A short Pak history and a survival strategy

  • While our leaders keep telling us how well Pakistan has done, the sad fact is that far from being commendable, our performance levels have not even been acceptable. And this applies to civilian leaders as well as some over-ambitious Generals trespassing in the political field.

    Gen. Pervez Musharraf recently claimed that the country made more progress under military dictators. And while it may be true to some extent and the material progress made during the rein of military dictators may have been better than during the civilian rule, it could be partly due to flow of US dollars and came at the cost of some disastrous consequences.

    Like for example Ayub Khan was the one who started military misadventures in Pakistan. Apart from not giving democracy a breathing space to progress and consolidate, he also created dissatisfaction among Bengalis, who were in majority, by mistreating them and not giving them their due share in civilian and military establishments as also in the national budget which, together with export earnings of jute from East Pakistan, was overwhelmingly spent in West Pakistan. No wonder a Bengali once remarked that the roads of Islamabad smelt of jute.

    And even the shifting of country's capital from Karachi to Islamabad was an affront to the people of Sindh as well as to Bengalis. Having majority population, Bengalis wanted the capital to be in East Pakistan. However, as a matter of respect for Quaid-e-Azam, they agreed to Karachi being made the capital. Bengalis were also happier in the mild climate of Karachi. However, with plans to shift the capital, the Bengalis again put up their demand which Ayub Khan contemptuously over-ruled and moved the capital to somewhere near his ancestral village. While the founders of Pakistan managed to run the country from modest premises in Karachi, Ayub Khan would have nothing short of an architect-designed capital. Surely, for a poor country like Pakistan, such vast sums of money wasted on the capital could have been far better utilized on productive pursuits. Ayub started the process of separation of East Pakistan and his nominee Gen. Yahya Khan presided over the dismemberment of Pakistan in the most shameful manner.

    And to punish Karachiites who had voted for Mohtarmah Fatima Jinnah, a presidential candidate against Ayub Khan, the father-son team resorted to various measures against Urdu-speaking people resulting, in due course, in the formation of MQM. It must be realized that migrants from India did not regard themselves as a separate entity until made to realize this by discriminatory policies of Ayub Khan. And the fact that MQM was not formed until over thirty years of creation of Pakistan is a proof of that. And the pattern set by Ayub Khan continues till this day. It was only recently that a senior officer questioned Karachiites' loyalty to Pakistan by asking them whether they would align with Pakistan. And while the Baloch rebels and militants, who have killed far more policemen, soldiers and others than those in Karachi, are taken into a warm embrace as former 'angry, misguided brothers' once they renounce violence, there seems to be no respite for the political party representing Karachiites and even its former offices remain sealed..

    No doubt during their peak, unruly elements among MQM, especially those who received brutal handling during operations against party members - with cheera being a favourite one - or had their relatives killed, got involved in criminal activities. However, after four years of no-holds-barred operation in Karachi during which there were many allegations of torture and disappearances and at least one well-documented case of death of a senior MQM member in Rangers custody, the party would and should have been purged of nearly all undesirables unless of course the law enforcers had been incapable, which they surely were not Moreover, MQM-Pakistan leadership has cut off all connections with Altaf Hussain and the London set up. So, there doesn't seem to be any justification left for not unsealing the sealed offices and to allow the party to resume normal political activity. This seems even more unjust when we see that the radical ones among madrasas the product of some of which is reported to have killed 60,000 Pakistanis, including 8,000 soldiers and hundreds of policemen are allowed to stand despite many of them having been built illegally on encroached land.

    Come to Gen. Ziaul Haq, well, in order to consolidate and prolong his grip on power, he needlessly involved Pakistan in the US revenge war with the Soviet Union. And to prepare cannon-fodder for this war, he established large chains of madrasas who prepared half-baked mujahids whose production continued even after they were no longer needed, and who are now holding Pakistan and Afghanistan by the throat in addition to giving us a bad name world-over. Gen. Ziaul Haq stands guilty of introducing extremism and terrorism in this country of moderate Muslims, doing much the same to Afghanistan. Moreover, during his rule, various massacres of Urdu-speaking people in parts of Orangi and government inaction over these further increased ethnic tensions in Karachi.

    And Gen. Pervez Musharraf gave us Kargil which resulted in the martyrdom of some of the bravest soldiers of Pakistan, without bringing any benefit to the country. And while promising to give us clean politics, he instead lumbered us with Zaradaris and Sharifs, duly cleansed through NRO.

    And to add to our misfortune, barring the founding leaders, our civilian politicians did not do any better either. Their greed for illicit wealth and absolute power has brought Pakistan to the sorry state it is in. While Ayub and Yahya share the ultimate blame for the separation of East Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's refusal to acknowledge the overwhelming mandate of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman did play an important part in the tragedy. And Bhutto's indiscriminate nationalization did incalculable damage to the growing industry.

    And now we are blessed with Sharifs and Zardaris who have systematically hacked down all state institutions to facilitate and promote their corruption. And they have not left even the Constitution alone and the provision regarding two terms for the prime minister was done away with in order to facilitate Nawaz Sharif. And by giving the powers to the ruling party and the loyal opposition - PML-N and PPP - to appoint the National Accountability Bureau Director General with mutual consent, they have completely defanged the NAB,

    Luckily, the Panama Papers issue has provided us an opportunity to make a complete break from the past. PM Nawaz Sharif has already been disqualified and references against him and others are due to be filed at the NAB soon with a Supreme Court judge overseeing the process. However, while the superior judiciary and the JIT did wonderful work, there are fears that all this may go down the drain with the mischief of NAB Director General and some other similarly disposed other stafff in the NAB. The matter was discussed in the television programme 'The reporters' yesterday and the participants did not appear hopeful of a befitting outcome. And how things will shape up was clearly shown by the over-ruling by the NAB DG of NAB Lahore's plea that Sharifs' and Ishaq Dar's assets be confiscated and their name put on the Exist Control List. Arif Hameed Bhatti disclosed that these were PML-N lawyers who are preparing the references to be filed against Nawaz Sharif and they are sure to leave enough loopholes for the references to be thrown out at the first hearing. And it seems unlikely that the NAB will file reference in respect of Hudaibiya Mills case which is most damaging for Sharifs. None of the participants seemed to be too hopeful and Barrister Fargogh Nasim remarked that with the executive being in the Sharifs' iron grip, we should not expect much.

    Of course we remember that despite the full involvement of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in the past, Asif Zardari got away with his sixty million dollars. We also saw how the case of cold-blooded murder of fourteen innocent men and women and wounding of another eighty at Dr. Tahirul Qadri's Model Town secretariat was swept under the carpet, together with Justice Baqar Najfi's report. And how ECP code of conduct is being openly flouted in NA-120 by PML-N goons while Maryam is being provided top protocol despite holding no official position.

    Coming back to 'The Reporters, it was suggested that perhaps the Supreme Court should seek the help of the armed forces under Articles 178 adn 190 of the Constitution in order to get its orders implemented. While in the past, some over-ambitious Generals have gone to the extent of staging military coups, the nation won't mind if in the present situation, the armed forces went a bit further than Articles 178 and 190, in order to save whatever is left of Pakistan from the greedy gangs of dacoits and murderers disguised as 'politicians and top state officials'.

    Now that we are on to it, the authorities must ensure that the accountability does not remain limited to Sharifsand Dar and other big fish are also bought in to the net .

    And with superior judiciary doing so much, which the government ought to have been doing instead, I also request it to to set up some process for the interpretation of eligibility conditions of Parliamentarians (and of course other top state officials) revolving around the quality of being 'Sadiq and Ameen' in simple language and a questionnaire form, for ease of application, leaving out provisions relating to the religion which are more a amatter between man and God, which is how Quaid-e-Azam would have desired it to be.

    Fresh elections, with eligibility conditions strictly applied, will bring into the Parliament a fresh crop of honest Parliamentarians who, forming capable government and effective opposition, could put the country on a path to progress. Such people could also bring back the looted wealth stashed abroad and use it to reduce/eliminate our crippling loan burden and also invest in vital sectors like education, health, population planning, etc and on improving service-delivery to the masses.

    I think this is about the last chance we have to put our house in order to be able to survive in the present circumstances. It is no good just assuming that nothing can happen to Pakistan. It is a fact that our power-hungry, greedy politicians managed to cut us in half in a mere 24 years. And while China and Russia are on our side, the Brics resolution about 'militant groups in Pakistan posing a regional security concern' clearly shows that they can do only so much, and they definitely can't save us from ourselves.

    And shamefully, what is posing an existential threat to the country now is not India, not even Trump but but our corrupt, inept politicians and their protector, an ex-serviceman who once formed part of a force that is expected to, and habitually gives many sacrifices, including of lives, in the defence of the country. But this one seems quite happy throwing the country and its twenty crore people down the drain for a bit of financial benefits. And those who have powers to stop this criminal but opted to stay aloof instead would of course be taken as aiding and abeting him. It is definitely time to revise the saying/verse about 'Jaffer from Bengal and Sadiq from Deccan' as many more additions need to be made to it on an urgent basis, and on pure 'merit'.

    So, inaction is definitely not an option at this critical juncture.