Altaf Hussain has dropped a bombshell by inviting patriotic generals to weed out corrupt politicians and feudals. The furore he has ignited has produced reams of raging print and hours of fiery harangues in electronic media. The general conduct of politicians is anything but enviable so people are now openly talking of the Army stepping in to nip the evil even if it has to eventually depart after a quick surgical operation. That, though, is easier said than done. Once the Army is in, it takes long to leave. Howsoever good the military rule might appear to be, it is always bad for country in the long run. But, then, what do you do of the general perception here that continuation of present style of democracy is also not good for the people? This democracy needs to be 'improved, if that is the word, and very considerably too if things are to get any better. To expect a change for the better from within by this present crop of parliamentarians themselves, and their leaders that rule, is asking for the moon. How would they axe their own feet? So there is the natural question that what should be done to weed out the corrupt feudals and hereditary politicians that are currently at helm with out their scions stepping in to replay it all over again. One option, we know, is to throw them all out forcibly through a military take over, another Martial Law. The other is to do it through the masses, by a revolution. Both are fraught with dangers and not quite desirable. The other option is not to vote for them ever again, never let them return in another Parliament. This seems more plausible but in order to do so, we would have to educate the public opinion on this. Can they be educated and prevailed upon not to vote for them? Not to my mind because the people are mostly a captive vote illiterate serfs at the mercy of feudals, blind followers in faith (mureeds as they are called) of Pirs and Makhdooms or so beholden to biradri and other tribal compulsions that they would keep returning the same vile stuff to assemblies. Besides, if you ask me, the universal adult franchise is not a very Islamic concept either, at least not in its essence. Islam advocates Shura -an assembly of a few wise men. Quran clearly says in Sura Az-Zumar (39:9), Are those who know equal to those who do not know? That means the knowledgeable and the ignorant are not equal. If they are not equal (essentially in their intellect and knowledge), how can they be tasked with deciding the serious matters of governance? How do we form an adequately knowledgeable electorate from a mass of ignorants to do the onerous job of electing good people to rule and govern themselves? One way of overcoming this situation and balancing out the adult suffrage could be to impose certain qualification limits by constitutional fiat upon eligibility of those casting the vote and those elected. We hadalas we had but not anymorea graduation clause inserted in the constitution as a precondition for eligibility of legislators. It has been repealed. We have to now think of subjecting the voters to a set of qualifying pre-conditions in order to make them eligible and responsible. Question is, would this current set of parliamentarians be willing to bring about a constitutional amendment that does it? I have very serious doubts about it. So it is either up to the judiciary or the masses themselves to force these legislators to do so. How they do it is what I leave to the imagination of your readers. But once we have a knowledgeable and competent electorate, we would also be able to have honest, capable, dedicated and real leaders. Only, then, would we be able to enjoy fruit of democracy. -COLONEL (Rtd) RIAZ JAFRI, Rawalpindi, August 27.