Saturday, November 19, 2011

What we can learn from the Army?

Nawaz Sharif and his party PMLN are on the attack against the Army in the garb of their criticism against the undefined establishment. Nawaz Sharif wants the establishment to be neutral in the political process.

In the following lines, I will try to make two points:
  1. We as a society generally and the political parties specifically can learn a great deal from the Army and other military institutes. 
  2. A neutral establishment would mean that the traditional sources of power and influence such as wealth, connections, clan, religious power, peeri-mureedee, sectarian divides, nepotistic advantage can have a free run over the masses and Nawaz Sharif having amassed his wealth would be free to do as he pleases with the not so well off.  
What Army can teach us:

Our political parties and the society generally lack well defined processes for the upward mobility of new entrants. A boy from poor area in a Katchi bastee can only hope to end up as a worker and a sloganeer for the wealthy political candidate and nothing beyond.

On the other hand, a lower class or a lower middle class boy can at a young age through hard work and merit enter the Pakistan Army, compete with the sons of generals etc, excel in his chosen field and can one day hope to command the Army!

There is merit, there is a process and there is an equal and open playing field for everyone in the Army.

Do we have that in PMLN? Imagine Hamza Sharif being a middle class blue collar worker; what chance or future he would have in any of the existing political parties in Pakistan? The answer is "NONE".

On the other hand, Hamza Sharif could hope to enter army and through hard work and merit hope to climb the ranks and end up in command. Albeit he could have faced court martial on any incidence remotely akin to the treatment metted out to Ayesha Ahad. But in our political parties he can still become a candidate for the Chief Minister! This brings out the irony in the criticism that PMLN throws at the Army!

In short, our political parties should first adopt merit, fairness, openness and discipline in their midst and learn from the Army in this regard.

Our civilian government should also learn from the social security system that Army adopts for its ranks and their families. Army has been running this system without fail. Let us look at it keenly and learn from it and perhaps adopt it for the common folk.

Sources of Power:

What powers does one use in the army to get ahead? Hard work and natural talent? What about the existing political structure? Money, connections, sifarish, biradari, greed, force, threats, violence, police, patwaris, guddees and more!

Do the political parties and our Nawaz Sharif follow the law in terms of the campaign budgets? NO. Do you think that PMLN hopes to contest the next elections based on merit and reason alone? NO.

What PMLN really wants is the dance floor to itself without any discipline enforcing bouncers who can check their excesses which are bound to be many.

So who will protect those who follow reason and merit? How do you create an equal playing field. In this respect the establishment does need to, without being apologetic, adopt the reverse discrimination policies such as:

  • Free and equal airtime on TV channels for all the candidates including independents;
  • State campaign funding for those less privileged; and
  • Strict penalties for those using biradri, thana, sectarianism or guddees and the like for political purposes etc.

Establishment needs to create an equal playing field for all and not leave the dance floor open for the dollar wielding and guns carrying politicos. That will ensure that our young and bustling politicos put on their show and have a chance of beating the old fatties.

No comments: