Disruptions, hope, reform and optimism

As I write, the big news is that fuel prices have been further increased by Rs30 per liter and with this increase, the fuel price has crossed the Rs200 per liter benchmark in the country. Consequently, one word that comes to my mind is ‘disruption’ – the radical change the removal of a running government, and the bringing down of the entire political, economic and social system in the country. If I had my way, I would want the people of this country not to look at the fuel prices and the filling stations but to have a good look at who rules them.

A popular saying in Brazil is that “there is one morality for the family and another for the street.” None of the rulers who make our lives miserable by taking the IMF-directed decisions are directly affected as all of them belong to a privileged and an entitled class. Belonging to a different class is alright, what is wrong is when you climb the ladders of politics under a system of dynastic politics and family members hold public offices to indulge in a high level of public corruption.

Our dynastic political families regard public service as a great opportunity to steal on behalf of the family. So, when everyone is stealing in the family, morally no father stops the son or a daughter, and neither do the children object to parental corruption. Just recently, High Court in Pakistan was told that the summons to the son of the PM could not be delivered because his address is not known and the entire nation saw our PM’s London-based son sitting on President Erdogan’s banquet head table. Will the High Court now directly ask the PM about his missing son’s address? I would also like the people to think hard about why there is only space for the sons and daughters of our colonists and imperialist mindset rulers at the banquet tables of the likes of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and President Erdogan of Turkey? What qualifies them to sit on head tables and what merits their presence in official meetings with a foreign head of government and head of state?

In another example according to reports 150 vacancies of sub-Inspector of police of Karachi range are allotted to the Shaheed Benazir Abad (previously called Nawabshah), the home district of former President and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. It is reported that promotions against these vacancies will be made to overcome the shortage of seats and after promotions, these sub-inspectors will be transferred to the Karachi range. Our rulers in Sindh work on the similar Punjab dynastic political model – hold power as feudal lords and warrior lords and keep power centred within the dynastic family. When a judge of the Supreme Court addresses them as ‘Sicilian Mafia’ what other evidence do the people need to determine and ascertain the kind of disorder and havoc they are creating in our lives?

One principle on which all mafias work is that for them to become effective the state must become and remain ineffective. To promote this principle the mafias ensure that there is never a transparent rule of law because they don’t need the rule of law as their radius of trust is limited only to their families (and some sold-out cronies that join them in their loot and plunder for their personal benefits). If they expand the radius of trust to the people they would stop becoming the safe havens for them? To understand how and why they become safe havens for the people one needs to have a peep into the 19th century emergence of the Sicilian Mafia in Southern Italy.

The Sicilian Mafia created an Italy in which the state could not protect the people’s rights but the Mafia could. The mafia infiltrated every institution of the state and made it subservient and absolutely ineffective. Thus, as an example without an effective court system, people had no choice but to walk up to the mafia-created ‘safe havens’ and bow in front of them and kiss their hands and ask for guidance and help which the state institutions were no more able to provide. Without a transparent rule of law, the Sicilian Mafia families in the Italian society became people’s safe havens and people relied on them rather than relying on the state’s law which in fact had stopped performing its basic function – protecting and safeguarding the lives and property of the people. Is there not a striking and remarkable resemblance in how a century later we are also being ruled under a similar system of dynastic politics in which mafias control and decide how we live our lives?

Would a self-respecting society be not enraged to see the enormous front-page newspaper advertisements for the PM’s visit to Turkey? The naming of the universities and cadet colleges on the names of the sons and daughters of the ruling elite? I am also appalled to hear the out-of-context quoting of the text of former PM Imran Khan’s interview broadcast by a private TV channel. We don’t want to become Bosnia or Rwanda but how come it is prohibited to talk about the risks and factors that can lead us in becoming like them? If the political leadership of the country does not debate these risk factors, who else will?

In these bad times, the lives of the common people are thoroughly disrupted. But history tells us that any disruption is merely a temporary condition and since disruptions never correct themselves automatically, eventually reform moves in to displace and take disruptions’ place. The good news for this country is that only when people realise that their lives have been battered and deteriorated that they think of reform – and I hope that they are thinking about them now. The creation of order is not natural or even spontaneous. Order is not born, it is created; and it is created by people’s power which is the only force to determine under which kind of political system and who should rule them.

In Great Britain, America and Japan the process of reform began in the second half of the 19th century and continued into the 20th century. It is a pattern that reinforces the idea that reforms ultimately substitute and overtake all kinds of disruptions. And by taking an insight into the future by looking into the past lies hope and reason to stay optimistic.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2022.

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