Monday, August 16, 2010

Dichotomy of Political Power:Persecution or Performance and Capability ?

In Pakistan Political leaders and parties have been persecuted most of the times and turn by turn,often by those who supported and brought them up in the first place initially.Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto acquired fame ,recognition and acceptability when he as a young man was inducted as a junior minister and then was promoted to the highly visible position of the Foreign Minister Of Pakistan by General Ayub Khan.Z.A.Bhutto was later opposed and even persecuted by Ayub Khan when the former developed policy differences with the later and founded his own political party PPP. Z.A. Bhutto assumed power and in the midst of political disturbances was dethroned by General ZIaulHaq.Bhutto was later executed under a highly controversial Court decision for the charge of ordering murder of a colleague.Later Nawaz Sharif was discovered and supported by the Pakistan Army(General ZiaulHaq)and thus became Prime-minister of Pakistan,although, as a result of a popular mandate.He was also dethroned by the army General Musharraf and even was persecuted and forcibly sent to Saudi Arabia, through an arrangement brokered and guaranteed by Saudis which saved Nawaz's life ,or else he may also have been executed through contrived court judgement for the infamous hijacking case.

Today Peoples Party draws its major strength from its founder Z.A.Bhutto and his execution by the army or more correctly by General Zia.And even more so from the assassination of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.It appears that Benazir has almost gifted perpetuity in politics to PPP through giving her life.PPP has come to power after a long history of persecution punctuated by two stints in power.As a result PPP members and leaders and by large the people of Pakistan in general gave a cart-blanche to President Asif Ali zardari.

Similarly Nawaz Sharif has emerged as a popular leader along with his faction of Muslim League(PMLN) not carrying a stigma of collusion with the army but of opposing it and having been persecuted by the latter.PML-Q and Chaudary Shujaat went down as collaborators.Even in Bangladesh,which separated from Pakistan due to its bad politics and continuous military rule,persecution syndrome has been behind Sheikh Hasina Wajid and Begum Zia.

Jawed Hashmi,once fiery leader of PML ,and a senior veteran now, has taken issue with the so called persecution syndrome.He argues ,perhaps much to the annoyance of Sharif family, that capability and performance ought to be the yardstick and criterion for being elected to power,and not the persecution syndrome.Interestingly this argument should have come from PML-Q and its leadership ,which has a handicap in terms of persecution syndrome but have something to talk about in terms of performance.However Jawed Hashmi has proved his integrity and sincerity earlier by going to jail for opposing General Musharraf vehemently.Ironically his own high moral standing and position today in his party and the ability to offer often inconvenient advice stems from a persecution syndrome itself.It is widely known that Nawaz Sharif doesnot have enough patience for the kind of suggestions Jawed Hashmi has been fighting for.

No amount of allegations of corruption ,misrule or mismanagement on the part of political parties can possibly dilute the support base built on sacrifices and persecution.We have seen its demonstration very recently.Most fake degree MNA/MPAs have returned back to their seats.They were given the tickets again and people voted for them again.People have different criteria for support than legal niceties.Infact many thought it to be the residue of military dictatorship.A party based on persecution syndrome may lose elections in the wake of misdeeds or misrule because of electoral competition and peculiarities but would make a comeback in subsequent elections.Its political existence is almost guaranteed.

There is another byproduct or unhappy influence of persecution syndrome.All cadres of a party normally suffer under the military dictatorships and undergo varying levels of sacrifices and tribulations.And when the persecuted party comes to power,the same people who sacrificed have to be rewarded.Such rewards are not often taken well by people in general.Also the most capable,even from within the party,does not get the job deserved by him or her.Although this is true for all democracies.In the U.S. every reigning president inducts thousands of political appointees in the administrations who come and go with the president.It is the British system, which many of us subscribe to,which does not permit induction of political appointees.

Persecution also promotes dictatorship within political parties.Personal charisma and popularity of the top leader,often only one, develops as a result of persecution.It is mostly the top leader who pays the maximum price ,be it jail or life or other sacrifices.Political acceptability of other lesser leaders in the party comes to depend on the level of association with the top leader.They need him,he does not need them! This was atleast the case with Z.A. Bhutto and Benazir.This is to a great degree also true for Nawaz Sharif vis-a-vis PMLN lesser leaders.although fast evaporating.

Concluding,military rule affects and destructs the political system in numerous ways.Some of the problems may continue to haunt the country for a long time.Military generals who nurse the idea of reforms and launching coups should think of this aspect among others,if they claim sincerity to the country.

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