Reality of Pakistan’s politics
Wednesday, May 08, 2013 – This election is about performance not liberal or right wing politics. The claims of three main political parties of Sindh being targeted for being liberals is realpolitik (politics of interests). Similarly, the right wing political parties are equally removed from their basic political vision or philosophy. The past five-year record of left and right wing political parties shows that they failed to serve the individual, democracy and the state. Politicians used democracy to serve personal interests at the cost of their voters and voter rights in modern state. They weakened the state and its institutions in the name of democracy but used it to protect their stakes. Pakistan has suffered huge losses in terms of economy, jobs and international standing due to failed foreign policy of the government and its allies.
Worker rights and protections have been pawned for vested stakes. The government, opposition and the state including judiciary failed to revive, uphold and strengthen unions. As a result, workers were denied their legitimate rights such as the right to negotiate wages. Parliaments passed minimum wage bills instead of linking wages to inflation, which allowed industrialists and businesses to rob the ordinary workers of their rightful wages, turning them into modern slaves forced to work long hours and work in poor conditions. The protectionist policy deprived workers of insurance, pensions and healthcare. Victims are still awaiting justice in many cases including workers of the Karachi garment factory fire, peasants including sugar and cotton farmers, etc.
Liberals have failed to protect individual consumer rights. Liberals failed to protect consumers from mafias including energy, food, pharmaceutical, trade, transport and so on. The families of 2 Islamabad airplane crashes and victims of $40 bn Karachi stock exchange fraud and fake drugs in Lahore are still waiting for relief. Oil companies charge international rates if it brings them profit but refuse to cut prices to avoid losses. The global oil prices are down by 20 percent currently but there is no reduction in fuel prices in Pakistan. Similarly, energy mafia is blocking adoption of renewable energy, coal, import of cheap gas, and development of indigenous oil and gas resources to protect its profits. In line with China and Germany, oil rich Gulf States are headed to generate 20% of electricity needs from renewable energy by 2020 to provide cheap electricity but our politicians have no plans to protect public and businesses.
Our political parties are responsible for political and economic challenges of Pakistan. Contrary to media spin that fuel prices are responsible for higher prices, economic slowdown and unemployment. Reportedly, the privatization of energy sector in UK has made cooking gas 10 times costlier, and gas companies are accused of cold-blooded profits from average household in UK (12 April 2013, the Guardian). It has led to a dangerous cycle where energy companies are raking in profits at the cost of national unity. Scotland as the largest provider of gas to the UK is demanding billions in compensation and the right to self-determination for not getting its due shares in the nation’s wealth pie along with control of its natural resources as welfare of its people.
Anti-state activities are an excuse to avoid electoral accountability. The energy sector of Pakistan enjoys windfall profits however, politicians leave Islamabad to deal with energy prices, shortages, and public anger. Despite getting billions of rupees in subsidies from taxpayer money, the rates of gas and electricity are rising. It has caused deep resentment in public, more unemployment, deindustrialization, adverse impact on value addition in agriculture sector, weakened overall economy and pushed the country towards a financial bailout package. But the politicians on the left and the right are unwilling to accept their failures and blaming others to avoid political accountability in the elections. The fact is not lost to voters.
Liberals have traded individual rights for personal gain. The modern state prides itself on upholding individual rights. But the silence of left wing politicians in Pakistan and their Western allies speaks volumes on continuation of state authorized phone hackings and their blocking. The cases in point are ongoing extra-judicial killings, use of drone attacks, missing persons, ghost detention centres, etc, our politicians are not ready to admit that they have spent taxpayers $100bn on fake war on terror, and that they are responsible for losing 50,000 innocent lives. The fact is that the liberals and the right wing politicians instead of standing up for the rights of their voters opted to benefit from the laissez-faire at home and globally, while the state(s) and its institutions including Judiciary continued to look the other way. Courtesy Pak Observer