The absolute power

Published: 09:19 PM, 13 Aug, 2022
The absolute power
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Abraham Lincoln said: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

The question in Pakistan however may also be where is the seat of power? The answer is complicated as is obvious from recent political events. Let’s make an attempt to study power in this country; where does real power lie? The obvious answer is, it lies with the civil Democratic Government, comprising of the Elected Prime Minister, his cabinet, the Parliament, the Civil bureaucracy, the judiciary, the armed forces, the media and very clearly, powerful lobbies within and outside the country.

Power tends to corrupt,” said Lord Acton, the 19th-century British historian. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Research, however, has shown that the value systems of people in power are important, good character and integrity if present before coming into power will be enhanced.

75 years since birth and Pakistan continues to struggle. The problem, therefore, lies with the custodians of power as much as it is inherent in the mindset that goes with power in Pakistan. A petty mindset, ego gratification and the greed for personal wealth has increasingly dominated the power structure for the last seventy-five years.

Living in Pakistan, it is obvious the law and state deal in a completely different manner with powerful people versus the common man. The constitution may give equal rights to all citizens of the state, however, the meting out of this equality is totally unequal.

The kind of power we see in Pakistan has typical characteristics. Hubris is one; defined as excessive pride or defiance. The other one is the God complex defined as an unshakable belief in personal ability, privilege or infallibility.

A person with a God complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, intractable problems or difficulties.

The first person to use the term god-complex was Ernest Jones (1913–51) in the Essays in Applied Psycho-Analysis.

Both hubris & the God complex are clearly seen in the custodians of power in Pakistan. In fact this attitude is responsible for the abject failure of all military governments to bring about any real progress in Pakistan, while civil governments are brought in with clearly defined weak structures & a blind eye to corruption.

The powerful in Pakistan are characterized by the use of soliciting, a technique that assumes everyone has a price including themselves. So they “wheel & deal" bringing in members into parliament who are either obliged, corrupt or criminal. In playing this game the players have no moral compass or direction. Its just a game where 220 million people are at stake.

Over 75 years the system is now well in place. Selection for top positions in all institutions is focused on individuals who agree to be part of a group, to promote collective interests. This style of selection rules out uprightness, honesty and professionalism. This is corroborated by the percentage of criminal elements in the corridors of power at any point in time. Conflict of interest, nepotism and sycophancy is everywhere, be it the Parliament, civil bureaucracy, judiciary or other government institutions. Some may argue that the nature of politics attracts criminals. However when it comes to pick and choose for powerful slots, the choice is clearly done on manageability and malleability of these assets. This system of picking individuals who will serve their masters in complete contradiction to their oaths is what has torn the moral fabric of this nation. On the surface it is clear the system does not promote honest people of strong moral character or those who exhibit integrity. In fact these qualities are considered negative and discouraged.

In a country of 68% young people this state of affairs can lead only to depression, chaos, drug use and suicides. No wonder drug dependence is everywhere, because this nation’s leaders have cheated & robbed people of hope for the future.

Recent political events however show the sleeping giant is awake and aware of its usurper. The nation is no longer apathetic but angry, evidenced clearly by the huge leaderless turnouts we have seen after the ouster of Prime Minister Imran Khan. After 75 years of exploitation, the people of Pakistan have shown their rejection of this sick system of governance. It seems the will of the people is to change the rules of the game.

Time only will tell…!

Categories : Opinion
Senator Dr Zarqa Suharwardy Taimur

Dr Zarqa Suharwardy Taimur is a Pakistani politician who has been a Member of the Senate of Pakistan, since March 2021. She is a consultant aesthetic cosmetologist by profession.