Pakistani Politicians are always decrying and lashing out at military dictatorships but they never raised voice about dictatorships within their political parties. Party Headships always follow strict hereditary lineage, similar to monarchies. Party heads always exercise their powers in dictatorship manner. They don’t follow democratic principles. It seems as their dictatorship is disguised in Democracy.
Recently deposed Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, also the founder of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), is on roads nowadays after being disqualified by Supreme Court of Pakistan over a string of corruption allegations. Sharif’s daughter Maryam was his presumptive political heir but she was also named in the Supreme Court judgment as having to face corruption charges. Though temporarily Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has become Prime Minister of Pakistan on PML-N nomination but for Nawaz Family, it would be unacceptable if some person outside Nawaz family holds any strong office for long. Previously Nawaz Sharif named his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif to replace him as the country’s leader but later this plan was dropped apparently on the reasons of ongoing development projects in Punjab but the reason might be the scary feeling of change in hereditary ruling lineage from Nawaz Family to his brother’s family, Shehbaz Family. Now the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has submitted nomination papers of Begum Kalsoom Nawaz, wife of ousted Premier Nawaz Sharif, for the National Assembly seat NA-120 Lahore and might be she will become Prime Minister of Pakistan. All experienced, loyal and senior politicians of PML-N are sidelined and politically a less experienced lady with little know-how of politics is nominated by the only virtue of being wife of Nawaz Sharif, a thing that don’t happen in true democracies. This move will definitely secure the hereditary ruling lineage of ex-premier Nawaz Sharif but this is not in compliance with democratic principles.
Similarly if we look upon the history of PML-N’s adversary Pakistan People Party (PPP), we see nothing difference. Same dictatorship and Monarchy is present within PPP columns. Pakistan People’s Party was founded by charismatic leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. When he was hanged on orders of Supreme Court during the reign of General Zia-ul-Haq, his daughter Benazir Bhutto succeeded the leadership of PPP and she remained lifetime chairperson of PPP till her assassination in 2007. After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, her son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari became the chairman and her husband Asif Zardari became co-chairman of PPP by sheer testament of Benazir Bhutto. Surprisingly everyone within party bowed to the decision by testament just in same way as it was a matter of some property transfer. There was no voting, no discussion for selection of PPP chairman then. It emerged just as a case of monarchial succession. And after seizing power, Co-chairman Asif Zardari fired a lot of PPP senior loyalists from key positions just like a dictator.
Now if we analyze the third biggest political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), we see relatively better situation. Although its founder and chairman, cricketer turned politician, Imran Khan has started following the doctrine of electables little bit but it’s still bringing a lot of new faces to mainstream politics. Khan himself is not introducing his any family member as his successor as we see Maryam Nawaz in case of Nawaz Sharif.
Awami National Party (ANP), another important political party having strong roots in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province is not free from monarchy and dictatorship. The origins of the Awami National Party (ANP) can be traced back to Bacha Khan’s Khudai Khidmatgars (KK) party in the 1930s. Later it worked by the name of National Awami Party and finally became Awami National Party (ANP). After Bacha Khan, his son Wali Khan, and after Wali Khan his wife Begum Naseem Wali Khan and son Asfandyar Wali Khan are maintaining the monarchial lineage for this another so-called democratic party.
Besides Party headships, tickets for National and Provincial Assemblies are always bestowed to particular families and within those particular families, again a monarchial lineage is followed for succession. Party heads prefer their relatives for key positions and important ministries just to ensure the maintenance of their inter party dictatorship. Nepotism and cronyism are at rampage in political parties.
These monarchies and dictatorships within political parties have smashed the true spirit of democracy in Pakistan.
Jawad Akram is a Political and Strategic Analyst. He has done Masters in International Relations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org