An open letter to President General (Retd) Pervaiz Musharraf from Masood Sharif Khan Khattak
Dear Mr President,
The destructive events of 2007 cannot be wished away. The naked assault of your government on the judiciary, led by yourself from the front, on 09 March, 2007, triggered off a chain of events that need not be recounted. In short, Pakistan has been devastated all through 2007.
Pakistan lost an internationally recognised political and intellectual personality, namely, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto on 27 December, 2007, to a murderous gun and bomb attack. Pakistan was reduced to paralysis in the aftermath of the tragic manner in which Pakistans most courageous political leader lost her life. The story does not end here. The adverse effects of this tragedy will continue to unfold in the days, months and years to come. I pray that ALLAH THE ALMIGHTY Blesses the soul of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto eternal peace of heavens. Amen.
The deplorable law and order situation in the country, in general, and the mishandling of the situation in our erstwhile peaceful tribal areas and other parts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) only add to the widespread belief in the country that you and your government has now become a huge part of the problem and is certainly not equal to the task of finding a solution to the gigantic problems faced by Pakistan. These problems have gained unimaginable dimensions through the years of your rule. While the Army and the paramilitary is deployed to fight in many parts of NWFP the police and the rangers etc are busy beating up the civil society in the city streets. Pakistan and Pakistanis are no longer at peace with each other.
Due to the events of 2007, and a lot more, the Pakistani nation that you desire to rule, with or without the nations consent, is now calling upon you to resign from the office of the President and thus make way for a smooth transition of political authority. Open any newspaper and this is the impression you shall gather.
This is an occasion to set things right. Mr President, the entire Pakistani Nation wants that you should not stand in the way leading to the evolution of a free and independent nation governed by systems, institutions and a free judiciary rather than by the whims of individuals. Pakistanis desire that you should now help bring this about through an announcement that you have, in principle, decided to resign and work for a smooth transition of power in the shortest possible stipulated period.
Sometimes one universally acclaimed and applauded act of an individual can wash off many acts of the same individual that may not have been popular. Mr President such a time, and an opportunity to go down in history in a respectable manner, is knocking at your doors. Such opportunities are always fleeting ones and if you open the door too late your opportunity may well have gone from your door leaving you stranded.
The people of Pakistan cannot now be stopped, through the misuse of State resources and the application of brute force, from achieving THE PAKISTANI DREAM which entails a free Pakistan for us all from the common man to the President/Prime Minister. Pakistanis now want a Pakistan where law is the protector rather than being the tormentor of its own population.
Believe me, Mr President, this is not about you, it is about THE PAKISTANI DREAM coming true. We have waited 60 years for it. It did not come about from the rulers of those 60 years and that includes you. The PAKISTANI DREAM is now coming about from the efforts of the lawyers and the civil society. Let it come about in peace and harmony.
Someone will, inevitably, succeed you one day. Sooner or later, it is bound to happen. Why not now in a manner that is just right for the country. The moment belongs to you. Grasp it before it flies away.
Have you not, Mr President, seen pictures of those young Pakistanis protesting against your actions against the judiciary being beaten so ruthlessly? It is the State that you are heading that is beating its own children, my children as well as your children, Mr President. Collectively they all belong to us. They are our kith and kin. They are our blood and are also Pakistans future.
Protests will take place. Protests have to take place in any society. They will always take place and, therefore, governments in Pakistan will have to be more tolerant with dissent and if they cannot be then they should either do only the absolutely unquestionable things so that there is no need for anyone to protest OR they should resign and make way for others to succeed them.
You were magnanimous in offering your apology to GEO TV when it was attacked by the police and everyone liked that act of yours. You did that on air and live on the GEO TV network. Why not now also apologise to the lawyers and the children of Pakistan who have been severely beaten by the police etc since they started protesting for an independent judiciary.
Mr President, if you resign from your office now Pakistan and Pakistanis, throughout the country, will once again be at peace with each other.
Grasp the opportunity Mr President before it is gone and never presents itself again. What to talk of asking the people of Pakistan I ask you, personally, if you still remember a man by the name of General Zia ul Haq who was the Chief of The Army Staff for longer (13 years) than you were ? We, the people of Pakistan, do not remember General Zia ul Haq despite him having ruled us for over a decade. Do you? I hope I have made my point Mr President. History is important. Grasp the moment. The moment is yours. Answer to the call of the people of Pakistan. Live up to your own slogan “PAKISTAN FIRST. Put Pakistan before your own self.
Yes, I know all this sounds naÃƒÂ¯ve for anyone to so suggest. But tell me Mr President why not? Is it that you think Pakistan has no potential, whatsoever, that can govern it effectively and that you have to be at the helm forever, until eternity? What will happen when one day you have to, inevitably, leave? Is it that you feel that Pakistan will collapse should you hand over the reigns of the government to anyone else? What beats common sense is that why should you think like this at all?
Will not the USA see a change of President on 20 January, 2009, when the new President-elect will take oath? Will not Mr George Bush, who is the architect of the present very controversial US foreign policy and the two wars raging in Iraq and Afghanistan, have to leave the future of these wars and the future governance of the USA to his duly elected successor, whoever that may be?
Can George Bush say to the people of USA that there is still a lot of work left to be done in the war on terror, or whatever else, and that for the sake of continuity or for any other earthly or unearthly reason it is a must for him to remain in power after 20 January, 2009? There is no way, whatsoever, for such a happening. George Bush will have to fade into history on 20 January, 2009, and present himself to be judged by history itself.
Bill Clinton, given his very enviable national and international popularity, could easily have won more terms but he had to make way for the future. Tony Blair of UK, had three years of his third term left when he made way for Gordon Brown when things got bad for him. Mr President, systems and not individuals make nations unite and survive.
Consider Nelson Mandela who can still win elections over and over again. Yet, after just one term as President of South Africa, having earned it after years of struggle including 27 years in prison, he made way for his well groomed successor but is still treated as a Head of State all over the world. In fact he is treated more as royalty.
Mr President do something like that and earn a place in the annals of our history. Your example will become a precedent for others to follow.
Make way for the future rather than having respectable people like our lawyers and students beaten up ruthlessly on our streets. These are the truly enlightened people of Pakistan who supported you till you went wrong. These people will never damage a single plant while protesting. So why beat them so brutally? I assure you that there is no way any amount of baton charge can now deter these leaders of tomorrow.
On my part, I have seen State barbarism from a very close quarter. I have seen periods of house arrests and imprisonment for years. As a part of the injustices meted out to me I was, at one time, imprisoned in a room 8 ft by 10 ft with no windows and with my toilet in the same room for many weeks. I have borne the obnoxious accountability process for over 9 years after which I was told by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), in writing, that there is nothing against me at all. But can anyone give me my lost years back? I lost my Federal Secretary level job in 1997 to totally unjustifiable political victimisation. I was kept on the Exit Control List (ECL) from 1996 to 2006.
Even the HILAL-E-SHUJAAT, the second highest gallantry award in the country that I was duly awarded (refer to gazette of Pakistan Aug/Sep 1996) was shamelessly withdrawn. No law permits such a withdrawal but who is going to listen and do justice? In conclusion to one of my newspaper article I had said that “Nations that mistreat their own heroes someday, inevitably, have to pay a very dear price.
I am the only Intelligence Chief of Pakistan, civil or military, who has ever been decorated for gallantry in the field of national security and has still been humiliated beyond description. The reason; a subjugated judiciary that could not come to my help!
Every minute of my victimisation of 15 long years I dreamt of a Pakistan with a free judiciary so people suffering like me could be protected against State barbarism. This is why today I stand openly, without let or fear, with those demanding a free and independent judiciary, a judiciary that can say NO to the Executive even if the Executive is in uniform.
My PROTECTOR AND GUIDE is ALLAH THE ALMIGHTY and the misused power of the State is nothing at all as compared to the power of THE ALMIGHTY ALLAH, in whom I trust completely. We will realise THE PAKISTANI DREAM – INSHA ALLAH. This PAKISTANI DREAM is our DREAM, make it yours too.
Mr President, on October 12, 1999, a large majority of Pakistanis, in fact, this very civil society that your Regime is now busy in beating up on the streets, gave you their goodwill in the earnest hope that you will usher in that new Pakistan for which now the students, lawyers and the civil society are striving. Has none of your advisors told you that the goodwill of the people of Pakistan that you initially enjoyed has long gone? Can you not see it for yourself Mr President?
The people of Pakistan were with you on the accountability process and the aspect of bringing about harmony within the country. Where these aspects pathetically stand today is not something I need to write about.
Like all Pakistani rulers you also could not make a team of genuinely efficient and motivated people to implement what you then wanted to implement. Your initial seven point agenda was very good and many Pakistanis gave you their support to implement it but over the years that agenda for harmony got lost somewhere in some cupboard.
Why does this happen to all those who hold the reigns of power in Pakistan? Why do you let the sycophants take over and ruin you and the country? There is indeed some curse in our palaces where sycophants always overcome the professional and patriotic Pakistanis.
When your era has ended all those you put in lucrative jobs will vanish quietly into a life of riches and no one will say a thing to them but you will be talked about in a bad vein for their misdeeds. They will distance themselves from you as if they have never known you. Why do all our rulers let this happen to them?
Pakistanis now seek that true freedom that they have longed for in the shape of The PAKISTANI DREAM which envisages us as the proud citizens of a Pakistan governed by systems and the national institutions rather than being ruled by a one man regime. Mr President, make way for The Pakistani Dream and become a part of it too. I urge you, and I am sure millions of Pakistanis would second me on this, to do the following:-
Announce that you have decided to resign and that you shall hand over power to a new President as soon as he is elected.
Announce that you shall meet all the political leaders within one week and, thereafter, will announce just one person as the consensus Prime Minister who will run the government through the existing bureaucratic structure and will have no Cabinet of useless Ministers. Also add that, thereafter, you shall recede into the background till the new President is elected and you finally hand over to him.
At this point, in time, also announce the revival of the judiciary to its 02 November,2007, position because this one step will bring about the lost confidence of the people of Pakistan and will also help give credibility to the whole process of the transition of political power.
That the new Prime Minister, independent of you, will appoint a new Election Commission, Chief Ministers and Governors.
That this new Prime Minister and the new Chief Election Commissioner will conduct a free, fair and impartial general elections within 90 days of taking office.
That during the three months in power the Prime Minister along with the revived judiciary will lay down the methodology for the effectiveness of the existing rules of business for all the government institutions so that once the new government takes charge there is never a transgression of one institution into the working of any other institution, civil or military.
That within one week of the new parliament coming into force the schedule for the election of a new President will be announced and once the new President is elected you shall hand over to him. The revived judiciary will give you immunity till this time i.e. when you actually hand over and leave. This can always be worked out amicably if we all put Pakistan ahead of our own selves.
I have suggested this smooth transition as compared to an abrupt transition so that the world starts looking at us as a civilised country and so that the countrys chances of plunging into anarchy are avoided. The option of immediately handing over to the Chairman Senate after announcing the new consensus Prime Minister is available for you to consider. However, I will still recommend that work on the smooth transfer of political authority should begin immediately and in right earnest.
The writing on the wall is written in large, capital and bold letters, Mr President. Failing to read the same will be very detrimental for Pakistan.
The moment belongs to you, Mr President, and the choice of bringing about a graceful and historic political change in Pakistan, or an ignominious one, is all yours.
My prayer to ALLAH THE ALMIGHTY is to give you the strength to make the right decision which can only be to make way for the future in the most graceful manner.
(MASOOD SHARIF KHAN KHATTAK)