Democracy..I do wonder about niggles

DemocracyIn the days post the elections in Pakistan, I wondered (like many) about the whole electoral process. This naturally raised question on the system of democracy itself and the pain one goes through to see it perform even at the present sub-optimal level.  Its not to say that we should get rid of democracy and experiment again; sixty plus years of that is enough. No! At the moment there is nothing which can viably replace a mass selection system – democracy. But, I honestly wish there was something better for mankind, which would take us to a higher level of humanity. Atleast, away from all this killing and infliction of pain on innocents.

So to my gripe. Allow me that indulgence. Below are some of the thoughts which make me wonder. 

 

My first niggle. We can vote for evil people – Hitler!- and it is my right to vote for this type in a democracy..where is the play of conscience? For those not aware, Hitler actually came to rule via the ballot box. There was much evidence that the man was evil or mad, but the Germany of 1933 wanted a strongman and got one. Much to the detriment of themselves and the world. They learnt 65 million deaths later.

 

People who are standing for elections, generally desire to be elected. This has huge psychological implications. Now they have a vested interest and are on the slippery slope of corruption. There is substantial research which backs this theory; desire for power itself is a form of corruption. So at least we should be allowed to view a psychosomatic profile of the candidates.

 

A criminal has the same authority as an upstanding member of society. Where is the justice in that?  So a criminal (convicted) can vote and displace people, as much as you an upstanding person can. It is possible that such a person will vote for one of their own ilk. Our natural sense of right agonizes at such an eventuality.

 

The inefficiency of the system…if I make tall promises and people vote for me, it will take years before I will be called to account. Years of corruption and inefficiency…damage may be huge, voters learning from previous mistakes can take generations. Education, common sense and wisdom become an imperative among voters. Hence education in democracies is so important, which alas we do not have.

 

Elections are an advertising game. As consumer companies use advertising to sell goods we do not need, so the candidate persuades you to vote for him/her, maybe on platforms which do not affect you at all. The science exists. Its all been refined and a good marketeer will get inside your brain and convince you, without you even realizing it.

 

Big money is a necessary game in democracies. Advertising requires lots of money, as does electoral visibility. This includes ground activation to be in touch with your electorate. A huge amount has to be spent on research to understand the electorate itself. And then the logistic costs of moving people on the day of the election is massive. Top it all, to manage all the above, a large organization is required, which requires funds. A good democratic choice cannot be put on the ballot paper, without large funding. Obama spent over $1bn to run his campaign in 2012. So then is this open to all and sundry?!

 

Then the awful nexus with capitalism. Democracy tends to be at its workable best, if it is a capitalistic society. This allows the rich to get richer and its not necessary that the poor prosper – however the middle class tends to improve marginally. In the US the divide has sharply increased and the top 1% wealthy have increased dramatically since 1980, while the poor and homeless numbers have skyrocketed.

 

Lastly close to us, the rigging..but a lot happens in many places. Whether it is by force, threats, systemic or fragmented, it happens. Last elections in Kenya resulted in genocide. In 2000, the US Presidential elections were hijacked. Against the actual voting numbers, which went to Al Gore…the other candidate Bush won. Talk to Karachites, Lahorites, or Abrar in PTI. The evil taste left after these events, makes one wonder. My own sense is that something which is achieved by subterfuge, will not be of benefit to anyone.

 ” Our little systems have their day;

They have their day and cease to be:

They are but broken lights of thee,

And thou, O Lord, art more than they.”

Tennyson 

My fervent wish is that we are able to refine this choice and selection process to the level, where we can say with pleasure, that democracy is really democracy. Inshallah. We need some form of harmony in this country.

* The democracy picture is taken from Wylio.com, a free picture site, and is owned by Dominic Alves.

A Quantum Leap of change in Pakistan

imagePost elections many younger people have felt dissatisfaction at the process applied during elections and (I fear) we face disenfranchising these people, who are part of the future of Pakistan. So, I have tried below to show them the philosophy of change and how what has happened in the last few days is a positive step.

A society is a web, connected, intermingled and when you move a small wheel, it will move a larger wheel and so move a still larger one and thus the societal machine will work like any other machine. Small movement, cause and effect translates into large changes over time. A small change now, leads to large change 30 years from now. An example; the creation of madrassas in the late 70’s is today a massive part of Pakistan’s social fabric.
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Thus  I watched with interest the changes which could allude to larger change, during these elections. Simple little changes.
  • young people participating
  • technology being used
  • innovative campaigning involving ground activation
  • people standing up for their legal rights
  • a self aware people
Some perturbing ones.
  • people voting more for local rights, federal consequences being less visible
  • a divide beginning to happen …so called educated v less educated
Where this change will lead to, I am not sure. As with any change and an unsure future, one is apprehensive. But change can occur in only three forms:-
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Miracle/disaster
This would be the most unplanned and therefore most change inducing. Miracles seem to have disappeared nowadays, but when they do happen they have far reaching effects. Thousands of years ago Hazrat Musa crossed the Red Sea and Pharaoh was destroyed, but we live the effects of that moment till today. I don’t think we should be awaiting a miracle, as we have been these decades in Pakistan. As far as disaster is concerned, a disaster has occurred several times in our history, like 2010 floods etc. Disasters can be a set back for years, or worse a culmination, thus causing great change. There is an impending feeling of doom in this country and a fear that disaster is approaching.  Disregard it!
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Revolution
Typically revolutions aim for utopia, they wipe out status quo and the new structures are set at utopian levels. Over time learning ensues and the revolution is institutionalized and disappears. Society starts reversing the effects of the revolution and it comes back to a more mid lane process..I don’t think we are ripe for revolution, as our belief platforms are too diverse.
China is a great example of the progressive effects of a revolution. Mao killed freely in the 40s-50s-60s. Later after his departure, in late 70s China opened up and the disciplines and hardships of Mao, led to a surge in the last 30 years.
Iran is a bad example of a revolution. A reversal of revolutionary zeal has led to a totalitarian state and the benefits of revolution have not transpired. Instead a bureaucracy has now replaced the zeal and it controls Iran. Similar events happened in the Soviet Union.
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Evolutionary Change
This has worked best over millenia of human development. Seemingly slow progress, but half a century on, a later generation looks back and says wonderingly, “look how that and that event has caused an evolution which has changed our lives.”
Evolutionary change can trend towards good, but as nations decline it can trend towards bad also. So in Yarmuk, Muslims won a hard fought battle and for the next 500 years dominated, as the way north and west was opened up. But Nero fiddled while Rome burned and while the Roman empire lasted almost 400 further years, but the decline was inexorable after that.
This evolutionary change is what I am talking about above. To all those who are upset at the elections, because there was a great deal of unfairness. “Wheels on wheels have been set in motion. Patience, this will deliver dividends and progression will happen. You watch. Be patient. Inshallah the wheels are in motion, your Pakistan will change.”

Our Leader

Our Leader

Close to Election Day of May 11th, we pine for a leader.  Never in history have nations built themselves into significance without a leader. Even with the best of systems, the need of a leader exists and without that the system falters. 

So when people say that Pakistanis should not wait for a leader, but move on and do things ourselves, sadly they are mistaken, it will not happen thus. We must, and Inshallah will, find a leader. Just have to try harder! I think we are close to it, Inshallah.

In looking for a leader, what are the sterling qualities which needs be exhibited, without which our leader will be another failure? Of course, for each their own, but a few basics just cannot be denied.

The leader should be a servant of the people. Our own Prophet (saw) has been described as such. Today this has become a ‘mantra’ in universities, who concentrate on this servant leadership role. A servant leader has empathy, feels the needs of people, resolves problems, motivates and thus achieves success. Just a humble servant leader!

Once the leader is humble and has no ego, it is likely their personal needs are low. If needs are low, then it is highly likely the leader will be honest. Our eyes just search the horizon for a leader who is honest. No looting the baitul-maal, no factories, no umrah and foreign trips on country account, no personal hidden foreign accounts. Just a plain honest leader, who is not motivated to build a fortune, and like Abu Bakr (ra), he will find the lowest paid, and then match his compensation to that person. Now would you not want such a leader?

So this leader then will be sincere. If there is no ego and no money, nothing but sincerity drives this person. I have written in the past on sincerity and taken the example of Umar bin Abdul Aziz, the Umayyad ruler, whose effects prevailed 500 years, though he ruled for less than three years(http://www.borderlinegreen.com/2012/05/22/what-price-sincerity/) . Sincerity ushers in forces which are not land locked and therefore difficult to rationalize. It also causes teams to form, who will sacrifice life and limb for the leader and nation. This is the sweetest, powerful force to be created. History has seen sincerity succeed eventually, sometimes as in Italy and Garibaldi it might take 150 years. But it happens.

Next is being visionary. The leader need not be creative, but will need to consult, understand and formulate a vision. The vision encapsulates our ideas and will bind us to a common theme. Without this understanding, no goal will be possible. Our leader plays a part of the visionary; a picture is painted, which entrances the population, builds its passion and makes it rise above the normal. The leader is therefore passionate, speaks well and is able to create faith and trust. The Quaid was just such a person.

Now we have a team; sincere and honest people at its helm and a leader who understands what the team/nation wants, we have a vision and a direction to take. Here now come the important implementation factors. Once in the seat of power, the leader needs rigor. Without this factor, no nation will be built. Cyrus spent a whole lifetime, in making the Persian Empire. As did Julius Caesar! The building phase requires one who can not only lead, but role up the sleeves and get into action themselves. Later when nations are built up, there is time enough for delegation, pomp and show, but early nation building requires participation and rigor. Honest diligence to get things done, barriers broken and the feeling of oneness created.

This leader will have further qualities. He/she will feel for the people and like many early Caliphs, would want to roam the streets at night. Now that’s not probable in today’s world. So, they will have myriads of trusted individuals who will give feedback that the people are happy, sad, in pain etc. Today it is possible by getting continuous independent research done, which will feed back to the leader, who will then try and tackle the on-going problems.

The leader will be an icon of justice. There are many in our history. Umar (ra) dealing lashes to his own son, Sher Shah Suri punishing his Muslim subordinate, as against a common Hindus traders claim etc. Justice is the basis of progress. It is the one implementable, which must not go wrong. If it does, we end up like we have today in Pakistan. No wonder that one of Allah’s name is Al-Adl. So this is a must for our leader.

Lastly our leader must be brave. There is no getting away with a leadership, which cannot take risks. Without risk nothing happens in Allah’s world. Everything stagnates! The leader must be brave, take decisions and we may even teeter on disaster, but that will be his/her calling. It may also require personal physical courage. Our history is full of these. Ali (ra), Babur, Khalid bin Waleed (ra), Ahmed Shah Abdali and myriads more. So our leader will be physically brave.

The eventual test will come, when power is achieved, as Inshallah it will. Ibn Kathir said 700 years ago, the great leader will not require guards and Muslims downfall will come when guards will be posted on their rulers.  Our leader will be able to live and work without guards!

Picture from Wylio (free site) belongs to Hamed Saber http://www.flickr.com/photos/hamed..http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

Letter to Pakistan

pak flag

Printed in Newsline Magazine – August 2012

Dear Pakistan,

I dreamt last night of a young boy who was cowering behind a trunk in a railway bogey. In the background, there were screams, gunfire and one could smell blood. Not to forget the broken bodies. They were everywhere! Then, the dream cut to another scene and suddenly this train arrived at a railway station, the young boy was lifted out of the bogey and there were shouts of relief, as others were also carried to safety. There it is, the signboard says Lahore Railway Station and is that not my father there lying on the platform in shock? He has survived but he has seen hell, my dear Pakistan. At the ripe young age of 14 he has seen hell. Awful dream and I woke with a start, in a sweat remembering those millions in 1947, who suffered just to be with you. Just to belong.

Years later when that boy had become my father, he told me the story. Of the great aspirations and love which went with the commitment to abandon all in India and migrate to Pakistan. For him the horrible events along the way, defined his love for you. It was worth it to give all that for a land where he would be free. Where he could live, marry, earn and not be considered lower than others. Not for skin, nor for sect or religion, nor for his language. He thought it was worth it, for the home this country gave to him for almost six decades. Right up to his last months, then a wasting disease took him to a more permanent abode.

I am so sorry Pakistan, because somewhere in the middle, while still loving and pining for you, I went away, I went abroad for long stints. Did not show the same dedication my father did. As justification I thought I shall earn and give back to my land. My commercial training and reasoning kicking in! Only, money never equates to action and sharing pain. When I came back, you had been robbed. I had left you undefended and they had come, raped and pillaged you and left you distressed. My fault. I did not consider that my home was worth raising my voice for.

Well I have been back many years now and have seen some light at the end of the tunnel. These young ones they are more like my father. They are ready to live for a cause. Oh I know you would say that the vast masses are insensitive and uncaring. But do not lose hope, my dear Pakistan. These young ones have a vision and a story they believe in and are beginning to awaken. The big, long slumber is over. They have a finger on your pulse, they know you are alive. My dear Pakistan, I feel you will finally get the leaders and people you deserve.

Inshallah.

Oh yes, I meant to write and say to you Happy Independence Day. A very Happy 65th Birthday!

Your hopeful citizen

Sarfaraz

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