POLITICS THROUGH PERSONALITY CULT AND THE ECONOMY
Tariq Ahmed Saeedi (email@example.com)
Apr 13 - 19, 2009
Until there is social unrest, it is impossible to bring back economy in to stability mode let alone putting it to growth direction. Different estimates projected economic growth would remain at 2.5 to 3 percent. Former Advisor to PM on finance, Dr. Salman Shah doubted growth with this percentage, saying it would stay less than 2 percent. The unrest that in Pakistan has manifestation in diehard rifts among political parties, community marginalization, unequal distribution of wealth, ominous nepotism in favour of one group over another, and creeds radicalism and so on and so forth is motivated by these same reasons.
Leading to more complex economic problems, the unrest discourages investors from coming to embark on newfangled ventures. It creates uncertainty amongst the business class that becomes wayward in unravelling long-term plans, fearing that change in government would revise trade policies. Based on temporary problem solutions, plans however work to achieve goals prepared under ad-hocism. Though it is difficult to single out direct effects of social unrest on motivation of businesses, in recent time, there appear several fallouts of uncertainty on organizational future direction. Stock market has witnessed historical lacklustre moods in shares trading in recent past. International investors are worried about disturbing law and order in the country. Overseas companies operating in Pakistan have expressed concerns about worsening law and order in the country especially in the upper part. Bomb blasts and continual attacks on government offices in the province of Punjab are making people think how long shall the melee continues.
Local businesspersons whose cognition about domestic condition is relatively less unflattering are taking stocks of situation seriously and restraining themselves to need-based participation in economic development. That is reflecting in contracting rate of employment. Daylight heists, street crimes, and terrorists' attacks are affecting the society at large. A force that can right social unrest and induce harmony in the society descends from strong political structure that is erected on unshakeable foundation of democracy.
Common people and many in demand of rest at any cost believe that society happens to be prosperous at the time of military rule, citing four totalitarian eras in line since Pakistan's inception. Last one that elevated economic growth to decades high an average of seven percent is glittering in their unanimous citation. Other sees social disruption as ground making to smoothen military way in power. Before general election held lastly, political instability was culpable for rising agitation in northern belt of Pak-Afghan border and conjoining vicinity of North West Frontier Province. It had become an unquestionable fact then that once governing system would be transferred to the elected government from general headquarter, the tension would ease. What happened was contrary to the general belief. Not only insurgency against government has multiplied, but also now, it is spreading its strings to other parts of the country. The difference is that now elected representatives are involved in making policies and strategies to overcome insurgency. That is implicitly essential to control cohorts infested with dogmatic ideas, and who show rigidity in accommodating opposing views. This beauty is hallmark of democracy only.
However, the expectations remain unfulfilled and approach to revitalize social rest seems to go awry despite pasture of one year of elected government. The reason, undoubtedly, lies in part in weak democratic institutional structure in Pakistan. How many bills opposing drone attacks on Pakistan's land and that are challenging country's sovereignty have been passed in upper and lower houses? Has the trespassing of Pakistan's internationally defined border been castigated in the parliament? Not a single time, probably. What we hear is opposition against the attacks from executives, premier and foreign minister. Should this issue not be a subject of discussion in parliaments?
Of late, Parliamentary Committee on National Security recommended that government should use all options to prevent drone attacks. Committee members of political parties ratified the recommendations including the above one, Online reported. After over one year span of newfangled parliament, it is still undecided whether PPP becomes coalition partner in Punjab or PML-N agrees to rejoin federal cabinet. The unfruitful adventure of imposing governorship in Punjab and then its lifting before reinstatement of Shahbaz Sharif as CM delayed attention coming to real issues. Is it not absurd that when the country is closing to the danger zone, its economic growth is decreasing politicians are weighing personal gains and losses.
Ironically, US-led NATO has realised the weakness of Pakistan's democratic institutions since the weakness is starting to haunt its overarching objective in the region. In PEACE Act, US increases assistance to Pakistan to $1.5 billion. The Act emphasizes on "strengthening democratic institutions, promoting economic development, and improving Pakistan's education system". Late come though come.
Impossible it is to control militancy without providing social justice to deprived segments of the society. Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement focuses to extend financial support to Pakistan to strengthen democracy and governance system in the country, educational system and the economy. Every problem has solution. The condition is focus, unanimity, and resolution to solve that problem. Removal of differences among political parties is prerequisite to solving problem of insurgency. It is a disheartening fact that political parties in Pakistan often release their energies more on gaining access to reign than on seeking reconciliation for solving national issues. Lucian W. Pye, a US social scientist, in his book "Asian Power & Politics: The Cultural Dimensions of Authority" notes Asians are respectful of authority and dignity of their ruler and prefer collective pride then problem solving. Gaining political mileage by politicians through personality cult is not uncommon in Pakistan. Personality-baked politics are hindrance in developing political stability that is vital for the economy.