Last December, I was asked to give a speech at our premier accountability institution’s annual seminar. While discussing the challenges posed by corruption, I got carried away and ended up suggesting that democracy, when uninterruptedly allowed to function, can help in accountability. After my talk, the acting head of the institution, a senior ex-serviceman, took the podium and changed my world. Commenting on the weaknesses of democracy, he asked: how could educated and illiterate citizens be given equal rights to vote? Wisdom be praised, that day I learned there are two forms of democracy: democracy and true democracy. Recently, owing to Messrs Qadri and Khan’s great contribution to our political evolution, I have learned there is a third kind too namely ‘organic democracy’.
Dear readers, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to learn that John Stuart Mill, Thomas Jefferson and Voltaire were all wrong — relics of another era, another time. We have far greater geniuses available among us. Understanding true and organic forms of democracy is more complex than rigging a nuclear tipped missile. Hence, I am not to waste time in pretending that my mortal mind is even capable of comprehending basic parameters of an infallible political system. Now let’s talk of the third and the third rate version, the one our Gullu Butts of politics and lifafa journalists like me have been courting. Let’s talk of the dirty little secrets of the dusty-musty, corrupt and corruptible, inefficient, dishonest and fake democracy.
The first little secret is that this version of democracy is badly scarred. Not the mark of Cain — the slayer, but the scar of Abel, the slain. It is because of this scar that it cannot function. When in a society, that only understands the language of coercion and violence, a true democrat comes to power, his legitimacy grows out of the barrel of a gun, hence everyone falls in line. In sharp contrast, when a scarred democrat grabs power, he or she simply cannot govern because no one would listen.
The second dirty secret of old democracy that needs to be thoroughly exposed and discredited in Naya Pakistan is that it has a ridiculously high tolerance level. A true democrat would have relented after telling an annoying dissenter that he wouldn’t know what hit him. Whereas old democracy can let Hitler in, allow demonstrators to stage an indefinite sit-in, erect a tented village on the Constitution Avenue. It even believes in the rights of those who don’t believe in it. Consequently, the last true democrat known to us all, is free to roam about in the financial capital of the country.
True democracy’s latest update — the organic democracy, is such a legitimate force that if its 14 supporters are killed it has the right to bring the entire country to a grinding standstill. The culprits must be exposed, hanged, drawn and quartered. And the old democracy, yeah the fake one, is such an illegitimate force that if the leader of the largest party is killed in a park of Rawalpindi, very close to where her father, an elected premier — yeah, the one solely responsible for the fall of East Pakistan — was hanged, it has to be hush hush. We have to switch to the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ mode. Organic democracy sits in the bulletproof containers, and when it has to reach out to the old democracy it firmly places a handkerchief on its nose to avoid the stench. If you use force in streets against organic democracy, you are Gullu Butt. If you use force in an airplane to evict political underdogs, you are an anti-status quo revolutionary. Organic democracy then, is evidently the best form of democracy because it knows how to keep illiterate masses in their rightful place, outside the container, on the roads, exposed to the harshness of weather, threats of terrorists and law-enforcement agencies alike, away from home and loved ones with their nose to grindstone.
That is all fine and dandy but when you ask other segments they tell you there are other forms too — Taliban democracy, Gujarat-style saffron clad democracy and drone democracy. The biggest dirty secret of old democracy is that if you allow any other form, any other experiment to prevail, who knows where it all takes us.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th, 2014.