The first model of democracy exhibited in Pakistan by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto aimed at lifting the suppressed class of the society. Z.A Bhutto was cognizant of the fact that Pakistan does not possess the prerequisites for a real democratic set up that include high literacy rates and a robust economy. Therefore, he introduced a type of democracy fused with the concept of ‘politics of the downtrodden’. According to this amalgamation the poor man was told that; “you are the true leader of your nation”. Z.A Bhutto’s political acumen which carried politics into the villages and slums of Pakistan baffled everyone and worked like magic for the Pakistanis. For the first time the masses of Pakistan were mobilized and that was the reason that the initial period of Z.A Bhutto’s rule was marked with progress and prosperity. He wanted the common man to have a major say in how the country was being governed and that is when the nation actually witnessed the merits of democracy despite the fact that democracy was a luxury which Pakistan couldn’t afford at that time. The slogans of ‘food, shelter and clothing’ under the flagship of Pakistan People’s Party (a party that took birth during adversity) attracted the masses because they had a sense of owning their country and they were participants rather than being the spectators of the ‘political sport’. Unfortunately, nowadays our leaders are making decisions according to their aspirations and interests. They are ignoring public opinion and do not even know how to articulate the sentiments of the masses. They are deviating from the main essence of a democratic set up which can have bitter consequences like anarchy and civil war. The Karachi carnage and the spate of targeted killings is an admonition for the present government. It is a mere glimpse of the extremism and civil disobedience that might foment if the politicians don’t mend the ways through which they are trying to govern the country. It is high time the ruling coalition realised that both the progress and peace of the country are intertwined with how the masses want the rulers to rule them rather than how rulers want to rule the masses. The need of the hour is to revive the ‘politics of the downtrodden’ and shun ‘drawing room politics’ if at all the intention is to save Pakistan.
Originally published in The Nation newspaper, September 13, 2011.