Social Change —- The Illusion and the Reality.
Rasheed Hasan Khan
Change – as a political slogan has gained currency on the Pakistani political scene. All political neophytes and veteran politicos are engaged in offering to lead the public to a change in Pakistan. The degenerating economic and law and order situation and the rampant corruption, coupled with the callous disinterest of the government in the problems of the people have created the popular perception that any change will be better than the present government. Thus individuals and political parties with confused and ambiguous manifestos have managed to gain a disproportionate measure of popularity. Their sole platform is criticism of the inept and inert government. This however is merely calling for a change of faces with the maintenance in the continuity of the oppressive and exploitative system. The role of the establishment in this drama is another noteworthy issue. The long and dismal political history of our country lends credence to this perception. But one must be very clear that the most important link is the economic and social crisis and the incompetence of the government. This provides a solid basis for all criticism of the present government. We cannot concretely prove or disprove the proposition one way or the other because we lack the necessary resources. To come back to the political hopefuls, we declare that just as we cannot accept an individual’s estimation of himself as the gospel truth, we cannot accept a political organization’s professions as the veritable truth. We will judge in the light of its leadership’s class composition and past performance, whether its professions are credible or merely an exercise in hoodwinking the masses. Pakistan’s checquered history provides other similar instances, when a moribund system saved itself by a change of faces.
On the foreign relations front, the crisis in Pak- U.S. relations and the all encompassing crises overwhelming the society as a result of this, people expected the government and the parliament to go into an overdrive and chalk out viable alternate policies. This, however, was a vain expectation. It is business as usual, with no thought about tomorrow. The absence of any activity to frame an independent foreign policy and concurrent economic and social policies raise a pertinent question about the nature of the resolution of the contradiction with the U.S.A. in future.
The inertia on the national scene is broken by the officially denied tug of war between the various arms of the state. This time around, the all powerful military has chosen to support the judiciary, leading to the ridiculous situation of the formation of two high powered commissions, a Parliamentary Commission formed earlier and a Judicial Commission constituted later by the Supreme Court to investigate the Memo gate scandal. The concern and anxiety expressed by the bourgeois democrats, the NGOS and other well meaning elements is justified. But we must understand that all political processes are based on the ground realities of Pakistan Today, political institutions and political parties are weak and unable to resist the machinations of an organized civil/military bureaucracy because of three main reasons .First , the program and manifesto of political parties are of no significance, the emphasis is on personalities, therefore various political parties are in fact extensions of different personalities. This gives rise to the pernicious trend of dynastic politics on one hand and deprives the organization of the cementing force of a common ideology on the other .Second, political organizations are not organized on a broad mass base with active units at the grass root level .The most one can see is the pro forma meetings of the central committee from time to time. Therefore, these organizations are not capable of truly mobilizing the masses and in a crisis tend to become ineffectual and irrelevant. Third, the concept of democracy and discipline within the organization is very personalized, lacking an organizational and ideological basis, it has degenerated into the very opposite of what it is meant to be.Thus,the civil and military bureaucracy continues to remain the most organized political party in Pakistan . Since they embody the coercive power of the state, they cannot be made to function in a democratic system unless the masses are well organized as a counter-weight. No amount of legislation or constitutional prohibitions can alter ground realities and guarantee the continuity of the democratic process unless those who believe in democracy are an effective organized force. Those who hope to build a democratic society in Pakistan must keep this fact constantly in their mind.