Reshaping the Political Culture!

Wed May 22 2024
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Faisal Ahmad

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As the saying goes about politics attributed to Groucho Marx “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies”. This seems quite relevant to prevailing political culture. Exchange of harsh rather inappropriate words between a chief minister and newly appointed governor are the most recent examples. So is the case of highly irrational speeches at the floor of national assembly and chain of toxic press talks pouring in from ruling and opposition camps on daily basis.

Traditionally, politics is not a normal affair in Pakistan.  Abnormality attached to the word ‘Politics’ in fact reflects the accumulative impression prevailing in the public about the political leadership. In simple words, this impression is not pleasant, people have fair and justified reasons to be skeptical about the political class. A common phrase used in normal public discourse tells us all about it “Politics is nothing but lies and deceptions”. This ground perception is entirely different from the theoretical definitions and meanings of the word politics.

What Dictionary Tells Us About Politics

Following meanings extracted from Oxford dictionary are very informative and provide insightful variations of the word politics: –

One: “The activities associated with the, government of a country or area especially the debate between parties having power”

Two: “The activities of governments concerning the political relations between states”

Three: “The academic study of government and the state”

Four: “A particular set of political beliefs or principles”

Five: “The principles relating to or inherent in a sphere or activity, especially when concerned with power and status”

Six: “Activity is aimed at improving someone’s status or increasing power with an organization”

Meanings given in Merriam Webster dictionary are also very helpful in understanding the word ‘Politics’

One: “The art or science of government”

Two: “The art of science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy”

Three: “The art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government”

A brief explainer about this word given in Merriam Webster dictionary merits attention.  It explains “Politics is a multi-faceted word. It has a set of fairly specific meanings that are descriptive and non-judgmental (such as “the art or science of government” and “political principles”), but it can and often does carry a negative meaning closely related to these Political activities characterized by artful and often dishonest practices”.

Significant Wrongs with Our Domestic Politics

Fact of the matter is that politics across the Pakistan revolves around power centric maneuvers.  Consistency of political cadre in non-deliverance of the promised results is the real reason behind negative public perception. Same reasons have largely spoiled the democratic fabric of Pakistan.  Few of the relevant flaws in political culture cannot be rectified without the sincere intent of top tier leadership:

One: Decades long hereditary grip of political clans on parties and constituencies is at the heart of system failure.

Two: Feudal culture mostly in rural areas supports influential cadre in grabbing the top slots in so called democratic parties.  Subsequently, power seeker feudal class remain unaccountable and easily manage to dodge the legal checks.

Three: over a period of time, ground performance of winning parliamentarians matters least as compared to mischievous machinations. Regular violations of election promise though irk the masses but compromised political system keeps them deprived of holding the elected representatives accountable with the power of ballot.

Four: Political turncoats, seasonal birds and habitual floor crossers have deeply dented the public image of politicians.

Five: Hollow verbal claims, unfulfilled promises and abusive fiery statements are the traits mostly disliked by the majority of masses.

Six: Due to undemocratic political norms, parliamentary houses have widely drifted from basic responsibility of legislation, public welfare, national security and sovereignty.

Seven: Non-acceptance of election results by the losing parties is the key factor hitting right at the foundations of democratic system. Infinite political instability is the by-product of this negative tendency.

Negative Impacts on Societal Behaviors & Political Culture

Below average performance of political parties in resolving the issues of public interest is an irritating reality.  Unimpressive conduct of political leadership coupled with undemocratic functioning of parties have negatively impacted the society in many ways.

One: Merit violation has emerged as new norm in society.

Two: Public trust is eroding on accountability and justice system.

Three: Rhetoric and verbosity in political discourse has triggered intolerance and sensationalism.

Four: Culture of constructive criticism, logical debate and objective introspection has evaporated.

Five: Workers of democratic parties are compelled to blindly follow the leaders without having any right to question or criticize the policies. Consequently, undemocratic tendencies of hero worshiping and cult culture have taken deep roots in political system.


Undemocratic nature of domestic politics and its irrelevancy from public issues is no more affordable for the country. Mere casting of a vote on a particular day once in five years is not the only obligation posed by the constitution. Induction of fresh blood in top tiers of political parties, inculcation of introspective culture and strict adherence of transparent merit-based policies are the essential ingredients of right course to put things in order. Winston Churchill once said “A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year, and to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen”.  Leaving aside the satire part, Pakistan desperately needs to get rid of the political class pointed out by the witty Groucho Marx and the Winston Churchill.

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