The current decade of democracy has been the most destructive in Pakistan’s chequered history. It has brought a complete collapse of organs of the state that include parliament, executive as extension of the ruling legislature, governance, transparency, accountability, regulators and economy. The entire deconstruct is highlighted by lack of ethics, corruption, jobbery, nepotism and cult worship to perpetuate a corrupt rule. In this decade, Pakistan has transited from a home grown economy to a consumer economy dependent on imports. Alarmingly, the business in consumer products is controlled directly or indirectly by cartels that comprise politicians in power. This is what I call the political industry.

This state of the country reflects the fears of Qaid-e-AzamMuhammad Ali Jinnah when he referred to  “Khota Sikkas”(demonetised coins) in his pocket and deliberated at length in his first speech to the Constituent Assembly, on 11 August 1947. Slowly, these unwanted elements have permeated every top rung of the society. As 2017 draws to a close, this culture has resulted in incompetence beyond which the worse cannot get worse and has reached a point of saturation. The only exit from this malaise lies in drastic systemic changes with very strong checks and balances. But this is easier said than done.

My research on constitutionalism in Pakistan, analysis of military interventions, sociology of bureaucracy and most of all, being part of a rising political party makes me an insider to comment why such stagnation takes place. On an academic template, resort to leadership psychology and the incompetence that idiosyncratic conditions perpetuate lead to surprising conclusions. 

In Pakistan, most politicians come from backgrounds that do not privilege them on basis of prowess, intelligence or experience. None of them earn spurs on the basis of the lofty ideals they mimic. They are catapulted to the upper rungs not to serve the people or the nation but for interests that are anything but national. Rather, they conform to a certain social criteria, political compulsion, establishment backing, economic linkage or international connection that promises them nobility and symbols of power. Politics in Pakistan is an opportunist cut throat profession instead of a representative for the people or the nation. It is the common goal for unbridled power and money that bonds politicians together. 

Seldom have politicians worked through the ranks. Those that did during Bhutto’s populism and PTI’s rise have since faded away. ‘Fly by night’ or ‘fly by wire’ rise due to the likes of the party leaders whom they appease and glorify, establishment and the economy of corruption they generate. Bigger ones are inserted into the political system to safeguard the interests of corporates, the international economic order and interests of big powers that use smaller countries as pawns. Prowess and intelligence is seldom a cause for political stature. All major political parties are represented by top tier leadership that is either conformist, representative of lobbies and cartels, economic hit-men or opportunist turncoats who can switch loyalties and positions on a nod. They fit Jinnah’s thesis.   

Conforming to their environments, they claim a certain religion, a sect, a “biradari” based on caste (a clan), a corporate mindsetor a likeminded group of mutual courtiers. They create a new nobility and ‘class of their own’ by displaying symbols of power like jets, helicopters, expensive SUVs, armed guards, a platoon of courtiers, a cameraman or even buying off media. They are shameless self-promoters who live by the money and grandeurthey see. Their objectives and goals are not for their country or the people they represent; but a megalomaniac dream shaped by their desires, innate memories of deprivations and short-lived common sense. They populate the upper and lower houses of Pakistan’s Parliament and are adept in signing on dotted lines. Cases in point are the 18th Amendment and Political Parties Law. Many more could follow. 

Pakistan’s sorry state of nearly a decade of parliamentary democracy and wrongs with the parliamentary system, misuse of concentration of power, overlapping executive and legislative functions, transparency and regulatory organisations, and judicial functions of accountability reflect a parliamentary system that is conformist, corrupt to core and runs aground with saturation of innate desires and deliberate incompetence. 

Though the opposition did display signs of resistance, the inherent malaise existing within them has more than often been complicit rather than a challenge to this inertia. This is why nomajor political party; or parliamentarians of substance; or an alliance has been able to challenge the misuse of concentration of power. In the case of the two amendments, everyone has been complicit.  

Some politicians even agree to call themselves political animals professing that in Pakistani politics, being human is a limitation and demonstrating powerful animal instincts is a compulsion. But unlike animals, they master the art to control, frustrate, direct and sublimate these instinctive traits at the cost of the people and the nation they represent. 

Psychologists on incompetence of leadership theorise that major part of such learning and disposition takes place in early childhood and upbringing; leaving a long lasting impact on adult personality. The unresolved leftovers of childhood conflicts between infantile desires and punitive morality perpetuated by family upbringing and environments create a reservoir of inexhaustible anxiety that they quench in adulthood. This driving force places reason, professionalism and competence in jeopardy. This nadir of incompetence is the highest point of political professionalism.

Pakistani politicians are not dare devils who will tread ‘head on’into danger and unknown, but rather men of flexible conscience who will weigh the short and long term cost benefits of every step they take. These men occupy top positions in all major political parties and have saturated the Parliamentary System and political organisations of Pakistan.

Let us take into count the two major amendments passed by the parliament that are tantamount to breeding and protecting corruption and violation of social contract. 

The 8th amendment has devolved powers to federating units without putting an implementation mechanism in place. By devolving ‘law and order’, serious impediments have been put against counter terrorism operations and enforcement. Devolution has also created crises of federation particularly for Baluchistan, whose politicians revolve in every government.

The 18th Amendment deliberately ignored amendments to minority representations because the minister in charge was irked too often by the minister of minority affairs. So at whims and acting as God, he just chose to remove that bit and strengthened laws that discriminate minorities.

In a parliamentary system where concentration of power has to be judicious with checks and balances, 18th amendment makes the head of a ruling party stronger than the prime minister. This is how President Zardari continued to call shots with immunity during his tenure. 

In the latest law, Parliament has approved imposing a disqualified person to become head of a political party. So if the party led by a disqualified corrupt comes to power, the criminal will continue to call shots by virtue of power he exercises under 18th Amendment. 

Passing of the above law was by design and not default. 

Even if PTI senators are condoned for what they did, what prevented them from signing a petition in re-voting? Such re-voting has precedence. For Imran Khan, this was a case of once bitten many times shy. 

And what to make of the Lahore High Court; that has rejected a petition against this law without taking into consideration the impact of a corrupt head of a political party superimposing himself on the prime minister and cabinet? 

This simplifies the notion of ‘rule of corrupt, by the corrupt and for the corrupt’.

The reformation has to take place within the constitutional bounds. This means that Judiciary of Pakistan has to take charge with able support from the Election Commission of Pakistan. While judiciary takes charge of accountability and aberrations of laws, ECP must use its laws to put political parties into institutionalism by enforcing its own charter. Military’s cooperation must only be sought ‘In Aid to Civil Power’ and if necessitated ‘In Aid to Judicial Power’.

Leaders of political parties who claim change must identify the wolves within their own ranks and disempower them through transparent grassroots party elections. If not, then slogans are mere political gibberish.