Identity, Equality, Unity
Fascist and hate mongers came through democratic processes in Germany when Germany faced severe problems. Pakistan has severe problems now and Takfiri Deobandi Sipah e Sahaba Taliban (ASWJ/LEJ) are exploiting it just like the Nazis did in Germany.
The campaign workers of the SSP and some other sectarian parties in the fertile agricultural heartland of Pakistan must be thrilled that Election Commission and the courts have not barred any of their dreaded leaders from contesting in the forthcoming elections. They would soon be casting their votes for them with glee. For instance Ludhianvi, who in the past has represented the largest organ of terror in the SSP, is facing a slew of charges. He now holds very strong chances to being elected to the National Assembly. It is now well-known that the nexus between Pakistani politicians and sectarian militants has assumed alarming proportions, especially in Punjab where the PPP first appointed an SSP minister in 1993. It is heart-breaking to see the largest province in the country warming up to sectarian-cum-terrorist politics while the only two secular parties in the country (ANP and MQM) are losing lives and blood under a ruthless onslaught by the terrorists.
Criminals and strongmen have long been a feature of Pakistani politics from Quetta to Karachi to Potohar. Their ill-gotten wealth provides easy campaign cash, and they often control constituencies with strong ethnic, caste or sectarian loyalties. Pakistani police are kept under tight political control, are prevented from taking on politically-connected gangsters, and do not have enough political and security support to counter terrorist framework in the country. Pakistani cops have been known to file false cases against opponents of the ruling dispensation. Needless to add that the courts, to the very top, are absolutely toothless against the terrorists and their sponsors. When the police do apprehend some terrorists, the courts move slowly and leniently against those who are charged. If this outrages Pakistani voters, the results at the polls don’t show it.
Criminal and armed politicians may seem distasteful, but they often serve their constituencies in ways normal politicians and government agencies do not. And now we have terrorists added to the fray. Their influence keeps the power flowing, the agricultural fields flourishing, and textile looms running — in the agricultural and textile-producing districts of Punjab. In the assembly, they battle with rhetoric; on the street they fight with guns for control or to annihilate their religious and other opponents. Obviously, these are not the type of people that should represent us the people of Pakistan, but somehow these heavy weight crooks have got themselves elected into the Parliament and have become part of the governing apparatus of the country by default.
No matter who wins next month’s hotly contested election, a large number of the seats in the next Punjab Assembly and a few in the National Assembly will be held by politicians with rap-sheets or suspected terrorists who happen to be in politics. It is important to underline that the Punjab election always helps to make or break the federal government in Islamabad. In the politics of power and patronage, millions of dollars in patronage are at stake. If criminal muscle or sectarian credentials are required to win, politicians and observers say, so be it. When I asked one prominent politician about tolerating sectarian bigots in their ranks, he chillingly replied: “In Pakistan a political party cannot be run with writers and quixotic intellectuals”. I felt like a dumb ass.
Some voters are repelled by this sectarian criminal infusion, resembling the savage democracy of 19th Century America. Others see these strongmen as a last line of defense in districts where economic and communal violence are a longstanding concern. A politician won’t save you during tribal or sectarian violence, but a terrorist or a criminal might. In effect, our major parties in today’s Pakistan are preying upon people’s insecurities as people are voting for someone to protect them, not to lead them. That’s something frightening. In today’s lawless and terror-stricken Pakistan, they look for protection.
Corruption and Criminalization are two distinctive features of the Pakistani politics. While the crusade against corruption has been loudly articulated by the PTI chief Imran Khan, there is little noise being made by the civil society and mainstream political parties about the terrorisation of Pakistani politics. Unlike the herculean task of weeding out corruption from the Pakistani system, the task of getting rid of politicians facing criminal charges and having affiliations with the banned terrorist outfits is much simpler, though, I must concede, not necessarily easier. The redemption of Pakistani politics from all its banes is long haul but cleaning Pakistani politics of criminal, militant, or sectarian MPs could be a good start on the path to good governance and progress of the country.