Here, there, everywhere
Why is there so much fragmentation in our polity, institutions and society? The answer is simple; it’s the dogma that says “We are right in what we do and think”. The prime minister’s interview with CNN‘s Becky Anderson is being talked about at length at many forums. This interview and a particular part of this interview is the classic example of the growing dogmatic mindset. In this interview, The PM, when asked about the latest Gallup poll which suggests that one-fifth of Pakistanis wants to leave the country, said, “Why don’t they leave then? Who is stopping them?”
There are countless clips of this part of the interview available at different websites and there is an overwhelming majority of commentators, analysts and TV anchors who lambasted the country’s PM for giving a very irresponsible, rude, ruthless and insensitive response. What Becky Anderson, the interviewer, graded as a damning indictment of the Pakistani government, could never have been taken nicely by any prime Mminister in the world, let alone, Pakistan’s Prime Minister. It’s not to suggest that Mr. Gilani’s response was the best answer to the question and that it could never have been better than this. But I do give him the benefit of the doubt that by giving this answer he belittled the importance given to the Gallup poll by the western world.
After having a good look at the whole interview in general and this part in particular, I have reasons to believe that a literal interpretation to the PM’s words could give credence to the view that we that we have created dogmas of our own and we do not like to entertain any opposing views to our own. Mr. Gilani, especially after earning the title of a convicted prime minister, could never have said this to the people of his country. In my opinion, what he meant was that had the situation been so bad, people would have left the country by now. I am fully aware that a fat lot of commentators and prudent minds will disagree with me on this. However, I will now try to delineate that how the aforementioned ‘dogmas’ and a dogmatic mindset exist not only in our society but also in our institutions.
The Pakistan army, which undoubtedly is the most disciplined force in the country, has actually been the most disciplined political party and commercial enterprise which has had its stakes in virtually every thing that deals with the state. The military, a force that merely has a clear mandate to safeguard the borders and follow the orders of a civilian government, in reality had been writing the foreign policy while rewriting the definition of ‘national interest’ per its will. The military, which should have nothing to do with the politics of the country, has been actually making and breaking political alliances. The dogma that’s behind these actions: “We are the sole proprietors and guarantors of the national interest and we know what we do is right”.
A dogmatic mindset is also prevalent in our higher judiciary also. Needless to say that out judiciary has had a chequered history of being pliant and subservient to the incumbents. However, the trend has significantly changed in the past 5 years. I remember reading an article by an honourable judge of the Supreme Court where his lordship endeavoured to differentiate between independence and impartiality. In my humble opinion, independence has been observed in the judiciary in the recent past but impartiality is yet to be seen. The Honourable Judiciary, which has given historical judgments on NRO, Haj Corruption, NICL, Pakistan Steel Mills etc, is actually not hearing some constitutional petitions which I have referred to in my write ups. The dogma here is “We are right in what and when we decide”.
Some of us do not like to criticise the media for the utterly dogmatic approach it has developed on many issues lately. Our media which promises to be free, truthful and independent is actually hostage to many different elements and vested interests. The electronic media and the press, that are supposed to lay down the real facts, actually do all sorts of twisting while presenting facts and opinions. The commentators, who claim to be neutral, have become the unofficial spokespersons of certain institutions. The biased commentary on the NRO case, the presidential immunity and the prime minister’s contempt case are but a few examples. The dogma at play here is “We are the voice of the nation and we are right in what we say and show”.
Lastly, I deem it necessary to humbly opine on the dogma that exists in our political leadership. Political leaders consider themselves as a bastion of democracy and the sole representatives of the will of the people. In theory, these honourable representatives swear in to serve the people in the best interest of the people country. However, in practice they endeavour to work in the best interest of their leadership. The dogma that they are besotted to is “We have done so much and we know we have done right for the people”.
I hope that we can break free of the dogmas that bind us.
The writer hosts a prime time talk show. He can be contacted at [email protected]