By Syed Arif Hussaini

Resistance to Change in the System

July 08, 2005

While the people at large, both in and outside Pakistan, realize that their lot cannot improve without basic changes in the prevalent socio-political system, the beneficiaries of the existing system – the ruling elite - have been, for decades, resorting to various subterfuges to avoid any change abridging their hold.
They have been all along staging civilian and military farces to convey an impression to the downtrodden that a shift of power from the hands of the man in shalwar-kameez to the man in uniform or vice-versa is a precursor of basic changes in the structure. The pendulum of power has swung four times over the past four decades, but the lot of the common man has only gone from bad to worse.
Presenting the devolution of power to elected officials at district level, President Musharraf had said:
Unfortunately for us the place of the departing colonial power was taken over by a privileged class. Enough is enough. The time has come for a change. This government is determined to restore to the people the right to rule themselves.
Let us also recall here the words of Nawaz Sharif in the speech inaugurating his second term in the spring of 1997. “Our country has been ruthlessly robbed for half a century. Enormous amounts of money were borrowed blindly and squandered on personal luxuries…They mortgaged the national interest to such an extent that we are not free to make our own budget… Our donors order us around…Our own rulers have plundered us in ways that even the enemy would not practice in occupied lands. What sort of freedom is this? It is time for us to stand upon the ruins of the last fifty years and pledge that we shall take back our freedom.”
The identity of thoughts is not accidental. It makes sense only when viewed from the perspective of the common man. Both are, more or less, hoodwinking him, putting him under the anesthesia of sweet promises. The land reforms of Ayub Khan and Z.A. Bhutto scratched only the surface.
After Gen. Musharraf took the reins of power, some 40 political parties of all hues and pursuits from the socialists on the extreme left to the religious bigots on the right, from the self-acclaimed ‘mainstream parties’ to those surviving on letter-heads only, assembled in Lahore to submit a resolution to the man in uniform who had hijacked power six months earlier, to hand it back to them. The late Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, the Don Quixote of Pakistani politics, is credited with arranging the assemblage.
What this exercise amounted to was reflected in its resolution. It submits, in essence, to the military ruler to remain within the timeframe of three years given to him by the Supreme Court instead of entertaining visions of a ‘decade’ or twelve years of ‘reforms’ of his earlier incarnations. In other words, there was little objection to the military takeover as such but only to its likely prolongation beyond the three-year period.
Objections to the army takeover have generally come from foreign powers. Within the country, it was welcomed and celebrated as a relief from the clutches of self-serving, civilian autocrats.
The political luminaries could hardly question the man in uniform. For, the performance over the earlier ten years by both Benazir and Nawaz Sharif had little to flaunt. Rather, the miasma of corruption of the duo – the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum - smelled to the sky. Both were convicted in courts of law on corruption charges. Yet, their parties had declared one the chairperson for life and the other president of his party for an indefinite period. Naturally, the change in the Political Parties Act (1962), disqualifying them from holding party positions after convictions in courts of law, has been rejected by all major parties! What is the value of such a rejection, one wonders.
More important is the fact that the armed forces comprise perhaps the most important component of the triumvirate that rules the country, that is: (1) the military and civil bureaucracies, (2) the feudal aristocracy, and (3) the four dozen or so rich families whose wealth is mostly ill-gotten (for details see Shahid’s book “Who Owns Pakistan”).
The very title “Nawabzada” of the convener of the conference symbolized the nature and character of the Lahore assemblage. The rural aristocracy, the so-called ‘feudal lords’ have remained, from the colonial times, the henchmen of all the governments of the day. Their right to rule over their fiefs is based on their hereditary claims, irrespective of how obnoxious their conduct and how ignorant their minds.
The dynastic system was condemned and abolished throughout the world long time ago. India abolished it directly after independence.
Unfortunately, the founding fathers of Pakistan, the two Quaids in particular, died within a few years of independence and could not attend to this malaise.
The success of feudalism in maintaining itself at the helm of affairs, in defiance of the law of meritocracy, has rubbed off on all other sectors of society and given rise to what is called the feudal spirit. The nova riche dress, talk and even walk with the typical swagger of the feudal lords. They travel in Pajero jeeps and are accompanied by a team of armed bodyguards.
The stalwarts of the PPP who do not tire of masquerading as champions of the poor and the instruments of change, have themselves elected Benazir as chairperson for life of the party. That speaks volumes about the depth of the roots of feudalistic values permeating the society.
The consensus of the PML leaders on maintaining Nawaz Sharif or his brother as their chief reflects the same resistance to change.
Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s concern for the welfare of her husband is quite understandable but the congregation of even the veteran PML leaders around her can be appreciated only when viewed from the feudalistic precept of inheritance. Similarly, the sudden eminence in the PML hierarchy of Ijazul Haq is ostensibly a mind-teaser. He is a middle-rung former banker and the son of an ex-president and is reported to have come into a lot of money. That is all. But thanks to the inheritance-based system, he managed to become the senior vice-president of the PML.
Benazir must be hoping to remain the chairperson of the PPP till her son, Balawal, grows up and is ready to take over the leadership from her.
The group of religious parties, the MMA, has been playing its traditional role of providing religious crutches to the ruling sultan or a military or civilian dictator. They have served to preempt any other sector’s role in street agitation.
The military government, one regrets to notice, has been tinkering with the system, particularly the hold of the feudal barons, despite its claims of revolutionary steps.
Mir Zafrullah Khan Jamali, the military-blessed Prime Minister, in his very first address to the parliament assured the landlords or their surrogates sitting there that for the next five years there would be no land reforms!
Sheikh Rashid, the government spokesman, acknowledged recently that the government had done nothing in respect of land reforms.
Such a resistance to change in the face of mounting frustration among the masses, owing to the growing pangs of poverty, might invite the extremists to take the lead and cause a havoc in the society. The outcome of the chaos may not be something the founding fathers had visualized. Of course the self-centered triumvirate is handicapped by a limited vision and a desensitized mind.



Desire and the Culture of Instant Gratification
March 23 - Memories & Nostalgia
Deeper Malaise of Pakistan Polity
BJP’s Debacle in the Battle for Ballots
Feudalism’s Aversion to Education
Forgetfulness -a Prank of Old Age or of Hyperfocus
The Taliban and Beyond
Meetings of World Economic Forum and Its Counterweight
BJP Fails Again to Frame Pakistan
Indo-Chinese Relations in Perspective
Taj Mahal and Indo-Pakistan Standoff
Grandma, Grandpa
'The Clash of Civilizations' : A Questionable Thesis
In the Gadgeteer's Dreamland
Emergence of MMA on Pak Political Landscape
Chechnya and Moscow's Hostage Crisis
Turkish Elections in Historical Perspective
Iraq's Oil Wealth
America: A Nation on Wheels
"Jinnah & Pakistan" - A Worthwhile Book
Afghanistan Merits More Attention

The Siren Song of Sale and Savings

In Memory of Dr. Hamidullah

Tackling Murphy at the Airport

Musings of a Superannuated Man

US Economy: Will Bush's Plan Work

Tempo of Life in America

The Genius behind the Mouse

The Media Mogul Who Manipulated Men and Events

Hearst and Disney: A Comparative Study

Nothing but the Truth

War on Iraq Imminent and Inevitable

Mahathir's Interesting Views

Portents of a New World Order

March 23 - Memories & Nostalgia

Rachel Corrie & the Spotted Owl

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The American Nice Guyism

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On a Visit to Canada after Half of Century

Some Legal Aspects of the Iraq War

Bureaucratic Antics

Rhode Island: An Oxymoron, a Paradox

The Mystique of California

Comic Operas in Islamabad & in Texas

Khyber Knights: A Fascinating Book

G-8 Summit Skirts Touchy Issues

In Memory of a Versatile Genius

Hillary Clinton's Cleverly Crafted Book

Chitranwala Katora and Chutkiyan

The Yak Shows : The Trash Talks

The Giants of Sequoia National Park

Reflections on Pakistan's Independence Day

Aziz Kay 'Sifarati Maarkay And Mujtaba Kay 'Safarnamay'

California's Political Circus

Lali Chaudhri's Provocative Short Stories

September: A Witness to Wars

America in the Quagmire of Iraq

Collapse of Another WTO Summit

A B C D: American-Born-Clear-Headed Desis

The Pangs of Waiting

Chechnya: A Ray of Hope for Peace

American Job Exodus to China

Islamabad : Its Beauty & Oddities

Welcome Proposals to Break Indo-Pak Logjam

Benazir's Case and the Corruption Scenario

Predicament of Pakistan's Polity

When Memory Starts Faltering

Terror in Turkey Unrelated to Nation's Cultural Conflict

The Siren Song of Sale and Savings

Wrinkles in US-China Relations

Wrinkles in US-China Relations

Saddam Crawls out of a Hole to Ignominy

Saddam Crawls out of a Hole to Ignominy

When Memory Starts Faltering

A Day in the Company of Mujtaba Hussain

Hyderabad Presents a Panorama of Progress and Change

Conflict over New World Economic Order

Pakistan's Nuclear Scandal

Urdu in Hyderabad Deccan

A Good Book on a Great Man

Gay Marriages in Vivacious San Francisco

The Passion of the Christ - A Well-Sculpted but Fuss-Causing Film

A Treat of Mujtaba's Wit and Humor

Predicament of Pakistan's Polity

The Murder of Sheikh Yassin: Israel's Hidden Agenda

Army Action in Pakistan's Tribal Belt

Would the NSC Buttress or Besiege Democracy?

Desire and the Culture of Instant Gratification

Swiss Court and the Benazir-Zardari Plunder Saga

Pakistan and the International Economic Forums

Why Do US Follies Keep Piling up in Iraq?

The Tamasha at Lahore Airport

Indian Elections and Subsequent Developments

Bush Flaunts His Faulty Policies on Iraq

Post Civil War America and Post-Independence Pakistan

Bureaucratic Antics

Tackling Murphy at the Airport

Asma's Fascinating Book on Islam

APPNA Qissa - 25 Years of Activities of Pak-American Doctors

Bureacratic Antics

Nightmare in Sudan

In Pursuit of Terrorists

Why Turkey's Entry into European Union Is Blocked?

Forgetfulness - A Prank of Old Age or of Hyperfocus

Kremlin's Inept Tackling of Chechen Extremists

Who Should Get My Vote In November Election?

Bush vs. Annan on Legal Status of Iraq War

Rethinking the National Security of Pakistan

The Brief Message

Desire and the Culture of Instant Gratification

Is Iran the Next Target?

Dollar vs. Euro -A Question of Hegemony

Zardari’s Release Indicative of Reconciliation?

The Siren Song of Sale and Savings

Christmastime – A Festive Occasion

Pak-China Ties Keep Growing Firmly

American Shopping Malls

Tsunami - an Asian Disaster

Dr. Cohen’s Thought-Provoking Work on Pakistan

Alice in the Freeland

Balochistan: Crisis & Conflict

Iran the Next Target, but

The Common Man

Chechnya: Chaos to Continue in the Caucasus

Global Warming and Emulators of the OstrichA

Treat of Mujtaba’s Wit and Humor

Reflections on the Idea of Pakistan

‘Engaging India’ - A Valuable Book by Strobe Talbott
Memories & Nostalgia

American Nice Guyism

Balochistan at the Verge of Revolutionary Changes?

India as Seen by Early Muslim Chroniclers

India, China Leading a Resurgent Asia

The Pain at the Petrol Pump

Mujtaba Husain - a Humorist Par Excellence

Musings of a Superannuated Man in America

The Pangs of Waiting

Chaos and Killings in Uzbekistan

Prospects of the Pain at the Petrol Pump
French Voters Reject Proposed EU Constitution

Why Turkey’s Entry into European Union Is Being Blocked

What Ails Thee, My Native Land?

The Deeper Malaise of Pakistan’s Polity

Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.