Time To Rebuild The Diminishing Trust Between The Rulers And The Ruled

The fragile state of communication and dissemination of information between the ruler and the ruled has resulted in public distrust and the ongoing Kulbhushan Jadhav case is a striking example.

The less-often cited definition of politics describes it as a continuous process of communication between the rulers and the ruled — this is understood to be a two-way traffic.

While the rulers continue to disseminate information, policies and opinions to the masses through a variety of methods and means, the ruled (in a modern democracy) register their grievances, complaints and aspirations through a variety of political institutions established through a democratic process in a democratic system of governance.

The primary aim of this continuous process is to build a relation of trust and credibility as no modern system of governance can succeed without an essential basis for mutual trust between the rulers and ruled.

Therefore, transparency and free flow of information becomes an essential ingredient of any political system in a modern society, which is interested in ensuring stability in its midst.

This requires first and foremost a commitment on the part of the rulers to keep the masses informed about every development and decisions taking place in the power corridors. Not surprisingly, modern liberal democracies — where free flow of information and transparency is part of the basic constitutional arrangement — are the most successful and stable political systems in the world.

Unfortunately, in Pakistan, this essential relation of trust and credibility between the rulers and the ruled is absent from the basic political equation. The system is not transparent and the information about policies and decision-making processes that the government and state machinery disseminate among the public is not taken as credible by the people. Lack of credible information about the system and lack of transparency are the two factors that distort the process of communications between the rulers and ruled in our society.

Take, for instance, the government's ordinance in the case of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, wherein he has been granted a right to appeal in the Pakistani courts. The ruled in this case have simply refused to accept the government’s explanation for promulgation of the ordinance that the government was under obligation to give this right to the spy after the verdict of the International Court of Justice. Social media is full of doubts about the issuance of the ordinance.

People are raising slogans about the 'hidden agenda' of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government. And the hashtag, 'Modi kay yaroon batao' (explain, O you friends of Modi) was the top trend until yesterday. This was reminiscent of the campaign led by retired generals against the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that he was soft on the Indian spy. It seems that the relation of trust and credibility doesn’t exist between rulers and ruled as far as the case of Indian spy is concerned.

This has been in the making for several decades now and is a product of the handiwork of several public personalities and the intrigues they have been hatched against the system in the post-Zia period.

The time when Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif was being ousted from power is also the time when he was being labeled as a friend of India and as being disloyal to Pakistan — the rumors that misinformed the public about the arrest of two RAW agents from the sugar mills of Pakistan’s then elected prime Minister, dubbed as someone who was selling national interests on the cheap.

This was also the time when Pakistani intelligence had arrested Kulbhushan. And, many former officers of the army were regularly appearing on television screens to tell the nation that the then premier — a friend of Modi and therefore disloyal to Pakistan — is conspiring to release the spy.

This type of campaign is likely to ruin the relations of trust between state and its citizens, especially when those casting doubts about government actions, be it any government, are none other than the former employees of the state, who, in public perceptions, are still privy to the state secrets or are in some kind of symbiotic relationship with the departments and institutions of the state. 

The brigade of so called defense analysts were behind this campaign against the elected governments, therefore they share the blame for the present state of affairs. They distorted the process of communication between the rulers and the ruled in the case of the Indian spy Kulbushan in attempting to prove that an elected prime minister wanted to release him and was in secret negotiations with India. They didn’t simply undermine the credibility of one prime minister, but undermined the whole system.

Now, how can they expect the public to listen to them when they are going out of the way to grant that same Indian spy a right to appeal under the country's judicial system and, that too, under international pressure. Do they expect the people to listen to their baseless statements when it comes to a premier, and disregard all allegations when it comes to another?

Their baseless statements have accustomed the people of this country to base opinions constantly on conspiracy theories. The system of communication between the rulers and ruled and the trust and credibility of the system has broken down, because of nothing else than arguments of the loudmouth defense analysts. And now, they expect the system to function properly. It will not.

Umer Farooq is an Islamabad-based freelance journalist. He writes on security, foreign policy and domestic political issues.