- Making the vote effective
By: Mustafa Abdullah Baloch
“Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.”─ that’s what Aristotle said, but is it applicable in today’s capitalist world? With all the power and money held by few and the poor left with leftovers, and the world divided between the two hostile camps of haves and have-nots, as described Karl Marx in his legendary theory of class struggle, described in his ever popular book Das Kapital. Well, it’s debatable, as it’s not easy to implement ideal democracy in a controlled environment. The only power a common citizen has is the ballot, and then only if the vote does not get stolen.
The progress we see in the West is because of uninterrupted democracy and the ever-flowing path of one system that keeps getting better day by day. Let’s peek into the upcoming elections of the USA where the 46th President would be elected on November 3. The two candidates are putting forward their plans to serve the country where the blues (Democrats) are discrediting te reds (Republicans) over the economic crisis and not dealing with the covid-19 pandemic in the way that was expected by Americans.
Now it is a competition between the PDM and the enraged public as to who will lead the agitation against this present government over the inflation and economic issues. And if the leadership of PDM shows an iota of clemency towards the incumbent government, then the public will itself lead the agitational movement. So far the PDM is gaining momentum insidiously, but if they don’t cater to the expectations and shy away, then the public will take the lead
Looking back at history, a character named Ross Perot emerged as the third option against the two-party system in the USA. He ran as an independent candidate contesting against Bill Clinton in 1992 and later established the Reform Party. He raised quite a few eyebrows by getting around five percent votes, later only to be forgotten in the annals of history. The American youth thought that he may change the rules of the game, but sadly nothing as such happened.
Here in Pakistan a transplanted minion has been brought into the political stage, ballooned with high hope and a bit of ego to change things, and the rest is history. While Americans soon realised that only te two-party system is conducive to their system, but here unfortunately the Ross Perot from Mianwali got into power. When a character like Ross Perot comes into power then inflation rises to 11 percent, prices of medicines get hiked around 500 percent in two years which includes lifesaving drugs. the cabinet ministers laugh up their sleeves during Cabinet meeting, while the Ross Perot of Mianwali defends his controversial Governor of California, Buzdar. This Ross Perot is going one step ahead by making Parliament submissive and even making a Churchill turn green with envy. This Ross Perot neither has the capacity nor the vision to lead the country towards progress. The continuous process of democracy is the best way to filter out the elements who failed to deliver. Through votes ultimately a credible and strong leadership will emerge, let the people decide. Since we are discussing democracy how can we ignore its mechanisms and traditions being practised in the UK, whose Parliament is also known as “The Mother of Parliaments” where the constitution is flexible and unwritten, but still holding the Parliament strong since centuries with solid conventions.
Pakistan, having a fragile democratic system, needs more time and honest leadership for democracy to flourish. No other system can benefit the masses except democracy, provided there are no strings attached. One thing which the democratic parties must work on is a ‘free and fair’ electoral process, failing which the whole idea of democracy would just be a delusion. Once the public loses hope then it is difficult to convince them and make them believe in the power of ballot.
Political dissent is always good for democracy, it mirrors the wrongdoings of the government at the moment. Similarly, a strong opposition is the pillar that balances and keeps the House strong and keeps the government alert. The government must always be grateful to opposition as it shows it the right path and point out the shortcomings in its governance.
Sadly, today in Pakistan things are not the way they should have been, with the reason being immature politics, personal vendetta and witch-hunting of opponents. The opposition cannot even say a word against the current government on the floor of Parliament or on the media or in a public gathering, as the Ross Perot of Pakistan doesn’t believe in tolerance although he often claims to know more about democracy than anyone on earth just because he played the gentlemen’s game in London for some years. Although the game didn’t bring any gentleness in him but that’s how things are moving here in Pakistan.
Khan usually quotes the high standards of democracy in the UK, but conveniently forgets the fact that the PMs there resign if they fail to even pass a single bill as we recently saw David Cameroon and Theresa May, the two Premiers resigning over Brexit, but still it didn’t put the democracy in turmoil. While here we don’t see any resignations even after repeatedly failing to achieve self-set milestones.
So what’s the game changer? What might flip the show that started in 2018? Well, probably something sometime in March… yes you guessed it right: the Senate─ Khan is eager to get his grip on the Senate but at the same time PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) is gathering momentum with each passing day and drawing public attention, so what if they march towards Islamabad as expected in the beginning of 2021, and in panic Kaptaan suffers from the nervous 90s and hits his own wicket. Howzat? If what he said in his campaign was a fairy tale as per his own confession, then he must also agree that he is the pied piper of this fairy tale. No wonder if the Ross Perot is allowed to continue, then at the end of 5 years, he would ask for more 5 years in order to switch ‘ON’ the button for fairy tale.
Now it is a competition between the PDM and the enraged public as to who will lead the agitation against this present government over the inflation and economic issues. And if the leadership of PDM shows an iota of clemency towards the incumbent government, then the public will itself lead the agitational movement. So far the PDM is gaining momentum insidiously, but if they don’t cater to the expectations and shy away, then the public will take the lead.
The people of the USA were lucky that Ross Perot never made it to the Oval Office, otherwise selling buffaloes, shelter-homes and egg-onomics would have been witnessed by the public of the USA, which Pakistan is experiencing right now because in this part of the world Ross Perot doesn’t believe in massive economic investments like CPEC. Here is a relevant quote by Bill Clinton: “We all do better when we work together; our differences do matter, but our common humanity matters more.”
Mustafa Abdullah Baloch is a columnist and social activist)