Political parties are indispensable for the smooth functioning of democracy; they provide specific political ideology to ensure popular participation in the democratic process of a country. In United States, both Democratic and Republican parties have gone a long way towards strengthening the democratic institutions in the country. The role of both the Conservative and Labour parties in the evolution of parliamentary democracy in Britain cannot be denied. Likewise, the Congress party has been a unifying political force in the multi-ethnic and multi-lingual India. It has played a pivotal role in the reconstruction of post-independence India.
Unfortunately, the efforts for the initiation and continuation of any political process in Pakistan have not been so successful since its inception. It was Pakistan Muslim League which translated the idea of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India into a reality, under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-i-Azam. However, Muslim League vanished after the death of Quaid-i-Azam in 1948. Liaquat Ali Khan, who succeeded him as the leader of Muslim League, was killed in a sniper attack in Rawalpindi in 1951. Other great leaders of the party like Sardar Abdur Rab Nishter, Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy, Khawaja Nazimuddin were either ignored or sidelined. In this way, the only political force of the time was deliberately eliminated from the political scene.
After the failure of Pakistan Muslim League, Z A Bhutto, the founder of PPP, developed the mainstream national political ideology by introducing the concept of popular sovereignty and giving the nation a unanimous constitution in 1973. Likewise, Mian Nawaz Sharif resurrected and revived the Muslim League in the country in the 90’s by spreading its roots to all four provinces.
In the absence of a political ideology, parochial, ethnic and linguistic elements are now asserting themselves in politics. We can witness nationalist-cum-separatist political parties in Balochistan, Pashtun nationalism in KPK and Seraiki nationalism in Southern Punjab emerge. In the same manner, Sindh seems to have been divided into rural and urban areas on the basis of Sindh and Muhajir nationalism. All these developments have severely eroded the foundations of the country.
In the presence of these parochial interests, no national goal can materialise. Now, we can’t build Kalabagh dam, end violence and killings in Karachi, keep peace in Balochistan, create new provinces on merit, only because these so-called nationalist and regional parties don’t desire so. In order to check further chaos or confusion, we must strengthen the federation by promoting national and mainstream political ideology. We need to bring to the forefront parties that have an agenda to unite and empower the country rather than a party or a family. For all this, we need educated people to enter the arena of filthy political games in Pakistan.
MOHSIN RAZA MALIK,
Lahore, March 1.