“It’s the hardest thing in the world to go on being aware of somebody else’s pain.” Pat Barker, from the novel Life Class.

Indeed, it is true that to feel somebody else’s pain is the most difficult thing in the living experience. And yet, every religion and all human civilizations are primarily based on the principle of universal humanitarian fellowship. Public representation, politics and democracy are the concepts of the modern age, which are intrinsically linked to the development of human fraternity: equality of all before the law, economic fairness, social justice, security and peace of the community, emotional and physical well-being of all citizens, and so on and so forth. Hence, politics and democracy cannot be conducted in the absence of a moral aptitude that does not recognize that people’s welfare is the fundamental obligation of all elected public representatives. When public representation fails to deliver its manifest responsibilities, as in the case of present-day Pakistan, democracy becomes an obsolete idea – in fact, an obstacle to the development of human solidarity and socio-economic-cultural progress. Today’s Pakistan is a picture-perfect example of a failed democracy: the elected public representation feels no pain of the agony, deprivations, daily hardships, desperations of the common citizens and the growing overall degeneration of society.

Every Pakistani citizen will have to make a choice now: Forget, if you wish, Imran Khan’s promise of a tsunami, Sheikh Rashid’s daily lamenting on TV talk shows on the increasingly deplorable conditions of Pakistan’s masses, and General Hameed Gul’s steadfast determination to define Pakistan’s future existence linked to a national ideological renaissance. But, what no one can possibly ignore in today’s so-called democratic Pakistan is the common citizens – 88 percent of its population’s utter disappointment with the way and the manner in which the incumbent 4½ year-old democracy has functioned. Show me a common Pakistani who is not fed up with this country’s ruling elite, past and present, and I will show you an elephant that can fly. Heartbroken, anguished, demoralized, poverty-stricken, depressed, economically demolished, physically wrecked, socially ruined, emotionally destroyed, and politically decimated Pakistanis, the majority of them, wish the present-day democracy, along with its ruling leadership, both in the governance and outside of it, would go away, vanish, disappear into oblivion.

It is a moment in Pakistan’s history that can transform itself into a movement for a revolutionary transformation of its decades-old ailing political culture. The agitating populace seems to be emotionally and politically prepared for a sustained and collective assault on the political-economic status quo that has laid ruins of this country. The people know that the present so-called democratic dispensation and its leadership have offered the nation nothing better than the previous military regimes or civilian administrations. In fact, the incumbent regime’s political and economic management of national affairs has been the worst of the 60-year history of the nation. The people are aware that even today, all important domestic and foreign policy as well as military decisions in Pakistan are being made on the dictates of Washington and London.

The challenges faced by Pakistan are monumental: the most serious problem is that of a declining economy – the economic mismanagement of the country by the ruling PPP Zardari-Gilani junta that has resulted in unprecedented hardships for common citizens. Then there is the uncertainty of the political climate coupled with institutional conflicts. Added to this is the growing problematics in the deterioration in security-related issues all over the country from insurgency in Balochistan to drone attacks in the northern part of the country. Mounting national debts, run-away inflation, skyrocketing prices, the lavish lifestyle of the ruling elite at the expense of the national exchequer, the repeated failure in foreign policy and Pakistan’s diplomatic initiatives, and so on and so forth – there is hardly an aspect of national political management which is not faulty, flawed or politically incorrect.

Today’s Pakistan exists in absolute political chaos. But can these chaotic conditions be transformed into “creative chaos” leading to revolutionary changes in the political culture and structure of the country which could ultimately lead the nation into a stable and sustainable democracy?

This will be a complex and complicated process entailing fundamental understanding of reactionary political forces and how these forces operate in defeating the nationalist objectives of revolutionary movements.

In the case of Pakistan, the underlying problem has been its ruling elite’s historical alliance with the US and the West, most specifically Britain. Consequently, the rulers of this country, both civilian politicians and military dictators, have always intertwined Pakistan’s domestic politics with the demands and geo-global objectives of their powerful external partners. But this relationship of “alliance” with the US-West has been of a personal nature – the US and Britain have endlessly helped maintain their friends in political power in Pakistan, undermining the development of a truly democratic culture and structure in the country.

No wonder then, for instance, some of the Prime Ministers in the early era of Pakistan’s independence were US-backed. Ayub Khan was on the CIA payroll. Zia Ul-Haq initiated “jihadi” warfare in Afghanistan on US urgings. When Benazir’s first government was dismissed, she inquired from the American Ambassador if it was true. Pervez Musharraf shoved the country into a wasteful and illegitimate conflict in Afghanistan and declared a destructive war against his own people on a few minutes call from Washington. Nawaz Sharif went back on his promise to boycott national elections under Musharraf when Washington told him to do so. Benazir Bhutto became the prime architect of the NRO which was brokered by the US and the UK. Zardari, the incumbent president of Pakistan, has allegedly sought US help in keeping himself and his government in power now and for the next five years. Yousuf Raza Gilani has reportedly made secret commitments and agreements with the British Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street on restoring Nato supply routes in exchange for British support of his Prime Ministership and the incumbent regime. Hina Rabbani Khar, the young Foreign Minister, is said to be a Hillary Clinton nominee promoting American agendas. And so on and so forth; the list is exhaustive.

Pakistan can no longer afford to be an ally and a partner in the US-Nato neo-imperialist neocon ideological capitalist agenda for a New World Order for which Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have been brutally and savagely raped militarily and politically—and other Muslim nations are likely to be under future assault.

What Pakistan needs today is a national leadership not for sale to foreign powers. A leadership of credibility, personal integrity and absolutely devoid of personal self-seeking interests. A moral-ethical leadership. A leadership that intellectually and in principle, enforces the “conflict of interest” notion and is dedicated to serving the nation selflessly. A leadership that comes to power not on the political, coercive and manipulative backing of the US and Britain, but on the strength of the masses’ support.

Pakistan needs a “qalandar,” a political “saint” to lead the nation out of its present quagmire – out of its present foreign alliances – towards becoming an independent, self-reliant, self-respecting sovereign nation.

Who will be that political “saint,” the political selfless “qalandar”?

The answer is: The One who will mobilize the entire nation NOW! 

It is about time for being aware of somebody else’s pain – the pain of 180 million suffering Pakistani people.

n    The writer is UAE-based academic policy analyst, conflict resolution expert and the author of several books on Pakistan and foreign policy issues. He holds a doctorate and a masters degree from     Columbia University in New York.