Conduct yourself with spiritual politics

Dr. Haider Mehdi

Who do wells in a glass house must not invite the hostile sentiments of pebble throwers!”
As she was quoted verbatim on the front page of the Express Tribune, Ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s angry, anguished and defiant daughter, Maryam Nawaz, reacting to the recently held APC in Lahore said, “All PMLN opponents are worth a used tissue paper.” One simply wonders about the use of such language. Did things have to sink so low in the so-called democratic Islamic Republic of Pakistan?
I count myself one among the millions of Pakistani common folks, the awam, who are PMLN leadership’s opponents on the basis of political, ideological, philosophical, historical, analytical, and above all, moral-ethical reasons based on factual arguments and verifiable authentic evidence. However, let us consider for the sake of argument, the possibility that all of us, the PMLN opponents, may be absolutely flawed in our reasoning and the understanding of the entire political, economic, social situation in the country at the moment. The question that arises is: Are all of us “used tissue papers” worth nothing?
In the English lexicon, a “used tissue” is one that someone has blown their nose in – an insult of an unproportioned and unpardonable nature. Do we deserve such language, such disrespect, such an insulting attitude because we do not support the PMLN leadership? What kind of politics is this? What kind of democratic attitude is this? In a mature and civilized nation, when an elected leader or a leadership is accused of ethical or moral misconduct, or political mismanagement, or criminal behavior, the usual and appropriate political behavior is that such a leader or an entire government resigns or seeks a fresh public mandate by early elections. It is unheard of in a democratic set-up that a political party’s leadership insults its opposition with such derogatory unacceptable and uncivilized language. That is one set of rules that is obligatory on all political actors.
On another level, the judicial rulings of the nation’s Superior Courts have a time-honored binding on all citizens inclusive of the top political leadership of a country. It is a matter of historical record that in all democratic nations, accusing, humiliating or ridiculing major national institutions is a constitutional crime punishable by severe legal sanctions. And yet, in Pakistan, the disqualified PMLN Prime Minister and his seemingly preferred heir apparent, his daughter, have not only insulted their opponents, they have relentlessly indirectly accused the Superior Judiciary and the Pakistani Army of forming an unsubstantiated political conspiracy against them. This oblique defamation of Pakistan’s Superior Judiciary and the Military Establishment is unfair, uncalled for, and obviously unconstitutional.
For educative purposes for the PMLN leadership, specifically the ex-PM himself and his daughter, the PMLN stalwarts, jialas and supporters, there is a need to explain why the Pakistani Army is so sacrosanct to this nation’s awam. I’m incorporating a few extracts from one of my articles written some years ago, showing that it’s an issue of historical concern, and that my today’s writing is not simply a reactionary response to Maryam Nawaz’s political diatribe against us, the PMLN opponents. My intention is to bring some, if I may, political enlightenment to our estranged leadership on how our common people, the awam of this country, view their military establishment and why. Understanding it, hopefully, will take a lot of sting out of the PMLN leadership’s fabrications and rhetoric on the issue and add cognizance to their conceptual comprehension as to why the awam find the PMLN’s oratory unacceptable and diametrically opposed to their national sentiment on the subject.
The Pakistani awam’s love affair with it’s military “jawans in uniform” is not entirely an emotional, sentimental, historical or psychological matter. It is an existential experience spanning generations since the inception of Pakistan. History has made an immense mental impression on the Pakistani awam that has contributed to their everlasting love affair with their uniformed jawans. Come what may, notwithstanding the endless emotional and symbolic rhetoric in praise of democracy and civilian political-economic ownership of this country, common folks in the street always stand behind the army.
The foremost reason is the fact that successive civilian so-called democratic regimes have blatantly violated their public mandates with absolute political contradictions, violations of democratic norms and principles, and total disregard for greater public welfare. In this country, democracy has been a mere “game plan” to acquire civilian political-economic ownership of the state by a select few to promote vested-interests, organize oligarchic political management structures, and collaborate with powerful foreign actors and governments to help keep them (the so called democratic outfits) in power.
Consequently, the fundamental necessity of implementing true democratic governance has been totally ignored by civilian elected regimes. Take for example, the present day democratic dispensation in Pakistan. It is ironic that there is no parliamentary or government-initiated debates or discussions on the management of the economy based on alternate economic models to enhance general public welfare, or to deal with the massive and ever-increasing income inequalities on a national level, the vicissitudes of societal disintegration and disharmony caused by massive socio-economic disparity and the resultant chaos and crises faced by the nation.
Tragically, Pakistan’s economic development models, present and past, have been virtually backwards. The awam consider the democratic leadership apathetic to their real fundamental issues of daily existence, and in fact, believe that their present-day tragic existence is the direct result of the so-called democratic leadership’s incompetence, inefficiency, mismanagement of national political and economic affairs, and the pursuance of vested-interest economic and political agendas.
In the last eight years of civilian so-called democratic dispensation (both the PPP and PMLN have remained steadfastly committed to oligarchic political structures) the status-quo forces have maintained a non-egalitarian, non-efficacious political posture as well as a stagnant mindset towards Pakistan’s economic needs and have dominated the entire political spectrum with an unbending “Rightist” approach to economic development. Consequently, instead of going forward, the civilian leadership of the few has been going backwards. Political-economic “ownership” of the state by the leadership of vested-interests has turned Pakistan’s democracy into a business enterprise laying siege on national development and depriving the common citizens of their legitimate democratic rights to a just and egalitarian society. Pakistani awam feel justifiably cheated as well as violated by their chosen national leadership.
What Pakistani awam want is some kind of subtle discipline in their existence, a clarity of purpose and objectives for their democratic regimes, a visible and effective strategy to deal with their fundamental existential issues, a plain roadmap to achieve an egalitarian and just society, peace and stability in their country, happiness in their family lives, respect for their ideological views, mutual tolerance of each other and so on and so forth. Needless to say, the Pakistani awam are in search of a nationalist, honest, dedicated leadership that exists to serve the country and its people in accordance with the principles of its ideological parameters, defined socio-economically in terms of a welfare state. By and large, Pakistanis are simple folks; they are interested in simple, straightforward solutions to their problems.
No wonder then that the awam in today’s Pakistan hold the Pakistani Armed Forces as sacrosanct and look up to its leadership with hope – and believe that the needed societal discipline, clarity of national purpose, straightforwardness of strategy and plain talk are the functions that Pakistan’s Armed Forces and the Superior Judiciary can contribute to a much-needed political reform in the nascent democracy of this nation.
Consequently, Pakistan needs a kind of “Spiritual Politics,” which appears to be out of the realm of the present PMLN leadership. Spiritual Politics entails rolling back vested interests and personal selfish attitudes, consciously striking down self-serving behavior, taking into serious consideration the faculties of reason and evidence, and giving appropriate weight to cause-effect relationships. It also means giving due respect and tolerance to diverse opinions, ideological political differences, and opponents’ points of view, and above all, to the rule of law – and an absolute end to the massive corruption of political leaders. Spiritual Politics also involves grooming self-respect, dignity and integrity towards oneself as well as towards others.
Imagine how a society would evolve if a leadership conducted itself within the parameters of Spiritual Politics!
We would need far less dust bins to throw “used tissue papers,” good for nothings, into them!
To me, this appears to be a better option!