The majority turned minority group in the opposition will be tempted to give the ruling party a taste of its own medicine. But the biggest challenge faced so far in law making during the various stints of democracy by any ruling group or party is the availability of the requisite number required to pass legislation. Elections are held, people go to polls, a party emerges securing majority seats and all looks fine. But the reality is far from what seems on the ground. Due to multiplicity of parties, the electoral votes get divided and what emerges is a simple majority party. “This is due to the inherent defect of the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) electoral system which India and Pakistan thoughtlessly adopted from the British Westminster model in 1947 – the two countries continue to pay the price for operating an electoral system that is non-representative of majority opinion, at the constituency level and at national levels,” as very lucidly spelled out by senator Javed Jabbar in his article in SOUTHASIA in March 2022. In this system, given 50 to 60% turnover, and in the event of votes split between seven or eight political parties and independents, the winning candidate doesn’t necessarily represent the majority. Thus he can be declared a winner by securing 30 to 35% votes (as per the FPTP electoral system). However, conversely one realizes that the majority votes, 65% or above, were caste against him. The presence of so many parties on the political chessboard ensures that the majority emerging party always falls 20 plus/minus odd seats short of the magic number of 172. And here lies the answer to etymology: Political making and breaking, selling and purchasing done during late night sittings in drawing rooms.
This is an auction house where independents, small parties and groups based on ethnicity, baradari, sectarian and regional politics openly put them for auction. This is a dirty auction house where the buyer buys allegiance with either money or by offering money-minting lucrative ministries. After kuch lo aur kuch dau, a government is finally formed which itself is a guarantee or a certificate for the allied partners to loot and plunder public money in their respective domains (read ministries). The individuals and groups start devouring the flesh and bones of the particular part allocated to them as fast as they could, so as not to leave anything to risk. Here, the main philosophy of democracy is completely reduced to a mere money making dhanda. This is the main reason why there have always been so many No-Confidence Motions against prime ministers and governments. This is what happened with Imran Khan. Though he formed a ruling majority but he was peddling a rag tag coalition of various groups of individuals, smaller ethnic and linguistic-based parties eying and waiting for the lion share.
However, in the case of Imran there was something different, entering the political arena with a sacred and holistic mission of purging the cesspit of politics from the rot it has been in since 75 years. Therefore when the chips were down, the allied scavengers as well as the rats within the rank and file of PTI began to show up like jesters springing out of the box. Whether it was the diehard ‘aviator’ or the smaller real estate mole, they started to show their true colours. They formed their own pressure groups and began to threaten if Imran did not succumb to their demands. In the words of Mark Twain “we have the best government that money can buy.”
However, this time the scenario was different. Imran is one leader who emerged on the surface of Pakistani politics offering an antidote to the masses, something much different than what conventionally they were accustomed to. In the past, elections and voting was the plaything of the waderas, chaudrys, business tycoons, people with dubious records and ill gotten wealth who considered democracy as a family business to expand their family wealth and resources. It was more like a country club to them. At the time of elections they strutted about pompously, showing green pastures to the people, shoving the poor, illiterate, ignorant and under-fed masses into trucks and tractor trolleys like sacrificial animals, making them stand in long queues for hours, paying each individual, if lucky, a couple of thousand bucks in exchange for their vote. This fetched the candidate the required licence to devour public wealth and plunder the national exchequer with impunity.
The vicious cycle of those with wealth making their way to power and those with power making their way to more wealth continued invidiously, while the common man continued to languish in the squalor of misery, despair and destitution, deprived of such basic amenities as clean potable water. The educated strata of society, especially the youth, had already lost hope in any let up and began to regard elections as no more than a public holiday. They considered the occasion an exercise in futility, especially during the last three and a half decades, having seen PPP and PMLN playing musical chairs in perfect sync but without having delivered anything. Democracy was nothing but a big puddle.
30 October 2011 was the turning of a new page in the history of politics of Pakistan. This day in the PTI Jalsa in Lahore the alienated youth and the educated masses, for the first time realized that the very dream they always thought to be no more than a delusion could be a reality. This was not a new man for them. They had grown up watching Khan as a winner. Whether it was cricket or the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital or the NUML University, they had seen him turning the impossible into the possible. Imran’s speeches penetrated the hearts and souls of the youth and his then nascent party, which was considered a political minnow, slowly started to accumulate both volume and popularity. The elections of 2013 witnessed an unusual spectacle never seen in the political history of Pakistan. It was the first time the people from the educated strata of society were seen queuing at polling booths. However, the factor of FPTP, rural areas, PTI’s political inexperience in the conventional electoral process and inability of a huge majority of PTI voters to cast their votes, being below 18 years of age proved to be the major impediment in winning the elections. It won in KP and formed its government.
Nevertheless, the biggest and historic achievement which was no less than a miracle of this new party was its ability to bring together the bewildered educated masses, which had so far remained indifferent and silent spectators, to a vitally important process of democracy. A new sun of hope was slowly rising with a new ideology breaking the shackles of the old mindset where a common man had lost all hope in a system where political cartels ruled the roost, where corruption and embezzlement were accepted as part of the system, where politics was regarded synonymous to fraud, deceit, and thuggery, where the common man had been vanquished under political jugglery, hypocrisy and downright and unrestrained theft and plunder, and where people started to say that this was what they should learn to live with.
Imran’s message served as a ray of light at the end of a dark tunnel. They realized that transparency, justice, social and economic security, fair-play, and protection from exploitation were far more important than all these fine things conjured by political tricksters. For the first time they realized that the so-called leaders who had been herding the masses like sheep were actually political animals in democratic veneer. The question was as to how such people had been allowed to accumulate power limited entirely to the temporal domain that propelled the country towards destruction, decay and putrefaction?
The road from 2013 to 2018 was a bumpy one for PTI. Massive dharnas were an indication of peoples’ conscious approach towards awakening and enlightenment. For the first time, the nation witnessed a third power emerging with the promise to deliver them from unabated corruption and the stranglehold of the corrupt whose heinous claws deep in the country’s social fabric.
The 2018 elections saw PTI bagging majority seats mostly from the urban regions. However, it fell short of the requisite 172 to acclaim a majority government. It managed to find allies to form federal and provincial governments (less Sindh), the allies soon turned out to be a nemesis. They remained quiet for some time as if biding time for the right moment and then when their patience gave up, started to emerge sporadically like earthworms. The opportunists with hidden vested agendas to include both allies and those who pioneered the party started to make demands as the legal beneficiaries of the system – ‘a return on investment’ where one first invests then makes a profit, and which in time has gained normalcy. It ensures their immunity and longevity in the political business for generations. Thus, defeating the very purpose for which PTI took over the reins of the country, these turncoats soon started to play politics on the hoof by resorting to the old tactics of blackmailing.
Today there is a catastrophe on the boil. The present political setup is evidently short-lived, inorganic and unnatural. The only saviour of the rocking ship seems to be the upholding of general elections. Though, at present the situation looks morbidly grim with fissures surfacing, on the brighter side, unexpected situations, difficult and challenging times in the life of a nation always strengthen the system.
To most it might sound like chaos, but in actuality this is the first time that the voice of the Pakistani masses has risen like a nation’s voice, and not like the scattered, muffled voices that were snagged between rhetorical, hollow slogans of Jeay Bhutto and Sher Aya. There seems to be a silver silhouette of hope, passion and anger directed towards political opportunists from the system, and rejecting imported snollygosters who have stamped a lifelong indictment on the canvas of Pakistani politics.
Leave a Reply