“The Faizabad Dharna”

People are shelled shocked with the Faizabad episode, others are frustrated by the Panama Scandal and all that it is revealing, some are  dazed by the shamelessness of our finance minister and Iqama Holder parliamentarians, other are reeling under conspiracies and the alleged ‘hidden hand’. Well this is what passes for democracy here; the one in which some of us feel the more you have the better it gets. I am however convinced that as governance remains absent, Faizabad will become the norm and not an aberration. We shall continue to call it democracy and celebrate the freedom it promises us, continuing to hope that somewhere in the distant future the process will improve and we shall have our democracy.

Ah – Democracy, that fascinating label defining an elusive system!! Of the people, for the people by the people – offering ‘equality’ but at the same time promising ‘liberty’. The former establishing an alleged social order while the latter an exclusivity based on merit. Merit being a moot term with so many facets to it, money, fame, dynasty, power, knowledge and hard work. Nevertheless, equality and liberty (merit) contradict one another but who cares, its’ still democracy all the same. The tyranny of the majority where some become more equal than others while a minority trembles in fear under the fury of a greater humanity. But then democracy is all about numbers; does not matter how we arrive at the numbers but numbers it is! The missing link in the whole equation is how we arrive at these – through coercion, parochialism, manipulation, bribery or false promises.

The pretentions of democracy and the façade of an egalitarian society only leads to an artificial system that is nowhere near democracy but a hypocritical label that beneficiaries of the systems can exploit and take refuge behind. The leadership that is thrown up in such systems has no respect for propriety, rules, convention, law, moral obligations or honesty; and their only focus is to remain in power by hook or by crook. Such leaders politicise institutions, thrive on nepotism and corrupt every established section of governance.

Thus, when an artificial system is imposed upon the society, vacuums are left in the wake of a conspicuously absent government. These vacuums are filled with a new way of life that thrives on petty crime, land grabbing, extortion, corruption, a parallel economy and anarchy. People feel isolated, abandoned and insecure. The tribal instinct for survival kicks in and every individual identifies with some group or other; it’s either, ethnic, sectarian, ideological or criminal gangs. Society evolves from ‘people’ into a ‘mob’, where collective mob-values govern social behaviour as opposed to the conventional civic sense found amongst ‘people’.

Thus, in this democracy the ‘people’ become a ‘mob’ and the government becomes one which is identified as: of the mob, for the mob by the mob. The signatures of mob-rule are abusive language, total contempt for law and regulation, imposition of personal values on others by force, not minding one’s own business, intolerance, extremism and violence. Such a mob is directed, contained, controlled or motivated by a demagogue as opposed to ‘people’, who are led by leaders.  In a political structure one has leaders, in a mob rule, one has demagogues. Still surprised by Faizabad?

Thus, I am surprised when people confuse our mob-rule with democracy; surprised because with very obvious signatures that are displayed on a daily basis, they want to still call this a democracy. Either, the consequences of this mob-rule have not affected such people as yet or then this is what they genuinely like and want. For those Einsteins who say that give us more of this ‘democracy’ and it will mature and improve in time, it is like saying let a rapist rape on, he will improve in time!!! So, for those who accuse people such as I of being anti-democracy and who claim to be die hard democrats themselves; its only because they like the ‘idea’ of democracy but have no idea of what it really is.

In this system, masquerading as a democracy, ‘equality’ is a term to suppress those demanding their rights and ‘liberty’ is one where leadership is free to do what they want.  Having elections with this system in vogue that will only introduce more mobsters into the field will simply ensure that one is even less ‘equal’ than now and be a greater victim of the ‘liberty’ of our leaders. As an individual on the street, one remains anonymous in one’s insignificance, and yet, one dares to think somehow the system will improve and one will swagger down the street as an ‘equal’ citizen. One shall achieve all this by doing nothing, saying nothing and resisting nothing. It shall just come one’s way through divine intervention.

We the people are now subject to mob rule, the maulvi and the politician; one exploiting the other, a dangerous nexus who shall lord over us while we are abandoned, unrepresented and irrelevant in this country. We shall never get out of this vicious cycle unless the whole rotten system and these mobs are thrown out. We shall never be equal citizens and neither have the liberty that democracy promises us if we don’t throw these people out. We need democracy and not this drama that is disguised in labels and slogans yet so lacking in substance. Some will come up with everyone’s favourite but that worn out cliché, ‘who shall bell the cat?’ That comes later. Others will make this out to be a civil-military issue and start fulminating in historical examples that are irrelevant to the occasion. Let’s first come to a common understanding of what we are discussing:

  1. State and Government are two different things. The State is a geographical entity that is sovereign and is based on defined principles. Governments are elected to fulfil the needs of the State and its principles and not come up with their own. Political parties must reflect in their manifestos how they intend furthering the State’s ethos and principle which in our case is Unity, faith (within ourselves as opposed to any ideological substance which is stating the obvious), and discipline.
  2. Democracy is direct or indirect. In the former policy decisions are made through referendums conducted by the parliament and in the latter through representatives elected by the people.
  3. In a democracy everyone is equal and must be given the same opportunities as everyone else through education and employment. Religion must never disqualify any one from holding any office but citizens other than Pakistanis (dual) must be denied participation in State functioning.
  4. Democracy is about a leadership that is willing to undertake responsibility and be held accountable. All parliamentarians must send their children to local government schools and their families to use local hospitals.
  5. People standing for elections must not just qualify through popularity but qualification as well.
  6. The constitution is designed to protect the people from their own governments by establishing rules and regulations.
  7. The Courts have the capacity to apply a Judicial Review to legislation that is not in the interest of the people.

Does anyone see this system allowing this to happen in the future? Should elections be held under this system? Why can’t we clean up the mess we have made of our country and then hold free and fair elections under a revised and reformed system? Why must we listen to these charlatans, court jesters and mandarins spinning their wisdom arguing that this system alone is the best? Any system that protects thieves, cheats and liars cannot be good for us and only serves those that benefit from it. Finally, remember, every passing day in Pakistan is worse than the day that preceded it, so how can we say that in time this system will improve. How?

 

Lt. General Tariq Khan (Retired)

Advisor & Senior Analyst at CommandEleven
Lt. General Tariq Khan (Retired), an erudite general from Pakistan's Armored Corps and a decorated War Veteran, is an expert on critical issues related to Terrorism & Insurgencies. General Tariq Khan during the Battle of Bajaur, transformed and re-shaped Frontier Corps into a relentless fighting force and raised FC's own special forces popularly known as SOG. Commanded and led major operations in FATA from the frontline, his model on counter-insurgency is still applied to this day.

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