A natural disaster, largely unavoidable, has provided a glorious opportunity to all those who have been hankering to reverse Pakistan’s fragile transition from an authoritarian to quasi-democratic rule. There is hardly a new script for the much-touted change and its proponents are using the same old tricks out of their worn out hats to prepare for a rollback of the democratic process. Therefore, the intense rumour-mongering, which has gripped Pakistani psyche over the last fortnight, is a tried and tested success formula: create the perception of change and then turn it into reality.

Even though Pakistan’s military remains unwilling to intervene, regime-change seems to be the flavour of the month. Ironically, this time large sections of the electronic media are hyperactive participants in the process, which is most likely going to push the country towards another man-made disaster. It is appalling to note that TV talk shows are focusing on extra-constitutional remedies. For instance, a Mr-Know-It-All anchor, whose acrobatics are well-known, posed a question to his (utterly uninspiring) guests to discuss the merits and demerits of the Bangladesh model and the so-called ‘General Kakar formula’. While the responses of the guests were entirely predictable, the most shocking response came from none other than former minister and Senator Iqbal Haider who has been a dyed-in-wool democrat. He confidently and at times vociferously advocated the “General Kakar formula” which essentially relates to the intervention by the army chief in a situation where a political deadlock emerges. One had always sympathised with this reputed lawyer’s position on the problems with the way his former political party – the PPP – was led and managed but to hear pleas for an extra-constitutional intervention was shocking to say the least.

Senator Haider has also been the co-chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan – an organisation that has always resisted any role of the military in politics. If an experienced politician, a civil society activist, on an independent media channel, is calling for the military to intervene then it can be sadly concluded that whether the government survives or not, democratisation of Pakistan will remain a fanciful notion.

Pakistan’s electronic media is an arena for the talented middle-class; upwardly mobile personnel who directly cater to conservative sections of urban Pakistan. The latter have historically proved their anti-democratic credentials, showing a clear preference for authoritarianism. Whether it was Musharraf’s coup of 1999 or the judicial hegemony of recent times, this is a conglomerate that clamours for a messiah with a magic wand to fix ‘corrupt’ and ‘dirty’ politicians holding fake degrees.

It is still unclear how regime-change will be affected by the ardent, messiah-lovers on the idiot box. But it is amply clear that the political, economic and security issues of Pakistan are only going to get worse in the short to medium term if democracy is derailed. If the consensus on the 18th amendment is disrupted then the inherent cleavages of Pakistan’s federalism will re-emerge to haunt us all. It would be yet another irony of history that those who are discrediting democracy will suffer the most once the present constitutional freedoms and guarantees are lost. The media of course will be a major loser in this dangerous game.

Perhaps the adjudicators may also be humbly advised to read Pakistan’s history especially on what happens to ‘rule of law’ under dictatorships. Erosion of public institutions under authoritarian regimes is an undeniable lesson of our history. At a time when al Qaeda and its cohorts are eyeing Pakistan’s state power, what could be more suicidal than the current power-game cooking up in Islamabad?

This piece was published in The Express Tribune, under the title How to commit hara-kiri

11 Responses to Ardent messiah lovers and regime change in Pakistan

  1. […] Rumi Ardent messiah lovers and regime change in Pakistan 13 ?ि?? […]

  2. Sh says:

    wonderful article…. but i am unable to understand why Pakistani middle class supports dictatorship…. All the news TV anchors are highly educated individuals and yet they support the intervention of army in state matters…. Is it because of the religious factor?? Perhaps they believe that their should be one MARD-e-MOMIN to save them from the gang of corrupt politicians or perhaps they have some vested interests in supporting the military take over….

    Their are only few TV anchors who give new ideas and others just follow them and start repeating their words rhetorically……

  3. fatima says:

    Mr. Raza instead of pouring out a million of words in favor of government, why dont you use your efforts to unload money from zardari and his cronies for the 20 million flood victims. sitting here in the USA we are collecting funds and supplies each day to be shipped out to the flood victims.
    What about the Bastard, you and cronies, how much have you guys given?
    PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES SHOULDN’T THROW STONES

  4. shama zaidi says:

    pakistan has the same problems as we do in india:lack of accountability on part of the ruling elite. the solution to this is not more concentration of power at the top but de-centralization and strengthening of panchayats, mohalla committees,municipalities, state legislatures with real power to act on local issues.

  5. Sh says:

    @Shams
    Thats what Raza has suggested in his last article “Collapsing Local Government”
    Read that…. U will like it 🙂

    @Fatima
    Raza is not suppporting zardari as u said. He is supporting deomocracy. The country in which u r living is also a democracy so u r enjoying democracy yourself there. Please let the people of Pakistan also have this right of choosing their leaders.

  6. Sh says:

    @Shams
    sorry the article is titled “Collapsing Local Governance”

  7. ahmed iqbalabadi says:

    Raza sb, excellent article. I agree with you most on the point i.e. create perception of change and then work towards it. People are so gullible that they agree over anything negative that is said. Germany had Joseph Goebbels. We have Goebbels raised to the power n.

    It is also sad that talking about a continuity of democratic government is considered supporting zardari. No one realizes that he is from us and as our faith tells us that the best amongst us lead us. When one talks something like that, he is considered a lunatic and jiyala.

    I hope that someday one also defines the measure of success. I have written in articles that never got published that success is dependent on effectiveness in achieving your goals. Take the lawyers movement. It started in march 2007 turing into first go musharraf movement and then restore cj. First objective was achieved in 17 months and second objective in 24 months. In the implementation of both, the delivery was done by a civilian set up and not media. Using this example, let’s say the ppp is removed from power in feb 2011. Would that be success considered deadlines for them to go began from august 2008?

  8. […] Rumi Ardent messiah lovers and regime change in Pakistan 2 days […]

  9. […] is a potent reason to boot it out. Governance is about decisions, resources and […] RazaArdent messiah lovers and regime change in PakistanErosion of public institutions under authoritarian regimes is an undeniable lesson of our history. […]

  10. Imran Kisana says:

    For the past few weeks, strange news regarding a new government has been circulating in the media and some television anchors are even trying to give a timeline for the event.Pakistan is certainly going through a tough time with a massive rehabilitation and reconstruction phase underway. Our media, instead of focusing on the flood victims, has shifted its attention to the government’s weaknesses and is continuously hinting at an ‘imminent’ change in the government. This is not how a responsible media acts. The media is one of the major stakeholders in the country and is considered an important pillar of society. In order to ensure political stability in the country, our media should focus on more important things instead of predicting a change in the government.

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