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Turning a New Chapter Together: The People and the State

In the lead-up to Pakistan’s elections this year, an exuberant and vibrant participation and involvement by the people in the political process came to be seen by their presence at rallies, jalsas and social media chatter and discourse. And finally, with a roaring turnout on the 11th of May.

These elections did not merely mark a democratic and political transition, they also marked an important national transition from the nonchalance of yesterday to the active engagement of today that shall throb as the heart of the democratic, progressive path that Pakistan has set out on now.

A central cog of the aforementioned public involvement wheels within political support and opposition.

It is often assumed to be the case among Pakistanis that any existing political support must encompass all aspects of a party regardless of personal agreement or disagreement.

In other words, support has to be uncritical or it doesn’t fit the definition.

The fundamental flaw in this is a particular problem that has and continues to characterize us: the inability to critically observe, reflect and think.

Any support to a party must be based on solid, logical reasons and if it seems to indulge in socially, ethically or politically reprehensible pursuits, people are bound as well-wishers of either that party and Pakistan to point it out and openly reject it.

If you have supported and voted for a party, then it becomes a right and obligation to hold them accountable in the name of that vote, support and the taxes you pay (that is, if you pay any, considering an obscene percentage out of 180 million people pay and don’t evade).

All support must be principled and all thinking conscious and critical, if not, then it is destined to degenerate into hollow idolatry; parochial mentality which obscures all sense and logic; a phenomenon mirrored by Pakistan’s relapse into dogma which has seen and continues to see the convenience of churning conspiracy theories, as opposed to reasoning, perversions of reality, quick digestion of distortions of truth and an insular worldview.

Similarly, support for a particular party doesn’t necessitate the incessant and distasteful bashing of all other parties and the positive steps they take to exhibit the strength of that support.

Rationality demands the manifestation of large-heartedness and open-mindedness that facilitate such acknowledgements.

Braving security risks, terrorist threats, the sweltering heat of May and an entrenched indifference, Pakistan cautiously and boldly made a break with its past with these elections and trod to a new track in hope of a better tomorrow. But for that to actualize, the state and people must begin on an equal footing. It reeks of repugnant hypocrisy and contradiction when most citizens shirk from the duty of paying taxes yet gather the cheek to raise the cry for change in the country’s despondent affairs.

As the state restructures itself, so must the people reform themselves by developing a pluralistic outlook, tolerant and broad mindset, critical thinking, principled stances and a mature and rational approach for all the social, religious and political spheres. Transcending beyond the self-constructed barriers of class, ethnicity, race, sect, gender and myopia, only then can Pakistan truly and freely progress and prosper; when the people and the state start anew on an equal footing.

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