A surfeit of ills

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The last couple of days have brought out the ugly side of politics in no uncertain manner. The abuse hurled at each other publicly, particularly by the parliamentary luminaries of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), would obliterate even the thought of any comparison.

The self-serving nexus between the beneficiaries of the ongoing circus, and those who may not be its beneficiaries at this hour, requires much explaining as even the extreme excesses and misdemeanours of the government are being passed as necessary collateral damage of a burgeoning system. Be it corruption, absence of governance, price hike, lack of respect for the injunctions of the judiciary, dearth of power, gas and other necessary needs of life or their rates that have made their use scarce, it is all passed as its essential fallout.

Also, why is it conveniently presumed that if the incumbent corrupt government were to fall, it would endanger democracy? At the least, the lurking fear is symptomatic of an effective lack of faith in the system and its efficacy and relevance to the contemporary issues. This may be the reason why an honest and concerted effort has not even been initiated to address the grievances of the underprivileged. On the contrary, they have had to suffer the excesses of the incumbent aberration and the consequences of its short-sighted leaders who have come across as grossly inimical to the interests of the poor and the needy.

It could also be that now when people are all but certain that the government has failed to live up to its promise and the expectations reposed in it are all but waning, use of derogatory comments and downright abusive language reflects the frustration that has piled up. This could further diminish the much-tainted stature of the political leadership among the people as well as their prospects of survival as a clear perception regarding lack of delivery cannot be camouflaged behind the smoke screen of continuing promises and a hollow noise regarding some imaginary achievements.

The experiment with democracy, coming as it did after a long night of dictatorship, was expected to bring about a fundamental change regarding the way a government is associated with understanding and addressing the needs of the people. If, on the other hand, the sum total of the achievements of the government is reflected in a sharp increase in peoples woes and misery, there is no way by which it could continue claiming immunity under one guise or the other. Time really has come for it to stand up to its failure as well as that of the system that engineered its advent. If such admission and the attendant corrective measures are not initiated immediately, of which there appears little prospect, it could fatally harm its long-term interests and may also permanently eliminate it from peoples minds as a possible means to alleviating their problems. Attention would then be focused on other channels, whether they be democratic or not. There are no surviving niceties that would hinder people from resorting to all available measures and methods.

And why should they not do so? What has the government achieved for them in the three years that it has been in power? What would the people do with democracy if it does not herald a positive and healthy change in their lives, if it does not alter the shape and direction of their destiny, and if it does not bring them opportunities for advancement and progress? How long they could live in hope, and hope alone? One may be willing to give democracy another chance for not having brought about a sea-change in the lives of the ordinary people, but what is far more worrying is that there is not even a prospect from among the principal players that would make a difference. There is only this steep plunge into the abyss.

Instead of sitting together and contemplating the failures of the government with a view to coming up with credible solutions, there is this shameful, abusive scenario enacted that would all but convince people of the redundancy of the so-called system and its managers to come to grips with the reality of the times. The patented approach is symptomatic of the inability of the leaderships, across the board, to understand that they are being watched minutely and their tripping could dismantle peoples faith in their ability and sincerity. That may already have happened and it may be difficult now, even impossible, to erase its powerful impact.

The question is whether we can wait for another election? And, what, if anything, would it solve that has already not been attempted with hitherto depressing results? The most obvious starting point along the remedial course would be to begin clearly distinguishing between the system and the government. While the government may essentially be a product of the system, its fall will potentially not pose a threat to the system. But, what would incur irremediable damage is the governments continuing inability in getting a grasp of the peoples problems and undertaking measures to address them urgently. The thought of imaginary demons can no longer delay the inevitable. The waning faith of the people in a failing system and its debilitating manifestations has started casting its spell.

The writer is a media consultant to the Chief Minister, Punjab.