Recent events should inspire their perusal
“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment”
— Benjamin Franklin
Human history is replete with men of eminence, intellect, vision and wisdom, who through their actions and sayings on different aspect of life and human behaviour have bequeathed pearls of wisdom with eternal truth that can impact the human lives in a rewarding manner if they are acted upon. History is also witness to leaders and men of authority acting in complete disregard to those quotes and sayings and bringing disastrous consequences upon themselves as well as the people they led or represented.
The quote mentioned above is by Benjamin Franklin and carries eternal wisdom in regards to impulsive human behaviour that can have unpalatable consequences and advises them to be careful about what they say and at what time they say it. Many other thinkers and intellectuals have emphasised the same maxim in their own ways. All the religions and morality codes regarding human behaviour invariably underscore the need for restraint and due deliberation in regards to what one has to say and where and at what time one has to say it. Indiscretions and irresponsibly uttered words are bound to have negative repercussion when said or exchanged between individuals, group of individuals or by the leaders at the local, national and international level. Bu the dilemma is that very few people heed to these pearls of wisdom and continue to suffer the consequences of their tongue-wagging and loose- cannon like behaviour.
When I look at the way our politicians conduct their politics, the way they indulge in mud-slinging against their opponents and unabashedly resort to hurling unsubstantiated allegations against each other, I tend to take the quote of Benjamin Franklin as a prophetic admonition to them, though most of them might not have even heard about him. The political landscape of Pakistan unfortunately has never been as enviable as one would have liked it to be. But it has become even murkier and muddled since the arrival of Imran Khan a self-styled revolutionary turned traditional power grabber on the political horizon.
Blinded by his covetousness for Premiership he has done everything he could possibly do by setting aside the rules of the game and principles of political morality. He concocted rigging charges alleging that PML-N, state institutions, intelligence outfits, former CJ and COAS as well as a prestigious media group had connived to steal elections from him. He became part of a conspiracy to dislodge the incumbent government through unconstitutional means and incessantly hurled unsubstantiated allegations against the rulers. Even the Judicial commission report that repudiated his rigging claims failed to subdue his impulsive propensity to denigrate the state institutions and his political opponents. The attack on the PTV headquarter and the parliament house by the workers of PTI and PAT during the sit-in at Islamabad and their attempt to besiege the Prime Minister house are probably the darkest chapters of our political history.
The wrong words and wrong actions by him did have negative repercussion for him and his party. The masses did not like his style of politics tinged with syndrome of self-righteousness and character assassination of his opponents, particularly the PML-N leadership. The party lost almost all the by-elections held for NA and PA seats, local body elections and polls in AJK. Even these set-backs and reversals could not dilute his stubbornness which now seems to have percolated to all cadres of the party. A ranting and vivid testimony of this reality was amply demonstrated by Naeem ul Haq, the spokesman of the party a few days ago when he claimed that the former COAS General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, Saudi Arabia and US conspired to deny win to PTI in 2013 elections. It was a wrong thing said at a wrong moment. It did not go well with the people, media or political circles and of course the praetorian powers. A former General even went to the extent of saying that the party would have to pay for this indiscretion. The severity of the reaction was not unexpected. It was only Naeem ul Haq and his party which could not visualise the consequences of saying a wrong thing at a wrong time.
However within 24 hours of shooting a poisonous arrow and the reaction that it invoked, the party leadership thought it fit to resort to damage control measures by asking Naeem ul Haq to retract from what he had said and term it a personal view rather than the party position. But the damage had already been done. Imran Khan and leaders of his party, according to political analysts, are orchestrating their own political demise by indulging in politics of false hood and self-aggrandisement woven around trumped up lies and allegations. The party and its leaders certainly need a change of path and revisiting their political strategy to stay in contention for winning the franchise of the people. Persisting with unsubstantiated and repudiated allegations of rigging also constitutes as insult to the public genius and mandate. And remember people do take revenge for such machinations.
In a democratic set up the people are the ultimate arbiters, who express themselves through the ballot. All politicians and parties therefore must honour the verdict of the people and the sanctity of the ballot. They must not forget that in case of the incumbent government, people make their judgment on the basis of its performance and in respect of the opposition parties they look at their role in acting as an honest watch-dog against the government and the vision and strategies that they present to the people as an alternate to the policies of the outgoing government. Fabricated lies and indiscreet convulsions never produce positive results. In my view PTI and the entire political leadership of the country needs to heed the quote of Benjamin Franklin.