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Moral authority — Pakistan at the crossroads

National

March 7, 2021

The requisition of National Assembly for Prime Minister’s vote of confidence has posed a bigger question of moral authority? Moral means what societies sanction as right and acceptable – the standards set by any given society. Morality requires that people sacrifice their own short-term interests for the benefit of society. In political philosophy and ethics, political authority describes moral principles - legitimising differences between individual’s rights and duties, by virtue of their relationship with the state.

The philosophical foundation of democracy is based on moral authority. Western Democracies have clearly defined their morality. However, Pakistan being the Islamic Republic should have even higher standards than the western democracy since our morals are driven out of our religion. The Objective Resolution of our country is embedded in our Constitution, ‘Ayat-e-Kareema’ is right above our heads in the Parliament, and we consider ourselves an Islamic Republic, so there are moral obligations of two sets of embodiment, one being Islamic and the other being a Republic.

In the recent Senate election, there was a debate of horse-trading and a presidential ordinance was passed for open ballot. The debate landed in Supreme Court that further advised Election Commission to use technology to curb horse-trading. The Senate election by in large remained neutral, however a controversy arose in capital where one PTI candidate and one joint PDM candidate from PPP won election.

PTI candidate Fauzia Arshad bagged seat with 174 votes and joint PDM candidate Yousaf Raza Gilani got 169. The additional votes bagged by ex-prime minister Gilani were not gained by any moral standard. Subsequently, the night before the Senate election a controversial video of Gilani’s son surfaced in media explaining the parliamentarians how they could void their vote and was offering financial favors in return. Sindh Minister for Local Government Nasir Shah’s audios on the similar line, and Maryam Nawaz’s confessional statement during the worker convention that the MNA’s were not paid but were given assurance of party tickets in next general elections (2023) are also evident. Unfortunately, none of these actions meet the standards of the morality.

Despite PTI winning the Senate election, and emerging as the single largest party in the Upper House, the prime minister has voluntarily gone for the vote of confidence and has raised the bar of morals. Although personally he has achieved both the ingredients of moral authority – authority through the votes and moral through the standards set.

On the other end, opposition is facing allegations of horse-trading alongside cases and there are few which have been already convicted of corruption, kickbacks and nepotism but they have conveniently turned the political discourse into political victimisation. Politics is all about morals, where are the morals of the opposition? Just casting a ballot is sufficient authority to plunder and ruin this country, while creating laws just for the privileged class.

The bigger question now for all of us - What sort of a society have we turned into? Will there be introspection in the parliament and state institutions? Morality is the hallmark of humanity. What morality does the opposition hold? Are the institutions of Pakistan strong enough to verify the oppositions moral fiber or will the morals only remain in the articles of the constitution 62 & 63, until not challenged by anyone will it stay as it is?

The prime minister has proved his moral authority, let us see how opposition will prove their morals which they promised to the people of Pakistan!!

The author is former SAPM to Prime Minister and can be reached @DuraniIftikha