Ayesha Siddiqa is a political commentator and specialist on the Pakistan military, who is a Research Associate at SOAS, South Asia Institute, University of London. She had earlier been in Pakistan’s civil service, and had served as Director, Naval Research with the Pakistan Navy, and Deputy Director, Defence Service Audit. She is a brave person who exposed the corruption in Pakistan’s military in her book ‘Military Inc—Inside Pak’s Military economy’, showing how the military had spread its tentacles into almost all sectors of the Pakistan economy ( see my article ‘The truth about the Pakistan military’ published in theweek.in ).
However, being brave is not enough. One must also have a deep understanding of realities, and it is here that Ayesha reveals her fatuity and superficiality.
In an article published in theprint.in titled ‘ Pakistan’s long ailing democracy is now completely dead, thanks to its political parties ‘ Ayesha laments over the demise of democracy in Pakistan, blaming it on the misdeeds and wrong policies of Pakistan’s political parties. She admits that the real power in Pakistan is its army, but reveals her puerility by regarding the PTM ( Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement ) as ‘ a ray of hope ‘. Much of what Ayesha writes is just empty blah blah blah with no in-depth understanding or analysis of anything, So let me present my own views.
The test of every political system or activity is one, and only one—does it raise the standard of living of the people ? Does it give them better lives ?
Keeping that in mind it immediately becomes obvious that by themselves neither democracy nor dictatorship are good or bad. If democracy raises the standard of living of the people and gives them better lives, it is a good thing, but if it does not, it is not. So to make a fetish out of democracy, as Ayesha does, and treat it as sacrosanct or a holy grail to be always sought for is silly and puerile.
Democracy was a good thing in England after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and in France after the French Revolution of 1789 because it raised the standard of living of the people in those countries. But in India parliamentary democracy largely runs on caste and communal vote banks, and casteism and communalism are feudal forces which must be destroyed if India is to progress, but parliamentary democracy further entrenches them. Hence it is bad for India.
Turkey had the military dictatorship of General Mustafa Kemal who modernized the country by abolishing the outdated feudal sharia law, madarsas, burqa etc. Hence such dictatorship was good for the country. China has no democracy, yet it is rapidly advancing. On the other hand, General Zia ul Haq was also a military dictator, but he tried to take Pakistan backwards into the Middle Ages by enforcing Islamic fundamentalism. So his dictatorship was bad.
Pakistan’s basic problem ( like that of India ) is massive poverty, massive unemployment, appalling level of child malnourishment, almost total lack of proper healthcare and good education for the masses, etc. Ayesha rarely touches on these, and her only lament is demise of democracy. But what she fails to understand is that democracy can at most be a means to an end, not an end itself. The end must be raising the standard of living of the people. How is that to be raised ? That can only be raised by rapid industrialization, and making the Indian subcontinent an industrial giant, like China. Unless that is done India and Pakistan remain condemned to poverty and a host of other massive socio-economic problems. And if such transformation requires a dictatorship, such dictatorship, and not democracy, is what we require.
As pointed out by me in my articles ‘ Was Jinnah right ? ‘ published in indicanews.com, ‘ The next stage of world history ‘ published in nayadaur.tv, ‘ India’s National Aim ‘ published in indicanews.com, ‘ The two worlds ‘ published in nayadaur.tv, ‘ The fatuity of Iqbal Ahsan ‘ published in nayadaur.tv, and ‘ The shallowness and inanity of India’s intellectuals ‘ published in pakistanstories.com, this world had really two worlds, the world of the developed countries, and the world of the underdeveloped countries. The Indian subcontinent is in the ranks of the underdeveloped countries, and its problems can only be solved by transforming and uplifting it into the ranks of the developed countries.
However, as explained in these articles, the developed countries will oppose such transformation tooth and nail ( for the reason mentioned in these articles ). In fact they partitioned India in 1947 for this very purpose ( see Mission Statement in indianreunificationassociation.co.in ). The Pakistan military, Pakistani political parties, and civil services will all in the ultimate analysis serve the interests of these developed countries, and not of the Pakistani masses.
It is only by a mighty people’s revolution led by selfless, patriotic, modern minded leaders that the Indian subcontinent can be transformed into a developed country with its people enjoying a high standard of living and having decent lives.
When will such a revolution occur, how will it take place, who will be its leaders etc is of course impossible to predict. One cannot be rigid about historical forms, But the people will use their creativity in this connection, and find out solutions, as they did in all great revolutions.
All this Ayesha Siddaqa is wholly unable to fathom.
[Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India.The views expressed are his own].
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