Intra-party reforms: The need of time

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  • There must be no more kinship in politics

By: Hareema Zahid

Family politics is a poison in the case of Pakistan. Pakistani legislatures are overshadowed by dynastic politics as most of the leading political parties are linked with dynastic policies. These political leaders are not only followed but worshipped. A few well-known political families continue to dominate Pakistan’s parliament. Although Pakistan has seen a lot of political changes in the last two decades which has affected the popularity of some prominent figures more, respectively the Sharif and Bhutto clans.

Political families may now find it arduous to survive merely on the basis of their family background as democratic thinking prevailing in Pakistan. So, it’s the right time for parties to deal with maturity and give chance to meritorious candidates. Elections are becoming more transparent and accountability has become a focal point. The nation has become democratic whereas parties lack democratic values. PTI who recently won 2018 elections has also been criticised for being a one-man show, though Imran Khan has claimed that his family, most particularly his children, would not join politics.

Political parties, rather than worshipping their leaders, should instead elect the most suitable deserving candidates sensibly. The only aim should be a prosperous Pakistan and for that party members should focus on fundamental intra-party reforms

Speaking of one of the two mainstream parties, the PPP was launched in 1967. The entry of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto into politics was not on family background. People accepted him as their leader due to his influential personality, but after his execution, the leadership of the PPP was passed to his daughter Benazir Bhutto. Despite being one of the most prominent political party of Pakistan that talks about democracy, after Benazir’s assassination, the Bhutto legacy was passed to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari who was 19 years old at that time, surely not on merit, under his father’s administration who became the 11th president of Pakistan in 2008. Z.A Bhutto’s and Benazir’s sudden demises stunned Pakistan which led to immense sympathetic voting. Over the past three decades, Pakistan’s politics has been dominated by the Bhutto legacy. Political awareness amongst the youth has changed the scenario. Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur’s fake accounts case has harmed the PPP, due to which the party and Bilawal had to follow the ‘minus-Zardari’ formula for 2018 elections which actually helped Bilawal acquire seats. Now is the time that PPP should think outside the box and replan their strategies and manifestos.

On the other hand, the PML-N has also been struggling to acquire the people’s trust. Panama has been a political hot potato which strongly shook Nawaz Sharif’s repute. Nawaz Sharif first held the PM’s office in 1990. He has become PM three times and many of his family members were given many important posts, specifically his son-in-law Captain Safdar, nephew Hamza Shahbaz and brother Shehbaz Sharif, the former CM of Punjab. His daughter Maryam Nawaz who has recently joined politics and is considered to be a successor, is facing difficulty in maintaining the party image. The internal dispute for the deserving candidate is also causing problem as it won’t be easy for the Sharif brothers to jointly decide the next candidate who will carry the political legacy of the PML-N as both the brothers have equally struggled and earned this position. Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification has caused much damage to the PML-N. To an individual, the PML-N can be seen as an epitome of corruption. It is hurtful to see leaders defying law and transparency and still being supported by the party members. Despite the criticism from the nation, they would still dominate and no democracy within the parties can be seen.

Nawaz’s disqualification and Zardari’s arrest has changed the opinion of many supporters. As now Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Maryam Nawaz will have to focus on improving their image and will have to struggle hard to enjoy the popularity which was enjoyed before by their family members. It won’t be easy for them to sustain power. Intra-party reforms are the immediate need of time. It shouldn’t be unlawful for any family member to join politics if he or she wants, but handing over power on kinship won’t last long as we are witnessing today.

It is high time that political parties, rather than worshipping their leaders, should instead elect the most suitable deserving candidates sensibly. The only aim should be a prosperous Pakistan and for that party members should focus on fundamental intra-party reforms with consensus. A five-year plan should be documented by each party that should be followed by whosoever is elected by the party when he or she comes into power for the betterment of the country. For sustainable democracy, parties should understand political machinery and hold intra-party elections on regular basis not only for the progressive Pakistan but also for their survival now.