a new “Kingdom of God on Earth” are themselves living in a self-created utopia. Or else they are mere spoilers of an adult franchise based political system in place in Pakistan for over six years now. 
Imran Khan is an outright novice who should demonstrate some semblance of patience or maturity to wait for the next elections and then come to power through the popular vote. That is the only decent, logical and justified posture for the political parties to adopt.
We have seen the shortcuts in Pakistan for capturing powers without popular mandate. For most of the Pakistan’s existence it has been bedeviled by political anarchy and intrigue ridden backdoor politicking. At the outset for pretty almost ten year the country was run by bureaucrats turned politicians. When the bureaucracy backed dispensations flopped, the army took over the reins and thus military bureaucracy remained at the helm of power for over three decades.
Such vile and roguish anti-democratic scenario is likely to re-emerge if the prevailing set- up is demolished through street agitations. The paramount question is that where on earth an absolutely meticulous and ideal system of governance, even through popular mandate, has ever existed. 
But despite its drawbacks the democratic political culture is decidedly better and plausible than a dictatorship or oligarchy or plutocracy. There is no harm if plutocrats assail power corridors through an acknowledged and adult franchised based electoral system.
In the United States and in Europe most of the governments are formed by plutocrats but not through questionable shortcuts or with the connivance of the army. They take part in elections which are fair and free and accountable with negligible election manipulations. In Pakistan if the incumbent government is of plutocrats then they have earned the mandate of the masses and are rightful representatives of their constituencies.
If they perform poorly and in defiance of the popular aspirations then they would not be reelected in the next elections. If Mr. Qadri and Imran Khan believe that the elections were massively rigged, they can approach the courts for a verdict and if the courts uphold their claim, the fresh and midterm elections would become imperative and constitutionally justified. 
They can also initiate a dialogue with the government to bring about the needed reforms in the electoral system but do not knock down the entire democratic edifice by demanding fresh elections. Pakistan can ill afford this pernicious rigmarole.
Pakistan has a nascent democratic order that needs to be consolidated by repeated general elections based upon one man one vote and through a process of electoral accountability. If the prevalent democratic order is cut short by street agitations, virulent threats and spiteful rebukes and loud calls for revolutions then be assured that the army would enter the corridors of power once again. 
Can Tahir-ul- Qadri and Imran Khan block the army from taking over? Will they continue their missions of revolutions even against the military set up because army rule is as anti- democratic as they believe the ongoing government is?
In that situation these sentimental guys would look like accomplices in an unworthy bid of dismantling a democratic government and replacing that with the military authoritarianism. The country would be back to square one and reverted to bad old days with individual and collective liberties forfeited.  In the event of the breakdown of a political system, it is always the army that possesses the network to restore order and calm.
Let us also suppose that the fresh or midterm elections are conducted and PTI of Imran Khan or PAT of Qadri Sahib win the elections and form the government. Would they not expect the PMLN and other opposition parties to return the compliment to them by whipping the issue of bogus elections with a demand of holding fresh elections? 
Would they be right in calling for a revolution by mobilizing the people in the street? What goes around also comes around”.  On what grounds would their government refute that claim? If they would resist by arguing that the elections were free and fair, would the political opponents be pacified with that argument?
No one is politics is supposed to be or expected to be an angel or sinless. The shortcomings on individual and collective levels are bound to be there. The cardinal principle therefore, should be to tolerate a democratic government no matter how poor its performance is or even the elections were less transparent. 
But with the time passage, in the coming generations, this system would crystallize and it would be washed off its lacunae. Give democracy a chance to prosper, take roots and come into full bloom with all its attending beauty and hallmarks.
Let us refer to the Indian democratic culture which has remained intact and in place since the partition of India in 1947. The Indian electoral framework is now immaculate as was proven in the latest elections routing Congress and hoisting BJP with a prime minister who was controversial but whom the people chose to lead the nation. No complaint or allegation of rigging was posted anywhere. That is how the Indian democratic bandwagon started and is now on firm tracks.
Can we at least follow India in that laudable tradition and pledge to embark upon the democratic path through popular mandate and votes of the people and accept the results? The system in due course would refine itself and thus Pakistan would emerge also as a state where agitations and rallies would become a legacy of the past. 

Then the transfer of power would take place to the representative of the people duly elected through a free, fair and transparent electoral system. The democratic journey though thorny and rickety should continue.

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