Politically-apartheid Pakistan

Time brings us close to another ‘critical juncture’ in Pakistani politics

Muhammad Ali Ehsan June 23, 2019
National Assembly of Pakistan. PHOTO: APP

Apartheid was a system of institutionalised racial and political and economic segregation and discrimination practised by South Africa.

The system ended in South Africa in the early 90’s but has over the years morphed into something similar in Pakistan. Not between the blacks and the whites but between the majority of the deprived and touchable in society and those that are categorised as untouchables.

Like the ‘Natives Land Act of 1913’ that divided South Africa into two parts — a modern prosperous part and a traditional poor part, Pakistan today also exhibits similar division.

During the period of apartheid eighty per cent of South African population was exploited, marginalised and excluded by the twenty per cent whites from any economic benefits that the country could offer, where the white only got richer and richer by extracting from the blacks. Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif are also the ‘white practitioners’ of Pakistani apartheid politics that has accelerated the impoverishment of large stack of Pakistanis.

They utilised their political tenures not only in Punjab and Sindh but also at the Centre to divide Pakistan on ‘apartheid lines’ — the touchable, deprived and marginalised living in the ‘shanty towns’ in a society they created lives on and persists.

Is it just the politicians who are responsible for their unchecked practices of political apartheid or the political institutions that enabled them are also to be blamed? Has Pakistan been subjected to ‘political corruption’ or ‘institutionalised corruption’ that politics shaped and created? What good were our Senate and National Assembly as political institutions if they gifted us a President with immunity for five years — Asif Ali Zardari.

We are very poor today because sitting in these very institutions politicians made the choices that created this absolute apartheid division and this poverty. The advocates of democracy and parliamentary superiority are witness to the utilisation of the floor of the House to speak lies to the people — yet to no effect? What did this parliament and the parliamentarians do when these leaders over the years enriched themselves, enhanced their economic wellbeing and consolidated their political dominance and power?

How can the parliament be trusted to run the affairs of the state? In which parliament of the world are ‘corrupt’ allowed to represent the people because the law says that the speaker of the Assembly has to ensure their presence through the production order? What political enlightenment they bring to the assembly by their presence? Was this law of ‘production of elected members’ who are being tried for criminal offences made by mistake, ignorance or on purpose?

The ‘royal political power’ of the two political families that ruled Pakistani politics for a very long time is on the wane. Crucially, these political parties which are now out of power badly miscalculated and forgot to realise that the nation was not their ‘private household’.

Yes dictatorship was bad and all military rules were unconstitutional and unwanted but the people cannot forget what Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari did with this country when they had an opportunity to make amends. They monopolised democracy and impoverished and economically ravaged this country.

The only political plan now can be to seek out and remove the causes of the societal evils of poverty, tyranny, graft, privileges, bribery and ‘an apartheid Pakistan’ that these political parties have gifted to the current government.

If politics is as corrupt as it is in Pakistan, how can political consensus be generated to initiate the much-needed political reforms? Politics in Pakistan has now come to a point where there will now be absolute political winners and losers.

Depending in whose favour this ‘politics of conflict’ will be resolved the new nature of Pakistani politics will stand determined. Either the government’s hold on power will be strengthened or it will weaken enough to usher its own political end. People’s support, military’s weight and formation of political alliances will be crucial factors for whosoever will be the winner of this political conflict.

Time brings us close to another ‘critical juncture’ in Pakistani politics. On the one hand, an APC (All Parties Conference) is being called, in the words of Maulana Fazl ur Rehman, ‘to rid the country of the present Tehreek-e-Insaf regime’, and on the other hand Asif Ali Zardari is offering an olive branch to the government from the floor of the National Assembly, saying that some kind of political alignment is possible only if the government gives up on ‘hisab-kitab’ (which means NAB is influenced to stop the accountability process initiated against him). The Maulana is also threatening the government with a million march that aims at locking down the federal capital.

The question that I ask from Maulana Fazl is: ‘Is this Kingdom of Congo?’ Does he want us to live our lives like the 80 million Congolese people who did nothing about their corrupt leaders Joseph Mobutu and Joseph Kabila? Today more than 63 per cent of Congo’s 80 million people live on an earning of less than two dollars a day. If we don’t hold our Mobutu’s and our Kabila’s accountable, we will also be no different from what Congo is today. The Maulana must do his homework to determine which side he is on?

Much of the economic growth in Pakistan has stalled because of our Mobutu’s and our Kabila’s. Haven’t our Mobutu’s and Kabila’s not made enough fortunes at the cost of millions of us? The poor people of this country are no more interested in the budgetary figures, they are not even concerned with the breakdown or collapse of the state because that’s the job of the government to put it off and prevent it. Their interest is the end to the monopoly of the political power of the plunderers and looters of this state.

The people of Pakistan know that they live in a corrupt political system that needs to change. They also know that narrow political elite in this country organised this corrupt system as well as this ‘apartheid society’ for their own benefit. Any leader who wishes to change this is most likely to have the popular approval of the people of this country.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2019.

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M Fareed | 2 years ago | Reply I think so criticism for the sake of criticism is not a good idea. Dictators ruled this country for 32 years. Why we cannot criticise them? Is it their business to run the country? You can trace all the roots of crises in their rule. Politicians are not ideal but political victimisation should stop now. SC disqualify a PM bcz he did not show a recieveable pay & on the other a dictator who is facing charges of high treason is enjoying outside the country. Is it justice?
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