In the ongoing season of political difficulties in our country even the talk of establishing a strong and modern state is like saying that Congo, Afghanistan, Haiti or Sierra Leone in their current condition of statelessness can send an astronaut to the moon. I hold no grudge against these countries but in the real world in which we live these countries are bitter expressions of statelessness — something that we in Pakistan don’t wish for ourselves. Yet politics in this country never stops to invest in our statelessness. Why? Even if there was a central authority to prevent statelessness from happening our enemies are making sure that even this authority is made controversial and in a politically created, free-for-all environment the very centre of gravity of our oneness, statehood and nationhood is so much weakened that we don’t need an enemy to disintegrate and destroy us — we should do it ourselves. What a pity? Can we allow this to happen? Will we allow this to happen? What are our expectations? Lack of political, economic, social and even ideological development in the previous governments’ tenure have prevented people to build ‘higher expectations’ and when the bar of expectations was erroneously raised by the incoming PTI government, those who were reasonable understood that ‘sending astronauts to the moon’ in the timeframe that the PTI government was promising was impossible. Thus, for the PTI to currently render political space to the opposition is a natural fallout of its unfulfilled political promises; and the political drubbing that it is getting is the drubbing it deserves but that does not mean that the government is inefficient, incompetent and doesn’t know its job. It only means that in its political appreciation it misread the ‘time and space’ and no matter how much hue and cry the opposition raises the PTI government must continue to believe in Napoleon’s famous dictum ‘space you can recover, time never’. It should not leave the political space uncontested and for every rabbit that the opposition pulls out from its hat it should keep its ‘tortoise ready to run the political race with it’. Those in hurry make mistakes, and while time is not on the opposition’s side it is pretty much on the side of the government because it is a constitutional and legitimate representative, chosen by the people of Pakistan. The PTI government must execute a declared slowness of response and a ‘race winning speed’ of the tortoise. Currently the opposition is forcing the government to react; and we know all reactions taken in hurry are never well thought-out. Resultantly it is the government which despite standing on a higher moral pedestal is committing more mistakes. Bottom line for the PTI — run at full throttle to execute the process of accountability, ensure service delivery, reduce energy prices and carry out poverty elevation, but slow down on tit-for-tat political responses to the opposition. Why? Both the government and the opposition are unfortunately misreading the political growth in this country. Despite their ‘democratic mandates’ both are out of touch with the ground reality. Politics grew separately from the economy, society, science and industry in this country and while in the last decade or so, we experienced dysfunctions, shortfalls, disruptions and distortions in all the other sectors, the conduct of politics in this country remained functional and uninterrupted. What I am saying is that the birth of a new social class in this country is now a political reality. It is neither the working class nor the middle class; nor is it divided by religion, caste or ethnicity; it is not even represented as elite or non-elite. It is the ‘new social class’ born after learning what politics and democracy can and cannot give. Had there not been a democratic continuity this class wouldn’t have been born. Members of this new social class whether sitting in their drawing rooms, working in the offices, factories, studying in the universities or plowing the fields know and understand that governments fail not because the economy, society, industry or science fails — it fails because politics fails. They understand ‘their kind of politics’? They understand its out-datedness and backwardness. They also understand how ‘accidents of birth’ played an uncontested role and gifted them with these ‘unconstrained rulers’ who are difficult to constrain even when they are not in the government. The birth of this social class is benchmarked by few political realities. They are: marginalisation of the PPP, having been reduced to a regional party. Who made them lose this political space — their own political conduct which was rightly read and translated in the huge loss of vote bank and its popularity? The PML-N is also looking down the barrel at a similar kind of fate. If ably prosecuted and rightly judged by the courts of law this party will witness a similar loss of vote bank by the time of next elections. No matter how much the political deck is shuffled the Kings and Queens of corruption remain part of the deck and in time will be witnessed by all and laid bare on the table. Could the PTI win the 2018 elections and make such inroads into these mainstream political parties vote bank if this new social class was not born? I don’t know in which language to write to make PM Imran Khan — ‘a leader with good intent’ that he and his party can only be defeated by their unthoughtful political reactions. All that Imran Khan needs to do is instruct his ministers to work more efficiently and diligently in their ministries and offices to make up for the lost time. As a policy ask them to spend this extra time in their offices rather than spending it on TV screens indulging in superfluous political debates. Democracy in this country is not allowing state building. Mainstream parties have still not learnt political lessons and continue to follow blindly political masters that are stuck ‘neck-deep’ in the mud of corruption. The ‘planters of unreformed, patronage-ridden and politically appointed bureaucracy’ have dealt a heavy blow to the state-building process in this country. What was witnessed in Karachi and which was politicised to gain selfish political ends only states that ‘sub-nation building’ was preferred over nation-building and state-building. The political, ideological, social and economic dimension of development of our state is unfortunately proceeding on different federal and provincial tracks. For the federation and provinces to work in tandem, a strong government with two-thirds majority is needed at the Centre. Till this happens, our enemies will continue to exploit this political fault-line and the true journey of Pakistan to become a strong and modern state will not begin. Lastly, in the remaining three years the PTI government must do everything it can to ensure relief to the poor; and provide the best and brightest prosecutors to bring the corruption cases to the logical ends. If this is achieved no matter how many rabbits the opposition pulls out of its political hat the ‘new social class’, the politically awakened and aware public will still not vote for ‘pocket fillers’ during elections in 2023.