Karachi, our metropolitan city drowned in rain and our efforts to rebuild it are marred in politics. The popular debate these days is:
“Who will contribute how much and who will take the credit for its rebuilding?”
Drowning in rain was unfortunate for Karachi but getting drowned now in politics that fails to deliver is worse. All this forces me to ask this question—what is our sense of the future?
Why can’t this nation and its politics do away with mediocre, self-serving sub-nationalists who cannot see beyond their noses?
The world is moving in the fast lane, identifying and adapting new technological, demographical, geopolitical, cultural, and military and academic tendencies and we are still debating how to clean our cities, lift our garbage and unclog our sewerage system. For how long will the people’s will and their right to happiness be constrained? Do we need and deserve such politics that applies such constraints? This killer of public expectations; all politics has done in this country is procrastinate public goodness and wellbeing.
Politics is about memory. People with good memory remember the patterns of behaviour and also understand why these patterns repeat themselves. The economic decisions in Karachi are being made for political reasons and as long as political considerations in Karachi don’t subordinate to economic considerations the city is least likely to see the light of the day. I am particularly concerned with the language being spoken and the choice of words being used by the chairman of PPP. “Yay paisa kisi k baap ka nahi hai” (this money doesn’t belong to someone’s father) is exactly the ‘pattern of behaviour’ the ‘political language’ that one associated with the PPP chairman’s elders in the past. This pattern must stop repeating itself and Oxford-returned next generation graduates must bring the missing calm and politeness to the conduct of politics in this country.
When Imran Khan as an opposition leader came out on the streets and built the political pressure for change, the heat of that pressure was too much for both the major political parties to take. He won the battle of winning the hearts and minds of the public but his promises to turn their lives to better when he came to power have largely remained unfulfilled—at least up till now.
Popularity shrinks when political promises remain unfulfilled. PM Imran Khan has had his tough two years in power. The political hard work that he had to put in these years is a reflection of what happens when you win a political tug of war.
The political opposition finally let go the rope of power in 2018 elections, still holding that rope Imran Khan’s party thought it won, but like in tug of war while holding the rope though you win but you lose your balance. These years have been spent to recover that balance and doing that has not been easy. Individually one can be a great leader but as a leader of a nation and a politician you are rarely a free actor.
There are many forces that exert influence on your decision-making and not only these influences but the given circumstances also dictate your decision-making. And when paranoia is a favourite national pastime, like it is in our country, it becomes extremely difficult to put your political plans to action.
Policymaking remains a response to reality and the political reality in Pakistan is of a country making a transition from one era to another. The beneficiaries of the bygone era are contesting come what may—‘lock, stock and barrel’—and there is this ‘tongue-in cheek political front’ on which the battle of political supremacy rages on.
The primetime on our televisions are being wasted by holding political shows that have little meaning. I don’t know when politics in Pakistan would wake up to understand that technology has considerably reduced the work of politics making it less meaningful and less special. The rise of military powers and advancement in technology are the elements that are pushing the changing trends in politics all over the world. Democracies in the outside world are accommodating and listening to the militaries more and more.
Evolution in technology and rise of military power are the dominating trends that are being attributed for the creation of new economic realities. The US has been the trendsetter and casting the civilian persuasion aside in a ‘conversational front’ that was taking too long a time so it engaged in direct deals with the militaries of the world. To do this in the last two decades or so, it even filled the White House with many generals. For the US, the bottom line has been to achieve results—who delivers those results whether uniformed or civilian doesn’t matter to them.
Pakistan also needs results. We have reached a critical juncture in our history where it doesn’t matter which political system or who delivers the results but not delivering the results is no more an option.
Ronan Farrow, in his book War on Peace (published 2018), writes, “America has changed whom it brings to the table and by extension it has changed who sits on the other side.” Reading this I was reminded of our politicians and their promises of reform and modernisation. The classic example is the crisis-struck situation of Karachi. If the government there means business what would it do—triple the work force and double the budget in various departments but before that bring to the table specialists, qualified managers and officers to address short, medium and long term planning.
But the Sindh government has been bringing the same people to the table for the last 12 years of its democratic rule, how can it by extension change who sits on the other side? Those that have been sitting on the other side have been the ‘go-ahead givers’ and the designers and creators of the buildings that now fall down with regularity in Karachi resulting in great human loss. Can those who have presided over the construction of falling buildings in the past can be trusted with any future reconstruction schemes?
Lastly, the leadership of our politics must understand that the most brilliant leader of Nepal will not be able to turn it into a world power and the most incompetent leader of the US will also not be able to undermine its fundamental power. So stop promising us the skies only give us hope and opportunities to live decent lives.
Article Source: The Nation
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