Too often discussions about politics center on an idealist way of thinking. People want perfection, and are impatient to receive it. But in the same way that we struggle to live our lives according to Sunnah knowing that we can only try and never achieve perfection, same applies to politics. While it is good to know the ideal and to strive for it, we must do so with our feet firmly planted in reality.
According to a talk by Mr. Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri (PML-Q), “Realism and idealism both are important in the formulation of foreign policy.” This is correct, and it should be taken to heart by those who call for such idealist-only policies as cutting ties with the West and negotiating with Taliban. Perhaps in an ideal world this type of policy would end with success, but in the real world that we live in, it would surely end with disaster.
Rather, it is necessary that we approach foreign policy with a healthy pinch of realism. Jihadi militants are not going to fade away if the Americans are sent packing – they are going to declare victory and begin their march on Islamabad to force a government and laws that do not reflect the will of the people.
What we must do, then, is to help the Americans understand the reality here which they seem to have some trouble comprehending, and work together in partnership to achieve the goals that we both share – ending the terror and violence of jihadi militants and allowing the American troops to go home leaving peace and stability rather than chaos and violence.
But this rule must be applied not only in foreign policy as stated by Mr. Kasuri. Also it should be applied to domestic policy. While it would be ideal that there is never any bribe taking or favours or questionable degrees, the same is not realistic with the blink of an eye. If only angels were allowed in politics, we would have to dissolve the government for lack of personnel!
Of course, this is no excuse for corrupt behaviour or misrepresenting yourself. But it means that we must give time to allow the democratic process to work, and not simply wish for a ‘quick fix’ to all problems.
Same with food and energy scarcity. These are serious problems facing the people, but they cannot simply be wished away. If we get rid of every politician who does not deliver 100% food and energy security in the first year or two of his term, we will never make any progress. It will be like entering a race and taking one step forward and then returning to the start line after every step.
Politics and progress are not simple things, and wishing for the ideal is easy – it is achieving it that is hard. We should always keep our eyes on the ideal, but we should allow our minds to work in the realm of reality. Only then we will move closer to the ideal.