A reading and re-reading of Zahid Hussain’s July 24 column in Dawn on the subject of “Dynastic politics” is infinitely depressing in the context of the upcoming elections and the much discussed hope of ‘change.’
We have some 1,200 legislators scattered amongst the various assemblies and the most honourable upper house, the Senate. Zahid has it that 102 families hold more than 50 per cent of the seats in the assemblies and Senate, with some of these hogging families having up to 10 members distributed around our centres of legislation. And not all members of the 102 clans stick to one political party but play it safe and divide up membership between a couple or more parties, a foot in each camp so to speak, with an eye on potential future developments or tectonic shifts. They slither from one side to another with the greatest of ease, oiling their way from alliance to alliance.
Our legislators, by and large, as it is with the political parties themselves, are devoid of any traces of ideology, of the knowledge of the difference between right and wrong, of conscience, or of any adherence to the concept of truth-telling. But then, of course, politics has to be all about telling whoppers.
The worst in this league right now is the PML-Q — and what a gross insult it is to the founder of their country that it has the temerity to use the identification ‘Q’. It was a cosy, happy bunch when formed by General (retd) Pervez Musharraf in 2002 — all renegades from previous political niches. They went along merrily with Musharraf, who was under the false impression that he could use them willy-nilly to hang on to power. When he made a right royal mess of things, shooting himself in the foot multiple times, they had no compunction in ditching him. And then, led by the wily unintelligible Gujrat Chaudhry, lo and behold, they offered themselves at the right moment as partners to the party of President Asif Ali Zardari.
The frightening thing is that come election time, the PML-Q will have its vote bank secured through the various ways and means that are employed by our political wizards, with its members oblivious to or not caring less about their true worth and intent. That the PPP-Z accepted them with alacrity — of course, they were needed — speaks volumes about that party’s adherence to any political line other than to President Zardari himself.
On the dynastic issue, we have lost and gained. We have a switch of dynasties. The Bhuttos have been eliminated and the Zardari dynasty holds full sway.
Alliances on our political front are made with no other thought in mind than ambition and a chance to keep ‘in’ so that the perks and privileges of being on the right side and in the right seats do not disappear. The MQM is another party that needs to be ‘in’ and will do what has to be done to do so. In its case also, Musharraf was its guiding light whilst in power but he was put out of mind and President Zardari embraced and its members leapt to tie the knot. Again, this close knit party had its solid vote bank, with its leader wielding his authority and control with skill and aplomb. Altaf Hussain Bhai has now come up with a suggestion that can only make the Karachi situation more fraught than it already is. He has issued a call to arms — the business community and the traders of the city are to follow the ways of the ‘wild west’.
Well, they are all quite a bunch and they are not about to go anywhere as they will see to it that they jump in the right direction when the time comes. They will fiddle and faddle and ensure that they stay put to with their rakes as the ready.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2012.