Started with alignment with the Islamist parties. Then came the anti-US rhetoric. Next was the ‘chor, chor, chor’ mantra. Plus added to the mix were the two ill-performing entities, PML-N and PPP. All this created a mindset that is as best described as scorn for the status quo pre-2013 and admiration for one man post-2013.
The much longed for ‘leader’ found himself leading a beleaguered, exhausted and somewhat vibrant society but did the much-cherished unification happen? Pakistan stands today dangerously polarised with a myopic sight that the solution continues to lie with the PTI. The worry is that Pakistan, which has long been suffering from a myriad of social, economic and political factors, remains a crippled society with very little progress. At this particular time, there are no takers for a moderate, constructive and gradual reform for the country to stabilise in any context.
With the relentless rains and onslaught of floods, this should have been a time for the nation to finally come together and address the realities of the country in a unified voice. Home to a very young nation, with limited resources, there is much that is being done despite the limitations and state support.
But this is not to be. Stuck in a vicious development trap, the economic situation continues to oscillate between worse and worse-r and we are looking at a looming human resource disaster as young people, the urban based ones more educated and skilled than their parents, are left with little to no opportunities.
Now refer back to what Imran Khan offers – alignment with those who appear closest to God and are against All-That-Is-Bad, the call against United Sources of All-That-Is-Bad and the presentation of the Three Stooges that are the reason for All-That-Is-Bad – and the young ones’ anger is turned into a vote bank. Which supposedly, to some extent, catapulted him into the Prime Minister’s office.
Now refer back to what Imran Khan offers – alignment with those who appear closest to God and are against All-That-Is-Bad, the call against United Sources of All-That-Is-Bad and the presentation of the Three Stooges that are the reason for All-That-Is-Bad – and the young ones’ anger is turned into a vote bank.
But has democracy been strengthened?
Under the pandemic the Have’s and Have Not’s gap widened and school children suffered badly in their learning and skill development. While it was abundantly clear more spending was required in education, the running cost of the country had also increased. Because, of course, the All-That-Was-Bad had to be countered on numerous fronts.
And while the PTI was seen as the Ultimate Good-For-All, there is no sign of a new social contract to be delivered in the name of the party as yet. Democracy was traditionally seen as the solution to all that plagues the country. How then and most importantly why has there been such a decay in Pakistani democracy then?
Pakistani politics today stands marked by shocking levels of polarisation as well as a dismally weak set of political parties, bar the PTI, and a governing majority, where democracy is yet another dream that is not going to come true anytime soon. Climate change and the excessive flooding which has left swathes of areas and residents sleeping in the mud isn’t exactly the best PR image for the country within or internationally. The economy has left households struggling to make ends meet and children are at risk of either facing compromised education or forced into under-age work to have two basic meals a day – if they’re lucky – to just stay alive.
How then is this a democracy?
And what of the ruling parties? For now it has been to ignore the plight of the masses from whom the vote is to be won. The political disease battled out on social media has resulted in real-life damage causing increasing self-censorship and a weariness which diluted a healthy political mindset. And the economic situation remains a nuisance for those who are suddenly aware of the same human rights that are denied to millions across the country.
No, this is not a democracy. This is the decay we are experiencing. And if we are to call Pakistan a democracy, the work needs to start from the grassroots, exactly what is underneath the flood water, and build it from there. Otherwise this decay will continue and while the end will not be All-That-Is-Bad, it most certainly will not be the much-touted Ultimate Good-For-All either.