Rising populism

Published April 14, 2023

THE rising wave of populism has affected badly the social fabric in the country. The prevailing culture of hatred and utter intolerance has its roots in the tendency to blow political differences out of proportion to the extent that coexistence becomes seriously difficult, if not impossible. Pakistan is a state where sentiments of inflation-hit groups can be easily exploited by generating narratives for the sake of gaining political mileage, like promises to end economic instability.

Be it a populist measure to announce fuel subsidies ahead of the no-confidence motion that saw the then prime minister’s ouster, or the decision by the government to provide wheat and fuel subsidies ahead of seeking the loan tranche from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the approach to convince the masses has a populist streak about it. The populist measures, like targeted subsidy on fuel, have affected the staff level agreement as the IMF was not consulted on the plan.

Other than inflation, one of the most common tactics to exploit the public for political gains is to play with their religious sentiments. We can clearly see opposition politicians running a hate campaign against the government, and calling it ‘jihad’. This has led to instability in terms of security across the country where people are putting their lives in danger by disrespecting state institutions.

Every political party needs to identify the loopholes in its agenda and narratives, and to work for the benefit of the state. Only then can we succeed in ensuring the kind of political stability that is so very necessary for the prosperity of the nation.

Rameesha Mehmood
Lahore

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2023

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