The question at hand is whether professionals should devote their time, energy, accumulated learning, and hard-earned income in order to participate in politics, or allow career politicians to dictate all the terms at the helm of national politics? Since professionals are also part, a rather integral one at that, of citizenry and electorate, it only appears logical that they make their presence, in its entirety, felt in conceptualisation, formulation, and then implementation of public policy.
The right of self-determination happens to be not only a birth-right of every single individual, but also a key pillar of the human rights’ dictum. Having said that, the right to participate in politics becomes an unalienable right of every individual, regardless of which political party or person they support, as much as the central needs for activities such as recreation, pursuit of happiness, and desire for self-actualisation. Just alike any another segment or strata of society, professionals may participate in politics, limited only by their time, energy, resources, and prioritisation of other duties and responsibilities.
Even a cursory look at Pakistani history is likely to reveal many a name of professionals that were among the very Founding Fathers of Pakistan, the famous young Barrister, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, being one. Even to this day, lawyers, academics, journalists, professionals from the media, businessmen, corporate executives, and even army personnel participate actively in politics. What, then, is there to close the doors of political careers, at various levels, for professionals from any field? As a matter of fact, there exist many parties, such as the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI), that have yet to be in the corridors of power, and the meat of which have, therefore, been professionals over the party’s 16 years of evolution.
Unfortunately, for our country, professionals remain one of the only stratums of society that bear the brunt of the tax net, and that too at source. At least, in theory, their tax monies support governmental initiatives, such as health, education, infrastructure, all-around general development, poverty eradication, and the like. If hard-earned incomes are deducted in the name of national development from professionals, they actually appear to be the section of society that has the first right to exercise their democratic right to question and probe.
Much alike any other role in society, whether, for example, that of parenting, the ideal first responsibility of any professional would lie, no doubt, to his or her profession and firm. However, having fulfilled that, lot more of mileage is likely to be derived by the nation, as a whole, if professionals also become willing to walk the millions of hours wasted in drawing room talk. Instead of non-productive verbosity, even a slight bit of practical work, no matter for whichever party or school of political thought, is likely to bring about cumulative benefits to just about any stakeholder in question.
It happens to be a fact that our country is comprised of, and largely run through, the feudal system. Therefore, the majority of our elected governments have been represented by feudal landlords. However, diversification happens to be a salient rule of business, and variety happens to be the spice of life. Professionals, such as doctors, bankers, MNC executives, lawyers, IT professionals, and teachers bring about a variety of tested and up-to-date methodologies for good governance, and are likely to tune and tweak the political planning and delivery systems, procedures, and policies.
Hobbies happen to be a dying pastime. Hence, involvement in politics of a constructive, neat and clean, and balanced nature is likely to result in fulfilment of self, professionals or non-professionals. Such fulfilment may even result in health benefits, improved self-esteem, greater general motivation, a sense of teamwork through immersion in a larger cause, and cross-functional and lateral learning.
Laying blame games aside, Pakistan’s politics, as we all know, has been peculiar. In summary, it may be termed historically, as “silence of the many, against the violence of a few.” While we all know some of the facts, many professionals do feel they could possibly make a positive difference, but remain silent, perhaps, due to the tainted image of politics due largely to opportunistic politicians.
It thus appears that on many counts, profession and politics blend together, and provide the professional a platform to help society grow, whilst growing with it.
Indeed, these are only a few reasons why professionals must be in politics, too!
The writer worked at progressively senior levels of responsibility at various banks, including ABN-AMRO; Habib Bank AG Zurich; HBL; and NIB, and now is an independent teacher-cum-consultant.