Ambassador Alam Brohi traces a trail of disappointments
Every Tormenting Pakistan breathed a sigh of relief when the Apex Court of the country, in its verdict, admonished the government on the draconian use of force to stop the charged long march of PTI. This averted bloody clashes between the PTI workers and the police and rangers cordoning off Islamabad. The day-long clashes between the security contingents and the political workers in cities and towns and along the roads and highways heavily barricaded by sand-filled containers throughout Punjab reflected the extremity of the situation. The government finally gave in and called the army in aid of the civil authority to protect the red zone. The PTI having achieved its objective took a wise decision to postpone its protracted sit-in to avoid any confrontation with the army.
In the post-colonial period, the third world countries, with a few exceptions have been tormented by their own political and military leaderships. The lack of honest political leaders; bad governance, extra-constitutional adventures; the protracted ethnic and political conflicts; the capture of state resources by the elite; the gnawing poverty has been the destiny of such nations where the elite has been making hay in the shining sun to the utmost peril of the general populace.
The Pakistani nation, more or less, has suffered from this torment too. It continues to face this excruciating situation owing to the chronic political polarisation and economic meltdown. Yesterday, it was the ideological confrontation of the PPP with all rightist political forces and today, it is the PTI challenging the old political guard with both hostile camps having shown no marked success in taking the country out of its political and economic predicament.
The country made a wobbly start from day one. Apart from the extraneous challenges, the unholy collusion between the power-hungry bureaucrats and Generals; the pliant justices; the political dynasties created and bequeathed to us by the colonialists and the meddlesome priests have all been ever-stunting the development of the political system in the country to the peril of the common man. This followed the demise of the Quaid and the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan. History, in its ruthless judgement, has unmasked all the characters putting them in the dock for us to see. This bunch of bureaucrats and Generals colluded with the political dynasties, amenable justices, and politicians seeking crumbs of power to deny the populace the right to participation in the political process. No national elections were held for two decades; the elected Provincial Assemblies and Governments were manipulated by the strong centre.
The provincial administrations were installed and dismissed whimsically to advance the political ambitions of the intriguing lot. The politicians were played off against each other and dumped disqualifying them for holding any public office. They were baptised and brought into power again if needed for some special task. From 1947 to 1958, seven Prime Ministers were arbitrarily appointed and dismissed.
By design, the Muslim League was reduced to a farce political organisation; national leaders including A. K. Fazal Haq, Hussein Suhrawardy, Khwaja Nazimuddin, Maulvi Tamizuddin, Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman, Muhammad Ayub Khuhro, Abdul Sattar Pirzada – just to name a few – were humiliated and discarded from the political arena to pave the way for the absolute capture of the political power by the so-called bureaucratic-military adventurists. The Martial Law was clamped in Punjab to curb the sponsored riots against the Ahmadiyya sect in 1953 without the consent of the hapless Prime Minister, Khwaja Nazimuddin.
Disappointingly, the disarray culminated in the imposition of the two country-wide Martial Laws in October 1958 and March 1969; the reversal of the One-Unit, the holding of the first-ever general elections and the tragic loss of the Eastern part of the country. The nation helplessly witnessed this unprecedented disgrace and humiliation. We failed to make amends. After a brief interregnum, we witnessed the return of the ambitious Generals holding the Constitution in abeyance.
This frequent meddling in the political system has yielded negative results. The politicians have lost confidence in the elections and public mandate and look to the powers that may be for crumbs of power; the national institutions have become controversial; the concepts of rule of law and equality before the law, political stability and economic rehabilitation a distant dream with the instances of public outrage on the rise. There is political and economic chaos with the ever-expanding legal and constitutional muddle. The country has been sliding down as the sick man of South Asia.
We talk big and don’t see unwelcome realities. Historians have recorded these realities putting question marks on the role of the national institutions; the chambers of justices, the aristocracy; the political dynasties and the frequent outrage of the populace shaking out of their general apathy and resignation only to be betrayed by their leaders. The disgrace of a resourceful country of 220 million people – a nuclear state – starving it of a functional political system and reasonable governance is a shame for us all. We have fallen hostage to our individual, factional and institutional interests and stopped believing in the rule of law.
It seems we have lost our political and ideological direction. We cannot make out whether we are having a parliamentary form or a hybrid system of governance or an odd mélange of both, a republic or a garrison state. Our hybrid system is unthinkable in any country with a semblance of political and legal systems. This system would not last long. All the political leaders should shun their differences and sit together to adopt an all-inclusive charter of democracy to uphold the constitution of the country which adequately specifies the jurisdiction of every state institution. Political leadership has lost many chances in the past. This is their last chance to restore their credibility as the masters of the political destiny of the country saving the nation from further disgracing political debacles. These long marches, sits-in and political hostility will take us nowhere.TW