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Dynasties in Politics: The Case of Pakistan

Dynasties in politics, particularly in democracies, are a blight on any country. Civil law cannot be a jungle law, where only a lion or his close family can rule over the land, yet it does happen in civilized democratic countries, and Pakistan is one of the precedents. After the burying of competence and merit, dynasties emerge, with advantages bowing down to the person born with a silver spoon in his mouth and having nothing but a reference to the ruling family and elite status.

In Pakistan, major political parties either adopt dynasty politics or follow the founder's political party ideology. Three main parties, Benazir Bhutto's PPP, Nawaz Sharif's PMLN, and Fazl-ur-Rehman's JUIF, have all been managed by family members. The dilemma is that these family political parties have ruled Pakistan for over three decades and are still engaged in the country's politics.

These Sharif and Zardari dynasties have cost Pakistan more than just politics; they have cost the country's entire corrupt system. They reigned for more than three decades and alleged utilizing the bureaucracy in their different regimes by placing officers who could protect them and their interests by carrying out their legal or unlawful commands. Both of these families are accused of billion-rupee corruption and are facing court proceedings, but Pakistan's system has yet to catch and punish them to make an example. The clock is ticking, but nothing significant has happened.

These corrupt dynasties have rooted in the country… What could be more damaging to the rule of law and constitution than a man on bail for alleged corruption becoming Prime Minister and his son, who is also on bail, becoming Chief Minister of the country's largest province? What could be more ridiculous in a country where half of the Prime Minister's cabinet is on bail for various charges? What could be more unfair than electing an inexperienced individual to the parliament and subsequently to the position of foreign minister of a country only based on his surname? Dynasties' supremacy!

In Pakistan, family politics is not restricted to party leaders; it also flourishes at the local level, with dynastic politicians occupying seats as MNAs, MPAs, senators, and even district mayors in huge numbers. The problem with dynasties in politics is that when families enter politics, they serve their interests and those of their families. They influence the system to receive benefits by layering down the deserving, which has a significant impact on the country's legal structure and public conscience.

Imran Khan's political party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was seen as a breath of fresh air in the dynastic system, gaining enormous public support upon the narrative of justice and merit. However, reality struck when a party with younger candidates entered the race in 2013 and failed to win, while the same party with electable dynasties won in 2018. This has shown the dynasties' roots in the system and how these dominant dynasties with links to the bureaucracy, judiciary, and establishment are demanded by the party.

The current events in Pakistan have also shown how dynasties protect their interests without considering the interests of the party or the country. This is a silly idea to expect dynasties to work on progressive reforms for Pakistan's long-term economic growth; they only come to power to make money. Why have these dynasties played such a vital role in the ousting of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan by becoming dissident members of the party? Because they profit financially from changing sides throughout the episode.

Pakistan, a country with more than half of its inhabitants living in poverty, turns to the system for aid, which they have not received in seventy years. This fragile and impotent political and democratic system, dominated by dynasties, enriches the wealthy and impoverishes the people. The ineptitude and corruption of these dynasties prevented the poor from rising and challenging the existing quo.

People's illiteracy and ignorance led them to continuously elect these dynasties, and these dynasties are now exploiting and violating human rights to keep their control. People and the system both accepted these dynasties' rule and corruption, hence the country's democratic system is on the verge of collapsing or has already collapsed and fallen into the hands of these dynasties.

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah said; Democracy is in the blood of Musalmans who look upon the complete equality of manhood [mankind]... [and] believe in equality, liberty, and fraternity.

But in his country, equality and liberty have probably died under the fraternity of dynasts. No doubt that the non-dynastic political parties of Pakistan are the need of the hour, but a history of the country's politics has revealed that without deep connections and dynasties in the party, no party can be as dominant as dynastic political parties. 

Here, a question arises; will Pakistan continue to be ruled by dynastic leaders and their exploited bureaucratic structures, or will it be able to bring about change? A change to discourage dynasty politics and make the country’s system sovereign to end the existing status quo and hold dynasties and their exploited bureaucrats accountable.

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Tags: #politics #Pakistan #corruption #dynasties


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