Guest Blog by Amjad Malik
What goes around, comes around was a phrase I heard in my childhood and the fate of our outgoing political machinery is pitiful as they are still conspiring, aspiring and dreaming of forming government by hook or crook despite the fact that air is against them, and they do not find any space in the ranks of opposition, and people of Q like a salt are diluting in the political waters of Pakistan as they have no roots in the masses on their own. They are a tribe which never go to jail and is always ready to switch sides at eleventh hour. Those who were claiming to elect a serving General ten times in uniform to the slot of president are biting their nails and the mandate is clear, in comes the chief justice and out goes the President.
Public have spoken once again, and they cheered loudly that its democracy they prefer. Once again mandate has been given to parties holding roots in the masses and we are once again at a crossroad yet again, to respect that mandate and save the integrity and sovereignty of the country or repeat our mistakes like 70s. We must learn from the mistakes of past when we lost Dhaka shamefully, we daringly are willing to repeat such mistakes. I have been depicting the core of our problems one of which is that we never nip the evil in the bud and we always try to move forward pragmatically without caring the fall outs on state. Hamood ur Rehman commission was quick to depict our weaknesses earlier in 70s and it tried to put our future straight but we withheld that report for decades which should have been part and parcel of our learning process. I would quote only few relevant paragraphs just to give a glimpse to show how familiar the scene was then, and even now, and I pose a question when will we learn.
The report says in the opening chapter 1, at paragraph (2), “ After analysing the evidence brought before the Commission, we came to the conclusion that the process of moral degeneration among the senior ranks of the Armed Forces was set in motion by their involvement in Martial Law duties in 1958, that these tendencies reappeared and were, in fact, intensified when Martial Law was imposed in the country once again in March 1969 by General Yahya Khan, and that there was indeed substance in the allegations that a considerable number of senior Army Officers had not only indulged in large scale acquisition of lands and houses and other commercial activities, but had also adopted highly immoral and licentious ways of life which seriously affected their professional capabilities and their qualities of leadershipÃ¢â‚¬Â?.
In the report at Chapter 1, Para (9), according to Rear Admiral M. Sharif (Witness No. 283) who was the Flag Officer Commanding the Pakistan Navy in East Pakistan, said “the foundation of this defeat was laid way back in 1958 when the Armed Forces took over the country …Ã¢â‚¬Â? While learning the art of politics in this newly assigned role to themselves, they gradually abandoned their primary function of the art of soldiering, they also started amassing wealth and usurping status for themselves.”
And finally in their recommendations at chapter 5 paragraph (3) the commission reported that “The Commission feels that there is consensus on the imperative need to book these senior army commanders who have brought disgrace and defeat to Pakistan. We believe that such action would not only satisfy the nations demand for punishment where it is deserved, but would also serve to emphasise the concept of professional accountability which appears to have been forgotten by senior army officers since their involvement in politics, civil administration and Martial Law dutiesÃ¢â‚¬Â?.
Did we ever try to learn from our own mistakes? Our soldiers must have learnt that report by heart to try to lift their professionalism but they never could lay their hands on this report, never mind learning it by heart, and alas we kept on experimenting on Pakistan without caring the remarks of our beloved Quaid who prohibited the armed forces from indulging in politics and for the very reason tried to impinge the promotion of General Ayub khan who to him was an aspiring General.
The pity is that Generals always find people like Elahi who are ready to act as collaborators and are ready to dance on their tunes. Those good for nothing politicians are willing to select, elect or support them for demolishing Parliamentary structure & constitution, offering wily nily oath of allegiance whether its politicians or judiciary and bulldozing media without realising that we all are bound to watch the interest of state which is higher than the interest of individuals under Art.5 of the Constitution 1973. Time has come that we analyse our mistakes and hold ourselves accountable to the public and accept their verdict. General Kayani through sheer professionalism within weeks of assuming power ceased this interference in politics and had halted the activities which may jeopardise the whole political process, I think its a good sign as nothing has lost yet. He must initiate a drive to revive the role of armed forces which is non political and through professional devoid of lust for power and luxury as enshrined in the law and constitution of the land and he must restore the true image his tribe deserves, as luxury will kill the soldiers lust to fight for its country. His announcement to declare 2008 as a soldiers year is a sigh of relief for critics as it will help to promote professionalism in coup de tat fame organisation. However, the politicians as a clan needs to be robust enough and must be above board in order to revive the hope of democracy in Pakistan. Army will come if you call them in the absence of independent judiciary. West can play their role only if you allow them to, otherwise I see no role of United States in government making if the peoples mandate is respected and politicians offer full accountability and ready to go to jail even if it is at for the sake of independent judiciary, rule of law and parliamentary sovereignty and they will be revered from their detention for standing up on principles.
Now coming to the serious point as Kings party was claiming a vote of majority on the basis of their 5 years performance and junta drew their attention towards their deeds. Detained Chief Justice of Pakistan with his colleagues, incarcerated Supreme Court Bar President along with top law men, one former Prime Minister dead due to their failure to protect her, media gagging, Constitution avenue blocked for public, lay Pakistanis are without proper services of main utilities i.e. electricity, gas, oil and clean water and public is fighting for proper flour (atta) distribution was the state of play when Q league was seeking vote of confidence from masses. Nabbed Ministers, Stock exchange crashes, sugar, cement, and oil scandals, Steel Mills reference, missing people without charge and trial, plot allotments, New Murree Project amongst others, unconstitutional amendments, Red mosque, frequent killings in Tribal areas in particular Wana & dama dola, increasing suicidal attacks, and advocating for the justification of emergency actions of 3rd November 2007 actions acted like an icing on the cake of hatred against the kings party. Kings party did not leave any stone unturned to plunder wealth, or acquire land and bribe the coercive officers whilst they could.
Having said that their so called reconciliation efforts are praiseworthy when we see the way Chief Minister witnessed silently the deportation of Sharifs family women from Islamabad airport in 2003 via Punjab police, later Shehbaz was deported extra constitutionally on 10 of May 2004 despite Nazim Siddiquis implicit observation in the case of SC/55/2003. Chief Justice was tried and his hair was pulled by his Punjab Police who walked free despite a charge sheet was proven against them. Lawyers and media personnel were brutally handled by the mighty force. GEO News office was attacked daringly. On 12th May horse dance show whilst Karachi was lifting dead bodies. Expulsion orders were given to citizens like chocolates. Nawaz Sharif was mistreated and excluded from Pakistan like an enemy of state on 10 of September 2007 despite clear verdict of Supreme Court of Pakistan and finally Be Nazir was greeted with bomb explosion(s) on 18 October 2007 and later she was assassinated sadly on 27 December 2007 outpouring all the civil segment of society on streets of Pakistan. Chief Justice remained without any charge under house arrest and the worst of all his children and family were incommunicado for unknown reasons which is a blunder for which Kings party can never wash their hands from their responsibility to which public declared them guilty of failing to discharge their public duty to uphold the constitution by promoting rule of law.
From 2002-2007 Punjab has been outgrown due to development but selective progress the gulf between poor and rich widened. Nepotism went on rise and one cast preference was visible all over. Rural schools are still without proper toilet facilities and a large schools still sit on floors for tuition and in winter there is no heating facility and children have to move in open to study under sunshine. Young students without books and stipends and the alimony given to poor at the time of election in the sum of 1500 rupees was just a one off show to get their votes. In Punjab free education is still a dream which never came true and it remained confined to costly electioneering advertisements. Punjab was run through Punjab police and we saw one protestor boy was beaten with sticks and his trouser pulled down for just raising concerns for the safety, and well being of his father. Human rights reports were ignored, foreign surveys were ridiculed and opposition was nonexistent in Govts papers. They ran Punjab like a Ku Klux Klan who did not see any wisdom in equal treatment, rule of law, justice and freedom of expression. They gave channels licences but tried to buy their loyalty and if could not, gag their tongues without realising that slaves are only slaves until they achieve their freedom.
But with all odds public of educated Punjab outvoted the uneducated Chief Minister of Punjab who must listen to the voice of people and try to ponder why he is thrown from the crown of luxury to a bare floor, and only then he will realise that it was all due to immense pride which in the end hath a fall and he could not wipe out the memory of the good work of the true lion of Punjab which was remembered whilst casting votes by the people of Punjab. Public have yet again spoken in favour of PML(N) in particular Shahbaz Sharif in Punjab for his hard work and he must get on as he has an unfinished business to complete what he initiated.
Amjad Malik is a Solicitor-Advocate of the Supreme Court (England) and a political analyst based in UK who can be reached at [email protected]