HOW much negativity within leadership can people sustain and also how much will they sustain? Native intelligence (and I am not speaking of indigenous Intelligence services) tells us that sooner or later people demand more: solutions rather than accusations; actualized effort not oratory. The most recent of our former PMs, Imran Khan, is yet to learn to lose gracefully politically. Admittedly he was also ungraceful in victory; but deem him braggart or sporting legend, he was spot on when he warned he would be far more dangerous in political opposition than as PM. The cheering multitudes mesmerized at his subsequent jalsas give the statement alarming substance:
AS charges of foreign intervention in Pakistan’s affairs ring loud and clear in the chaotic political discourse, there is no talk of forging a consensus to sort out issues that could lead to an economic collapse. The blame game doesn’t allow compromises.
IMRAN Khan, our PM until the recent vote of no confidence unseated him, is demanding fresh elections without delay. Yet he is likely to obstruct – should he mislike – the electoral process whensoever it may commence or reject its results:
WHILE people are keenly focused on speculative discussion about no confidence motions or fresh elections to overthrow or return the incumbents in greater strength, the incumbents devise and push through an ordinance that facilitates and expands the legalized sphere of coercion and intimidation and suppression and detention to include – if its phrasing is understood and means what it says — not just hapless journalists and soiled rivals but any random suspect.
POLLUTED , pollutant, polluter. . . One size could well fit all when it comes to our political discourse and participation.
Take the party that holds central if not truly federal government: the PTI. The brand new party turned full-grown after 22 years of admittedly rather invisible struggle, which its voters looked to be a breath of fresh air—a purifying change from the recognizably polluted parties of yore. We can exonerate its leader from election rigging, but, depending on political inclination, not from availing its benefits.
WHETHER it was intended to be such or not, would its citizens wish the establishment of Pakistan be a receptacle for any variant of Islamic/Muslim fundamentalism pervading politics and determining social behavior?
Citing words and conduct, most would say history shows that this was not the motivation or goal of the Quaid-i-Azam and his lieutenants. Indeed, some of the leading Ulema were critical of the concept of a separate state for the Subcontinent’s Muslims.
IT is not possible to view politics in Karachi without factoring in the Mohajir constituency’s voting strength. And as Karachi was once Pakistan’s capital; was and still is Sindh’s capital; a port that didn’t become another Hong Kong, and is almost too strategically located for its own comfort, all this gives its particularized constituency an inalienable national relevance – apart from the fact that it opted for Pakistan in 1947 with its feet. From its founding day the country ‘owes’ them the security of the nationality they came for. Or at least as much as any and every citizen is owed by the state regardless of ethnicity and creed and not in consequence of any preferred badge.
WIELDERS of political power and the executive and administrative authority accompanying office are remembered for the ambience of life under their rule as well as the formative sometimes indelible imprints they leave on public consciousness and civic discourse and behaviour. When leaders or their policies are controversial their impact can be polarizing, even destructive. But if controversial leaders are within themselves essentially tolerant and open-minded – whether or not society is hidebound – these differences of opinion stimulate debate and communication which are the indispensables of a healthy, vital, thinking society.
So what to do when ugly differences emerge and leadership lacks the will or skill to handle conflict with good sense? Us Pakistanis have seen our leaders resort to oppression and suppression; and the consequences both of resistance and lack of resistance.
Pakistan’s hybrid politics may also be dubbed mongrel in that the product is apparent but origins uncertain. That is not all – there is a growing anxiety that present hybridity could progress from the mongrel to pariah: What might follow?
What used to be mainstream parties – not just in terms of their national vote-banks but also in orientation and focus – have adopted the PTI’s signature mode of accusatory venomous rhetoric. Coalitional incumbents can also indulge in a self-glorification the unfairly free media helps it to propagate, while denying the facility to the opposition. Such, since quite some time, is the totality of Pakistan’s political language. Most of us have stopped listening; but political fatigue and passivity can cost.
THE ongoing school and college examinations across the country mark the advent of the cheating season. As expected, the national discourse is now focused on the malpractices of both candidates and examiners. Also under discussion are the incompetency and corruption of the examination boards which not only tolerate this ugly feature of our education system but actually facilitate it.