A Rational Approach to Pakistan Elections

Rationality is, in fact, one of the most contested and yet, widely debated themes across several social and behavioural sciences, including the domain of economic sciences. It refers to an idea where human beings are considered consistent in their action, with their behaviour truly applying the elements of rationality. Rationality implies that human actions are dictated by a purpose, an underlying logic, and finally, that they have an ultimate aim or goal. Thus, an individual who keeps his room dirty and unorganized would still account for a rational being if he or she has a purpose behind doing so. Or an individual who engages in a series of murders would be still counted as rational if he has a purpose behind doing so. On the other hand, someone who commits a crime like murder would be treated as irrational if he does so out of nothing and has no goals to achieve in the end by engaging in such activities.

The idea here is that rationality is a concept that diverges from ethics. One can engage in actions which are unethical yet rational. For a long period of time, economics was obsessed with rationality and this came at the cost of ethical considerations. This was problematic as human behaviour was not always rational; rather, it was bounded rationality that human actions exhibited. This would mean that although human beings are in pursuit of rational actions, unavailability of information and asymmetrical distribution of knowledge puts certain restraints upon their actions, hampering their journey towards attaining a ‘salvation’ in ethical mindfulness. The emergence of a behavioural approach towards economic behaviour was the reason behind the emergence of the representation of an ideal human, who acts not just out of his rational mind, but also under the influence of the ethical considerations and value judgements. The idea has far-flung implications and could be extended to certain elements and phenomenon that we observe around us in the contemporary Indian society.

Indian Foreign Policy at Cross Roads

In fact, India’s foreign policy is currently facing such a dilemma; on one hand, past experience has taught Indian foreign policymakers to be rational in their actions; on the other hand, the ethical considerations are making Indian policymakers keep aside these ‘experiences’ that they had and leading them to act with a rationality that also takes into consideration ethics. The recent elections and the results from Pakistan, India’s immediate neighbour and long-time foe, has put India in a difficult situation. Elections held on the 25th of July was a milestone in the history of Pakistan for several reasons. It was also one of the few instances in the history of this Islamic Republic where a smooth transition between two democratically elected governments happened without any military takeover or uncertainty. Many feared a possible military crackdown in Pakistan following the elections, but nothing unfortunate happened.

When the results were announced, former cricketer Imran Khan and his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) came out as the single largest party. If everything goes well and as expected, he will take oath as the Prime Minister on 11th of August, 2018. While this will give a moment of relief for India, it is also a matter of concern for New Delhi, if not now, then in the coming days. As mentioned before, the reason why this victory for Imran Khan is a matter of relief for India is due to the fact that he won the popular mandate and is now eligible to assume the power conferred upon him. For a long period of time, Pakistan was under military rule and this was one of the reasons why the nation always showed animosity to its immediate neighbour, India. From an ethical viewpoint, India will now have to accept the results and welcome the new Prime Minister for future cooperation between two countries.

The ethical side of foreign policy would suggest India look at these developments positively; after all, it was also the victory of democracy in Pakistan soil, which was and still is dominated by military rule and hostility against India. However, a rational policy maker will not watch these developments with peace of mind. The recent developments in Pakistan has another side. There are allegations that the military rigged the elections and vote counting by preventing the whips and representatives of several parties from entering the counting stations. While the tradition is to declare the results within 24 hours of the close of polling, it took around two days to announce the final tally. Even if we keep all these concerns aside, we may find that subsequent Pakistani regimes violated peace across the border and India often had to pay huge prices whenever the country trusted its neighbour and declared ceasefire across the borders. Going by the sheer logic and rationality, the new developments in Pakistan gives nothing but the beginning of another episode of hurdles towards cooperation and mutual trust. Even though Imran Khan won a popular mandate, it is a well-known fact he won the elections also because of an invisible hand (economically speaking), which in turn was extended by a military which feels insecure of its democratic neighbourhood.

India must stick to its bounded rationality while dealing with Pakistan. The nation is not ready for another Kargil or another version of Indo-Pak war. Though the newly elected government is a result of the democratic process, it is highly unlikely that the new government will go against the whims and fancies of the Pakistani military.

Picture Credits: NewsNation



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