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In this toe-curling period of political, economic and social instability and chaos the interaction between politicians (lookalike clowns) has slithered human pride and dignity to the lowest of levels.

Democracy surely brings demagoguery into play. Demagoguery, however, blesses no entitlement upon any to being shameless in speech. Our present day social evils are a consequence of this slide into a deep abyss. Admittedly, no politician can change the basic inherent human nature, but they must take full blame for lowering the standards of raillery.

Politics has ceased to be service to community/humanity, it is today a ‘profession’; hence we have professional politicians whose only professional/technical proficiency is the skill and ability to snap back at opponents. This is done with venom. In this milieu, all of these politicians lose sense of responsibility and in their uncontrollable speeches they freely criticise state institutions. A regrettable fact.

The current day environment is where the politicians and political commentators feel that they have unlimited license to suspend forever, that part of the grey matter where some rationality may be residing.

The paranoiac speeches laced with resentful and vicious harangue have become the order of the day. The excellence in repartee or even dialogue is a major amiss. The art of use of invective language against political opponents always had grace at its roots; however it is not so today.

The hurling of insults upon each other is devoid of dignified behaviour. There isn’t a single country that would allow politicians to refer to state institutions as “alien creatures”. Here, it is done, and they go unpunished.

Politicians are expected to have keen sense and knowledge of the soul of the masses. While speaking to them, there ought to be enough preparation. It is foolish to be an extempore speaker, all the time, for it certainly ensures the foolishness of thought to come to the fore, quite naturally.

Even the great orator Churchill wrote his own speeches to speak to the public, for this, he trusted no one.

In today’s world of digital and social media, there is greater reason to sound persuasively intelligent - the mask wears off too soon - no pantomime act helps! Those who lack the use of proper and decent language in speeches will rarely make great leaders; such would remain politicians only, forever.

Winston Churchill when describing the qualifications desirable in a professional politician made these remarks, gracefully, ‘the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen’.

Politicians and all those associated with this highly populated industry must read loads of history and literature to develop a comprehensive understanding on how to deal and shape events in the light of historical facts.

They cannot fake it. It is painful beyond relief to listen each single day the continuous reminder made to the audiences of who Sirajuddaula was, and who was Tipu Sultan, and who were Mir Jaffar and Mir Sadiq.

At the secondary level of schooling the audience would have learnt this, yet the politician befools himself to believing that history is being taught to the audience. Once said by IK is good enough, not every speaker has to keep repeating it.

Apparently, most politicians have committed themselves to the words of Henry St Johhn, 1st ViScount Bolingbroke, who had said, ‘the greatest art of a politician is to render vice serviceable to the cause of virtue’.

Ronald Reagan never visited the sub-continent (I think so) and hence wonder why he remarked, ‘politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realise that it bears a very close resemblance to the first’ (Los Angeles 2nd March 1977).

Enlightened politicians who are well read make statements and comments that are not only impactful for the time but have long lasting impression. The following lines from Georges Pompidou (A French president) are so remarkable: a statesmen is a politician who places himself at the service of the nation.

A politician is a statesman who places the nation at his service. Did he have Pakistan in mind?) Our politicians have never failed to rise above principles. The display at all times is of human immaturity.

A demand is made upon the electorate to support them, when they actually are in the wrong. Barring IK, the reputation of all party heads is tainted. Guilt may not have been proved, but aspersions have been cast, which renders them unanswerable.

Attributed to American businessman and politician Simon Cameron (year 1800 something): ‘An honest politician is one who when he is bought stays bought’. Indeed in politics there are no true friends; each of them is a circling shark waiting with enthusiasm for the appearance of blood in the waters.

Living in palatial houses they cry hoarse about the plight of the homeless - inside, they are likely to be thinking - how foolish is it to do away with homelessness and poverty.

They are the vote bank, whose miseries shouldn’t end, otherwise to whom, will they (politicians) be able to sell false hopes and dreams? It is only poverty that singularly without any associated costs allows the impoverished to dream - they do, but would not dare to make them come true! Any idea or thought of improving the lot of masses to most politicians is the most laughable thing.

Majority of politicians, political analysts and commentators, experts and opinion makers have very little knowledge of economics, and since they know that their audiences probably know even less they get away with murder.

After being in the government for only a week the current government claimed that because of their regaining the seat of power at Islamabad, the Rupee has strengthened and the index has shot through the roof.

Maybe the populace bought this one too; however now into its fourth week, the rupee is taking a pounding and there is blood bath on the stock exchange. Politicians thrive on the short memory of the electorate.

Be it the politician or a TV show anchorperson or even a guest the temptation and readiness to slide to the abject level of moral bankruptcy is so ever present. Each evening on our TV screens are pitched verbal battles in the ugliest choice of words.

The young lady spokesperson of a political party, alongside her self-styled leader, who generally or rather invariably speaks in Urdu, uses insulting forms of address like ‘TUM’ (you) , ‘TUMHAARE’ (yours) and ‘KEHTA HAI’ (he says), etc., for the former prime minister, who must be at least two decades senior in age to her.

In English these words do not sound as insulting, but in Urdu they represent lack of respect; specially when used for someone older than oneself. The former PM is no less in the wrong choice of words while referring to his political opponents.

He indulges liberally in name calling (of late, he has censured himself a bit) but then the masses have become so accustomed to it that they provoke him to use names and titles of demeaning import. IK should set the tone for decency in speech and interaction.

If the political leadership will not behave itself properly before the masses, what education or training are we/they imparting to the youth of this country? The culture of abuse (soon expletives maybe brought into this equation) is getting out of hands.

It is time that responsibility is felt at all levels of political and other formats of leadership, to expunge this malaise. Instead conscious effort needs to be made to introduce great honour and grace, whilst indulging in ripostes, chaffing or banter.

Why can’t we have our own Churchills who in response to the comment of a fellow parliamentarian (Lady Astor) that she would have mixed poison in Winston’s coffee if she were his wife, Churchill sprang and remarked on the floor of the house: ‘if you were my wife I would drink it’. The art of repudiation with honour should be the hallmark of public office holders in particular and of all the people in general.

Let us as a nation revisit our standards of repartees and rebuttals. We cannot afford to stoop to more lower levels.

(The writer is a freelance contributor)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

Sirajuddin Aziz

The writer is a freelance contributor

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