Legendary Urdu poet and critic, Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib had once quipped, mushkilein itni padhi muj pe kah assan ho gai [I have suffered so much pain in my life that any new difficulty means nothing to me].Pakistanis struggling for long at the hands of an inept system of governance, coupled with internal and external odds to its existence, could at least find some solace in such satire. No pun intended, but to drive home the point, neither an evolution nor a revolution is in sight for the dispossessed nation, which could relieve it from its unfortunate past and miserable present, and thereby look forward to an enterprising future. Yet, the good part is that people have not resigned to their fate and an irresistible resilience is very much alive.The mushrooming of a civil society, however infant and peerless it is, and an assertive media, irrespective of its shortcomings, reveals a light at the end of the tunnel. It is from here that the nation has to build on, and evolve a nationalistic agenda for change, and one that should neither be self-centric nor chalked out on the lines of marginalisation.A glance at political developments over the last few weeks is quite disappointing. The democratic dispensation is discredited to the core and hasn’t bothered in falling back on promises for reasons of expediency. Spiralling food prices, unrelenting inflation, growing unemployment and a withering faith in the writ of the government are disturbing. This is more alarming because the government just seems to be either oblivious or unmindful of its damning consequences on the social fabric of the nation already reeling under the shadow of an uncertain future.
What’s painful to see is that the government of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has not been able to overcome pinching socio-economic hurdles despite enjoying the backing of political forces across the board. Never in the history of Pakistan’s parliamentary governance has there been such a docile or, sarcastically termed, a friendly opposition, which has all the time and generosity to sit idle and watch. Whether it is the recent reshuffle of the federal cabinet or the legislative efforts to amend the constitution, things have fallen short of people’s expectations. The governance void is very much there, and has been further complicated with a series of ad hoc measures, especially in nominating people of dubious character to run state institutions. This has spiraled the nexus of corrupt practices at the behest of governmental functionaries, inevitably and, at times unnecessarily, dragging it to court.
Pakistan, fortunately enough, is widely free from extra-territorial threats. The only threat to its existence and stability come from within, but has not been addressed. Democracy, which was supposed to further the commonality factor, seems to have been taken for a ride, resulting in the lack of faith in national institutions. The elected elite and the company it keeps, eating away billions of rupees in the guise of perks and privileges, is unbecoming for a country like Pakistan that has not been able to cater to the need of potable water, primary education and health immunisation. Cutting down on government expenses and ending corrupt practices by adhering to the rule of law is sine qua non for survival and cannot be ignored on flimsy pretexts of so-called electoral assertiveness and national interests.Going back to a minimum democratic agenda is essential for development and empowerment of the nation. I do believe that adhering to the ‘Charter of Democracy’ — agreed between the late Benazir Bhutto and other democratic forces — could be an apt way out of the crises.
The most important aspect for the government is to give up its confrontational path and stop believing in the premise that it has all the time and luxury to stay afloat. The perception that the government is in conflict with whatever the rejuvenated judiciary pronounces is damaging not only to its credibility but to the essence of democracy and the rule of law, as well. Absolving the 180 million depressed nation of its socio-economic woes can only come through an interactive political culture, and one that should find solace in the elected dispensation by virtue of credibility. This is what has been lacking to this day thereby compounding the misery of its people – Khaleejnews