Nepotism remains a big stain on democracy in Pakistan

Pakistan has a big stain on its democracy. This is neither the fault of the judicial nor the military establishment. The problem are not even politicians themselves. However, the real fault lies in the process through which the next generation of politicians are chosen. Regardless of party and ideology, all are guilty of exercising nepotism. From, Imran Khan’s PTI to Zardari’s PPP including Shareef’s PML-N, all of them have visible traces of nepotism within their party structures.

In some parties, nepotism is more explicit than in others. Nonetheless, nepotism exists in all political institutions across the country to varying degrees.

The selection of candidates based on familial relationship is explicit in Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-N – an obvious point. Every citizen will surely acknowledge that the current leadership of the respective Parties is not due to merit, but due to family relation.

Overtime, this has become an expectation rather than an exception for the aforementioned parties. People have become accustomed to it. It has very much become like a mundane, insignificant and everyday phenomenon. A custom ingrained in this country’s democracy.

Now Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf has also joined them by inheriting nepotism and making it a feature of their party as well. For a moment, one could have placed some hope in Imran Khan’s promise to shatter the ranks of nepotism in Pakistan. But it was too good a promise to be enacted. A promise articulated, but not a promise implemented.

The NA-154 constituency is a prime example of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s hypocrisy and nepotism: a seat which became vacant due to the Supreme Court’s disqualification of Jahangir Tareen, a PTI politician. In the by-election PTI fielded the son of disqualified Jahangir Tareen, Ali Khan Tareen. This resulted in a political upset as PTI has lost that constituency to PML-N.

If this is not hypocrisy then what is it? If this is not nepotism then what is it? It is nepotistic-hypocrisy – a combination of both.

Democracies don’t thrive on the above type of nepotism. Instead, democracies require meritocracy just like hydrogen requires oxygen to constitute water. In other words, democracies require people of merit rather than people who are the children of someone historically important.

There should be no doubt that meritocracy and nepotism are intrinsically opposed to each other. For example, meritocracy is defined as ‘a society governed by people selected according to merit’. In contrast, nepotism is defined as the ‘practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends’. There is a clear and emphatic dichotomy between the two concepts. One favours the best and the other favours loved ones. Unfortunately, the three major political parties exercise nepotism at the expense of meritocracy.

If someone is still in doubt about what kind of democracy Pakistan needs, then they should ask themselves the following question: what kind of Pakistan did Quaid-e-Azam strive for – a democratic and meritocratic Pakistan or a nepotistic Pakistan?

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