Why should Nawaz Sharif go?
Before you start reading, I would like to alert you that this is a biased and a highly subjective piece, written less on the basis of argument and logic but more on the basis of emotions of millions of Pakistanis. It portrays the passion of those who gather every evening in front of parliament house, and in numerous other places all over the country to celebrate the dawn of revolution.
‘Go Nawaz Go’ Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis chanting this slogan from past many days, which could definitely be heard live by the person it is addressed to, is a historic and revolutionary scene in the political history of this country. The people have spoken against him. If judged even only on moral grounds, Respected Prime Minister should have stepped down by now. But due to serious lack of that ground, Nawaz Sharif is adamant that he would not.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should resign because he has stolen the mandate of the people of Pakistan. Because all fourteen out of fourteen constituencies investigated of the election through which he climbed to the ladder of power has shown majority of votes as unverified. Because he teamed up with administrative machinery to rig the 2013 elections. Because he played with the emotions of millions of passionate Pakistanis who showed up early morning at polling stations on 11th May last year. Because no free investigation can take place regarding the past election under his prime minister ship. Because 14 people were killed by the state machinery in the provincial capital where his political party rules. Because the families of those killed have been oppressed to such an extent that even First Information Report (FIR) have not been registered against the oppressors so far.
Just like ‘Islam khatrey mein hai’ rhetoric have used by religious demagogues all along, a new slogan of ‘jamhoriyat khatrey mein hai’ has popularly emerged on the scene as people came on streets to demand their rights. Removal of Nawaz Sharif would in no way lead to derailment of democracy. One needs to understand that Nawaz Sharif does not equal democracy.
Rather, democracy is a system which promises that the voice of people is superior to ego of a single person. Democracy in its classic definition is the ‘rule of people, by the people, and for the people’. None of them is to be found in present Pakistan.
A simple barometer for checking the pureness of democracy is through the extent of devolution of power. Unfortunately, power is consolidated in the hands of few. Rulers have tried their best to resist holding of local bodies’ elections. The only reason is that such an election would empower people to the lowest levels of hierarchy, and would give them control over their respective union councils and districts. Those ruling at top are not ready to share this power. Forget about giving power to the people at village council level, these rulers at not even willing to share power with the majority of the ‘elected’ members of parliament. A kitchen cabinet of not more than half a dozen people controls the whole of this country.
Second barometer which can be used to distinguish democracy from ‘badshahat’ is the extent of politicization of state machinery and bureaucracy. If the politicians/rulers influence bureaucracy and treat it as their personal servant, as they are doing presently, then it is shame to call the current system as democracy. Even if we look at the events of the last couple of months, my claim would be vindicated. Police was used to settle personal vendettas on 17th June, 2014 by attacking the secretariat of an opposition party in Model Town, Lahore. Again, in the days leading to 10 August 2014, Sharif family used the police force for the blockade of major towns of Lahore and Islamabad. Had the police force been neutral, it would have never been possible to convert this country into ‘Containeristan’, and to deny the citizens of this country from their right of movement, their right of assembly, their right of protest, and their right of voicing their opinion.
A counter argument is given that if crowds can send ‘elected’ governments back home, then no one could stop leaders to gather people and dismantle future governments too. My answer: A better precedent could not be set. A precedent against cheating. A precedent against electoral fraud. A precedent against daring to play with the democracy of this country. A precedent against anyone who dares to befool this nation in future, including the current protesting leaders. A precedent against anyone who dares to even think about using state machinery against the very people it is supposed to protect.
Now it is up to us, the common Pakistanis, to decide whether this is democracy or not. Quoting Hassan Nisar here, ‘calling the rule of a few families democracy is similar to pasting the sticker of ‘aab-e-zam-zam’ on the bottle of poison’.
The way all major political parties except two (PTI and PAT) have sided with Nawaz Sharif is a clear indication of how their vested interests are protected by this ‘system’. Even people who explicitly says that the previous elections were rigged in favour of Nawaz Sharif (Qamar Zaman Qaira being one of them), fails to muster enough courage to stand against this stolen mandate. Aitzaz Ahsan has published a white paper against election rigging, but still stands with this fraudulent government. It was Asif Ali Zardari, former President of Pakistan, who first revealed the questionable role of Returning Officers in the past elections. However, the way he stands with Nawaz Sharif today, shows how high the stakes are for him, and the likes of him, in this corrupt system. It is for such people that Dante famously said, ‘The darkest place in hell is reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in time of moral crisis.’
I would end this article with some stanzas of ‘Kal Aaj Aur Kal’, the famous poem by Aitzaz Ahsan, with the hope that his words might wake him up once again:
Ek Taraf Thi Janta Saari, Ek Taraf They Chand Gharaney
Saari Dunya Pooch Rahi Thi, Bolo Ab Tum Saath Ho Kis Ke
Jao Jao Sab Se Keh Do, Apney Sar Ab Jhuk Nahi Saktey
Rasta Thora Hi Baaki Hai, Dekho Dekho Who Manzil Hai
Zaalim Dar Ke Bhaag Raha Hai, Jeet Hamara Mustakbil Hai