The Dream Of A State-Sponsored Ruling Party Is Bound To Fail
Is it a coincidence that certain journalists, religious clerics, defence analysts and a significant portion of the population insist on a certain idea over a period of time? Absolutely not. It is but the result of an orchestration of future ideas. Let us begin by asking ourselves as to why men with a stature like Maulana Tariq Jameel and Hassan Nisar would put their credibility at risk, after building themselves up over the years, by becoming obstinate over one single issue? Why would they be constantly hitting home one point again and again – that only the PM is honest?
Maulana Tariq Jameel is an honourable man and there can be no doubt about that. I do not say that because he is a Maulana. Nor do I say it because he appears to be a good man and has a really likeable personality. But it is because he meets all standards of being an honourable man for any civilised society.
He is a religious celebrity and perhaps the only man who could bring all religious clerics on the table if need be, due to his kind personality and gentleness. However, some things that he has been saying recently over the past few months may just have subtracted from his stature subtly.
One such thing has been to endorse the Prime Minister publicly and repeatedly on national TV.
A politician, as honest as he may be, remains a politician nonetheless. And here we speak of a politician who has never been to jail, a politician who has had a marriage of convenience (not that others have not), a politician who has broken many promises and did not even repent once about these. Obviously, in situations when the vows are not complimented by equally strong decisions, public outrage in one form or another is a given – and governments adopt various methods to somehow contain the heat. Conversely if the promises are kept, or are at least persistently adhered to, then the flow starts to go the government’s way.
Let us imagine, for instance, that as soon as PTI took charge, the dollar had stayed at 125 and stayed as such until the Coronavirus came; had people not become jobless and that BRT Peshawar had been built; had Sugar and Wheat Crises not occurred at all; had the 18th amendment been not in jeopardy, the Hajj packages for the poor not been renounced and the culprits of the Sahiwal incident put behind bars; had Bilawal not been mimicked by the PM himself; had Usman Buzdar not been chosen as the Chief Minister of the biggest province (by a leader who used to talk about sharing power rather than conserving it at one place); had Hamid Mir still been the favourite anchor of the PM like before, despite the former’s criticisms; had Chaudhary Sarwar been promoted and so had Shah Mehmood Qureshi; had the DPO Pakpattan not been transferred over a personal grudge while apparently the SP had done nothing legally wrong; perhaps, then the Maulana’s utterances would have been the most legitimate prayer ever.
There is nothing wrong with praying for someone. In fact, it is the best gift a Muslim can give to another. However, the Maulana’s prayer was not just a prayer; it seemed more like a properly crafted invocation which could also yield some political results.
Imagine that a teacher had 27 students in class, with the English alphabets as their names. If the teacher says that X is a very intelligent individual, this is praise and there is absolutely nothing controversial about it. A good student deserves applause anyway. But if the teacher says that X is the only intelligent individual in the class and keeps endorsing X and only X, then that is bound to create acrimony in the atmosphere.
This is exactly what happened in the Maulana’s prayer. He kept insisting that he has never received any benefit in lieu of his religious contribution towards any entity – and to be fair to the Maulana, there is no doubt about that. Having said that, things became complicated when the Maulana said that only the PM is sincere, that he is working steadfast alone and also that if the media says otherwise, it is lying.
In addition there is the issue of the spread of the Coronavirus, which, as medical knowledge tells us, has only to do with coming into contact with this virus – and the only way to prevent that contact is to take intense pre-emptive measures. Such measures were not taken by many governments of the world, including Pakistan. This universal truth was transformed into a religious guilt to be felt by the people of Pakistan. The Maulana insisted that the spread of the virus in Pakistan was especially caused by the women who wear short clothes and dance. This statement further took the debate into a blind alley.
Why is it that the PM of Pakistan needs such endorsements?
The answer might lie in how, traditionally, the post of PM in Pakistan has been disgraced, ridiculed and disrespected. Conversely, the posts of the military leadership have been glorified and remain so. It has now become an uphill task for the Powers That Be to reverse the cycle and create some respect for the PM of choice. Though every PM is of choice, this is perhaps the first time in the history of Pakistan that the real king is not tempted to wear the crown – as the one who is wearing it has turned out to be the best prototype of the imagination of the Chosen Few.
It will require a lot of Maulanas and a lot more prayers for the people of Pakistan to look up to the PM – a position that has been traditionally portrayed as that of someone inherently corrupt.
But is it fair that many have criticized the Maulana over this issue and overlooked many other such influential personalities? After all, it is not just the Maulana but rather a group of people scattered across various media who do the same thing. Hassan Nisar, Irshad Bhatti, Sabir Shakir and like-minded thinkers also work to advance the PM’s agenda, but in a different manner. One cannot help but notice a pattern in their analyses which will ultimately be aimed at saving the face of the government: often where it is in an indefensible position.
Having said that, ever since this new regime has used a new social engineering technique, it has backfired and is failing to get universal acclaim. The exclusivity with which the state is being run is most certainly going to end in a dead end. Shah Mehmood Qureshi vehemently challenged the PPP in the parliament and vowed to penetrate PTI into the Sindh province. However, perhaps he forgot that once PTI or another state-sponsored party takes over the whole country, it will also have to answer the cries of more than 200 million people – who, at some point, will have forgotten Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari. What then?
Pakistan, unlike China, is not the biggest contributor to the world’s economy. That is how China controls its huge population, it gives them jobs. Pakistan’s rulers have no such option for sustainable authoritarianism.
The only thing of value that Pakistan has is the power of its atomic bomb – and that, too, has shockingly lost its significance since the arrival of the most recent invisible enemy called Coronavirus.
A state sponsored attempt at single-party rule by fitting the PTI into a democratic mould is bound to fail – as are all attempts to cement it.