The ardent messiah seekers

Raza Rumi

A natural disaster, largely unavoidable, has provided a glorious opportunity to all those who have been hankering to reverse Pakistan’s fragile transition from an authoritarian to quasi-democratic rule. There is hardly a new script for the much-touted change and its proponents are using the same old tricks out of their worn out hats to prepare for a rollback of the democratic process. Therefore, the intense rumour-mongering, which has gripped Pakistani psyche over the last fortnight, is a tried and tested success formula: create the perception of change and then turn it into reality.

Even though Pakistan’s military remains unwilling to intervene, regime-change seems to be the flavour of the month. Ironically, this time large sections of the electronic media are hyperactive participants in the process, which is most likely going to push the country towards another man-made disaster. It is appalling to note that TV talk shows are focusing on extra-constitutional remedies. For instance, a Mr-Know-It-All anchor, whose acrobatics are well-known, posed a question to his (utterly uninspiring) guests to discuss the merits and demerits of the Bangladesh model and the so-called ‘General Kakar formula’. While the responses of the guests were entirely predictable, the most shocking response came from none other than former minister and Senator Iqbal Haider who has been a dyed-in-wool democrat. He confidently and at times vociferously advocated the “General Kakar formula” which essentially relates to the intervention by the army chief in a situation where a political deadlock emerges. One had always sympathised with this reputed lawyer’s position on the problems with the way his former political party – the PPP – was led and managed but to hear pleas for an extra-constitutional intervention was shocking to say the least.

Senator Haider has also been the co-chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan – an organisation that has always resisted any role of the military in politics. If an experienced politician, a civil society activist, on an independent media channel, is calling for the military to intervene then it can be sadly concluded that whether the government survives or not, democratisation of Pakistan will remain a fanciful notion.

Pakistan’s electronic media is an arena for the talented middle-class; upwardly mobile personnel who directly cater to conservative sections of urban Pakistan. The latter have historically proved their anti-democratic credentials, showing a clear preference for authoritarianism. Whether it was Musharraf’s coup of 1999 or the judicial hegemony of recent times, this is a conglomerate that clamours for a messiah with a magic wand to fix ‘corrupt’ and ‘dirty’ politicians holding fake degrees.

It is still unclear how regime-change will be affected by the ardent, messiah-lovers on the idiot box. But it is amply clear that the political, economic and security issues of Pakistan are only going to get worse in the short to medium term if democracy is derailed. If the consensus on the 18th amendment is disrupted then the inherent cleavages of Pakistan’s federalism will re-emerge to haunt us all. It would be yet another irony of history that those who are discrediting democracy will suffer the most once the present constitutional freedoms and guarantees are lost. The media of course will be a major loser in this dangerous game.

Perhaps the adjudicators may also be humbly advised to read Pakistan’s history especially on what happens to ‘rule of law’ under dictatorships. Erosion of public institutions under authoritarian regimes is an undeniable lesson of our history. At a time when al Qaeda and its cohorts are eyeing Pakistan’s state power, what could be more suicidal than the current power-game cooking up in Islamabad?

This piece was published in The Express Tribune, under the title How to commit hara-kiri


Filed under Pakistan, Politics, Power, public policy

10 responses to “The ardent messiah seekers

  1. O J DEEN

    Don’t you feel that the world today needs the divine guidance more than ever before? Is it not the time when servants of God are being drawn away from God, by the glamour of material world, more than ever before? If your conscience replies in the affirmative then please give due importance to the call of one who claimed to be sent by Allah (God) in order to re-establish the real and certain contact and relation of humans with Him.

  2. Rashid Saleem

    Democracy is not only the right of the people but the choice of the people. Even if a change has to be introduced than it should reflect the will of masses rather than one person.

  3. moniems

    Please ponder over the following:

    • Democracy is not the best form of Government, but it is the best available.
    • Democracy can take root and flourish only in a democratic society.
    • Whenever democracy flounders, the remedy is to bring in more democracy.

    Pakistan cannot ever be democratic if it does not act keeping the above in mind. This is the most important time for the nation. If we are not careful, we will again be clamoring for democracy in 2020. (Remember Musharraf is returning, and either Kayani, or someone equally loyal, will be commanding the army.)

    First of all we have to separate state from religion. We cannot afford to remain an Islamic nation any more. This is of utmost importance.

    Secondly, we need to overhaul our education system to make it secular. Religious education should be imparted only after the graduation level, when children are mature enough to understand it.

    Thirdly, a respected intellectual with a secular outlook should come forward to lead the society on the democratic path.

    We will be a democratic society when we see spontaneous protests erupting against injustice against any human being (not only Muslims) any where in the world (not only in Islamic countries). When we are this mature, we will get an unshakable democratic government. The present clamor for army-rule is a sure sign of us not being a democratic society.

    If we are not satisfied with our present government, we should accept the blame for voting carelessly, and resolve to exercise our choice more carefully in future. If we get rid of our present government by any undemocratic or unconstitutional method, we will have to wait a very long time to break the AAA jinx.

    We can learn much from Indonesia, and also, surprisingly, from India!

    May Allah bless Pakistan!

  4. An interesting and insightful article, and some very good comments by Rashid and especially moniems. It is true that our current politicians have made a hash of things, but what is the alternative? Do we really want another decade of military rule? A democratic culture needs time to take roots in a society, and become a part of the national psyche. While we may have electoral democracy at the moment, the Pakistani society still has a long way to go to become a truly democratic society. The imposition of military rule, or meddling in the affairs of the government by the military, will only serve to halt the process of democratisation.

  5. Zulfiqar Haider

    If dictators are considered as Messiahs then we don’t need them. A weak democracy is better than a dictatorship, where every single institution goes under the army rule.

  6. I agree with the views expressed by RR except that in the first paragraph there is a Typo (because I say so!): it should read “Perception of changE” metamorphising or rather morphing into (ah!haa?) “Realty” (delete the “i” from reality). Realty is an American one-word [with the status of a registered Trademark] for many: e.g., plots, perquisites, perks, peccadilloes, pull-AO-Zardaisms, polyplots, patronage, privileges, more plots and hunting with the hare and running with the hound …

    As straw example we have a Prime Munster whose wife Fouzia Muzafargarhvi buys six houses in Defense under various benamees in nine months (thus giving virgin birth to old money); obtains write off loans of over 350 millions (thus lightening your pocket in inflammatory/inflationary terms) as Jhoonga and the Prime Munster, {{lo! and Behold!}} pompously is pretending (ad infinitum!) that he cannot handover the Head of the State and Commander in Chief to the Swiss authorities for corrective accountability and appropriate punishment… then why have such a person in such a high slot?

    Reminds me of the famous couplet by Ustaad Damnon (Opps!) :

    I hear the sound of boots (chitters-galore) ; ATTENTION! I learned that our Prime Munster purchased his first rackety automobile in 1971.
    Solution to the Delusion:
    “AS-YOU-WERE”!! (c. 1950) STAND At EASE!!!

  7. There is business as usual as far as hierarchies of Typos are concerned .. only Syyed Iqbal Geoffrey’s authentic typos enjoy the status of being Artworks which may be hanged on the walls of various indigenous drawing rooms as decoration pieces.


  8. Midfield Dynamo

    The human subject is “nothing other than an active fidelity to the event of truth,” or a “militant of truth.” This is not at all postmodernism; it is a godless theology in which the elected, march to free us from “our ‘democratic’ totalitarianism” and attain “the emancipation of humanity in its entirety.”

    …..Our Messiah!

  9. While Fidelity to designer-truth is
    one helluva sexy game;
    loyalty to truth is a different balls gain.

    (…..Our Mess!!)

  10. Hameed

    Well these floods were certainly prophesised;