Pakistan’s middle class

  • The time has come

It is rumoured that the king makers smile favourably upon the new prince-to-be, Imran Khan; and Nawaz Sharif, who was once considered a favourite of the establishment, is now not only on the wrong side of the fence and but he has also managed to become a political invalid after the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared him unfit for not only public office but also party office.

Kaptaan, who’s political philosophy is grounded in exterminating corruption from the country and follows a top-down model, seems to be in line with the establishment’s anti-corruption policies and therefore, the cricketer turned politician is now deemed to be the king’s choice and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the king’s party. The question, however, is if the real masters of Pakistan, i.e. the middle class, will be allowed to participate in the arena of Le Nationale Realpolitik.

The marginalised people of Pakistan i.e. the salaried, middle, lower and underprivileged classes which makes up almost 98pc of the population have always been kept out of the halls of power by the infamous ‘2pc’. A process initiated by the Firangis and followed though by the Lawrence brothers in Punjab, who kept these classes out of power and within control of the Raj by educating local tribal elders, sardars and nawabs in the British ways, has taken on a new form in contemporary Pakistan. Now, these classes are kept in check by making it impossible for anyone without several millions of rupees (anyone who’s not a member of the bourgeoisie) to spend on election campaigns, public officials and party funds, to reach parliament. A methodical system of plutocracy has been established in the country albeit in a very subtle manner.

If Imran khan is to truly become the new prime minister after the upcoming elections (which seems very likely) and his anti-corruption vision continue to coincide with the judiciary and those who ‘pull-the-strings’ then an unintended consequence is most likely to occur; the inevitable rise of the Pakistani middle class.

Such a system will also result in a sharp decrease in ethnic and provincial divide, and the people of Pakistan will rally around their ‘interest’ i.e. the system

The hypothesis roughly forms like this: In order to successfully implement anti-corruption policies and defeat the brown Cosa Nostra that controls every segment of Pakistan’s political economy, rule-of-law must be established.    

Once rule-of-law is established (which it most likely will be) and the anti-corruption wave takes on full swing, (which is what the state apparatus is moving towards) a natural dichotomy will be created between electoral politics and wealth. This will come to pass because the established rule of law and anti-corruption wave will not tolerate any ‘capo’ or ‘foot soldier’ to possess black money.

Those who have earned their wealth vis-a-vis hard labour and white collar employment will never be willing to spend opulent amounts of wealth on achieving electoral victory, something that will no longer allow them to earn back what they have spent and become increasingly affluent. This achieved gulf between money and power will naturally pave the road to parliament and echelons of power for the middle class.

In addition to this, once the corrupt become aware that the state apparatus will not tolerate corruption, excesses and misuse of power, they will naturally lose interest in politics. This is because public office holders will no longer be allowed and able to exert influence on members of the judiciary and the National Accountability Bureau to turn a blind eye towards corrupt practices by the ‘godfathers’ and their ‘capos’, ‘underbosses’ and ‘soldiers’.

Social norms and beliefs, and power structure in Pakistan can be understood in one sentence: There is a power struggle in Pakistan between the powerless and the powerful. This essentially explains the elite’s interest in hereditary constitutional politics and interest of the lower and middle classes in civil services. Members of the middle class feel that they would be ‘protected’ and their civil service career would place them in the periphery of state power. If Imran Khan comes into power and rigorously pursues his top-down anti-corruption policies, this power struggle within the society will come to a pause. Consequently, the elite will not only lose interest in direct politics but the middle class will also prefer venturing into parliament (which seems like an impossibility right now) instead of civil services.

With the middle class venturing into politics, Pakistan will not only see a sudden shift in national policy emphasis (the emphasis shifting from class interest to national interest) but the state will also witness a parliament and consequently an executive that is characterised by nationalism, honesty and competency. This in turn will also solve the ‘institutional overreach’ conundrum.

This change in the political character and decrease in disconnect between the rulers and the ruled in Pakistan will establish a political system that will find rule of law as its foundation and policies that focus on the efficient and equitable distribution of public goods. Such a system will not only enjoy confidence of the people but it will also enjoy their protection.

People in Turkey did not come out for President Erdogan, they marched to protect their system because their interest is aligned with the present Turskish system. This is also why the people will not march if Nawaz Sharif calls from Adiala Jail. Contrary to popular opinion, people rally to protect the system because their interest is synonymous with it and not to protect disqualified ‘leaders’.

Such a system will also result in a sharp decrease in ethnic and provincial divide, and the people of Pakistan will rally around their ‘interest’ i.e. the system. This will finally allow Pakistan to transform from a nation-less state into a Pakistan that houses a nation.  

If the alleged ‘political engineering’ in Pakistan’s politics at present achieves this as a consequence of the Kaptaan coming into power then this is exactly what the country needs at the dawn of the 21st century. The time of the colonial-minded plutocratic-aristocrats is almost over and the working class epoch is not a distant dream anymore. It is only a matter of time that Pakistan finds its Putin, (he transformed Russia from a bankrupt state to a first rate world power within 20 years) obviously from the middle class.


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