Mar 3, 2009 - published work    36 Comments

The school of political nonsense

Traditionally, students of politics are taught courses such as political theory, international relations, comparative politics, constitutional law, national politics, institutionalism and diplomacy among others. But in Pakistan’s case, most of these courses would be outmoded. Here, in this great country of ours, constitution and law is more of a joke. There is no rhyme, reason or theory to the politics on display and the less said about institutionalism, the better.

As a sophomore student, I remember studying courses on political ethics and the art of diplomacy, but in the current Pakistani political scenario, those courses are not only redundant, but the universities may be accused of imparting foreign influences to our students. If a university starts running a politics program to teach politics – Pakistan style – modern and newly-devised courses such as Political Opportunism and Political Anarchy would be more appropriate and students will have plenty of live examples to research and document. If a university takes this plunge and redesigns its curriculum, there are certain courses that would definitely make the final cut.

Instead of institutionalism, universities here should start teaching a course on Political Dynasties which could be popular in neighboring countries as well. Bhuttos of PPP are the most famous example although Khans of ANP are not far behind. The party has been passed on, from father to son, for three generations (from Ghaffar Khan to his son Wali Khan and now over to his son Asfandyar Wali Khan). Though these parties may be the pioneers taught about in Political Dynasties 101, PML-N and JUI – F takes the cake as the parties that are formed around the names of their leaders. It is open to wonder what will happen to these fine political institutions if there is no Nawaz Sharif or Maulana Fazlur Rehman around to ably guide and lead them.

Another popular course suitable for politics in Pakistan would be Political Suicide 101. We have all witnessed how former president of the country, Pervez Musharraf, was responsible for his own ouster. The civilian politicians couldn’t harm him much in the first eight years of his rule, but as soon as he overestimated his grandiosity and dismissed the CJ in an unceremonious manner, he brought about his own demise. Z.A. Bhutto is another fine example of political failure about whom, a certain Mr. Rushdie in his book Shame wrote: ‘Some men are so great that they can be unmade only by themselves.’ The current president, it appears, has not learned from the history and is hell-bent on making the same mistakes. Although he is not half as great as Bhutto and not as powerful as President Musharraf was in his heyday, it looks more likely that he too will be undone by himself.

Political Anarchy would be another appropriate course for students of politics in Pakistan. Currently, the biggest proponent for the school of Political Anarchy is Mr. Nawaz Sharif, who openly calls for civil disobedience among the civil servants and is aiming to push the country into further chaos. His reasons for doing so are, of course, purely personal and can only benefit him and his party. The rest of the country can go to the dogs. Meanwhile, Jamaat-i-Islami, with its history of long marches, remains the traditional flag-bearer of Political Anarchy.

The course on Political Authoritarianism has many contenders in Pakistan. The latest in line is the recently-deposed chief minister of Punjab, who, after assuming office, demolished the democratic local government set up and brought back Babu Raj to run a highly centralized government in Punjab. Previously, just about every leader who assumed power tried his/her hands at Political Authoritarianism; one such leader also wished to be called Amir-ul-Momineen before he was unceremoniously removed and relieved of his ‘Heavy mandate’.

The undisputed pioneer in the field of Political Communication has got to be MQM supremo Altaf Hussain. Hussain has been commanding his party in absentia since the early 90s, when he moved to the UK to live in self-imposed exile. Mr. Hussain has been taught as a case study in communication in modern politics in a few British universities and could be a good source on all methods of political communications. After all, he is the man who is said to be in control of a city as huge and chaotic as Karachi sitting in his office in London.

The other courses which can be taught as electives are courses on Political Inactivity, Political Nuisance and last but not the least, a course on Political Nonsense. After all, adherents of schools of Political Nonsense abound in just about every political party, big or small, in Pakistan.

Originally published at Dawn.com
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36 Comments

  • Good stuff…

  • Brilliant!! *claps* Oh how I so personally despise Sharif clan for truly ruining the country and redefining the term nepotism…

  • Brilliant.

    I’d love your take on political inopportunity – that talent for inventing completely bizarre crises out of thin air. We get a lot of that over here! (-:

  • Entertaining, witty, incisive.

    It’s not teddibly reassuring to remember that the Mad Pakistani Political Tea Party includes nukes and the ability to deliver them.

    On the other hand, we Americans, with the largest nuke stockpile in the world, somehow got through 8 years with Dick Cheney’s mad trigger finger hovering near the red button. We, and the rest of the world, can only shake our heads with relief that Bushco (how did they steal the elections in the first place?!) merely destroyed Iraq, the U.S. Constitution, and the foundations of American & world finance, rather than the world itself.

  • There is not enough time to find fault with politicians.

    It is finally up to the Pakistani people to decide on what kind of country they want to have for the future of themselves and their children.

    If people want something badly, they can change it by themselves. Politics doesn’t mean just elections, and they don’t mean muzzling around with guns.

    Politics means patience and willingness to listen to other people speak without resorting to violence.

  • Nice post here!

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    http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

  • Wow, your country and mine have so much in common! 🙂

    Cheers,

    Quirky Indian

  • ROTFL even if it not so funny anymore!

  • You seem to be going down the road of Nadeem F Paracha who has lost it by now as his columns are rants only now…

    You let Altaf Hussain go. The only thing you could find as communication – which is a positive. Reminds me of the job interview training we all get. When asked ‘tell me your weaknesses’ you are told to tell them in such a way that it becomes a strength e.g. ‘i drive my subordinates crazy as I am a perfectionist’…

    With Altaf Hussain, the course in politics would have been ‘authoritarianism’ and no one in this country has been more authoritarian than him. You can disagree with the self styled Amir ul Momineen even if you are in PML-N but you dare not disagree with Altaf Hussain if you are in MQM.

    And what about UNsuccession planning in MQM. As soon as it appears that anybody can be Altaf bhai’s successor, he dies in some encounter..

  • Hi Tazneen,
    so you have a litttle crush for PPP.But is not nawaz right in protesting his disqualification by a judge who is himself an abomination?
    People have to protest and that chaos is part of democrasy.But the terrorists spoilt it by hitting the Srilankans on that day.Imran rants in India now that Srilankans were provided inferior security!!!

  • Ibrahim K,

    Thanks for your comments.

    I guess you are right, I did go easy on Altaf Hussain, but I have my reasons for that. You may not agree with me but they are still valid enough reasons for me.

    The first reason is, Altaf Hussain is still a regional player and I was writing this piece for a national newspaper with readership across the world. Secondly, he is such a caricature in real life; it is no fun to poke fun at him. You need people like Nawaz Shariff to poke fun at who take themselves so bloody seriously, it’s tragic.

    Last but not the least, I would support any secular party over the overt (MMA, PTI) and covert (PML-N and PML-Q) religious right wing nut jobs.

    MQM is the only political party in Pakistan that has the guts to stand up to Taliban threat; they took out a huge rally against Talibanization of the country and repeatedly called a spade a spade.

    Unlike so many Pakistanis who live abroad and lecture those who live in Pakistan about how they should be more patriotic and love Islam, I live in Karachi and under the clear and present threat of Talibanization. If Taliban take over my city, not only will I lose liberty, I will also lose my livelihood. I feel relatively safe against the threat of Taliban because of MQM and its strong presence in my city. I am sure they have a million and one issues and problems in the party and its administration, but in a country where religion has become a boogey, a secular voice needs to be cherished, even if it belongs to Altaf Hussain.

  • Captain Johann,

    Nah, I do not think I have crush on PPP, I think I despise Nawaz Sharif a little more. He is the man who invaded the supreme court back in 1990s and physically attacked judges now have the cheek to protest on account of independent judiciary?

    I am all for independent judiciary and lawyers movement was commendable but their biggest mistake was that they let good for nothing politicians latch on to the movement and damaged the good cause.

  • Tazeen:

    Good post. Obviously some jokes were lost on me as an Indian. But, on a slightly serious note, has this got something to do with being a republic. Democracy without a republic means little. IMO that unless any state goes beyond being a mere democracy to being a republic, it won’t make any difference to the politics or society.

  • Ibrahim,

    Although my knowledge of current Pakistani politics is limited, I couldn’t agree with Tazeen (urf Tazneen) more. Of all the Pakistani parties, the MQM has understood best the raison d etre of your country.

    Hades

    P.S: I have also recently become a fan of Nadeem bhai. I recently sat and read all of his articles on a website called Chowk. The man is quite, quite clever. I can’t see why you would dis him.

  • since politics in pakiland, and in most of the known world involves a fair degree of public speaking, you also need to include a course on political debate.

    i’m sure research on the speeches of chaudhry shujaat will turn up something of value.

  • Spot on!

  • It is interesting to see common people ‘fear’ civil disobedience.

  • Ibrahim,

    yeah, whats wrong with Nadeem Farooq Piracha. I think he makes a lot of sense.

    in case you do not notice, Tazeen’s column is called iRant which means she rants. You cant complain if she rants and get published for ranting. I personally like her ranting.

  • Our politics saddens the life out of me.
    its not even funny anymore, and its ‘us’ to be blamed.

  • Taking a political science course this semester I can’t agree more..arnt able to quote a single example from the pure land to any theory….& this is gettin really serious & depressin;-(

  • I really can’t fathom how Political Dynasties thrive and still we call ourselves Democratic. The Nehru Gandhi family in India is only one example. There are hoards of such MPs, MLAs who go and their childrens and grand children everyone gets to lead just coz. he’s from the family.

    Why only India and Pakistan, Even Bush’s claim to fame was his father. Not only that, some sections in the US media have already declared that one of Obama’s daughters will be the first woman president in the history of US.

    I guess, people biologically cannot understand democracy 🙂

    And ya, I guess Rushdie was apt about Musharraf. The path to disaster is illuminated by good intentions as they say…

    This is a great post, makes me understand a lot of references i’ve heard about Pakistani Politics.

    That’s why you featured in the Hindu and Zee News Tazeen. Great work.

  • A very good post.Thanks

  • Looking at the debate here on issue of PML-N and judges etc. My opinion is that in principle no one has any objection to “free judiciary”. Problem occurs when some of us try to demonstrate that its not about this serene principle at all. Its about Judges loyal to Raiwind and Judge loyal to Zardari.
    Right and some of our secular friends want us to accept that Justice Iftikhar will solve every issue or that he is a very conscientious unbiased judge. When this line of reasoning comes than some of us have to ask question
    1.Why he took oath of PCO
    2.Why he allowed Mush to amend the constitution
    3.Why he declared 17th amendment , PCO and sacking of judges legal
    4. When he was restored did he re opened and nullified all his previous decisions allowing military dictatorship?
    5. He took notice of NRO why he failed to took notice of Nawaz Mush deal?
    6.Why didnt he took notice of Akbar Bugti’s murder?
    7.Farah Dogar is such a big issue why not Arslan Iftikhar?

    I have no issues if you say Dogar is bad judge, must be removed. But Iftikhar is equally bad, just different political affiliation. But he is being shoved in our throats in name of principles. Unfortunately its not about principles at all. On judges issue Zardari and Nawaz are same both want their men to be judges.

  • Hades,

    whats with all the Indians who call me Tazneen? Is Tazneen a popular name in India?

    Xill-e-Ilahi,

    Thanks a lot for pointing out the oratorical skills of Chory saab of Gujrat. I promise that he shall get an honourable mention soon.

    Redkazim,

    Its not the civil disobedience that common folks like me are worried about. It is disruption of life and civil terrorism in guise of civil disobedience that we all have problems with.

  • Sheheryar Ali,

    you said all i have wanted to say?

    Why just stop at Farah Dogar, why not Arsalan Iftikhar and Maryam Nawaz who apprently secured third position when daddy was the prime minister. Can you imagine any progeny of Nawaz Shariff to be smart enough to secured a province wide position for SSC exams?

  • Brilliant, brilliant coherent missive. How do you do it? consistently good work every time. ..
    FYI Maryam Nawaz was my senior in school and was awful at studies. Daddy was prob smart enough to know that she couldn’t get through without his help!!!

  • Hi Tazeen, first visit, here. This was a good read. Political Dynasties are a trouble in the both side of borders. Also, political ethics seems like a far stretched dream for all of us.

  • Actually, before I came to your blog, I had never heard the name Tazneen. I’ve heard of Tasneem, though.

    Of course, Tazneen is a lovely name and you should be proud of it.

  • ^^^^^

    just for the record, its TAZEEN (without an N in the middle)

  • ^^^^^

    And just for the record that was SARCASM (without an N in the anywhere).

  • And I had heard of the name Tazeen before, so there!

  • Good post. I agree with what you’ve said.

  • in all this chaos one often forgets the role that Jamat-e-Islami are playin. By the looks off it they are the only party who operates in a democratic way, now many might say that it is Qazi Hussein alone but u all are wrong.

    None off Maulana Maudoodes son have any key position in the party. Along with that Jamat-e-Islami has a very active social programme in place which educates hunders of thousands of kids along with providing many citizens off this selfish nation with employment.

    They dont like to either brag or use force hence they are considered as failed politicans. Any questions fire back freely

  • The gandhis of our time are a legend.. infact its more of a feudal setup 🙂

  • political opportunity is way cool

  • there is no sharafat in the shareef clan so my vote is out already

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