J. J. Baloch
The strong elitist culture of governance continues to hunt the freedoms of the general masses in Pakistan. The political freedom-hunt has a long history in sub-continent which began before our birth as a nation. The power mafia has grown to unimaginable levels of monstrosity and still struggles hard to drag the nation into the traumatic past. So much so that in Pakistan today the packing of the vested interest groups has become one of the daunting challenges to the protectors of freedom to take their motherland out of the shadows of the past rotten in colonial and authoritarian legacy.
Governance faces grave challenges in 21st century. Communities living in a highly connected globalised world wherein the democracy, as being the best system of governance claiming its faith in the human capacity to rule themselves, is under serious attack of being a failure in addressing the core issue of socio-political and economic non-inclusion. The third world countries, especially Pakistan, are yet to reassemble its parts of politics and power structure on democratic lines.
However, specificity of particular contexts in creating gaps of accessibility as well as the participation of all and sundry in making their fairer choices for dignity, privacy, integrity, liberty and prosperity unveils unique formations, dispensations, and equations of the power balances and so is the case with the perspective of Pakistan’s political landscape.
An autopsy of our statutory structure in Pakistan reveals in an unmistakable way the long list of genetic defects in political structure of Pakistan that go unattended to cause the chronic diseases of injustices, disorder, crime, extremism, public uncertainty and anarchy, rolling the sheets of the rule of law and public peace and haunting everyone including the public, media, academia, and public policy stakeholders in our country.
The form and structure of the state and the modes of its governance always reflect the essence of society’s culture. However, the human culture is the most ancient and the most powerful influence on human thinking about the perspectives of living and is the moving spirit behind the civilisation. The fundamental fault-lines in our society’s power structure as well as in the formations of our multi cultures continue to trouble the development of the system of good governance in Pakistan.
The elitist power structure is the core issue in addressing the very fundamental irritants in our political structure and governance culture which is lampooning in the power and nuisance game of all those feudal mindsets who wish to make their fortunes out of the weaknesses as well as the strengths of the writ of the power in Pakistan.
“The control over the power structure in Pakistan has consistently passed into the hands of politicians with a feudal mentality, aided by civilian and non-civilian bureaucracy”, aptly says Syed Mohib Asad, a retired inspector general of police. In aid to politicians stand the religious groups and business tycoons thumping their chest for doing anything to secure their positions in power structure of our society.
The problem of elitist dominance in power structure dates back to Muslim rule in India. Babar Ayaz a veteran journalist is of the view that ‘these are those elites who had been eyes and ears of Muslim rulers in India and who had made their fortunes by serving to their masters in the shape of getting big landholdings and best education (In the Persian Language) for their off-springs’.
The descendants of the Persian-speaking educated gentry passed on to British colonialists in India where they reorganised themselves and regrouped under the shadow of Aligarh class of English-speaking gentlemen who again not only got closer to British rulers but also crafted a new narrative, using Islam as their political identity and way of life only to work out their best interests by jumping into the bandwagon of English people and distracting from their brothers in belief who were general masses and who responded their call for unity, so claims Babar Ayaz, an intrepid Journalist in his marvellous book (2013), “What is Wrong with Pakistan”.
The Muslim elites in India convinced even Jinnah who was the Ambassador of Unity in India for Muslim separatism, genuinely fearing the Hindu mentality which was set on the mode of settling scores with the Muslims for having been under their subjugation for more than six centuries. Babar writes that when in 1936 elections All India Muslim League suffered defeat, Allama Iqbal wrote a letter to Jinnah in which he referred Muslim League defeat to its being away from general masses and also it’s wearing the brand of traditional conservative Islam.
Hardly anyone can doubt the genuineness of the demands of Pakistan as a country to escape Hindu nefarious designs yet the issue of Pakistan’s being rotten at the core of its national base is with the claims and controls of this Muslim privileged elite of India who spread all our Pakistan after its creation to establish their feudal fiefs and made entries into league to control the properties, sources of income and production, and political power.
As a result, our independence from British Raj transmitted to our subjection to our own elite Raj which still continues uninterrupted and the common man in Pakistan is still sweating for rights and freedoms. After their Muslim Identity, these elites have taken shelter under the shadow of democracy-a business of general masses- which is being traded among the elitist of this country and which is yet to attain popular roots in the forms of the empowerment of the most underprivileged classes and which is yet to allow middle class, a spinal cord of any nation, in our country.
These elites as written by Syed Mohib Asad being hand in glow with power brokers on the horseback continue eat into the vitals of a free democratic Pakistan but rather making fortunes in the business of politics and governance, dominating and monopolizing national narrative, discourse, policy and source of income as well as power within the state apparatus.
Political Interference for consolidation of elitist interests in public domain and departments especially political, economic and criminal justice institutions goes unabated. In Pakistan, the entire governance system has been adversely affected by politically motivated policies and practice designed to weaken its structure. Those who maintain the integrity and resist tooth and nail to deny dancing to the tunes of politicians and all others who one way or the other matter in the power structure in Pakistan are either transferred or removed from the service through engineered allegations and concocted departmental enquiries. The rule of law and true democratic ideals are yet to make their way to dent the iron sheets of elitist culture in Pakistan.
Besides this, the environment of serious mistrust within the government institutions is the primary trouble that exists at the heart of governance in Pakistan. Politicians consider our armed forces as their rivals and cast serious doubts on our superior judiciary for their meritorious and unsparing approaches in the matters of national and public importance. While our military establishment has serious national security concerns and does not trust politicians as the cleanest, trustworthy and reliable to be left completely independent to deal with the issues of national security on their own. So, as the guardians of national integrity, and ideological frontiers, our establishment keep on watching all those at the helm of affairs. This is what Pakistanis have witnessed in yester years. As a consequence, Pakistan does not have any good precedence of cordial civil-military relations which, too, is one of the genetic issues of our polity. However, either military or politicians are in power but general masses still stand alienated and segregated from their rights to have rights as citizens of Pakistan.
Therefore, the people of Pakistan are yet to matter in the power structure of Pakistan. They got independence from their foreign masters but they are still struggling to stand free in making their political choices. Elitist-clone governance is the leading and fundamental genetic problem in Pakistan which has taken deep roots and which is yet to be done away with!
The writer is a policing educator and a novelist.