How morality fares

The political environment in any country is reflective of cultural values, norms, and ethos practiced by the nation in general and the leadership. The fact that the political leadership in any country has its roots amongst the masses, is considered the representative of the whole nation. Their practice of morality and belief in the rule of law with its equal application lays the foundation of a safe, secure, and stable environment which is the hallmark of development ensuring the prosperity of the nation.
In Pakistan, the political landscape for quite some time is unfortunately marred with the exploitation of the rule of law for its own benefit and against the opponents. There have been instances where political victimization was obvious during which fake cases were fabricated against the political opponents while undue favours were granted to their own side. This is starkly visible since the year 2018. Pakistan has had two governments since the year 2018: one from 2018 to 2022 and the other from last year to date. During the first one, several human rights violations against political opponents, journalists, and political workers were reported. It was observed that the dissenting voices were silenced, suppressed, or forcibly disappeared, raising great concerns for human rights and freedom of speech. The involvement of political opponents in fake cases and raids on their personal properties became a norm. More importantly, the politics of hate was garnered as the medium for furthering political mileage against the opponents. This had never been the case before as all the political parties were very careful about extreme polarization in the country and never made use of foul language as the mainstay of their narrative.
Political leaders are like a beacon of hope for the people who follow them. When this foul language was made a norm by the political leadership of the country, it was absorbed and accepted as a new normal and crept down to the roots of the nation. It resulted in the sheer division of society where the politics of tolerance vanished. It bred anger, aggression, and bigotry not only against the political opponents but also the state institutions, the organs which were symbols of unity and strength were specifically targeted. This phenomenon of baseless targeting spread so fast and far that even overseas Pakistanis also fell for it. Our diaspora living in different countries was thus instigated to target the political opponents who even visited abroad as state representatives. This greatly tarnished the image of Pakistan and compromised the credibility of the incumbent government in the eyes of the international community.
The Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) of the EU is an incentive program provided to developing countries pursuing sustainable development and good governance. The European Union’s consideration of ending Pakistan’s GSP+ status is accredited to various ills in the country given birth during that tenure. This is truly reflective of the potential consequences of the government’s actions on international relations and trade agreements.
It is important to understand that politics is the game of nerves and patience is the main tool to win it. Acknowledgment and respect for diverse viewpoints while promoting an environment for constructive dialogue and understanding is the key to success in this domain. While allegations are made against the opponents, yet these are to be verified through the judicial process. As the political leaders are closely watched and followed, they need to be careful about their doings since the development of culture is always in the offing when the political leadership is dispensing. The tarnished political fabric in the country was on full display when the gruesome incidents of May 9, 2023, happened because of the culture of hatred bred over the past few years. Morality was the ultimate casualty on that day.
It is to be understood that allegations should be assessed for their validity through authentic means before jumping to definite conclusions. There are mechanisms to prosecute such claims and blame but involving the populace in it is unsafe. It is essential to cultivate an atmosphere in which free speech is respected, political processes are impartial, and human rights are upheld. It is to the benefit of all involved in Pakistan’s development to work towards the establishment of a democratic, inclusive, and balanced society.

Syed Faraz Ali Shah

The writer is a research assistant at the South Asia Times. He can be reached at farazshah241

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