Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Culture of Dirty Politics in Pakistan

August 16, 2017

By Saeed Qureshi
These days there are cattle bazaars set up all over Pakistan. In these bazaars people sell and buy the animals for sacrifice to commemorate the religious festival of Eid-ul-Azha on September 6 this year. The compounds, bazars, roads and the open fields are the venues for animal trading and are replete with filth and stench all over. This stench would further pervade all over Pakistan on September 6 and it would take a long time to clear the streets etc. from the offal, bones, and other unusable parts of the bodies of the sacrificed animals. The skins are sold in the markets.
This tradition began from Saudi Arabia and now it is a part of the religious obligations all over the Islamic world. It is a rerun or the tradition of prophet Abraham (1900 B.C.) who agreed to sacrifice his son Hazrat Ismail (for Jews it is Ishaq) on the command of God as a test of his level of obedience to God. The tradition says that he tried to sacrifice his son but God sent two rams instead.  This tradition was adopted by Jews first and followed by the Muslims after the advent of Islam.
Another Biblical version narrates that he took away his other wife Hajira and his son Ismael at the behest of his first wife Sara to a far-off place. Sara ‘s own son Ishaq was 14 years younger than Ismael. Sara turned hostile to both Hajira and Ismail after the birth of her own son Ishaq. Here is the contradiction that primarily it was not the command of God to sacrifice Ismail but to obey the order of his wife Sara to take Ismael and his mother Hajira away from her eyes as Ismael was mocking Sara and his step brother Ishaq.  
Besides this temporary phase of sacrifice of the animals causing a great deal of stench, health hazards and atmospheric stench, we can witness the political dirt and pollution caused by the political lot in Pakistan. The culture and penchant of foul mouthing, name calling, abuse and accusations between the rival parties and politicians is prevalent like an epidemic.
There are politicians who are active in derailing the democratic order by using the state institutions. The latest example is the removal of Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister of Pakistan by the supreme court. This is a handy and the easiest way to remove a president or the elected prime minister from his office.
Instead of conveying their parties’ manifestos and programs in a civilized manner, the combatant politicians treat each other as the enemies and use abusive and degrading jargon against each other. The PMNL president and prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif has been the target of ridicule, cheap remarks and even abusive language by his worst political adversaries namely PTI chairman Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid the president of the political party “Awami Muslim League”. 
Traditionally, every government in Pakistan has been painted by the opposition as incompetent and the enemy of the people and the country. The opposition leaders invariably claim that when they will come in power they will turn the country into a paradise and all the problems and the issues bedeviling the lives of the people would evaporate.
This pattern of political culture has been going on in Pakistan ever since it came into being in 1947. In the meantime, Pakistan was dismembered in 1971. The eastern wing of the former Pakistan separated due to the grave follies of politicians including ZA Bhutto, some army generals and the then president General Yahya Khan. To understand how foolishly and callously Pakistan was dismembered and the defeat of the armed forces of Pakistan was facilitated, one should read the insightful book, “Memories and Reflections” written by the then Pakistan’s foreign secretary and ambassador Sultan Muhammad Khan who had been an eyewitness of what happened during those tumultuous times.
Pakistan in the present situation, has passed through many ups and downs including the martial Law phases of General Ziaul Haq and General Musharraf. Those martial laws were the natural or forcible outcome of the bizarre political atmosphere created by the ruling parties and the politicians in the government and outside. But perhaps no lessons have been learnt or imbibed by our army of politicians. There has always been a bizarre and degrading tussle going on between the parties in power and those in the opposition with character assassinations and name calling.  
There had been a relatively peaceful and stable tenure during the presidency of Asif Ali Zardari (November 2008 to November 2013). Despite his many drawbacks and penchant for making money and allegation of financial corruption, he kept the democratic order intact. The credit goes to him for allocating more powers to the provinces.
But what is happening now seems to be a political war between Mian Nawaz Sharif and his family on one side and their main opponents namely Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid on the other.  Extremely sleazy epithets, dirty slogans and derogatory remarks are used against Sharif family by both Imran Khan, Sheikh Rashid and their party cohorts in their speeches and day to day comments.
Sheikh Rashid is adept in hurling highly caustic and offensive invective against the Sharif family. While it would be acceptable for the nice and civilized political campaigning to win the popular support for paving way for the next general elections yet such a nasty behavior is to impel the army to step in and remove the government in power. That can happen if the political temperature is heightened by an equally filthy rebuttal and tit-for-tat response by the people in power.
The politicians like Sheikh Rashid and Imran Khan otherwise pygmy politicians, are busy in settling their personal scores with the PMNL in general and Sharif family in particular through non-political avenues. The apex court has not been fair or impartial in handing out verdict against prime minister Nawaz Sharif and order his removal on flimsy grounds while such accusations were not fully established or conclusively proven
Even after his removal the vicious tongue-lashing and vitriolic outbursts against him and his family have not been abandoned by the PTI shenanigans joined by Sheikh Rashid and doctor Tahirul Qadri the head of “Pakistan Awami Tehrik”. Dr. Qadri is a Canadian citizen and has no political role to play in Pakistan. How can he bring about a grand revolution based upon the religious basis when he spends his 11 months in the salubrious and comfortable society of Toronto?
Sheikh Rashid nurses personal grudge against Nawaz Sharif because of his close association with former president General Pervez Musharraf in whose government he remained as the minister for five years (November 2002 to November 2007). His opposition to Nawaz Sharif is not based on principals but on the grounds that Nawaz Sharif and General Musharraf have been rigid opponents of each other.
In October 1998, the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif elevated Musharraf to a four-star general status and made him the chief of the Armed Forces. The discord developed between Sharif and Musharraf was due to the Kargil war initiated by Musharraf in October 1998 without the knowledge of prime minister Nawaz Sharif.  That war led to an extremely serious situation between India and Pakistan. Sharif was unsuccessful in removing Musharraf and in retaliation through a coup, Musharraf took over the power and put Sharif in jail.
Nawaz Sharif has been a great admirer of Imran Khan as a top cricketer who as a captain and cricketer led Pakistan to victory in the 1992 Cricket World Cup. It is yet to be figured out how Imran Khan turned a diehard opponent of Nawaz Sharif. But it is being guessed that he wants to halt the CPEC( China Pakistan Economic Corridor) project at the behest of some foreign powers that don’t want Pakistan to prosper and attain the status of a developed country with the help of China.
As far corruption of Nawaz Sharif, the main question is “who is not corrupt in Pakistan”. If Imran Khan is bent upon weeding out corruption then the crusade or campaign against corruption should be waged on the country level and not solely against the Sharif family.
The popular support and approval for both Sheikh Rashid and Imran Khan is insignificant. In the recent by-elections in Azad Kashmir and for filling vacant seats in Pakistan, Imran Khan’s PTI and Sheikh Rashid’s “Awami Muslim League” miserably failed to capture any seats.
 As far Allama Tahirul Qadri, he comes once in a while to fish in the troubled waters and cannot attain power or nationwide popularity or acceptance for all time to come. He seems to be a spoiler and that is why is bracketed with Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid  who both lacks vision and peoples’ support. A part time religious zealot is unfit to be a political leader or get the peoples’ goodwill.
I would urge the guys like Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid, jamaat-e- Islami and also Allam Qadri not to resort to street agitations and instead hold on to democratic tradition by contesting the next general elections to be held in June 2008 and try their luck through political means. If they cannot attain power through the political mandate then at least they should allow others who rule through popular mandate to stay till the maturity of their assigned period.
Otherwise it is going go to be a rerun of the past when the weak and unpopular politicians and political rabble rousers attempted to remove the incumbent governments through street agitations.  Those uncalled for and apolitical attempts  invariably culminated in military dictatorships.
It is also necessary for the politicians not to be abusive and hurl personal attacks and throw filthy allegations on their opponents as both Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid are doing. It is not only indecent ethically, politically and religiously but make them look uncultured, vulgar and foul mouthing hooligans.
Good or bad, let incumbent PMLN dispensation complete its mandate of five years. As already stated, instead of using the shortcut of moving courts against political opponents, the political opposition should wait for the next general elections due in June 2018. It would set a healthy tradition of continuation of the democratic order which is in place even after the departure of PPP government under president Asif Ali Zardari in September 2013. The general elections are not far and are scheduled to be held in Pakistan any time within 90 days after 5 June 2018.

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