It is said that God imposes the type of rulers upon nations that deserve them. The greatest manifestation of this belief is irrefutably visible in our very own Land of the Pure, where an ignorant, gullible and apathetical people are governed by corrupt and characterless politicians. These individuals treat their election to the legislature as a return, to not only recover what they had ‘invested’ during their respective campaigns, but to profit by their success and amass untold wealth. They lie, manipulate and even nurture criminals, in short-sighted disregard of the fact that their ultimate abode will be a hole six feet long, where they will be buried sans their power and wealth.

Like the Kings of old, they cling to power by creating dynastic succession to establish their ‘right to rule’, with no realisation that this act in itself delivers the death blow to any democratic dispensation. Pakistan has regretfully witnessed the phenomenon with disastrous results through two parties that have alternately governed (read misgoverned) the country.

In my books, something that could be termed as the ‘right to rule’ does exist, but this right and its application rests with the people – it is at this point that we come up against a dead end. We are not the type of people referred to in the oft quoted phrase from America’s political history that speaks of a government “for the People, by the People”. The quote refers to a nation, whose choice is influenced by how a candidate will handle issues that affect their lives; a nation that is willing and capable of snatching power from an individual, who is guilty of moral turpitude (which includes the act of lying). By aforementioned standards and norms, we (the people) should have thrown most of our politicians out of the Parliament. This will however not happen because we as a nation are incapable of acts that fall in the category of political courage.

Nonetheless, let us return to the subject of this week’s piece i.e. the ‘Right to Rule’ and the notion that creation of such a right through dynastic politics is nothing short of ‘sounding the death knell’ for democracy. Pakistani political culture is ominously overshadowed by a feudal mindset, which spawns an autocratic lifestyle. This in turn puts the ‘alpha politician’ on a pedestal, from where he or she cannot be removed. If, by a long shot, someone with enough moral courage tries to do so, he or she is indicted as disloyal and may forfeit much. It is thus that intra-party democracy, through elections is usually a façade. The end result is the undisputed election (read selection) of the same family members over and over again.

The galling side of the situation is, when senior party stalwarts (including those holding ministerial portfolios) sing praises for the ‘dynasty’, reminding us of a category of courtiers, who were hired to do the same, by Kings and sought to gain their sovereign’s favour by being the most innovatively sycophantic. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) tried to break this viscous trend, but the exercise generated a controversy ending in development of intra-party faultlines. This has not discouraged party leadership, which appears determined to redo the exercise in the light of lessons learnt. I reluctantly wish them luck.

The most despicable aspect of this ‘right to rule’ idea is the ‘holier than thou’ mindset that the ‘ruling family’ are incapable of wrong doing and therefore immune to accountability. This approach is currently visible in the handling of the Panama Leaks Scandal by top PML-N leadership. Their desperation in trying to plead innocence is perhaps the biggest political blunder that these individuals have ever perpetrated. I am told by insiders that there are saner voices within the party, who are advocating a graceful and dignified exit on the lines adopted by certain heads of governments in the west. I am also told that the advice stems more from self-preservation than integrity for if the current wave of protests catches popular fancy, it will not bode well for many, particularly for those with the idea that it is their ‘Right to Rule’.

The writer is a freelance columnist.