Volume 23 Issue 4, April 2019


By Taj Haider

Ideology and organization are the two pillars on which any political party stands. The basic infrastructure and foundation of any society is economics. Politics is only a superstructure built on this basic economic infrastructure.

Leaving aside the moral aspects, an organic moral value system is the adhesive that binds a society together and keeps it from dismembering. The glaring economic truth is that there cannot be any economic growth without a fair distribution of produced wealth. I read Munshi Prem Chand’s masterpiece “KAFAN” (The Shroud) when I was 11 years old and a student of class eight. The master writer has brilliantly exposed in the story’s first paragraph that in a society where those who work hard are as miserable as those who do not work, the sensible thing to do is “not to work”.

No wonder that the productivity of our workers is steadily going down. The elite are allergic to work since they can get rich so easily through rampant exploitation and foul means. The net result is that the economic base of our society has collapsed. Those who think that a top heavy political superstructure can be erected on a collapsed economic foundation are denying the basic realities of economics and history. Oxygen provided by external sources can never resuscitate a dying economic system. Charities get exhausted sooner or later. State institutions lose even their coercive strength in the absence of a supportive economy. Nations do not prosper on wishful thinking and false rhetoric. The frightful gap between production and consumption, between the rich and poor cannot be narrowed by hollow words and slander. The contradiction within has to be resolved as a starting point.

The principal contradiction for a long time has been between the working people of Pakistan and the Pakistani Establishment. Religious extremism becomes a natural ally of the Establishment because of their common aim of blocking democracy and decentralization of resources and authority. However, in the post-Bhutto era, it has become evident that dictators need political crutches in order to survive. Zia realized soon enough that the support of mere religious groups was grossly deficient. If the existing political parties of the PNA which had been in the forefront of the reactionary anti-Bhutto movement were withdrawing their support, the Establishment had to perforce manufacture their own political parties.
No right-thinking person would ever lend support to military dictators. Dictators out of necessity have to gather the worst elements in society and bring them into politics. These unprincipled, self-centered persons without any political ideology or commitment, demand their price. The price willingly given is unbridled authority over their areas of influence and the freedom to ‘earn’ wealth by any means, fair or foul. The real fountainhead of corruption in national politics has proved to be none other than the Establishment of Pakistan. One is a ‘saint’ if one is on the side of the Establishment. If not, one is an enemy of Pakistan, enemy of Islam, security threat, corrupt and what not. Thus has grown a new category of ‘politicians’ who are most willing to carry out the wishes and commands of the Establishment and who believe that the Establishment and not the people are the real source of power.

This, devoid of any political ideology, is an interchangeable collection of corrupt local influential persons who are given a name and called a political party. Fragmentation of society on sectarian, ethnic, linguistic and other lines, raising of non-issues and glamorizing of abusive language and uncivilized conduct are known methods of reactionaries to depoliticize society in order to perpetuate their anti-people and anti-democratic rule.

A powerful propaganda machinery to defame progressive and democratic elements and to eulogize the mere rhetoric of the agents of the Establishment becomes the norm. When no faults can be found with the politics of a progressive politician, his political stand is simply ignored and his person comes under attack. Those who invent and continue to repeat lies start believing in those lies over time. It is nothing short of a national tragedy that when there was a valiant revolt against the ‘Press in Chains’, ‘Lifafa Journalism’ was introduced. Those publications and television channels which refused to sell their conscience and professional integrity were subjected to harsh economic pressures with impunity and forced to adopt a course of self-censorship.

In any civilized society, no one is guilty unless proven guilty. How is it that no one is questioning the 11-year long imprisonment of former President Zardari, when not a single case against him could be proved in a court of law? Mr. Zardari is a political person. Why is it that his politics is rarely mentioned and unfounded and most abusive attacks on his person abound in the media? How in this particular case has the propaganda machine of the Establishment assumed the dual roles of the prosecutor and judge?

Federations are held together by political consensus and not by brute force. Where would our Federation be if Mr. Zardari had not raised the slogan of ‘Pakistan Khapay’ in the face of the grave tragedy of the shahadat of Bibi sahiba? Would the Federation be as strong as it is today if the 18th Amendment, initiated and constantly followed up by Mr. Zardari, had not been unanimously passed by the Parliament? Why is it that the National Finance Commission was not able to give a NFC award for seventeen years prior to the one that President Zaradri was able to negotiate or till today when it has been overdue for the last five years?

Isn’t this politics of accommodation, forbearance and reconciliation of Mr. Zardari that has made it possible for successive elected/selected assemblies to complete their terms? It was President Zaradari who took a brave stand against religious militants and got large areas of Pakistan freed from their control. Could CPEC be started if President Zardari had not vigorously followed it up during his tenure? What about the Pak-Iran Gas pipeline project that was signed by President Zardari in spite of American pressures and was given up by succeeding governments as they did not have the guts to complete it?

In the face of the gravest economic crises that the country is faced with, one wonders why the practical economic solutions that have been given in the PPP manifesto are not being discussed in the media or being implemented by the selected government?

The reactionaries and the Establishment have never had the will or the solutions or the wisdom to resolve the grave problems that the country and its people have been facing. I respect the wishes of SouthAsia magazine and I am sorry to disappoint them. A phoenix has certainly to be turned to ashes. But it has to be correctly identified. Pakistan People’s Party has faced much greater challenges. Unfortunately, during the last 50 years, the mandate of the people for the Pakistan People’s Party has only been respected after long periods when the country and its economy have been destroyed. It is the phoenix of the continued rule of the Establishment that has to be turned to ashes and shall be turned to ashes if Pakistan has to move forward.

The writer is a former senator and has shared
his thoughts extensively on nuclear policy issues,
left-wing ideas and literary and political philosophy.
He can be reached at tajhaider1@gmail.com

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