The thought that often crosses one’s mind is that people have been singing the change mantra so often that it has lost truly lost its significance. When you engage people advocating for a sweeping change or a revolution (often termed as a ‘tsunami’ in Pakistan), they are just as clueless as an infant.
The basis for any politically healthy nation is its political foundation. This political foundation is commonly referred to as the constitution or framework that a country has to live up to. There are divergent and conflicting views about this so called change. Many utopian idealists want the elected government to disappear overnight and have the fresh, proven, and ‘clean as a whistle’ patriots to take charge.
The argument which is floated constantly is that the current government has been tried and tested and it’s time for a change. One can easily laugh at the naïve discourse which ensues. People want the institutions meant for the security of the nation to intervene and send an elected government packing in no time, without even giving it a second thought that no such thing is allowed within the bounds of the constitution.
Without a constitution, a country is almost like a boat without sails. In order to build a functioning and stable system, there should be high regard for this framework. Because <i>‘respect for law’</i> is utterly meaningless, if <i>‘basic law’</i> is not followed. If you look at other nations within our neighborhood, you would agree that those nations are in relatively better shape. The credit goes to the stability of their democratic institutions.
No one is denying that freedom of speech is one of the basic rights within any democratic society. However, that freedom bears a huge responsibility as well. The development of electronic and social media has empowered people tremendously as it allows people to share their views almost instantaneously. However, the element that is lacking considerably is a sense of maturity.
When the oft emotionally charged affiliates of certain political elements are engaged in a rational discussion, the response is typically quite blunt and sometimes even disrespectful. This in itself is not a healthy sign. A discourse based on healthy discussion makes nations stronger. An exchange full of slurs and obscenities creates an atmosphere of hostility and animosity. The purpose of political parties is to improve the society as a whole. Regretfully in our case, some of the followers do not demonstrate the basic decency of respect for fellow human beings and their brethren, yet they claim to rid the society of all evils.
The utopian thought of, one person becoming the head of state and becoming the solution to all ills needs to be examined. The arena of politics in a highly frustrated and polarized society can be quite challenging. The often repeated mantra of revolution is quite rhetorical as well. Trying to compare the Arab Spring to Pakistan is again an extremely flawed analogy. Pakistan has never had Saddam, Mubarik or Qaddafi like characters, who ruled it with an iron fist for decades.
The democratically elected government stems from the members of the existing society. The existing society has the existing political players in the arena. Of course no angels or super natural creatures will descend from heaven to represent the electorate. The electorate has to be smart enough to decipher this much. As the saying goes, the more one wishes for change, the more things remain the same. From the signs that are apparent and obvious, it seems like the saying aptly fits our situation.
The revolution every one revs about is fairly simple. It is making sure that the law of the land is respected. People are allowed to exercise their free will at the constitutionally mandated time frame. Political parties go through internal reforms. Evolution within the rank and file of the political arena is a must. The electorate should be participating and hopeful that their involvement will bear the positive change. Otherwise, it is bunch of rhetoric. Democracy is not the, be all end all, but the closest form to that. If that was not the case, the entire world would still be under monarchs. The point is, in order to run, you have to learn to stand on your feet first. The rest, all comes by itself.
D. Asghar is a Pakistani American. A Mortgage Banker by profession who loves to write and blogs frequently on popular South Asian websites. A repository of some of his scribbles is www.dasghar.blogspot.com. He tweets at @dasghar.