“In every age the vilest

specimens of human

nature are to be found

among demagogues.”

– Macaulay

As the Election Day draws near, one can observe that several politicians are behaving like demagogues. The question is: whether or not the people will once again be taken in by those who have mastered the art of eloquent speech, but have nothing substantial to offer?

The entire nation seems to be under siege by acts of terrorism, deteriorating law and order, unemployment, rising prices, and gas and electricity loadshedding. At present, however, the situation is expected to improve as the political parties in power will infuse massive funds not only to kick-start the country’s economy, but also alleviate the sufferings of the poor. But once the elections are over, it is going to be business as usual!

These days, one often sees politicians holding big rallies in different parts of the country to mobilise the people/voters either in the favour of their parties or for a particular candidate. Nevertheless, while people remain sceptical about the platitudes full of empty promises being bombarded on them day in and day out, they are expected to succumb to them as there is little choice.

Against this backdrop, if one analyses the manifestos of different political parties, they seem to be almost similar. Most of them paint a rosy picture for the future, without elaborating as to how it would be possible for them to fulfil the long list of promises, which they have laid before the people.

Even the mainstream political parties have been afflicted with this disease; they too have joined the chorus initiated by different demagogues in the country. Some candidates propagate that if voted to power, they would resolve the energy crisis within 90 days and ensure a corruption-free society within a month. Others maintain that they would impose Sharia law and ensure equitable distribution of wealth and resources to improve the living standards of the masses.

Also, there are those who claim that they will not accept foreign assistance from the IMF and World Bank, and would use the abundant resources available in the country to fulfil development needs. Needless to say, those who are presenting such ‘simple’ solutions have forgotten that the international community is living in an age of interdependence, and it is not possible at all to live in isolation.

Then some believe that the challenges facing Pakistan can only be redressed if the army takes over. Whereas, the saner elements demand the continuation of democracy. Surely, these elements are having a field-day and their pitch is expected to rise further till the elections are held.

So who will carry the day when the votes are cast in 2013?

While a majority desires that the people’s will must be accepted as the sole authority in the country, they also plead that under no circumstances the democratic dispensation should be allowed to derail. That efforts must be made to strengthen not only democracy, but also the rule of law.

In addition, it is time that all state institutions respect the constitution, which is only possible if they operate within their domains. At the moment, there are several examples where one pillar of the state has transgressed into the other’s jurisdiction, creating despondency and confusion among the citizens.

It is also expected that mainstream political parties will carry out their election campaigns in an objective manner and would refrain from misleading the people by making promises that they cannot fulfil.

Indeed, the elections should provide an opportunity to Pakistanis to reiterate their commitment to the ideology of Pakistan and political dispensation. This is the only way forward, indeed!

The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist. At present, he hosts a political programme on Pakistan Television.  Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com