PML-N - 2013 Manifesto (Conserving Apathy) - Pakistan

PML-N - 2013 Manifesto (Conserving Apathy)

Posted by Aneela Shahzad on

In this series of write-ups, aimed at analyzing the core agenda of the three main parties, the idea was not to essentially condemn the parties on the false, unfulfilled promises they have been making; we realize that any party may be representing the hopes of many in the populace, so we leave the high colored promises to the judgment of the voters. But we deem it necessary to scrutinize the basic ideology they work on, so that when we are voting for them, we should be sure what we are voting for.

PML-N vows to be the largest conservative party of Pakistan, but what exactly it vows to conserve, is unclear. Does it vow to conserve the Islamic ideals upon which the Muslim League of 1947 pledged its members before having them inducted in the party, or does it vow to conserve the status-quo, whatever it is?

As we did for the PPP, it would not be a bad idea to start the history of PML-N from the Charter of Democracythat was signed between Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, in 2007, in London; whereof, in compliance to his foreign mentors, he signed away whatever little dignity he upheld as a Pakistani Muslim before that time. A party known for its Muslim identity, for its boldness in rejecting the IMF, for taking up projects like the Motorway and the Nuclear Tests; on that day signed an agreement pledging that it would forsake all that it was supposed to stand for in the name of ‘Islam’, for now upholding the slogan of Democracy. It would have been appropriate to have taken out the word ‘Muslim’ from the party name, when they signed on these words of the CoD:

“Noting our responsibility to our people to set an alternative direction for the country, saving it from its present predicaments on an economically sustainable, socially progressive, politically democratic and pluralist, federally cooperative, ideologically tolerant, internationally respectable and regionally peaceful basis in the larger interests of the peoples of Pakistan; to decide once for all that only the people and no one else has the sovereign right to govern through their elected representatives, as conceived by the democrat par excellence, Father of the Nation Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

Now only the blind man is unable to sense the Liberal/Secular diction being used here in the above para. They pledged in this covenant that they would abandon anything to keep Democracy going, be it our Faith, Islamic Identity or Islamic Nationhood; but in their place they would definitely be liable, to be:

“…honoring international contracts, laws/covenants and sovereign guarantees, so as to achieve a responsible and civilized status in the comity of nations through a foreign policy that suits our national interests…”  Be these contracts man-made, or essentially supporting the Western belief-system.

Under the auspice of this CoD, was construed the PML-N, 2007 Manifesto, wherein Nawaz Sharif records his statement in the words: ‘…PML (N) would like to unfold various facets of its manifesto keeping in view theCharter of Democracy.’ It also has an added Vision Statement saying, ‘Today, justice must once again be placed at the center of our definition of good life – justice for all Pakistanis, including women, minorities, and all vulnerable groups. Without independence of judiciary and rule of law no society can survive. The society must also free its citizens.’ This last sentence is baffling; free its citizens of what?

It seems evident that the secular approach is being applied here upon that of Islam, wherein religion is overpassed as a matter of unconcern in all governance, only taking it into account as an inevitable disease of the society that should be ‘tolerated’. It can be assessed that the one word ‘Islam’, that includes a universal conduct, bearing justice, a social contract, foreign policies and what not, is deliberately being ignored and perhaps taken as the disease ‘society must also free its citizens’ from.

The chapter on Extremism, in the 2007 manifesto, says: “…promoting the rule of law, tolerance and mutual respect in the country to overcome the sense of desperation which pushes certain segments of society towards extremism… Taking steps to mainstream the tribal areas into the political, economic and cultural activities of the country and accelerating the pace of economic and social development in these areas.”

Although tolerance and economic activities are progressive notions, but the issue herein is the narrative being built upon Islam as a source of extremism and divide, making Islam the red-herring, and altogether dismissing the real factors behind the terrorism and extremism in the certain factions of society, which were all external and foreign to us; therefore presenting a notion essentially unacceptable for an Islamic Democratic Republic, unless we were talking about a Democratic Republic of a people with  the disease ‘Islam’.

The same diction can be sensed in the chapter of ‘National Security and Foreign Policy’, of the same manifesto, where it is stated: “While actively supporting all UN and global initiatives for curbing the menace of international terrorism, Pakistan must seek to promote a just and fair international political and economic order, based on the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of peaceful co-existence.”

The rest of the manifesto, apart from the long list of unfulfilled promises, is a huge cry against martial law and military dictatorship and a portrayal of how democracy and only democracy is the answer to all our problems. The question that is raised here is an age-long one; the same question put up by thinkers and philosophers since ages, the same question that tempts them towards rejecting the whole domain of Science, when they ask: Does Science have the jurisdiction to answer the questions pertaining a ‘worldview’, embedded in human nature; too important for man, to be left unanswered; and too out-of-bound for science to endeavor into? The same question we have to put up for ‘democracy’; ‘is it a complete system? Does it answer all human needs? Is it enough to establish democracy, which was supposed to be a tool to establish ‘the will of the people’, but by first demeaning what the will of the people really is? It’s like buying a gun for protection, but having nothing to protect. It is like telling the people that because you gave us your votes, we are telling you now that ‘Islam’ is not your ‘will’, only the democratic-dictatorship is your will.

Thus we come to the point that the constitution or manifesto of a political party does not have to emphasis so much on the tool it will use to safeguard the will of the people, as much as it should clarify what it considers the will of the people to be, so that the people know for sure that this is the party that represents me/us; unless of course the party wants to replace religion altogether with this newly evolved scientific gadget of democracy.

One should also give a look to the ‘Constitution’ of PML-N, which surely one can say, stands in opposition to the ‘Constitution of Pakistan’, wherein the latter is drenched in the ‘Islamic’ perspective, while the former gives a cold-shoulder to that; it states:

“WHEREAS, after partition of India and the creation of Pakistan, the Council of All India Muslim League in its last meeting held in Karachi, December 14-15, 1947, resolved: “The Council now calls upon Muslims of Pakistan, and all other loyal citizens of the state, to work for an ideal, democratic state based on social justice, as an upholder of human freedom and world peace, in which all its citizens will enjoy equal rights and be free from fear, want and ignorance.”

Meaning that the Muslim League, having a century-long history of how it evolved on the idea that the Muslims of the subcontinent were a separate people from the Hindus and other communities, and needed their religious rights to be protected, and how they concluded that this was not possible without having a country of their own, suddenly changed on this eve of 1947, and the League declared as its solemn goal “the establishment of a ‘democratic state’ having nothing to do with ‘Islam’.”

Coming down to the 2013 Manifesto, which seems to be totally void of the mention of Islam or Quran or Allah, starting with a verse from Iqbal, definitely presenting change, but one which is directionless:

Uth ke ab bazm e jahan ka aur he andaz hai

mashriq o magrib mein terrey dour ka aghaz hai

As one goes through the many chapters of this Manifesto, one gets the feeling of going through a tragic tale of the many reasons of why in all the terms it has been in office, it has never been able to fulfill the promises it had been making. But as our analysis is not focusing on the promises, but only the basic ideology from which all thought is sprouting, we will tend to dismiss the repetition of the same fantasies they tend to throw as bait to catch their voters anew.

In his personal statement to the people, Nawaz Sharif says, ‘let’s spearhead as a moderate and modern welfare state with Islamic values, where everyone can live with equal opportunities, security and dignity regardless of religion, ethnicity or language’. In the chapter ‘Democratic Governance’ the commitment to the same CoD is reiterated, and the same wordings we copied above have been re-copied. In the chapter on Foreign Policy and National Security again, it counts the non-fulfillment of a ‘democratic, progressive, tolerant Islamic state’ as the reason why we are ‘in ‘a war within and isolated abroad’.

So the problem for the voters is not ‘to believe’ or ‘not believe’ in the colorful promises of the parties, rather it is to understand what the parties really believe in. Is it not these beliefs that lead them to remain quiet as the sovereignty of our soil and nation has been obliterated day and night by Drone strikes, in compliance with the UN/US/NATO/EU; is it not these beliefs that lead them to be quiet as Indian and Western culture are superimposed upon our pro-Islamic culture through all sections of Media, and as Liberal forces are allowed to distort our history; is it not these beliefs that make the opposition friendly, and ‘democracy’ the only thing not to be derailed from its right to be preserved, while the nation is lead into moral apathy and the status-quo is conserved?

Coming back to the promises; as an ending note, we need to be clear that any promises stand inapplicable unless a party gets a majority vote; if no majority is gained, all manifestos are left aside and every responsibility is laid on the center. Therefore, if they are to be realistic, they should make a manifesto upon how they will behave as an alliance/opposition, which is always the more probable case; and that would make their case more judge-able to the common citizens.

Perhaps in this scenario, the only choices we get to vote for – when we know that none of them represent our true ‘will’ – can only serve to save ‘democracy’, the tool and not ‘Islam’, the purpose. Thus the only god we will practically be bringing to power will be the ‘holy-cow of democracy’, which has not given us milk yet and has only grazed on our ripe fields for decades, and whose reigns, by some rule of evolution, always fall in the hands of those who need to fulfill vested interests.