Current Affairs of Pakistan

By: CSP. Mansoor-ul-Hassan Siddique

Current Affairs of Pakistan are so sensitive: Burlesque enacted in Pakistan last year in which a military dictator unconstitutionally proclaimed himself re-elected we finally had on Sept 6 this year a real presidential election in which the PPPs co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari, was constitutionally elected as the first democratically-chosen president of Pakistan in a decade. This was the best revenge that democracy could have taken on dictatorship.

Gen Musharraf was re-elected for five years by his handmade Queue-lined assemblies despite serious questions over his eligibility in the circumvention of Articles 41 and 63 of the constitution. Asif Zardari has been elected president in a constitutionally legal election for five years, but in his case too, there were questions over his eligibility raised both within and outside the country. The only difference was that in the case of Musharraf, the latters illegality under Article 41was real, whereas in Zardaris case, questions related only to alleged perceptions of his past.

Democracy is not about perceptions or reputation. Democracy is about people who are the final arbiters, no matter how poor a reputation a politician might have. They choose their leaders. History then gives its verdict on whether or not they made the right choice. In Gen Musharrafs case, the new democratically elected assemblies have spoken loudly and clearly against him. History didnt let him complete his five years. It was quick in giving its verdict. He was forced to quit. He stands discredited and doomed to ignominy.

Zardari has a chance to prove that perceptions regarding his reputation are ill-founded. History is already registering its accounts and will soon start judging him. It is between history and Zardari now. What about the people? They would like to believe that real democracy has finally returned to their country. And in politics, as in every other aspect of life, what people know and understand or what they believe largely depends on what they see, hear and feel and how they think and act.

But in looking at the unfolding events in our country and the acts of our newly elected rulers, we see what is not, and see not what is because we have chosen to be prisoners of an exploitative system based on elitist, feudal and tribal structures. There are no angels in politics. Even in the worlds major democracies, heads of state and government and eminent politicians have been implicated in assorted scandals. Big names come to mind in no time. Hypocrisy and vacillation are the hallmarks of success in politics.

If Plato was sometimes cynical about politics, he had reason to be. As he wrote in his Apology, a man who really fights for what is right must lead a private, not a public life, if he hopes to survive, even for a short time. Politics knows no morality, no ethics. Plato was raised by a distinguished Athenian family for a political career but was disillusioned with politicians. He saw his city-state being torn apart by a power conflict among the politicians themselves.

Disheartened by the oligarchs attempt to discredit Socrates, his teacher and friend, Plato refused their offer of a political niche although some of the oligarchs were his close relatives and friends. He was even more profoundly disillusioned by the democrats who, when restored to power, condemned and executed Socrates. So he fled both country and politics for a self-imposed exile with Euclid in Megura.

For Plato, the prisoners are we who are dwelling in the cave of concrete experience until the philosopher-king brings enlightenment to our shadowy reality. He acknowledged that the philosopher would be reluctant to descend to the shadowy world of reality once he glimpsed the sun but he still remained uniquely qualified for leadership because in his view, his eyes would be on the principle of good, not on political ambition and personal power.

Plato devoted almost all his thinking to reuniting the public and the private, the political and personal realms of existence, so that the virtues of the individual soul would lead to the virtues of the national soul. Soul-tending, he called it, and it is what we in Pakistan today need more than ever before. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had inherited a physically truncated country. Asif Ali Zardaris challenge is much bigger and perhaps more tortuous. He inherits a Bhuttoless truncated party and an emotionally disintegrated country. Both need soul-tending.

We as a nation have suffered the politics of power and blood for too long. It has been a constant struggle and a long tragedy of errors since the very beginning. The script is the same. Only the faces have been changing. We have seen prime ministers assassinated, removed in military take-overs, executed through judicial murder and in some cases even exiled. Benazir Bhutto gave her life for democracy and fell tragically at the altar of our politics of power and blood.

Pakistan has been the scene of pitiable tragedy for too long now. We have had coups, both military and civilian, and in every instance, there has been someone from the judiciary to provide legal cover to the illegality. The present set-up is no different. It is rooted in the Nov 3 illegality.

Benazir Bhutto must be turning restlessly in her grave over what her party is doing to the pledges she had made to the nation during the last days of her life. She had pledged a genuine democracy rooted in the will of the people and had promised to reinstate the real judges. She had told the chief justice that he would soon be back in his chamber. She must be witnessing with horror and anguish that her own commitment to the chief justice and the one to the peoples Feb 18 verdict remain unfulfilled.

We may not have a philosopher-king but we now do have a democratically elected president who has the authority to do justice that his partys immortal leader and his own better half had pledged. The nation awaits soul-tending from him. Platos central question in his Republic was what is justice?. Mr President, let us hear from you: Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry is justice. This would complete democracys revenge. Let history judge you differently from the baseless perceptions of your past. Prove your detractors wrong. You have a chance to be a different ruler in Pakistan and make history.

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