Let's start with a question: "What's the
difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?" The answer
is, "A psychologist is a blind person who is looking for a black
cat in the dark while a psychiatrist is a blind person who is looking
for a black cat in the dark which is just not there."
The same can also be true for all types of political
analysts who are going loco to offer 'expert opinion' to explain reasons
why Elections 2002 lack the traditional fervour. Most of these
'opinions' are biased and crafted only to hide the personal political
whims of the analysts themselves. There are those who blame the
colourless election campaigns on the absence of political heavy-weight
such as two-time former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.
Both Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto have been disqualified to contest
the polls and both of them are in exile: the former in Saudi Arabia
under a 'deal' which he and his family say 'just doesn't exist' and the
latter moving from country to country. Both of them have been convicted
from the Pakistani courts.
The most important reason for the indifference on the
part of the electorates is conveniently overlooked by the majority of
these analysts: What can you expect from a people whose aspirations to
bring change through ballot four times during last 14 years have been
dashed again and again? What can you expect from a people who have voted
in 1988, 1990, 1993 and 1999? What can you expect from a people who have
trusted Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif twice only to have their dreams
shattered again and again? What can you expect from a people who were
ruled not only by Bibi and Mian twice but also by four caretaker prime
ministers — Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, Balkh Sher Mazari, imported Moeen
Qureshi, Malik Mairaj Khalid?
The following example is enough to understand the
indifference of the people with the electoral process, which did nothing
else than replacing the masters who left the class system intact to rule
people with an iron fist making no attempts to better their social,
economic, cultural and political woes. In 1993, Pakistanis perhaps had
the unique honour to be ruled by 5 — yes five — different prime
ministers; Nawaz Sharif who was sacked by the then president Ghulam
Ishaq Khan and was substituted by Balkh Sher Mazari. Nawaz Sharif again
ruled briefly as he was reinstated by the Supreme Court only to be
forced once again by the then Chief of Army Staff, General Abdul Waheed
Kakar. He was replaced by caretaker Moeen Qureshi, a Green Card holder
imported from the US, who was replaced by Benazir Bhutto the after she
was elected in the general elections the same year. Five prime
ministers. That should explain the indifference of the masses to the
GRADUATION: THE CONDITIONALITY
An entire segment of political heavyweights is being
wiped out by the minimum educational requirement of the Bachelor degree
by the present government. The condition provided the people an
opportunity to laugh their hearts out at the plight of many a seasoned
politicians. The former federal minister and Ambassador to the US in the
then Nawaz Sharif government, Abida Hussain, a heavyweight contender
from Jhang in Punjab took her BA examinations and paid Rs 30,000 to get
her degree in advance to qualify for the elections. She secured 466
marks to meet the graduation pre-requisite. While people always knew
that most of their traditional representatives belonging to the feudal
— both agriculture and industrial sectors — were academically weak,
the prerequisite exposed their folly fully.
However, the traditional and professional politicians
though out of the Elections 2002 race are certainly not down. Masters
supremo of 'jor tor' (make and break) they have no difficulty to find
substitutes in their sons, daughters, wives, sisters and even
daughter-in-laws who have the coveted bachelors degrees. This would
ensure the disqualified traditional politicians to continue smelling the
sweet smell of power albeit indirectly through their graduate progeny.
Hounded by National Accountability Bureau — the
dreaded anti-corruption set-up formed by the present government which
has made a number of politicians, bureaucrats and civil servants to
cough up millions in deals to avoid imprisonment, and/or facing
disqualification from prerequisite, the traditional politicians fielded
graduate female family members — as covering candidates in many cases.
The situation has taken many funny turns.
For instance, in two constituencies of Faisalabad
both husband and wife are contesting elections for National Assembly
seats. In NA 80, former provincial minister and PPPP ticket holder
Badruddin Chaudhary is facing competition from his wife Munawwar Sultana
among others. The similar is the case in NA 84, where former MNA and a
PML (Q) candidate Sardar Dildar Ahmed Cheema is facing competition from
his wife as well as others. The two female candidates were fielded by
their husbands as covering candidates in case their own nominations were
rejected. However, they did not withdraw their nominations and have also
been allocated the elections symbol and thus remain in the race.
Hounded by NAB, Pir Mazharul Haq, a former Sindh
minister belonging to the PPP, fielded his only daughter Saima Shah as a
covering candidate who is now contesting the polls. Two sister-in-laws
of Benazir Bhutto, Azra and Fouzia, are also contesting the polls.
While the increased participation by the women in the
politics should be welcomed, the fact remains that most of the female
candidates are just there to help their disqualified manfolk to retain
their political clout indirectly.