Political Parties – Idealism, Pragmatism and Disloyalty

Major Political Parties in Pakistan

Pakistan is a vibrant, prolific, and dynamic country, whilst simultaneously being full of contradictions, skulduggery, and corruption.

Pakistan was created in 1947 as a Muslim majority nation from the larger India when Britain was ousted as the colonial power, whilst Hindustan was created as a Hindu majority country.

Although both nations were created on religious principles, they have both evolved and developed largely as nations with a secular pseudo-capitalist system of government.

Hindustan (India) has been ruled by secular political parties such as Gandhi’s Congress party, throughout the twentieth century, but recently has been ruled by a popular Hindu fanatical party, BJP for the past twenty years or so, which has caused death, and destruction of Muslim, Christian, and Sikh communities. The BJP has installed a populist Hindu philosophy and system of governance skewed towards the Hindu population, whilst stigmatizing and criminalizing the minorities. The minorities in India are living in a fear of death, with their properties being destroyed, and burned and Hindu mobs roaming the country killing innocent families. Islamophobia is on the rise and legal constitutional amendments are taking place to ensure minorities lose rights to property and citizenship.

Pakistan has also been ruled by secular governments since its inception, both civilian and military. It has found stability and steady economic growth under secular military governments, whilst the civilian government’s rule has been unstable, with uneven growth, full of corruption leading to political anarchy, especially between the two main political rival parties PMLN and PPP. Since Benazir Bhutto, the leader of the PPP was assassinated in 2007, the PTI of the popular Imran Khan has become the main rival for the PMLN.

Pakistan continues on a haphazard political path full of instability, with a few corrupt families and politicians ruling the country like a Raj. 

Since the partition, Pakistan has been controlled by a number of feudal landlord families and dynasties. These families have established political parties such as the PPP, PMLN, ANP, JUIF, etc where leadership is confined within the same bloodline, with successors being selected from the same family even if they have no suitable skills, qualifications, and experience. The only exception is JI, PTI –  whose leadership is diverse, however, JI is almost nonexistent on the ground and PTI is relatively new.

Pakistan has gone through multiple phases of military rule (Ayub, Zia, Musharraf) and civilian governments (PMLN, PPP, PTI). The civilian rule is always followed by anarchy, incompetence, corruption, and infighting, which forces the military to step in to stabilize matters before handing the reins back. Recently, the PTI government was removed in March 2022  through a complex alliance between the opposition parties and overseas agencies due to disagreements on foreign policy. Pakistan under Imran Khan’s PTI was trying to evolve a neutral foreign policy rather than a pro-American allegiance that has existed since its creation.

The main politicians have a wide range of convictions and pending court cases relating to money laundering, bribery, tax evasion, deception, corruption, and much more. As a result the society, full of a large number of illiterate citizens, is easily manipulated and blindly follows politicians who have money and status, whilst others disengage completely, being disillusioned altogether.

Only a few parties or individuals have tried to raise the awareness of the people, but illiteracy and traditional baradari loyalties are preventing a quick breakthrough. Hence, the status quo is maintained.

A country created on the idealism of Allama Iqbal and Quaid e Azam, as a new society based on the Islamic values of the prophet Muhammad saws has failed to live upto expectations. In order to achieve these objectives, the religious parties have failed to provide any true political leadership, direction and guidance. The resource rich secular parties, the Muslim League and Pakistan people’s party have dominated governance but their capitalist hybrid views have led to a two tier society, dominated by the rich and the poor suffering as a forgotten underclass. PTI have recently tried to introduce a welfare state system but a divided political scene has led to more instability.

Pakistan is currently a divided society with no clear direction and guidance. The secular parties are trying to mould society towards a western capitalist model. The religious groups are disengaged from the modern youth and need to reconnect, and make faith an integral part of contemporary lifestyles. At the moment the majority are failing miserably. PTI are trying a hybrid model similar to Erdagon and Muhatir whereby Islamic values and modern living is being integrated to limited success.

Traditional islamic values and principles being integrated into a modern system of governance, the prophetic model is the requirements of our Deen and solution for humanity. At the moment it is a dream written about in books. No parties and groups have been able to present a cohesive succinct model at the societal level which has caught the imagination of the people. 

There is much work to be done against the liberal secular influences within our society. We all need to play a positive, constructive role in making a contribution in guiding our communities towards a contemporary version of a prophetic society.

Dr Ghulam Ashraf

Thinkers Forum international