In the garb of public service
It saddens an ordinary citizen to observe that time and again our country has proved itself to be ungovernable. Countless systems have come and gone since 1947. The resilient 1973 constitution of parliamentary democracy has miraculously survived perhaps because it still carries a rare consensus. It keeps bouncing back after long interludes of military rule. Yet, despite struggles against military rule and undergoing severe personal hardships, the true substance and spirit of democracy has eluded both our public and our political leaders.
Once again the system is on the rocks. The PML-N government faces a two-pronged challenge just over a year after being elected with a majority of in excess of one half of parliamentary seats and around 15 million votes. The challengers are the most unlikely bedfellows – the PTI with a substantial electoral representation in the Parliament and a government in KP and the PAT, a well organised religious group ad a non-entity both in the national or regional politics.
It is public knowledge that both Mr Imran Khan and Allama Tahirul Qadri have some kind of a past connection with the Sharifs and perhaps a few axes to grind from old times. The four of them have tremendous personal achievements since their early times in the metropolis of Lahore. It appears, however, that the past still haunts all of them and that entire nation is now being held hostage to inflated egos of these individuals.
The dissimilarity between the approach of the Azadi march and the Inqilab march couldn’t be more stark. The PTI is the new entrant in the mainstream national politics and has a stake in the system. The PAT has not proved its electability nor is it a political organisation. Yet it considers its street power sufficient to call for the dismissal of an elected national government. The common factors between the two are their impatience to grab power supported by the passionate and blind dedication of their charged followers. Principles or ethics hardly ever come in the way of expediency.
Both men are singularly independent achievers — though in quite different fields. Imran Khan has excelled in whatever he did. He rose as a cricket star and opted for education at Oxford University. His magnetic personality got him access to the upper echelons of the British aristocracy and the so-called upper classes. He fully utilised his star attraction and established his credibility to raise funds for social welfare projects of excellence and win a place in the hearts of the people.
The Allama has proved his immense organistaional skills and the power of his charismatic sermons. Hailing from humble beginnings, he educated himself to become an authority on religion and developed a large following locally and among overseas Pakistanis. He has established a string of welfare projects in several countries and in Lahore, financed by donations of various forms.
Is it a coincidence that both these dynamic personalities have discovered a common cause to throw out the elected government and to march at Islamabad at the same time? Why is it that both the campaigns have originated from Lahore and are directed not towards the grave issues of public interest, constituently reforms or the plight of the IDPs, but directly at the Sharif brothers? Why has the campaign chosen the battlefield only as the Punjab and primarily Lahore? Why a call of the dismissal of a national government is not echoing in the provinces of Sindh, Balochistan, KPK, Azad Kashmir or Gilgit-Batistan.
It will be a misfortune of our country if a march of a few thousand can successfully oust a democratically elected government. It will also be a sad reflection of the incompetence of the government with its vast resources and public trust that could not contain the people of the province which is the bastion of its power.
Our people are also cursed with the misfortune that greed eventually overcomes those who are bestowed by the almighty with special talents or with special responsibilities. Both Imran Khan and the Allama are outstanding personalities. They have proven record of commitment to the causes they undertook. That required honesty of purpose and faith in their intentions. They could contribute and do so much for the nation in their respective fields – only if they did not try to do someone else’s job. The path they have chosen will only make them controversial and compromise their good names and the goodwill they worked so hard and for so long to earn.
Our population has a history of being driven like herds by vested interests due to lack of education and poverty. We are easily swayed by glib talking individuals who lie through their teeth and deceive the innocent public. Be it the politicians or the army generals or the salesman in a bus selling a wonder drug. Everyone talks of the 18 crore awam. In actual fact it is not the battle of the awam or what they want, it is the greed to become the prime minister and the fight for undue influence and power that is driving these overambitious individuals.
The common people only want peace, prosperity and improvement in their wretched lives. The marches have nothing to do with the poor people or their welfare. The sooner our people realised that, the better it will be for them.
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