For human and socio-economic development, just as we need professional teachers, doctors, engineers and economists, we need professional politicians as well, to have specialised, measurable input.

Why does one aspire to be a politician? Is it because she/he is born in a political family? Is it because they couldn’t become doctors or engineers or charted accountants? Is it that they are an extraordinarily rich? Is it out of the choice to cater to public good? Is staying in politics an opportunity or a tool to make and save money?

Politics is a ‘well-paid’ profession. Are the political families willing to remain in politics destined to grab ‘power’ at any cost? It is to establish supremacy or hegemony to have access to resources for individual or group benefits? Or is it something different altogether?

A perception prevails that everyone in politics is making money. But the one who also delivers somewhat is however, relatively more acceptable to the masses. It appears that the preference of the masses is aligned for those who also deliver something, besides making money. This is how the masses have been rendered to accept the ‘lesser evil’.

Politics and ‘awami khidmat’ (public service), is a by-gone concept. No one is expecting any service unpaid for, by anyone, anywhere for anything. And this has been accepted as a cultural norm, in every field including politics.

Yesteryears’ ethical values are far different from today’s ‘popular culture’ and are fading fast. Now people prefer to look for services for money to be sure of delivery. ‘The more money you spend the better service you get’ is the widespread understanding.

In a transforming society, people are fighting with conflicting values, within and without. People generally adhere to pragmatic compulsions, in the daily life. By ignoring ethical values, guilt is developed deep down, which is attended to by spiritual practices, to satisfy the soul.

The masses are generally not interested to know of things at a theoretical level. They only see what is happening to them, and it’s only a good or bad time for them they experience, at the most. They largely perform their own practices pragmatically, by means of street wisdom they have acquired or blessed with.

Why aren’t we yet fully prepared to publically demand a full-time professional politician, more experienced, and more qualified? Whereas, we expect a thorough professional otherwise in every other field.

In Pakistan too, politicians are paid for their services they render. They are well paid for the job they do. They even increase their own remunerations etc to their satisfaction, as and when they think it appropriate to do so. Interestingly, although they work for others (people), and it’s the people who are their employers, but they (politicians) regulate their service/employment by themselves.

Unlike many other professions, Politics is yet not expected to be a ‘full-time profession’. It’s still entrenched with ethical value system that has some morality other than the commercial values. This perception is being reinforced by political actors in more ‘smart’ manners, in everyday practice.

These dual but intermingled values have kept the masses bewildered in the field of politics. The politicians are always aware of their capacities, but always lure the people to their projected/imaginary positions. People generally, remain recipient of promises, true or false, made by the politicians, for the progress of individuals or groups. They (people) have no choice but to look towards politicians, who are in charge of their resources, for their ‘welfare’ etc, whether or not promises are fulfilled, or questioned.

The ‘power structure’ Pakistanis are living within is regulated by the establishment. Political parties and media have also somewhat emerged as power players now. By default, all power brokers, minor and major, are reinforcing the prevailing social, political and economic order. In such a situation, all of them are eventually underpinning the status quo that is sustained by the state, to eventually maintain the order, benefitting the concerned ‘constituencies’ and those at the helm of affairs.

Reforms if enforced from within should mean that change is to trigger from within. Whether it is voluntary or involuntary is a question that makes the difference. Is it that the power brokers sensing the need of change come up with the reform agenda by themselves or are they pressurised to accept ‘proposed change’? Is it to satisfy the need within or something imposed from outside to fulfil the need? There exists no research on the issue to learn its dynamics and sustainable changes that have taken place, if any.

Till the 80s, education was considered a noble profession and was so vastly undertaken by most not-for-profit organisations. Later, privatisation of education prompted the mushroom-like growth of private educational institutions transforming it to a saleable commodity (education) in the open market. And now it is accepted as such and one seeks the quality according to the investment one makes into it. Same is the case with health services and so on. People have accepted it as the new normal.

The people have actually accepted the structural reforms in the systems inserted by successive governments following the economic reforms dictated by global socio-economic order.

The masses, with 40% literacy rate, 30% of them living below the poverty line, are ‘sensitised to respect’ the power structure they are living in.

Should we expect politicians as full-time professionals and evaluate them at market parameters viz a viz qualification, experience and performances? Should the politician be publically acknowledged as a public servant, who should follow certain service rules besides their appointment/reappointment through vote. Shouldn’t their job description be made public and debated in media, and be followed up during their tenure, to see if performing as per the job description? Their ‘tenure track record’ therefore be maintained through some mechanism and debated in a public discourse to evaluate their performances. Shouldn’t their ‘quarterly performance report’ be observed and made public, debated and evaluated through media? Some mechanism to this effect may also be developed to streamline their constant accountability.

Universities should run programs for leadership development at degree level and upward. Political parties should engage research scholars for the purpose including their own training in different areas of politics.

The continuous struggle spanning over last forty years with sincerity and commitment by the civil society/NGOs, have posed new challenges. It is observed that the incidents against which their struggle is continuing, are on the rise instead. The strategy for bringing in reforms from within has not proved to be yielding the desired results. A ‘war-like’ situation has emerged by challenging the prevailing well entrenched ‘culture’, ignoring and perhaps not anticipating the forceful reaction of the challenged forces/mindset. In this backdrop, the civil society is expected to revisit its strategic approach, tactics, preferably the entire thinking paradigm, to save the vulnerable, unnecessarily harmed, in the struggle to win their fundamental rights. Is the civil society still adamant to continuing with the adopted strategy it believed to be the right one? Do we see this sector too lacking professionalism?