A new game in the offing

The arrival of Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on the political scene of Pakistan is something that one cannot welcome with open arms as it perpetuates a political dynasty in a country that needs fresh blood. Bilawal represents a party that is sagging under its weight of many allegations. But there are many who pin their hopes on this young man at a time when Pakistan is being overrun by extremists.

These extremists have attacked democracy and have vowed to fight it. More recently, Taleban leaders came on TV to reiterate that they would enter negotiations but would remain opposed to democracy. If the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizbullah and Hamas are all working within a democratic framework, why then is the Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP) shy of it? The extremists know what they are talking about.

Our system of democracy suffers from two inherent weaknesses. One is that of political dynasties where offspring take over from where parent leaves. This is across the board in almost all our mainstream political parties. And the other is that of the almost complete domination of parliament by landowning families. They continue to suck the blood of the people as well as the state and give back nothing in return. The middle class is kept at bay.

Our landlords run this country as their personal fiefdom. They are a law unto themselves.
What can be more of a contradiction than the fact that many of those who sit in parliament also lord over tribal jirgas? Here, they dispense their form of justice through a completely
different system.

The murder of a young 20-year-old, Shahzeb Khan in Karachi last week by the scion of a landowning family is a case in point of how landlords teach lessons to people who question them. In this case, the murderer felt slighted because this young man had slapped his servant. The servant was teasing Shahzeb's sister. The police say that the murderer waited for the 20-year-old to come out of his apartment building and with the help of guards and a fellow feudal, shot him in cold blood.

This was done because the landlord wanted to redeem his honour. It's been a week and the police have yet to arrest this high-profile killer most probably, they never will. One is getting tired of these notions of honour and the excesses committed by these feudals in its name.

Shahzeb's case was highlighted because he lived in Karachi. Every year, hundreds of men and women are murdered, kidnapped, burnt, disfigured, dishonoured, beaten up and even buried alive by our landlords, who are bent on protecting their system of exploitation. Of course, there are some good people amongst the landlords. But It is not the people who are to blame rather than the system they have perpetuated.

One is also tired of these feudals whose entourages push your car off the roads. The police seem oblivious to their total disregard of the law. Their gun-toting guards bully law-abiding citizens. Their offspring pick on innocent children and get their guards to shoot them. It is the same degenerates that end up in parliament and more often than not, become ministers and even more. And then, we wonder why our country is going to the wolves.

Do not be fooled by their Western educated ivy-league returned children. They are also benefiting from the same exploitative system. So it is not a surprise that one of the first people the Taleban attacked when they entered Swat were the landlords. And in this, they rose to new heights of popularity.

The Taleban know what they have to do to win the hearts and minds of the people. And our government and ruling elite do not have the common sense to try and lessen the vice-like grip of the landlords on power. Pakistan continues to be sucked dry by them, who are aided and abetted by the military and civilian bureaucracies.

In all this, one can only welcome someone as unknown as Tahirul Qadri coming to the forefront and asking for a change of the system. And when he is joined by two parties that have a solid middle class appeal, then it seems that the cocktail has a lot to offer. It is an interesting twist in our politics.

Tahirul Qadri is being seen as anti-Taleban because of his opinions on suicide bombing. But there are many unanswered questions about this new player in politics. The timing is too right. One can only wonder what next.

The Express Tribune


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