Political parties are being controlled by a few fuedals in Pakistan. They always opposed democracy in Pakistan. If democracy is introduced, in a real sense, then these feudals will lose their power. The real power is in their hands. They are terrorists. Though President Pervez Musharraf was the general of Pakistan Army, the real power remained in the hands of others.
Discussing the situation of Pakistani politics after election, Daily Times wrote in its editorial that the decision taken by the Awami National Party (ANP) to choose Mr Amir Haider Hoti of the party’s ruling family instead of Mr Bashir Bilour for the post of chief minister in the NWFP has upset many among the party’s rank and file. In a parallel move, the PPP has decided not to nominate its vice-chairman Mr Amin Fahim as its candidate for the job of prime minister at the centre and the crown is now expected to fall to the share of a Punjabi from among three front runners, Ahmad Mukhtar, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Yusuf Raza Gilani. This was perhaps not stated earlier because the martyrdom of Ms Benazir Bhutto had filled the people of Sindh with a sense of grievance which could be assuaged only through the nomination of a Sindhi prime minister. Until now, when the voter in Pakistan has chosen the PPP, he has subconsciously voted for a prime minister from Sindh.
But in the present case, it is being said that the Punjabi prime minister would be a stop-gap personality obliged to step aside in favour of Mr Asif Ali Zardari after he has fought and won a by-election in Sindh. It was also apparently argued that a Punjabi prime minister would help strengthen the party in Punjab where it is weak.
Whatever may be the real story the fact remains that the two parties in Pakistan have taken decisions that emphasise their identity as “family parties”. When discussing party politics on TV, most guests tend to decry the dynastic nature of our political parties. This is understandable because being controlled by one family and its succeeding scions doesn’t look very democratic, if we are constantly to accept Western democracy as our model. Looking at the political scene in South Asia, however, one has to acknowledge that most political parties that have kept the democratic torch burning have been family parties. In societies still deeply involved in such informal institutions as biradari and ethnicity that tend to freeze the vote, “family control” is still the best guarantee for a party’s survival.
There are demerits too which can’t be ignored. Family parties tend to behave like individuals, freezing disputes into vendettas and showing inflexibility where suppleness is required. While one accepts that without the Bhutto family the PPP would have splintered and disappeared — just as the splintered Muslim League would have disappeared if it hadn’t given birth to family-directed “N” and “Q” Leagues — we must state that some of the current inability to compromise after the February 18 elections is also owed to this “personalisation”. The memory of each party is actually the memoir of its lineal chief.
In the coming days, when a PPP government takes all the tough decisions relating to the national economy, the sediment of old dynastic memories is going to hurt the country through another bout of instability. Mr Zardari may find that the PMLN supporting it “from the outside” is going to reap indirect political advantage by not being inside the cabinet; and that its government in Punjab can shift the blame easily to the PPP at the centre when hard times descend on the people there. By insisting on reinstating the old Supreme Court, Mr Nawaz Sharif may be thinking of making things tougher still for an incumbent PPP, knowing full well that the latter doesn’t feel easy with the old judges.