There is no denying the economic collapse under the PTI, or the capitulation of all parties that squandered the opportunity for a democratic corrective by passing the amendment. Our morality is an easily discarded piece of paper. No wonder Pakistanis fixate on spiritual promises. Prime Minister family was labeled all day as prostitutes and sluts. Moral authority is questionable here.

The top trends in Pakistan during current week are related to politics, but questioning the moral values of people who were re-tweeting and pushing it in the top slots. No wonder, the landing topics includes vulgar abuses directed towards sitting Prime Minister and main political leaders of country.

Political morality, as is understood here, is concerned with the normative basis of fundamental political principles. However, aside from this sense, political morality can be comprised of multiple meanings and can refer to different topics. In the first sense, the concept refers to the morality of particular policies and programs. It can endorse a realistic approach, according to which moral categories are considered in the context of real politic, be used in relation to non-normative elements in politics, such as interests and social power, or as a complementary or discordant part of technique or mode of governance.

It can be assumed that there is an expectation to act in just way when the practice inevitably includes compromises and relations of domination, and therefore the acts of the state should, alongside legality, entail legitimacy or normative justification of the policy as well. In the second meaning, political morality concerns the moral basis of citizenship that is the ethical characteristics or virtues which are necessary for members of different social groups or proponents of diverse conceptions.

Post 9/11, there is a conscious effort to privilege Muslims religious identities and merge neo liberalism with Islamic regimes. This has given rise to the pious Muslim leader whose aim is not to restructure the economy or strengthen civilian rule but to impose governance as a moral duty rather than by democratic consensus.

As in Turkey, this project is dependent on the convincing of the masses that it has been the moral corruption of past leaders, and not unequal distribution of wealth or lack of democratic economies, that caused inequalities. Instead, citizens are promised some imagined faith-based modernity/democracy as guided by piety.

The solution to our moral questioning is simple. We have to assemble the grand narratives on saving religion from Western conspiracies and Muslim lands from infidel’s brutality and, defending Muslim women’s right to the veil while rejecting liberal freedoms. There is no need to challenge global economic elites or religious power groups or amend laws that aid hegemony. This is a theory which needs to be changed from inside rather than outside.

This explains why our human rights minister is consumed by foreign human rights violations but appears disinterested in domestic violence, honor crimes, forced conversions, direct abusing the families of highest office holder of the country or censorship.

Under this government, spiritual pursuits are privileged over practical matters. When the prime minister speaks extempore rather than from policy scripts, his lack of preparation is hailed as a virtue. Even if there is no substance, rhetoric appeals to supporters’ sense of righteousness and vindicates their lingering sense of historical injury against all infidel enemies. Vengeance against opposition leaders, diminishing provincial autonomy, crushing peaceful dissent and crippling censorship is the agenda while fire walling military and monies interests. There are no structural changes, just the deflection and pious talk.

Engineered piety requires careful gender planning. Men and women are allocated very specific roles and convinced that it is their patriotic duty to conform to these. This is why select women celebrities have been recruited as spokeswomen for state narratives on external matters only as the Kashmir and global Islam phobia etc.

These qualities are ideal type ones, and more meticulous analysis can reveal that in concrete cases political morality has certain properties in common with ethical conception and, vice versa, particular ethics have the features of general morality, as well as those which belong to special cases of political morality. The norms of morality such as those concerning rights, justice or freedom of speech can be controversial, as people will disagree overwhelmingly on the questions. But labeling someone prostitute and slut is not just able through any means.

Furthermore, despite a generality, obligatory nature of the norms of political morality is confined to a given group, therefore it is considered as unjustified when states with just laws, free media and fair democratic procedures of political adjudication attempt to impose the character of their institutions in other, illiberal or less democratic states.

The goods that are generally accepted as agreeable and objective can be listed, such as knowledge, realization of certain personal and social relationships, cultural achievements, achieved in toto. Ethical systems are all-encompassing; they entail additional obligations, regulations, norms and values, not only the above mentioned generally desirable goods.

In a country that hover second last in global gender indices and where the women’s labor force participation is abysmal, privileging female piety over their politics is critically important. It is far easier to focus on abstract moralities such as, Muslim women’s outward identities, external lifestyles, domestic duties, rather than ensure their equality, mobility, protection or employment. Piety stabilizes the patriarchal gendered order.

Faith-based leadership is not invested in delivering governance or rights but simply in reframing politics within a self-styled moralistic model. There is no worldly accountability to be held to. As long as we feel, look and sound Muslim in a male-defined manner, corruption, economic or social progress are irrelevant. Led by a pious leader, this government’s only in­­ten­­tion is to sit back and pray, while ­condemning legitimate criticism or democratic disagreement as sacrilege or sedition.

Finally, ethical norms which are accepted as customs of the local community are an amalgam of those norms which correspond to morality and morally neutral habits or modes of community members’ interaction which could be different while at the same time not becoming more or less moral.

By Ali Asad

The author is doing M. Phil in Public Policy and Governance. He is working  as a freelancer. Previously worked with HubPages and Washington Post.

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