Political Idealism is often considered to be a driving force behind both evolutionary and revolutionary changes in a political system. It also plays a pivotal role in articulating and achieving certain political objectives in any country. As a matter of fact, idealism is gradually losing its relevance and importance in the political discourse of Pakistan. Aiming at achieving concrete political accomplishments instantly and arbitrarily, the realpolitik has become the most dominant operating norm of our political system. Resultantly, political idealism has readily been replaced by political pragmatism. Getting into the corridors of power by hook or by crook, and staying there indefinitely, has become the overriding concern of the political class in the country.

Pakistan is generally termed an ideological state. The idealism of our founding fathers was to make this ‘God-gifted’ state an Islamic welfare state for the Muslims of the subcontinent. By pledging to ensure a representative political system, freedom, democracy, rule of law, independence of judiciary, minorities rights etc. in Pakistan, the objective resolution passed by the first Constituent Assembly in 1949 simply reiterated and endorsed this idealism. All subsequent constitutions made in the country also incorporated these provisions as a matter of state policy. Ironically, in reality, this idealism has no significance or relevance except as official rhetoric.

Almost all political parties have failed in formulating and promoting any positive national idealism in Pakistan. Political pragmatism and opportunism have become their guiding principles. These parties are being run in authoritarian and dictatorial manners. They couldn’t rise above certain cults of personalities and the influence of some political dynasties. Personal and parochial interests have always prevailed over the greater interest of the state.

Some time ago, led by Imran Khan, the PTI emerged on the national political horizon by raising the slogan of justice and change. Having been fed-up with traditional politics, a large segment of the population welcomed this political party. Besides the general public, it has greatly inspired and motivated youth and women in the urban areas of Pakistan. Unluckily, soon after becoming the popular political force of the country, it also chose to resort to the same political pragmatism and power politics to secure an electoral victory in the country. Instead of effectively organizing and mobilizing political workers at the grass-root level for bringing genuine political change, it opted to induct some ‘electable’ and influential personalities in the party across the country.

By hijacking its original ideology, a large number of old politicians, businessmen, feudal lords and retired senior civil and military officers joined the PTI. In order to contest general elections last year, PTI largely awarded party tickets to the same class of society. Therefore, it was the not the ideology of the party but the personal influence and efforts of the candidates that had ultimately determined its fate in the elections. Before blaming PML (N) for rigging and ‘stealing’ the election, the PTI must also acknowledge its own mismanaging and mishandling of these elections.

Despite alleging massive rigging in the polls, the PTI agreed to the results of these elections after a brief protest. Afterwards, many of its party candidates also moved elections petitions for various reasons to the election tribunals constituted for the same purpose. It has also been asking the government for the audit of elections in the four national constituencies. However, strangely enough, it suddenly decided to join hands with the PAT leader TUQ to topple the PML (N) government and ignored all constitutional, legal and ethical norms. It is also quite strange that the party which has been actively supporting and advocating for dialogue with terrorist outfits is no longer willing to negotiate with the alleged killers in the recent Model Town incident.

So far, the PTI has failed in evolving a healthy political culture in Pakistan. Instead of playing its constitutional role in the Parliament and KPK, it has chosen to mobilize its street power by reviving and augmenting the politics of agitation and confrontation in the country. It seems the PTI’s sit-in in Islamabad is more important to the chief executive of the KPK than the administration of this province. Apparently, ignoring democratic and constitutional ideals, the PTI is looking towards the so-called third force for bringing its desired political change in Pakistan without active popular participation.

In the face of growing political pragmatism, it is very hard for any political idealist to survive or otherwise thrive in Pakistan. This may be the reason why a political idealist like Javed Hashmi is in an uncomfortable position in the prevailing system. His democratic credentials and sacrifices for democracy cannot be doubted. In pursuit of his political idealism, he refused to submit before a military dictator like Pervez Musharraf and spent a long period in jail in consequence. Afterwards, he quit the PML (N) and joined the PTI. Perhaps on account of similar reasons, now he has quit this party too.

Considering it ideally and constitutionally incorrect, Javed Hashmi has been opposing the use of the Azadi March as a modus operandi to topple the incumbent PML (N) government. From the beginning, he has been a quite reluctant participator of this march. After quitting PTI, he has alleged that the current movement of the PTI is neither genuine nor spontaneous as some undemocratic forces are behind the whole plan.

When political sagaciousness is replaced by political gimmickry and rhetoric takes the place of reasoning, then the demise of political idealism is inevitable. The PTI needs a political gimmick like TUQ, political opportunists like Sheikh Rasheed and a musician like DJ Butt. It doesn’t need, it seems, a political idealist like Javed hamshi who wants genuine political change through constitutional and legal means. At present, Hashmi‘s political future is quite uncertain, and so is his idealism. However, in the greater interest of the political system, we must not let his idealism die.

 The writer is a lawyer.