For too much of his political journey, Imran Khan lacerated both existing political class and the military establishment for the destruction of democracy and (socio-economic deterioration). When failed to gain power with this strategy, Khan reserved his true venom only for the politicians. This change of game greatly helped him rise to the power. Needless to say, Khan introduced hybrid-regime form; in which civilians seem junior partners of their military co-opts. Coupled with the selective-accountability mania, the hybrid regime greatly curtailed the civil liberty, say nothing of economic worsening. The ‘failure’ of the regime provided the ousted political parties with the chance to hit back at the regime to restore democratic norms, civilian supremacy and civil liberty. Now the question is whether this old-ousted-political class is really serious to introduce a true democracy in the country or it is out just to regain its lost throne?
To mobilize people to disband the ‘failed’ regime or at least to expose it, the opposition parties created a platform – Pakistan Democratic Movement. The PDM organized the sequel protest-rallies, in which tens of thousands of people showed up and the great majority of people at home had verbal or tacit approval to the toppling or the exposing of the regime. In fact, advertently or inadvertently people demanded a brand new social contract, in which they will be enjoying the right of the government making and breaking. As a principle of the political science, a social contract is reached between the state (Government) and the people. Ironically, the top-brass of the PDM-leading party, PML-N, was caught paying visits to the officers of the coercive apparatus of state to reach a settlement. What is more, Maryam Nawaz, the icon of the movement and the daughter of Nawaz Sharif who is thrice elected Prime Minister, expressed the wish that army should oust Khan first and then talks can take place with the establishment. So, where is the will of the people and where is the new social contract? Hapless people!
The local-body politics is, in fact, a nursery from where a young-trained political class emerges. Thus, the local body elections are a globally recognized political activity. In democratic states and societies, local body elections are regularly held. However, here two major political parties – PPP and N-League – are averse to the idea of the local body elections. Last time, it was the Supreme Court which twisted the arm of the N-League to hold local body elections in Sep 2015. PPP has also the same attitude to the local body. The tenure of the last local body government ended before the outbreak of the Corona, but neither government nor the opposition parties exuded any will to pursue local body elections. Now if the Corona is not spreading with the big rallies of the opposition and the government, why PDM parties are not forcing the government to hold local body polls?
The answer to this question is that both the parties are inherently and intrinsically infested with the feudal-cum-Pir dynasties and the business tycoons. Growing education and opening up of technology, in fact, had greatly reduced the influence of the feudal and Pirs. However, the PDM parties, by taking them, have, in fact, extended the lease of life of these feudal and Pir dynasties even in the times of the 21st century. The feudal and Pir politicians of these parties have tentacle-like grip on the politics. These feudal and Pir dynasties don’t want to see new comers. They don’t want to share state powers and public funds with the non-feudal and the non-Pir politicians. They want to keep the rest of the population unaware and ignorant. What if the current ‘failed’ hybrid regime of Khan is removed today? Obviously, the same old feudal and Pir politicians would be in charge of the state affairs.
So, no one even should imagine that those who are living in the mansion-like houses – Banigallas, Bilawal Houses, Jati Umras, Bahiria towns and DHAs – can bring about a true democracy and the real change. Nelson Mandela, Federal Castro, Mao, Gandhi, etc. never lived in these types of houses, never rode big vehicles and never enjoyed air-conditioned bungalows. So, people should not harbor any substantial expectation from this existing political class. This existing political class is amateur, not serious leaders.
Before PDM, the opposition parties had began an Azadi March (Freedom March) against the regime, but nothing worth-mentioning was achieved. Tens of thousands of people marched to Islamabad from around the country, but they were never consulted when the opposition parties withdrew one by one. Since that march, the leadership of the movement has been entrusted with Maulana Fazul ul Rahman, a life-long supreme leader of Jamiat Ulema-e- Islam-Fazul ul Rahman. Like all other major PDM parties, Maulana never feels bothered to hold intra-party elections and transfer the leadership of the party to some other young able party cadres. Worst of all, the movement was in progress, JUIF’s Sindh chapter leveled concocted blasphemy charges against Dr. Irfana Mallah, a Sindh University social rights activist professor. The pitiful scene was that the lady-professor literally wept and begged forgiveness in a video clip from an undisclosed location. The son of late martyred Benazir Bhutto and the sprit behind the PDM, young Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and all other veterans of his party cowered and kept mum. Imagine, if these people get power today, what they will be doing with the true democracy: Free Speech. Free Thinking. Free Expression, etc. So, this is the democracy that PDM will give to the people! Pakistan, in fact, direly needs a fresh-new revolutionary political class, which can bring real democracy. The current political class is obsolete with obsolete thinking!
*Raza Shahani teaches at (Contract Faculty) Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur, Sindh, Pakistan