Give us back our pride - S. Tariq - 3rd March 2013

The sight of PTI workers grappling with one another during the recent intra-party elections and two words “doob maro” uttered by a friend, who happens to be an avid Imran Khan supporter, prompted the subject of this week’s column. I sat long afterwards, musing over the incident and appeared none the wiser except for the notion that we as a nation should, indeed, hang our heads in shame.
Pakistani politics has unfortunately become dynastic and dictatorial in nature, wherein party elections are a sham exercise meant to fool the nation. These elections sideline the ordinary party worker and resort to a procedure, where the dynasty that ‘heads’ the party, nominates its hierarchy and dissent is not an option. Viewed objectively in this scenario, the chaos during PTI elections could be attributed to the fact that the party apparently adopted a departure from the dictatorial norm and involved grass root supporters in electing party office bearers.
If that is so, then the events of the day could, perhaps, be ‘swallowed’ as a poor beginning to a desirable process, which would evolve in the right direction with proper guidance and repeated practice. Nonetheless, what PTI should immediately do is to investigate, if any of his contenders were involved in abetting the events of the day and take appropriate steps to rid the party of such individuals.
The other possibility hinted at by Khan Sahib himself was that voting was disrupted by elements belonging to or sponsored by other political players not comfortable with the PTI footprint. This is a notion that would come as no surprise considering the ethics of our political leadership.
A function was recently organised by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in Sindh, wherein sewing machines were to be distributed to deserving women. True to their image, the ‘jialas’ invaded the occasion and ‘looted’ the stuff meant for widows and the like. This group of hooligans even resorted to violence against those relatives of the effected females, who tried to intervene and injured some of them.
According to media reports, the party stalwart, who had organised the event did a photo shoot, while presenting the first machine and then vanished from the scene. In another instance, we saw images of pistol toting PPP activists swaggering around Karachi streets forcing shopkeepers to pull down their shutters to protest against a Supreme Court verdict that ran contrary to their liking.
Thanks to the media that is playing a critical role in exposing the true face of an average Pakistani, we were ‘regaled’ with the sight of Pakistan Muslim League (N) workers starting, what can only be termed as a stampede or perhaps a food riot, to get their grubby paws at sustenance served during a political gathering. We saw plates being thrown, hair being torn and quantities of food being ‘snatched’ and devoured as if by (to put it mildly) a bunch of Hyenas.
In another display of what we are made up of, chairs were taken apart and cushions tossed at one another at the end of a PTI public meeting in Southern Punjab. What was really galling was the fact that perpetrators appeared to be enjoying what they were doing.
As I key in these lines, I am transported to a time some years ago when my son-in-law decided to play his role to help bring succour to the victims of the devastating earthquake that hit northern Pakistan. He along with some of his friends procured tents, dry rations and medicines, loaded them on a truck and headed off towards Mansehra and beyond. When their truck neared Balakot, it was mobbed by a throng of people who claimed that they had lost their homes. Things would have taken a very ugly turn had not an army detachment arrived at the spot and brought order. My son-in-law also discovered that individuals were lining up for aid repeatedly and lying in a bid to hoard items. It was sad to note that these items later began appearing in shops across the affected areas.
On a philosophical note, one can toy with the idea that the tendency for greed and gluttony at the people’s level is a reflection of our leadership. Many at this point in time would say yes and rightly so. Gluttony and greed has many faces and none so explicit as those who do politics in Pakistan.
Take the case of the impending general elections and the practice by many confident of victory, to abandon parties and announce independent candidature. This by all worldly standards is a smart move that is likely to ensure heavy profit, when the time comes for political parties to count numbers in the legislature and then set the price for making these numbers good.
The critical question here is: where will greed and gluttony lead us as a nation? The answer is simple - it may give temporary benefits, but in the longer term, it will destroy us and the land that we live in. We may have a final opportunity to stem this disaster on Election Day through the power of our vote. So let us gird ourselves and set our eyes on the day that we reject the greedy and the gluttonous and hand over the reins of good governance to those who will give us back our national pride.