PPP’s Dysfunctional Goal v/s Democracy

PPP’s Dysfunctional Goal v/s Democracy

It’s too easy right now to find a villain in the headlines. Consigliere Babar Awan who may just represent the worst of what the PPP has come to stand for: a specialist in crisis, the unnecessary provocateur. Rehman Malik, the tawdry character who explodes now and again with some puzzling statement that capsizes all hitherto knowns. Husain Haqqani about whom no one’s quite yet sure if he’s more evil or more genius. The prime minister as a one-man PR-machine for the government’s raison d’être: complete term – governance, democracy, heck, Pakistan, be damned.

And then there’s Zardari, the kooky president. In him the spirit of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto has descended with the clarity of revelation. Who, rumour has it, President Obama doesn’t like talking to because, well, he can’t understand him anymore.

Zardari’s been called crazy before – crazy like a fox, that is – but this seems to be a different, more portentous kind of craziness. Should we be worried? Yes. But not for Rehman Malik or Babar Awan. Or Haqqani. Or the Prez. We should be concerned for the PPP which has collectively lost its path, and for Pakistan, which is fast becoming a tavern where madness is sold by the bottle.
This government wants to complete its term. Great idea. Never been done before. But is that enough?

Lest anyone get it wrong, this is not in any way a statement against democratic continuity. A nail is driven out by another nail. Habit is overcome by habit and democracy may just be the best habit in politics. Certainly, the goal is to make democracy the ‘only game in town’ – to reach a point when no one can imagine acting outside democratic institutions; when all the losers want to do is to try again and through the same mechanisms (elections, for instance) under which they just lost.

In essence, to have a majority of people accept that democracy is the best form of government, such that not only does nobody try to change the regime, nobody particularly wants to either. That is the goal.

Is that the case in Pakistan? Here, we have main opposition parties that oppose all kinds of democratic reforms. When they lose elections they look to the military, and now the judiciary, for help. Avenues other than the people’s mandate are routinely pursued. Violence in Karachi – should the army be called in? Memogate – will the army intervene to protect the country’s sovereignty? NRO verdict – will the robes use the uniforms to help with enforcement?
Elections, in essence, are not everything; one could even argue that they’re secondary. What’s primary is to convince everyone involved – the opposition, army, the public and media – that democracy is not a game at which they will constantly lose. What’s primary is to institutionalise the instabilities, tensions and lack of consensus that are the hallmark of transition.

Institutionalised uncertainty – that is the goal.

Where this government has failed most terribly, then, is in convincing everyone that democracy is – has to be – the only game in town. Completing the term, successive elections, orderly transition of power – all this is under threat when people fundamentally question the utility of voicing their dissent through the ballot.

The Zardari government’s miserable lack of interest in governance has put democracy – as an idea – in question. It’s made democracy a laughingstock. ‘Completing the term’ has increasingly come to be seen as blackmail elevated to the level of democracy – possibly the world’s worst leaders using buzzwords like ‘process’ and ‘system’ and ‘continuity’ to blackmail, even gently threaten, us into not quitting the game.

For some, it’s painfully simple: who cares about elections and democracy when this government has put the country itself in danger? Elections as catharsis? No thank you, they’ll say. It’s the same deck of cards. No matter how many times you shuffle it, there will still be the same four Jokers. Why bother?

So here’s the challenge: how to convince people that the government completing its terms could enhance the democratic project.

From the looks of it, it’s a challenge the government is least interested in taking up. Instead, it’s decided to go the lowest common denominator route. On the memo. On relations with the outside world. On the economy. On corruption. On the judiciary – for all problems that confront it, this is the PPP’s response: democracy is under threat. Anti-democratic forces don’t want us to complete our term. PPP versus the world. After all, playing victim is an easier option than developing some grand new ideas or policies.

So thank you PPP. The guardians of the transition to democracy, you’ve done an excellent job of making us question the very idea of democracy. It’s hard not to conclude now that dysfunction is your goal – even if the cost is democracy itself.

Mehreen Zahra Malik

An Assistant Editor, The News International

  • Umar Hafeez

    thee soooooooo good……..

  • Shahid Pervaiz

    In case present PPP government completes its term, then the wrong signals will be sent to all other political parties, that more a party is corrupted more it has chances to complete the term. Let us talk about, Mr Baber Awan or may I say Dr Baber Awan, the day he first came on the horizon of PPP, I was under the impression that he is a decent politician but as the time was passing by, I have seen his true face and can say with full confident that he is behind with all Zardari’s failure, well Zardari should have used his own brain to judge the situation, his crafty smile and idiotic remarks are good enough for me to judge his personality. English is a language but not a qualification off course until someone gets degree in this language then it becomes a qualification. I have seen a lot of our politicians included Baber Awan to use English as a tool to impress third party, but they look more fools in doing so. I would like to ask this question to him, Is Zardari is worth fighting for? I bet of my life he will say no with Capital ‘N’, but still he was carry on promoting him, and everybody now knows the end results he is hiding in Dubai. Baber Awan has not only destroyed the whole PPP but closed all the doors for him to move to other parties and I can only advise him to join MQM, it will suit him fine in the next five years. I have a piece of advice for him; at least earn a respect through a small patch of white hairs in his beard, a sign of mature politician.

  • Mnsriz

    a suberb version of sms jokes


    The goal is the completion of 5 year term (a laudable goal) but by sleep-walking – not governing.

  • Zameer

    An excellent piece really. You didn’t mention another doctor Ms F Ashiq Awan who goes into fifth gear so quickly but then does not know when to shift it down or stop. The audience is left clueless and in a big yawn.

    Dr Mallik likes to impress with his English and especially when he ‘takes notice’ ( I don’t know what that means really) and the ‘meyyars’ he is going to take.

  • watti yusuf

    Senator Dr Babar Awan has said commissions should be formed on Siachen, Kargil and East Pakistan for fixing responsibility; Says Sub-Article 2 of Article 6 – inserted in the Constitution protected the democracy from any unconstitutional act; Adds lawyers to play role if any one tried to derail democracy; Further adding that secret doors closed, only the door of election was open for coming to power; That PPP would never allow any body to ambush democracy

    Doctor Sahib, it would be much wiser if you stick to your law profession and TV Mullah teachings, trying to be historian is beyond his capabilities. There’s no, so called spirit of democracy in PPP, its conception is based upon dictatorship, loot, lust of power, corruption, beguile, belligerence, divisor, self centered, now self pity. By the way he should stop using PPP party of martyr etc, its not factual. Being a professional lawyer, he must stick to the facts NOT emotional publicity stunts.

    • tariq mian

      Why does Babar Awan ignore the Hamood ur Rehman commission report to know the exact reasons of fall of Dacca?
      Every one knows–Idher hum uther tum, said ZAB.
      Furthermore, the dead ones can’t be cashed in now, as they were all invloved in anti pakistan dirty acts.
      And, due to such a fragile situation in East Pakistan, it was a wrong timing for the general national elections without a prior damage control of the inflamed sentiments of Bengali Muslims.
      Also everyone knows: Supporting President “Sharaabi Yahya” for the anti national moves ZAB was equally responsible.
      Pak army action in East Pakistan and then a surrender made the anti pakistan dream come true a source of pleasure for the enemy of Pakistan.

      What is it that Babar Awan is proud of?
      Shouldn’t he realize instead – the truth before blindly following/supporting the PPPP.

  • Anonymous

    NASAH Sb, I guess you are suggesting the same to your fellow US citizens after the recent show between various parts of Government.

    Do you really think USD 700 million is that critical in the mess created by kleptocrats?! (perhaps for tm as fewer dollars to loot). If the incumbant government members are so patriotic then they should just call an early election instead of further polarising the nation. Under the circumstances, SC is just about the sanest institution left in the country even if it does not have much power to enforce its judgement.

  • Jimmy Butt

    The clueless rotund self proclaimed spin doctor Dr F A Awan utters nonsense. The other Awan is in the same league. The rest, whoever might have left on board the PPP’s incompetent band wagon are driven directionless by two incompetent leaders. One continues to chant emotional rhetoric and the other policy of reconciliation. The net result is disaster no matter where you stand and what you look at.

    • Nauman

      Yes the portly lady does seem to fit in quite nicely as a Begum Nawazish makeover double.

  • Nauman

    An enjoyable piece. I lament these days the value of a PhD is diluted so much that every Tom, Dick and Awan claims to have it legitimately. Well good luck to them.

    Similarly the word qurbani has gone through a similar transformation. Time and again we keep on hearing on our national TV channel, how our revered leader has spent 11 years in prison but no reason is given as to the cause why he was put behind bars in the first place. It is so nauseating and embarrasing listening to such propoganda.

    I hope Geo TV does not go too much over the board too.

  • Ali Touseef

    it seems our so called Patriotic youth is also trailing on their elders tails. Each an every guy among you knows who actually runs the show in Pakistan. Who actually pulls the strings in the politics here and we still don’t consider the establishments role minutely plausible that we keep on blaming the political leaders. Have we ever thought how these Generals live such exclusive lives. How they can afford the life they do so easily. Our Media has upped the ant for politicians to declare their assets has anyone called for the army Generals to declare theirs.
    I know most of you would be crying out that our army has the most patriotic people in our country. You maybe right when you say that the officers and the Soldiers who are risking their lives out their on God knows how many fronts. But the people who actually represent our army on to the media, who have so many cards up their sleeves that they can bring a Showbiz star to lead the country’s youth from the political grave yard and let this youth listen to his harangues everywhere he goes.
    Now coming to point that this establishment has always put a person which wouldn’t make problems in its designs. This is establishment kills leaders in public rallies or make use of the otherwise Honourable Judges to kill the others and still be left off the hook. If these people our so patriotic why don’t they just change the whole system.
    Military establishment has always been so strong in any country that the most popular or the strongest leaders have to compromise with them, even Hitler before taking control of Pre-war Germany had to make the army and the staff Generals give an affirmative of his concerns. But the questions is why does the political leaders have to bear the burdens of what crimes this establishment commits.

    • Nauman

      Yes I know the answer:

      De-militarize and de-maulvi-ize Pakistan completely and start on a clean slate. There is no danger from India in this day and age as it is all hyped up cold war tension to justify the army’s payroll. And… no need for mullahs as religion is a very personal matter between Allah and the individual and can be practised and left within the confines of ones home. No need for maulvis to dictate terms and interfere in the country’s day to day running

      • tariq mian

        Hey Nauman! what the hell is wrong with you, are you in your senses man?
        Pakistan needs a military so badly as long as its enemy countries have their military. After all a balance in the region is just fair.
        Secondly, if any maulvi has done some wrong to you, it’s your personal matter –don’t go after the religious scholars who are needed to impart Divine’s message among the less informed.
        Just tell me, without genuine maulvis, how would you be able to come out of jahaalat, corruption and other socio-economic problems?
        Actually, Pakistan needs more members in the Armed Forces as well as more highly qualified teachers if Islamiyaat and Arabic and Islamic history alongwith regular education.

    • jerry shah

      a few simple questions..Did the establishment appoint its cronies to head organizations like PIA, railways, steel mills, NICL, OGDC etc. Did the establishment appoint water and power ministers these past 4 years and initiate rental power policy? Did the establishment instruct the government to never resolve the circular debt problem? in other words Did the establishment force the current crop of politicians at the center and in all provinces to totally ignore governance and completely destroy the national economy? in most of the world “its the economy stupid”. in pakistan a country of 180 Mn with over a 100Mn under the age of 25 where will the jobs come from if no political party believes in even 1% of good governance..buss bahaney in politicians sey sunn lo…establishment establishment establishment…

      • tariq mian

        Jerry Shah, your analysis is an eye opener for the misguided people. It’s better not to blame the Establishment.
        In fact, it’s the poor governance by the PPPP and the resulted administrative paralysis. The idiot regime must step down right away in order to let the nation survive a little—-for God sake.

        • Yasir

          I am agreed with your thoughts we can not blaim the establishment after being appointed our leaders must leave corruption to get the support of people…They start making records of corruption which give chance to establishment to intervene..

  • Anonymous

    Selective memory syndrome when it comes to ‘sazish’ and ‘ghadari’ for PPP. Lets not forget ZAB had NAP decalared treasonous party and Wali Khan was in jail for another SaZish case….

    Seems PPP leaders want to lay brinksmanship – if tgey are so interested n saving democracy – call elections next month and move on….


    Now that the president is back home hopefully in good health — for heavens sake act like a president — don’t worry about that silly stupid immature childish memo — send the ambassador to Washington — Pakistan needs to be represented in Washington DC — what is Ms. Rehman doing in Islamabad, she is urgently needed in Washington DC — put the defense establishment in its place — and work for good relations with US. Assert yourself as the president of a great country for the remaining year and then retire in 2013 with your head high not with chest pain.

  • Badar

    Politician stole your money.
    Extremist stole your humanity.
    Military stole your dignity.
    You know what time is it. Do right the thing.

  • Anonymous

    We need to understand that the time of old times politics is gone. Parties cannot win by the slogans of roti, kapra and makan. People party came to lime light due to rhetoric without any concrete plans to put the country on the right path. ZAB came with a vedera mentality so failed. BB had the biggest corruption skeleton in the shape of Zardari in her cupboard. She could not make any difference. And now Zardari after eliminating BB has come to power through the mother of all the deals (NRO). Virtually PPP has never been a sign of change, it was a symbol of status quo. The younger and educated generation of Pakistan is not ready to be befooled by this group of thugs sitting at the helm of PPP. Hence lets take the demise of PPP as a logical consequence of its deeds.

  • Kayman

    Don’t understand the media.. They pretend they know everything and still don’t do anything openly positive. Its a shame and I can clearly see, PPP is dysfunctional, Judiciary is killing time, oppostion parties running around like chicken with no heads, army has lost so many fronts that they don’t want to take any risks anymore and Media….I think is the latest enemy of Pakistan and probably bigger than any other enemy of Pakistan , because they have the power of only raising issues and not helping to solve them… Its sad but its true. The media freedom in Pakistan is immature and unfortunately run by single minded approach which does’nt even match the primary levels of the Journalism in the world.

  • Mjsyed

    PPP has noticed that Bilawal is not really going to get his inheritance through constitutional means. They are going to lose election and perhaps never return. The best method is that Government does not complete its term and instead invite or engineer a constitutional military takeover. It has to be done carefully that the party or its leadership does not get the blame. Ideally the party should emerge as an unequivocal victim. Luckily there are enough naive entities around in the shape lame institutions and spineless so called political leaders who could ensure just that. One should not expect much resistance from the army itself for they have tasted blood before and it is tasty. The loss of civilian governance will be only a minor inconvenience. PPP would loudly cry foul and take its case to the World Community. Bilawal can spend 5 or 6 years in the international limelight fighting for democracy in his homeland while rubbing shoulders with world leaders. That will improve his profile and make him international champion of a just cause. After five or six years, nation’s appetite for army rule would be filled; Bilawal would have fully matured and could return to the country as a very electable hero.I hope the army does not fall for it.

  • S Nasrullah

    There couldn’t have been a better Requiem to the dysfunctional PPP regime than the blogger’s forceful, truthful and spiteful assertion: ” The Zardari government’s miserable lack of interest in governance has put democracy – as an idea – in question. It’s made democracy a laughingstock.” As the dust settles down, people are beginning to see things in greater clarity. The Western Media Offensive, declaring Talibans barbarians, uncouth, inhuman and merciless is waning and the rudely awaken Nation is taking stock of what they have gained by their proxy War fought in its own backyard, and the tremendous losses it sustained, morally, economically and the huge cost of casualties it countenanced both directly and indirectly.

    PPP govt has always been indicted for its harsh and hard stance on Baluchistan. ZAB used his armed forces with the ferocity and the fury as if fighting external enemies. For US it was mighty simple to deal with a dictator, Gen Mush, the mouse, who caved in with despicable servility to undeclared consequences. The legend of ” Turning Pakistan into Tora Bora” has never been verified and is best construed as the figment of Mush imagination to rationalize his cowardice.
    When PPP came to power after the rigged elections of 2008, they never had the temerity to bring home the subject of Pakistan’s forced entry into WoT and the Parliament could have revisited the pros and cons of its involvement and with a clear exit strategy should the parameters of its engagement are transgressed.

    US has been vociferating their claims to have given Pakistan 7.5 Bn Dollars in Aid – partly for military and partly for economic development. Let the so-called democratic govt of PPP give a certified audited Report of the $7.5 Bn amount to the Public, to prove that their hands are clinically anesthetized. The horrendous, fateful combination of unwarranted proxy war and dishonest govt of PPP raising a smokescreen of a deceitful and delusive democracy has pushed Pakistan to the edge of a precipice with the prospects of its return a daunting challenge.

    Parties and demagogues may come and go, but Pakistan shall live and live forever. This nation that knows the price of freedom, their forefathers paid through their blood, requires a jolt to wake them up. If the deadly lawlessness of the present, the galloping inflation and economic paralysis cannot galvanize them to life, nothing ever will and they may have lost their will to stand on their feet and have compromised with their destiny to exist on their knees.