The Frontier Post
Nothing is hunky-dory in Pakistan these days. Terrorism, sectarianism, rape, murder and kidnapping for ransom are order of the day. The politicians are continuously busy in playing politics with one another on petty matters. When their personal interests are threatened, they start talking about public interests. Recent somersaults of JUI(F) and MQM are a case in point. Maulana Fazlur Rehman immediately quit the government when the minister of his party Azam Swati was sacked by Prime Minister. The good maulana announced in a press conference that he would start agitation on blasphemy issue. It again shows how religious parties use religion to galvanize people. MQM also left the government after Sindh Home Minister’s outrageous remarks against it. PPP government is extremely fragile after all these gimmicks by its coalition partners and the Prime Minister is ready to do everything to appease them. Nawaz Sharif quickly joined the bandwagon and announced his 10-point agenda and gave the government 72 hours to respond to it. If response is positive he will give government 45 days to fulfill his demands. As a first step the government appointed Sardar Latif Khosa as new governor of Punjab and PML(N) welcomed it. A big irony starts here. On the one hand Nawaz Sharif demands that government must root out corruption in 45 days; but on the other he accepted, with open arms, a governor who was previously sacked twice on corruption charges, first as attorney general and second as adviser to Prime Minister. These topsy-turvy moves have completely perplexed the poor masses and shaken their faith in democratic system. Unfortunately, democratic process failed to deliver in the last three years. Pakistan is facing enormous problems these days and there seems no sense of urgency on the part of the leadership. They are busy accusing each other and questioning each other’s mental state of affairs. In chilling cold weather load shedding of gas and electricity has made life miserable for common man. The gap between the rich and the poor has increased manifold in the last two decades. The rich have the alternative of every problem whether it is electricity or gas load shedding, while the poor continue suffering. There is no link between the problems of rulers and hapless ruled. The rulers have only one goal - how to grab more power and wealth, while the poor people have all sorts of problems, from inflation to unemployment and from health to justice. This country is now hostage to cement, sugar and oil cartels etc. The voices against these mafias are so feeble that no one cares to listen to them. They are plundering the country with the connivance of politicians and bureaucrats. Pakistani nation is one of the most resilient nations in the world. More than 6,000 people were killed in terror-related attacks in 2010 alone. In such testing times, people still try to lead their normal lives. People want a massive change in the system. This need for change is much more visible in the middle and lower middle classes. The middle class in Pakistan is quite passive politically. If they yearn for real change they must wake up from their slumber now and be active politically. Middle class must organise itself politically thus becoming a force to reckon with. People of Pakistan badly need a sincere, committed, honest and dedicated leadership. Our major political parties are more prone to dynastic politics and it is foolhardy to expect that they will ever be willing to change the status quo. What we require at this critical juncture of our history is a dynamic leadership that is fearless and truly represents the sentiments of ordinary people. I think before the next general elections in 2013 the government should bring about reforms in the election commission. First, the election commission must be independent, impartial and strong enough to hold free and fair elections. Second, it must be ensured by the election commission that in all political parties, the candidates who want to contest the next elections, should declare their assets and give details of their income tax. In case of any irregularities they should be disqualified forthwith. Third, the election commission must limit the expenditure on election campaigns for National and provincial assemblies so that people of middle class may think of contesting the election. Fourth, government must strictly adhere to its promise that in next elections voting list will be made according to NADRA identity cards. Without reforming our electoral process the future of democracy in Pakistan will remain bleak.