After the breakup of the mighty Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) on December 26, 1991 politics of the left suffered a serious setback. Centrist parties emerged with flavours of both left and right. Instead of ideology, focus shifted on economic growth. Privatisation, Globalisation, de-regulation became the buzz words. Free market approach was adopted worldwide. While the global economic order is in a big mess today as humanity stands divided between haves and have-nots. Only People’s Republic of China has been able to manage its course of human development.

Last year I had a chance to interact with the Russian Ambassador. On my straight question, I got an honest answer as follows, ‘today the country is moving towards capitalism’, ‘Socialism’ has been left behind. While the comrades still gather at the Red Square in Moscow to celebrate the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, the government of Vladimir Putin is moving in the opposite direction.

The right wing onslaughts of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher forced the progressive forces to move towards the centre but it did not help. The retrogressive elements became stronger as they faced little resistance. Instead of marginally right or left of centre the political pendulum has now swung in the extreme right direction. The era of centrist politics is coming to an end negative ideologies are back.

There were several upheavals in the 20th century. Three major revolutions and two world wars took a heavy toll of human lives; the struggle eventually resulted in equitable distribution of wealth. Welfare of the masses became the focus of many advanced nations. In March 1969, Pakistan came close to a revolution when the first dictator was toppled. Charles De Gaulle barely survived in France. So far the 21st century remains barren despite skewed distribution of wealth and resources together with its resulting human miseries.

Extreme right wing nationalist parties are gaining grounds in the West. With deregulated economies this can prove to be lethal. Socialists are in disarray. While poverty is on the rise worldwide, the rich are getting richer by the day. Human sufferings are all over. Homelessness has become rampant even in the developed world. The government of PTI has decided to build shelters to place a roof over their head, which is a good move.

Nordic welfare states provide hope for mankind. China has emerged as a true People’s Republic. While it all started in Medina, the Islamic world is in bad shape mired in corruption, conflict and lawlessness. The Prime Minister (PM) has repeated his pledge to create a welfare state on the lines of “Riyasat-e-Madina’. With a population of 220 million people, Islamic Republic of Pakistan needs a pro-people system of governance where the focus of the state is on the masses not just the classes.

‘Workers of the world unite, they have nothing to lose except their chains’, and this is the inscription on the tombstone of Karl Marx the founder of pro-people socialist doctrine. It is time for the progressives of the world to unite before they are politically annihilated and the world moves back into the dark ages of unbridled, deregulated capitalism ‘a la’ Donald Trump style.

In the sixties, progressive politics became popular in Pakistan. Bhutto launched his People’s Party on a socialist ideology; he called it “Islamic Socialism’. After him the party moved to the centre Pakistan Muslim League (N) came out of Islamic Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) with right wing leanings. After coming into power it too moved to the center. Today the country has no real ideological party in the political arena. Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) the far right political coalition did not farewell. The leadership of the two centrist parties is in serious trouble. Nawaz Sharif has been convicted, while Asif Zardari is close, lack of ideology has resulted in massive unbridled corruption.

PTI is talking about a welfare state but in its fold are several discredited leaders of the past. The party has to set its future course. The myriad of problems being faced by the country calls for major ideological commitment to change. Progressive politics is the need of the hour in the Islamic Republic similar to the People ’s Republic of China. Focus has to be on the suffering masses. ‘Riyasat Hogi Maa Jaisi’ (The State will be like a mother). Deprivation of the people has to be addressed without delay or excuse. Issues of ‘Roti, kapra aur Makan’ (food, clothing and shelter) have to be resolved. As a nation we could not build 5 million permanent dwellings in seven decades now the challenge is to double them in the next five years. It is a colossal task which poses a serious challenge to the professional leadership entrusted with the undertaking. The cold war should be started against the corrupt who have usurped the resources of mankind pushing them into deprivation. Ideology of greed has to be challenged by progressive politics. Comrades of change have to get organised to take on the retrogressive forces of status-quo to deliver the meaningful change required for the uplift of the common man. Politics of greed has to be replaced with genuine commitment to service of the suffering masses.


The Writer is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan

Science Foundation.