A close friend, a professional Pakistani, educated, adequately aware of contemporary Pakistani economic, political and socio-cultural problematics, knowledgeable of modern trends in public policy doctrines and fully cognisant of the dynamics of holding power in public institutions (he himself has held several powerful positions in public institutions) fails to understand why Pakistan’s recently disqualified Prime Minister keeps on invoking the notion of setting in motion the process of some kind of so-called “Revolution” in the country when he could have easily and effectively done so during the 30 years that he held political power. Neither do I and neither do the many, many others I have spoken to recently. People are shaking their heads in disbelief at the excruciating and agonising preposterousness of the former prime minister’s argument.
Are all of us missing something vital here? Were we sleepwalking all those years when the “safar” of going backwards under the guardianship of Mian Nawaz Sharif’s now blemished leadership remained absolutely anti-revolutionary, willfully in long and permanent courtship with what I would like to call an “Oppressive Anti-Revolution,” deliberately and knowingly directed against the people of Pakistan?
Me and many like me don’t understand what the ex-Prime Minister is promoting – his revolution, his anti-judicial stance and so on and so forth – in his erratic line of political thought.
Let me attempt to explain my concept of what a “revolution ” entails using a couple of simple examples.
If you decide to fly on an Emirates Airlines Boeing A380 from Dubai to Washington DC on a 14-hour non-stop flight, you will find nearly 30 cabin crew members on board to serve the passengers. In terms of aviation management doctrine, the notion is to provide maximum service to passengers on board (one crew member to nearly 15 passengers). In a management sense, this is the introduction and implementation of a revolutionary management process to drastically and phenomenally improve the airline’s commitment to its clientele. It is a verifiable actual act of management policy that has substantive and real impact on the quality of the passengers’ experience in flying. The effects can be measured, felt, seen and are consistent with the company’s declared manifesto to provide improved service to its passengers. It is not simply rhetoric or perception management by propaganda and advertising tools. The process is real in substance. In the same way, a political or economic revolution has to have substance; it has to be principled, tangible, and in actuality materialised, incorporated, and felt in an absolute sense in a nation’s public policy. Period.
What the former Prime Minister of Pakistan is saying these days shows that his understanding of a revolution appears to be purely rhetorical; in fact, he is attempting to redeem himself with loquacity and by promoting a revolutionary political idea for the welfare of the nation — an idea which he failed conceptually and intellectually to comprehend during his long tenure in office. Now, it seems, the disqualified Prime Minister has suddenly woken up from a deep slumber to exploit the idea for self-interest and to somehow manage to remain stuck to political power.
Let me put forward another simple example to further illustrate my perspective on the issue: Hundreds and thousands of Pakistani manual workers toil in the scorching heat (at times, the temperature goes up to 50C) in the Gulf Arab states to send hard-earned dollars back to Pakistan. In fact, this remittance of foreign currency is one of the main sources of Pakistan’s foreign exchange earnings.
And yet, when these hard-working NRPs go back to their beloved country, the Pakistan ruled by the Sharifs (and of course Zardaris) for endless decades, there is no one from government agencies to facilitate their arrival at the airports. There are no special provisions for NRPs to travel on their national air carriers. There are no government insurance schemes to cover their medical bills when they fall sick during their holiday stays. There are no specific housing schemes for them and their families’ resettlement back in their home towns. There are no government-sponsored business planning efforts to absorb them back into the national economy gainfully and effortlessly. There are no government centers nationwide to provide them with personal employment counseling. Housing, health and educational facilities are lacking and vocational training centers for them and their children are nearly non-existent and seemingly unplanned for in the long history of Pakistan’s national development policy.
Why, in God’s name, is the former Prime Minister talking about the enactment of a political revolution now (instead of before)? What was his focus of concern when he was in power? Was he in denial or simply ignoring the requirement of a state policy that could have been in the interest of the entire nation? Why, instead, did the former Prime Minister build “Jati Umra“ as his personal residence and live like royalty? Isn’t his political behaviour all those years in power an expression of his true political self, his true political doctrine, and his fundamental adherence to political-economic exploitation of the country’s resources and the endless and merciless disregard of the nation’s interests?
I am completely at a loss to understand the former Prime Minister when he utters the word “revolution”. In fact, a sense of consternation and despair prevails upon hearing the Prime Minister’s new revolutionary ideological stance. Revolutions are real, tangible processes in nation-building dynamics. Historical examples testify to that reality.
The Bolshevik Revolution gave the Russian masses full employment, universal education, housing for every citizen and nation-wide health facilities for all. There was nation-wide legislation for workers to get guaranteed jobs, recreational facilities for all with yearly family holidays, special status for working mothers and universal literacy provisions on a priority basis. Vocational schools, universities and research centers on industrialisation and technology were developed as national priority schemes. Mass mobilisation in the agriculture sector and the nation’s community infrastructure was developed in the shortest possible timeframe.
Tremendous gains in China’s revolution are visible to everyone. From a nation driven into opium-smoking by foreign powers, it has emerged as a major industrial, technological and military power on a global scale within the short period of 70 years (same time period as Pakistan’s independence).
The Social Contract revolution in Europe brought into existence the idea of democracy and a public welfare state system with appreciable success during and after modern industrialisation and defined the parameters of human rights on a global scale. The French Revolution was followed by the French Republic.
Furthermore, our neighbouring country’s perpetual democratic advancement has revolutionised its political parties’ infrastructural dynamics by making it possible for party workers to rise from bottom up to the top of the country’s political leadership, like Narendra Modi and others before him — while in Pakistan, the Sharifs and Zardaris are still vehemently promoting the idea of political dynastic rule.
I am forced to ask the disqualified Pakistani Prime Minister what he is talking about when he says “We will bring a revolution in Pakistan now.” The questions to the ex-Prime Minister are many and obviously important: What kind of revolution? When? Where? For whom? And above all, how?
Voluntarily or involuntarily, the former Pakistani Prime Minister’s conduct has been responsible for giving this nation a messy, destructive and backward repressive anti-revolution during his three decades in political power – this is a fact.
I might be wrong in my political assessment in the former PM’s political contribution to this country – but what grounds are there for me to trust Mian Nawaz Sharif’s “reborn” zealousness for a revolutionary Pakistan under his political guidance?
In fact, it is a frightening thought!
n The writer is an academic and widely acknowledged political analyst on Pakistan affairs, American foreign policy, international relations and economic matters.