[opinion] Denying the depoliticization of politics

Sultan Madad

The recent naïve idea of political action through CBOs and the ensuing online debate aptly indicates our level of education and awareness. Nevertheless, we need to encourage the debate on political process. No one can deny the need of unity and patriotism but democracy cannot be built on the foundations of exclusiveness and aristocracy or oligarchy (in the name of success). More over Hunza is not an isolated island. Its aspirations, needs, opportunities, challenges, miseries, colonization and destiny are woven with Gilgit-Baltistan.

Hunza’s post 74 experience  is that of a marionettes or puppet show staged in the name of democracy. These self interested representatives are serving the Islamabad, Lahore or Larkana based parties. Forces of status quo that include the concocted dogmas have not allowed patriotic workers to come forward and promote a national agenda. Secondly, those who try to find solutions of pure political issues through apolitical means need to realize that if a surgeon fails to remove the illness from a patient, it does not, never ever, mean that the surgery has failed and that the patient should be handed over to a butcher.

We need to see what bodies we are electing our representatives for? We have been complaining against all the hitherto ‘elected representatives’ for not doing enough but we seldom criticize the undemocratic system that makes them powerless and begets corruption. We never criticize them for not having courage to speak the truth. Those accidently coming to ‘representation’ without any track record of genuine political struggle, rightly see their source of power in their masters instead of electorate.

Removing ’Mir Family’ out of power has been the sole agenda of so called ‘modernists’ in post 74 Hunza but they have failed to give any alternate vision. They have also failed to understand that the abolishing of state was not a democratic change. It would had been democratic, had it come from within and brought a democratic system of governance instead. What we earned in return was the loss of the indigenously developed system and over lordship of numerous new ‘mirs’ instead of one single mir. Since then, we have lost the centrality of thinking from our own perspective vis a vis major challenges. No doubt, Hunza had lost its independence and sovereignty in 1891 but no one can deny that the internal autonomy under the British installed mirs, was delivering at least better than the present.

How can a direct colonial rule be eulogized that tacitly renders thousands of people homeless and shoots them on demanding shelter? This has been the dilemma of the local mimics who waste their energies for Pakistani parties without the understanding of ground realities.

What we need to do unequivocally is to oppose importing alien political parties from Larkana, Lahore and Karachi. We have followed these outsiders quite long for four decades. At least our new generation should not follow this mimicry. Begani shadi mein Abdullah deewana.

It’s time now to adopt a national approach and build democratic political institution (party) on GB level. No doubt it seems to be a tall order in the present circumstances but this is the only solution. There is no short cut to it. This initiative is not possible through apolitical means either. Hunza is neither James Hilton’s Shangri-La nor has it remained the traditionally thought dekaran (the well protected orchard) of our ancestors. Hunza alone cannot bring a change for itself but can take a lead role. Formation of Qaumi Maraka is one such initiative towards building a forum to further national approach and to encourage democratic political process.

The recent move that seems to have been advanced by a certain apolitical sector is a futile utopian thinking covered in hollow rhetoric. Civil society can play vital role in breeding democratic norms through debate and advocacy but it can never be substitute for political organizations. NGOs in our region have no doubt delivered a lot in terms of quality of life but unfortunately there is no denial to the fact that they have played a disappointing role in depoliticizing the society as a well.

The writer is a progressive leader based in Karimabad, Hunza. He can be reached at sultanmadad@yahoo.com

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  1. I fully endorse the point of view expressed by Mr.Sultan Madad and his suggestion to establish a political party based in GB with clear vision for the development of of the region. At thev same time the people of Hunza should fully participate in regional and national politic and resist the proponent of de-politicization of the community.To my understanding there are 3 mile stones in the present achievements of Hunza valley:1.Removal of Mirs 2.Karakuram highway and 3. Contributions of AKDN and other NGOs.

  2. It gives me immense pleasure for structuring a Think Tank (Qaumi Marraka) by Visionary and educated people of Hunza. Since long it was due and every one from this Mother Land were feeling need for it.

  3. Agree with the prognosis.

    There is alienation of society, how to reconnect to the roots, but also continue modernity in terms of political institutional and social processes? we are a society who lost our own BOLY in every walk of life and somehow or the other, speak languages unknown to our forefathers in every sense of the word? Who are ideologues, who are the workers/activists, who are the leaders to be followed in politics and in society? obviously there needs to be layers and diversity, nobody wants and preaches monotomy.

    Nor all persons are inclined to party politics in any society, in fact the great majority are always ‘in swing’ even in established democracies. So no society will ever to hundred percent politcized or join X or Y party.

    But the Society need social institutions of their own, beyond taking any opposing political views or joining any political party, but they have to vote to one or the other on local and national issues. Here comes the civil society as under current.Civil society is the bedrock of a political and social system in any society.They act as local ‘voice groups’ and ‘representative forums’ and ‘think tanks’ for political parties who engage with them for dialogue, support, communication and education.’Local’ civil society has a role, which is ‘supplementary’ and ‘complementary ‘ to political parties at grassroots level and it is in NO way replacing or at the cost of party politics,

    I also agree that we need indigenous political parties and processes, that reconnects us to our roots, ethos and values, and support the Maraka initiative. For example currently the major challenge for democratization of political processes or party politics is at the village and grassroots level, there is no accountability and participation mechanism in place. How the political parties are organized at village levels? what is their membersgip base? who are the people who elect local party leadership at village levels? how they make decisions? how they elect and remove local leaderships? what is their support base? is it clan, tribe or other modern groups like CBOs, business associations, councils, anjumans?

    Lets find ways to create sound relationships between political and social actors at local levels, and bridge the gap between the state and society through political processes and localization of politics. But at the same time, agree that civil society has a key role to play in democratization of society through providing forums, debates, education, knowledge and through pressuring political parties and state machinery to deliver efficient and effective public service.

  4. It seems that there is a gap between what Amin Beg advocates and the agenda unfolded through Baltit LSO. There is no second opinion that civil society has a tremendous role in promoting political awareness, HR advocacy and acting as watch dog to promote merit and transparency. It is not conflicting rather it is supplementing the rights based struggle of political parties. Therefore, the so called second generation mobilization is an encouraging initiative but surprisingly some people are presenting civil society as a substitute for political parties. Drawing legitimacy for the idea from religion is a wrong conclusion. Contrarily, the guidance emphasizes on pluralism, tolerance for difference of opinion and democracy. The argument that political parties have only divided, is illogical in our context because no political party has been formed so far in Hunza or GB for that matter. I repeat my point of view that the local chapters of Pakistan’s federal parties, is an imitation without understanding of the basic realities. Irrespective of their political ideology, none of them has a program, a vision or a road map for the solution of fundamental issues of GB. The political process has not matured enough locally to form a real national (regional as some may say) political party. Those claiming to be nationalist parties are devoid of clear vision and political program either. They are pre-party group stage factions.
    I have great respect for some of the personalities favouring the ‘LSO brand democracy’ as unfolded in Hunza Mutahid Hay but we need not to underestimate the possible outcome — aristocratic approach of exclusiveness in the name of unity and merit. The idea is impractical because interest groups contesting elections without any political vision or program derive their power either from the ruling party or they rely entirely on money and prejudices (such as regionalism, tribalism, etc). Civil society has no meaning for them. Since LSOs are fostered by AKRSP, I would humbly suggest to kindly forestall undemocratic tendencies that may stem out of their brainchild.

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