Policy of Truth

August 8, 2017 Asia , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , Pakistan , POLITICS

Reuters photo

 

By

Zeeshan A. Shah

 

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana

 

The other day someone asked me over dinner whether I believed our country was being ruled by corporate dictators. My reply was: “No, we are ruled by Fascists.” Over the next few days, I dwelled over the thought. There is little difference between corporate dictators or Fascists in the real world.

Fascism is a radical authoritarian political ideology. A fascist party or state is ruled by a supreme leader who exercises dictatorship over the party, the government and all state institutions. A fascist regime is a vanguard party, rejecting the conventional democratic system by force and frenzy. In more ways than one, most of the radicals are also fascists, but there are severe implications on being a fascist entity, individual, government or regime. As for the “corporate dictators,” I would say any dictator who is backed up by local or foreign corporations/syndicates, and is corrupt beyond reasonable doubt, falls under this bracket. Pakistan seems to have tons of such types through history. It is one of the more morally corrupt countries in the world today, not because of a severe lack of collective will towards honest progress.

Having analyzed Pakistan and the USA in significant detail, we may agree that in the last decade or so, both countries have shown acute similarities, in terms of governance and continue to follow a similar pattern. I cannot call them fascists to the core but I do believe there are vast commonalities that support my argument. For starters, both countries have parallel governments running the affairs of the state. In Washington, we have a situation with the White House and the Pentagon. This is no news today. Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of slogans, symbols, songs and other paraphernalia. It creates the delusion where the truth can easily be colored into illusion. There can also be powerful indicators such as nationalism, only if followed in the true spirit of the nation which is not in the case, in Pakistan or the U.S.

Then there is disdain for the recognition of human rights, because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the leaders are persuaded by their think tanks, that human rights can be violated and ignored because of “need.“ The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, executions, assassinations, incarceration of prisoners and innocent blood killings, justifying a legitimate need for war, as a means of survival.

Identification of scapegoats-enemies is a planned objective for such regimes, rallying people into a patriotic frenzy of emotion with the need to eliminate a common enemy or foe – something that Pak-U.S. governments have always focused on – whether ethnic or religious minorities; liberals, communists, socialists, terrorists, etc. Military supremacy thrives in these countries, whether there are domestic problems or budgetary issues, most of the GDP amount is disproportionately allocated to the military budgets and the domestic agenda is neglected. No doubt patriots must be given the benefits and glamorized, but not beyond the required capacity.

The governments of fascist nations tend to usually be male dominated, where women’s rights have no place for debate and rampant sexism is patronized. Issues like divorce, abortion, rape, assault, battery and sexual discrimination are always suppressed, and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution. The media plays a decisive role as it claims to be free, but only free enough to speak the language of the majority in the government and rarely takes the plunge to tackle the truth. Sensationalism is ruled by the powerful and the elite.

The common majority issues never come to light, unless triggered for a higher political agenda or means to get politically elected. Media is directly or indirectly controlled by the government and the agencies, not the people. A classic example in Pakistan is of the talk time –nowhere in the world does a politician get more TV talk time than in Pakistan.

Corporate power in such countries is protected and labor power severely suppressed. The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation is often the one who puts government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite. Labor unions are eliminated or politically demeaned whether through regulation or media. In our country and in the U.S., fear is the motivational tool exercised over the common man due to a constant obsession with national security, civil rights abuses and crime and punishment in the name of patriotism.

Real patriotism is enlightenment and education for its people to grow into vibrant societies and respect for law and the constitution. For example, under Article 25-A within the revised 18th amendment, the constitution of Pakistan requires the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children, aged between five years to 16 years. By law there should be zero tolerance for this violation but the country’s education system is in ruins, with no children rights, no quality of education and a lack of respect for teachers, the majority of government schools running as ghost schools leading to a constant continuous breakdown in the system.

With over 52% of the population being women, ninety percent of them do not get good primary education and are illiterate, leading to their children further suffering. Moreover, under-aged children here are forced into child labor or smuggled overseas illegally. So far, the government is playing blind to it all and the education minister retains the job and there have been no arrests within the education sector, being repeat offenders.

Free expression, whether visual arts or contemporary fine arts, theater or film is flawed as fascist nations do not promote intellectual thought as a practice. The academia has been pushed back to the stone age. Rampant nepotism and blackmail goes unpunished. Government powers protect their friends from accountability and the courts are victimized simultaneously, through bribes and kickbacks. National and cultural treasures are stolen and funds are mis-appropriated by government leaders. Yet legally, no one is held accountable.

One other major denominator that identified fascism within such countries is the constant issue of fraudulent elections. Sometimes, elections are a total sham, other times, massively rigged. Triggered through smear media campaigns, there is massive manipulation of the judiciary and illegal use of legislative control to meet the fascist objective of rule by dictatorship leaders or military, to win election after election, without doing much for the people who vote to elect them. There are billions of dollars spent in the U.S. over buying out senators or congressmen, to tilt the balance of power. The same is the case here. The government in these countries is socially and morally irresponsible. I believe in every citizen’s right to benefit from CSR – corporate social responsibility. It basically means, whatever you earn, you give a percentage of it back to the community the state and the society at large. Food emergency, water crisis, energy shortage, lawlessness, corruption, nepotism, political and legal collisions, demand and supply dilemmas, youth gang wars, protests, demonstrations for the lack of positive change, heavy unemployment, mafias, financial indiscipline, capitalism, severe human rights violations and of course, political vendettas creating the great divide between the rich and the not so lucky.

In Pakistan today there are people on the streets, tired and dejected, fatigued and frustrated as they feel abandoned by their leaders they helped get elected to power. Today, governments have abandoned their own people. Whether fascists or not, the state of governance is criminally dysfunctional. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, a corrupt head of state has been held accountable by the justice system. A glimmer of hope this time may be the only way forward for the country determined to ignore the policy of truth.

 

 

 

 

 

Zeeshan A. Shah

The writer is a Director at CNNA Pakistan – a leading advocacy institute and is an expert on International Relations and Education Policy.

With over 150 publications in major local and global social media & newspapers, he has been instrumental in producing over 5000 radio broadcasts aired globally.

A thought leader, environmental journalist, media broadcaster and a change maker with an acute focus on development affairs & education for Pakistan.

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