In Samuel Beckett’s play, “Waiting for Godot”, the characters sit and wait for a man named Godot to arrive. They don’t know what he looks like or how to recognise him, but still they sit waiting. At the end of the play they even consider suicide because still he has not arrives, but they just keep waiting. Though he surely did not intend it, Beckett has written a brilliant description of the Pakistani political mindset.
The disconnection between people and politics is illusory, and we really know that. Politics affects everything in our daily lives – traffic problems, the price of foods, getting a job, getting a visa…staying alive…And yet we have treat politics like a dirty word, and the politicians who practise it like dirty crooks.
But it’s too easy to simply call people crooks while we are just sitting around doing nothing. We’ve said it here before that we all have to get more personally involved in politics and stop being content with complaining. Hassan Iftikhar makes the case beautifully in Daily Times today also.
The solution for Pakistan’s conundrum only lies in strengthening the political parties so that the political system gets strengthened as a by-product. It is time that people with opinions on the outside join political parties so that their dissenting voices can be heard at the party meetings. For those willing to venture towards the alter of politics, there is a wide range of choices: for the covertly religious right there is the choice of any branch of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML). For the overtly religious far right there is the Jamaat-e-Islami. If you hold socialist ideologies, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is a safe bet. If covert use of muscle is your fancy then the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) is your destination. If you are ‘bigoted’ you can sign up with Imran Khan’s fanciful circus, or if you are the really the ‘enlightened moderate’ kind, Mush has just launched the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML).
But this time, the squabbling masses have to take some responsibility for themselves, they need to be stakeholders in the political process and political parties because minority views in political parties may not be heard, but majority opinion is very hard to ignore — even for the dynastic leaders of our political parties. The current dilemma of our political parties is the lack of committed workers and second-string leaders with any vision for the future.
It’s easy to complain about political dynasties if your political activity never leaves your own drawing room. Perhaps the leadership of the political parties does behave like family business in some regards, but if there is no one else willing to take the responsibility, what choice is there?
We cannot continue to wait for someone else to take care of our problems. There is no political Mahdi who is coming to end all corruption, cronyism, and nepotism. We can sit around waiting all we want, but all we are doing is reinforcing the same political dysfunctions that we are complaining about also. It is up to us to take care of ourselves. No one will do it for us.
And we must not contemplate political suicide by calling for some ‘patriotic generals’ to step in and make yet another coup. It will not be America or the Taliban or the Army or anyone else who can fix the problems in our villages, our cities, and our government. Nuclear weapons cannot feed our families, and medieval clerics cannot improve our economy. We have won the right to govern ourselves through incredible sacrifice. Do not let that sacrifice go to waste.
We cannot complain that there is no hope of getting some influence in politics if we never even try. That sort of fatalism is the attitude of serfs. We are not serfs, we are free men. We must act like free men. We must take responsibility for ourselves and stop Waiting for Ghafoor.