“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
The quotation of Plato, mentioned above, aptly summarizes a major cause of the miseries which the Pakistani nation is going through. During most of the years of its history, Pakistan has witnessed the reign of corrupt, unscrupulous, debauched, and profligate politicians, the moral degradation of who was so high that Machiavelli himself would have been ashamed of it, and who have had but one ambition: to accomplish their selfish ends by means of depriving the poor masses.
Therefore, one wonders: What has gone wrong? Where does the fault lie? Why and how have such immoral politicians made their way to the top in a democracy? The answer to all these questions lies in the quotation of Plato.
Yes, the Pakistani nation has paid the price of its indifference to political matters. The price, however, has been too high—higher than what could have been expected. Year after year, term after term, mendacious and corrupt politicians involved in money-laundering and having off-shore properties and businesses have risen to supreme power, claiming to ameliorate the plight of those struggling to earn bread for a single day. Amidst this miserable milieu, the most bitter and the most painful fact, however, is that we—as a nation—are at least as much guilty as those unscrupulous politicians, if not more.
Our nation, especially the youngsters, in the pursuit of their professions, have abandoned the politics under the pretext that ‘politics is a game of liars’, or ‘it is the realm of the most unprincipled people’, or simply because of a preposterous reason that ‘politics is not an interesting subject’. Unfortunately, a lack of interest in politics and political matters has become a ‘new cool’ for the young generation. This has also been manifested by a recent poll conducted by Ipsos, which has found that about 94% of the Pakistanis are unaware of as basic terms as the GDP growth. This negligence towards the matters of the state has cost us dearly.
Now, imagine for a while: What would have been the fate of the French Revolution had the revolutionaries decided to remain aloof from politics? How would history have unfolded if the 13 British colonies had not gathered in Philadelphia, in 1776, to declare their independence and create the United States of America? Certainly, the Muslim struggle would not have carved out a separate state out of the Subcontinent if the leaders of the movement had said, “We are not interested in politics at all.”
All the great revolutions in history, whether scientific, social, or economic, have been materialized by wedding these aspects to politics. Britain would not have become a hegemon in the 16th and 17th centuries had its sailors ventured across the globe only for the sake of economic gains. The United States of America would not have become a super-power if it had kept on following the Monroe Doctrine. Also, women in 19th-century Europe had not gotten their fundamental right of suffrage had they decided to mourn over their misery while remaining aloof from politics.
Therefore, it is only by being cognizant with political matters can nations influence the course of their futures and bring about a change in their lives; it is only by taking interest in politics can people know their rights and their obligations towards their state; and it is only with politics can people hold their representatives accountable for not delivering, participate in the matters of national importance and, thus, convert a rudimentary and inchoate democracy into a lively and a vibrating one.
Hence, we, Pakistanis, should learn the lessons before it’s too late. Supporting one political party or another, backing one politician or another, siding with one view or another, are never problems. The problem is being neutral and indifferent to politics and not responding to the call of circumstances. The problem is being negligent and oblivious towards the state when the state needs you. The problem is forsaking the politics and not realizing the fact that ‘Neutrality in Politics is a Sin.”