The other day I was reading some tweets relating patriotism to supporting PTI and Imran Khan. Although I consider myself to be a PTI supporter, still I could not help but think that this notion of relating patriotism to supporting or voting for PTI is not only idealistic but makes a non-PTI supporter a non-patriotic person which may not be a fair judgement.
I’m not going to spend the next hour or so trying to prove how voting for PTI is the equivalent of being patriotic. But what I am going to do is try to look at this claim of PTI supporters from a different perspective.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “Patriotism” as “love for or devotion to one’s country” and gives “You may not agree with him politically, but no one can question his patriotism” as an example.
Now this example could not have defined the essence of patriotism more accurately. However, instead of questioning the patriotism of the voters at this stage, I’d rather question the patriotism of the political parties and the leadership they boast of. And yes, we don’t have to agree with them 100% politically but we MUST question THEIR patriotism before we go out and vote for them on the polling day.
Starting from the ruling party (Did I just confuse you? Since almost every party is ruling in one way or another?), one cannot help but wonder why Gilani is so adamant about not writing a letter to the Swiss government to take up the corruption cases against Zardari? Even if we go by the defence given by him that the president enjoys unquestionable immunity, still Zardari is not just the president of Pakistan, he is also the co-chairman of PPP. Where is the patriotism of our Prime Minister when he refuses to write a letter against head of a party who is allegedly involved in corruption of billions? Is Gilani loyal to the country or to the chairman of his party? But why would he be interested in knowing how much Zardari has stashed away in Swiss banks when scandals like Memogate, Hajj scam, Chemical import scam, Rental power plant scam are erupting like mushrooms all around him? Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) claims that Pakistan has lost more than Rs 8,500 billion in corruption, tax evasion and bad governance during the last four years of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s tenure. So why shouldn’t we question patriotism of this party whose corruption will probably be written down as a record in our history; a party under whose rule Pakistan has achieved new levels of inflation and load shedding and recently gas shedding as well; a party under whose government institutions like Pakistan Railway, PIA and Pakistan Steel Mills have suffered massive losses and day by day their revival is becoming almost impossible?
So, how patriotic PPP really is? It’s true that Bhutto was hanged; It’s also true that Benazir was assassinated but isn’t this also true that Murtaza Bhutto was murdered during the premiership of his sister? Why doesn’t PPP talk of that “Shaheed”? It’s this hypocrisy within PPP’s ranks, the exploitation of Sindh card, the massive corruption of its top leadership and the lack of respect for Supreme Court’s decisions that has made the once-catchy slogan of “Roti Kapra Makaan” ring hollow in the public’s ears. This is the same so-called patriotic leadership that cowardly handed over Raymond Davis, knowing fully well that had it been a Pakistani citizen murdering two Americans, the US would never have done the same. But why would this government care if any of its citizens is getting killed by an American “diplomat” when it has already given a license to US to kill innocent Pakistanis with drones? Cables released by [WikiLeaks] have revealed that Gilani allowed drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan, saying that they would protest the attacks in the National Assembly and then ignore them. And this is exactly what has been happening up til now; under the table deals with the US government but expressing outrage in public. In a civilized country, any hint of a scandal makes a minister or a government official resign, but Gilani, in a recent CNN interview, tells 1/3rd of Pakistanis to leave the country if they have any “issues” with the national leadership or state of the country. The government seems all set to open Nato supply routes even after suffering terrible embarrassment during the Chicago summit. So yes, without even going into PPP’s previous governments, even the current one has given the public enough reason to doubt its patriotism or devotion to Pakistan.
Where PPP boasts of being founded for poor people’s needs, the “current” PML-N was established by a dictator and has been supported by establishment throughout its history. The only exception to this being the period when PML-N’s relationship with the Army and ISI turned sour and Musharraf took over. Rest is history; the Shareef family fleeing to Jeddah and continuously denying having made an agreement with Musharraf, their return to Pakistan and betraying APDM. One can also not help but remember the time when PML-N MNAs attacked the Supreme Court in 1997 and ironically the same party stood up for restoration of judges by conveniently hijacking the Lawyer’s movement. Who in his right mind would not question the hypocrisy of PML-N in this regard and fail to see how PML-N banked on public’s sentiments and raised slogans of judiciary restoration? How anyone can call it patriotism is beyond me at least.
The story does not end here. PML-N is famous for taking credit for Pakistan’s first nuclear test which was possible by efforts of Dr. A. Q. Khan and was an initiative of Bhutto back in the 70’s. Luckily, the adequate time of testing came in PML-N’s government and though it has been categorically reported that Nawaz Shareef was very hesitant to make the test, still he or PML-N has never shied away from taking the credit for it. It is surprising to see PML-N leadership trying to portray in front of today’s youth that their past governments have been heavenly when they were the ones that set up the tradition of handing over Pakistani citizens to the US, case in point Aimal Kansi. Recently, more than 100 people died in Punjab under the government of PML-N due to fake medicines and the responsibility lies directly on the CM Punjab Shahbaz Shareef who should have rendered his resignation over so many deaths but it looks like everything has been brushed under the carpet.
Coming to their corruption, be it the $160 million pocketed in motorway contract or at least $140 million in unsecured loans from Pakistan’s state banks as reported in Raymond baker’s “Capitalism Achilles Heel”, or the business/property of the Shareef family in UK worth $1.2 billion, money laundering and tax evasions worth billions of rupees, conviction in the helicopter case – none of it has any relevance to the tall claims of patriotism that PML-N makes and the Mehrangate scandal further flushes PML-N’s patriotism down the drain. While I believe that PPP’s principles and patriotism have deteriorated since its formation, I wonder if PML-N leadership had ANY love or devotion for the country in the first place.
The other parties like PML-Q, MQM, JUI (F) and JI are no better patriots. Musharraf, previously came to power through a military coup and though at that time people celebrated to be rid of the “Ameer-ul-Momineen” Nawaz Shareef, very soon the true colors of a dictatorship were visible enough to the common man. His tenure was filled with controversies like murder of Akbar Bugti, open warfare with Judiciary, Lal Masjid siege, handing over of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to the US government, putting the national hero Dr. A. Q. Khan under house arrest and involvement in Benazir Bhutto murder case etc. Certainly, the people of Pakistan have learned their lesson in those 9 years of Musharraf’s rule not to deem him a patriot or give him another chance to further harm the country. PML-Q was a brainchild of Musharraf and now is comfortably sitting in an alliance with the ruling PPP. How patriotic can they be when they were made by a dictator and have been supporting the current PPP government continuously just so that they can have their share of the pie?
Coming to the militant MQM, this is no secret that it has terrorized Karachi since ages and by making alliances with any party that comes in government, it is able to blackmail its way out whenever someone tries to tighten the noose around them. The Islamist parties get votes in the name of Islam but fail to impress an average Pakistani. JUI-F’s head Maulana Fazl-ur-Rahman has earned the name of Maulana Diesel whereas JI has failed to represent minorities and does not echo the views of majority of Pakistanis. Patriotism for Pakistan means owning up to each and every citizen regardless of gender, religion or race and giving space to all of them to live in mutual peace and harmony which these parties know nothing about.
What we need today is a leader who really feels the pain and sufferings of his people; a leader whose honesty and patriotism is undeniable and who has the vision and will power to take up the intricate task of rebuilding the nation’s morale. We need a tehreek for Insaf because the major problem of Pakistan is a fundamental lack of justice, humanity and self esteem. All we have to do is to realize that the parties we have been voting for uptil now have never shown any signs of true patriotism and each time we have put our trust in the leadership of these status quo parties, they have proven to be exceedingly non patriotic by serving their own interests.
Imran Khan has shown us through his 16 years of struggle in politics that he has no greed for power or money. Being a world famous sports star, he has seen it all – power, wealth, fame. Yet, he chose to devote his whole life for the betterment of Pakistan. From Shaukat Khanum to Namal University, all his organizations are proof of his love for and devotion to the country and its people. The Imran Khan Foundation not only provides aid and assistance to philanthropic projects but also provides relief to the needy during natural disasters. And people trust him, yes they do. His opponents have called him naive and inexperienced in the past but the same people are now seen copying his every move in the political chess. There is no denying that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has become a symbol for change in Pakistan and the driving force behind its success is the leadership’s proven patriotism and love for Pakistan.
So, despite being a PTI supporter, I am not going to question the patriotism of my fellow Pakistanis if they do not think on the same lines as me. However, I am definitely going to question the patriotism of all those who have come and gone from power but have failed to prove their loyalty to this country. And yes, I have every right to judge. So do you.
Let’s not waste our precious votes this time. Let’s vote sensibly for a better Pakistan.