Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above and moral law within — Immanuel Kant
Moral depravity is rampant in Pakistani politics. It is disgusting to see the scruples being flouted by our political leadership in such a brazen manner. Politics devoid of any moral scruples reflects so evident in social ruination that it should set the alarm bells ringing.
Political ethics (also known as political morality or public ethics) is the practice of making moral judgements about political action and political agents. Aristotle defines moral virtue as a disposition to behave in the right manner and as a mean between extremes of deficiency and excess, which are vices.
We learn moral virtue primarily through habit and practice rather than through reasoning and instruction. Plato stated that politics must be based on virtue and morality and corruption must be banished from the domain of politics. According to Plato, a virtuous and moral state is one that gives utmost importance to justice.
Several centuries later, Italian thinker of politics Machiavelli made a clear distinction between politics on the one hand and religion and ethics on the other. In doing so he accorded subordinate position to the latter. He ignored the ethical purpose of the state.
Machiavelli is best known for arguing that people in power should use deception, force, and manipulation if those tactics are necessary to achieve their ends. Thus, Machiavelli has a pessimistic view of human nature and assumes that all men are evil, without any possibility of redemption.
This pessimistic conception of men is central to his moral philosophy. But many of Pakistani politicians would put even Machiavelli to shame. Witnessing the current malaise muddying the political waters in this country, one can safely assume that Machiavelli and Goebbels have more disciples in Pakistan’s political landscape than anywhere else.
Mr Parvez Elahi’s career in politics commenced in the 1979 local government elections. That election, followed by the party-less general election in 1985, many like him to the centre-stage of Pakistan/Punjab politics.
The trade of political loyalties is reminiscent of the 1988 and 1990 when legislators were taken away to Changa Manga and Murree, respectively. Sindh House in Islamabad is said to be where scores of legislators are kept with the purpose of using them to depose the current incumbent. This is lamentable, to say the least.
Recently, a legislator confessed publicly on TV, without any apparent compunction that his was party involved in horse trading. How low can one stoop? History repeats itself to the pain of many onlookers who may put premium on morality as the key determinant of political destiny.
The level of divergence between the politics and morality is dreadfully acute. This is greatly upsetting to the saner citizens of the country. Fazlur Rahman was once accused of being the epitome of political blackmail. Chaudhary Parvez Elahi, however, it now seems comes closer to the pessimistic views that Machiavelli held about human nature. He was scathing in his criticism of his allies in the ruling coalition in a TV interview. The very next day, unable to resist the heat generated by his interview, he started blowing hot and cold. All insinuations against Prime Minister Imran Khan were rescinded. To me this proved to the hilt that he cares the least about any morality as inconsistency is emblematic of those wanting in principles. His desperation to grab the coveted chief ministership of the Punjab made me feel sorry for him.
At a relatively advanced age of 77, his political avarice is symptomatic of some psychological affliction. He left me wondering also as to why he was so miserably deficient in the art of self-articulation. One can learn that much in 40 years of practical politics; but most of our politicians don’t invest in their personal improvement.
Chaudhary Parvez Elahi (born in 1945) hails from a family who frog leaped from rags to riches in the wake of Partition. After spending much of his life in the wilderness of Pakistani politics, his uncle Zahur Elahi secured a ministerial position in Ziaul Haq’s martial law regime.
It is hard to say whether the family is in politics for the sake of securing and enhancing their business interests or vice versa. Parvez Elahi’s career in politics commenced in 1979 local government elections. That election, followed by the party-less general election in 1985, catapulted many like him to the centre-stage of Pakistan/Punjab politics.
Several individuals in the generation of politicians, once referred to as midnight’s children, are naturally gifted at political wheeling, dealing and conniving for personal gain. Their estrangement towards any social ideology precluded fostering a vision for collective welfare. It was no surprise then that in his interview Mr Elahi didn’t utter a single word hinted at a concern for the people. Self-interest was the leitmotif of his conversation.
I don’t recall any of these politicians ever discussing foreign policy options that Pakistan should exercise or issues like climate change or ways and means of improving higher education.
Not only do such issues not fall in the ambit of their priorities, they are also deficient in formulating any opinion on these matters of utmost significance. Lack of morality and the inability to address the vital issue confronting Pakistan are what define these political figures.