neutrality in politics

Written by Bilal Ahmed 8:20 pm Opinion, Published Content

Neutrality in Politics is a Sin

Citing different historical examples like the French Revolution and the creation of the US, Bilal Ahmed argues why taking an interest in politics is necessary for the people of a state, especially its youth. He claims that general neglect shown by the citizens can lead to bad governance and the deterioration of democracy, as is the case in Pakistan.
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About the Author(s)
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Mr Bilal Ahmed is a graduate of English Literature from the University of Sindh.

“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 Pakistan 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. These politicians have had but one ambition: to accomplish their selfish ends by means of depriving the poor masses.

One wonders, then: 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, Pakistan has paid the price of its indifference to political matters. The price, however, has been too high—higher than what could have been expected.

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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 guilty as those unscrupulous politicians, if not more.

Our nation, especially the youngsters, in the pursuit of their professions, have abandoned 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, 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 Pakistanis are unaware of basic terms such as GDP growth. This negligence towards the matters of the state has cost us dearly.

Now, imagine for a while, the fate of the French Revolution of 1789 if the revolutionaries had 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.”

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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 superpower if it had kept on following the Monroe Doctrine.

Also, women in 19th-century Europe would not have gotten their fundamental right of suffrage had they decided to mourn over their misery while displaying neutrality in politics. Therefore, it is only by being cognizant of political matters can nations influence the course of their futures and bring about a change in their lives.

It is only by taking an interest in politics that people can know their rights and their obligations towards their state. It is only with politics that people can hold their representatives accountable for not delivering, participate in matters of national importance, and, thus, convert a rudimentary and inchoate democracy into a lively and 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, and siding with one view or another, are never the 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 politics and not realizing the fact that neutrality in politics is a sin.

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