Dr. Farid A. Malik |
Having lived through two movements (1977 and 2007) and getting ready for the third (2017), I thought it was a good idea to consolidate the experience of effective people’s resistance. Perhaps fellow Comrade Aitzaz Ahsan is uniquely qualified to write about the fourth one (1947) when as a toddler he was imprisoned with his mother during a protest rally in Gujarat. In 1977, he was the first provincial cabinet minister to resign. He led the protest in 2007 and is destined to play a major role in the current brewing storm against the government of Mian Nawaz Sharif.
After toppling ZAB, elections were announced within 90 days as per the constitution. Information report shocked the ‘Military Junta’; ZAB was reported as a clear favorite in a free and fair election.
In 1977, the target was the elected government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) while in 2007, it was against a usurper Pervez Musharraf and in 2017, against a pseudo-democrat Mian Nawaz Sharif, who was launched by Zia-led GHQ to counter ZAB’s influence. The 1977-epic was based on a struggle between ZAB lovers and haters, those who benefitted from his policies and those who were negatively impacted. Considering the popularity of Quaid-e-Awam, even religion was exploited by the far right. The slogan of “Nizam-e-Mustafa” was used for political ends. No one was clear what it meant, considering the fact that Pakistan was a constitutional democracy under the 1973 constitution. After toppling ZAB, elections were announced within 90 days as per the constitution. Information report shocked the ‘Military Junta’; ZAB was reported as a clear favorite in a free and fair election.
Then came the doctrine of ‘Positive Results’ as conceived by the then Chief of Army Staff. When elections were postponed, General Sharif, the first Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee, left in protest after the expiry of the mandated ninety days. Zia decided to get rid of ZAB through a contorted legal process which is now being termed as Judicial Murder of a popular leader. ZAB himself wrote that he would have preferred revolutionary Justice as opposed to conviction through ‘Kangaroo Courts’, but Lahore High Court (LHC) under Justice Mushtaq and Supreme Court under Justice Anwar-ul-Haq obliged the dictator at the cost of institutional credibility.
That night on the Mall was historic as it jelled into a movement for the rule of law for which the restoration of CJP became the rallying point.
The movement in 2007 was triggered by the unceremonious dismissal of the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Chaudhry. Aitzaz Ahsan, the everlasting activist succeeded in sparking a movement for the rule of law. Comrade Aitzaz drove the deposed CJP from Islamabad to Lahore via GT Road. The entirety of the local bar association joined the caravan which was then received by the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) outside the court premises at GPO Chowk where civil society and political parties were also camping. There was a rumor that the dictator was planning an attack on the convoy in the hillocks around Jhelum to which the Chief Minister did not agree. Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi later confirmed this plan. That night on the Mall was historic as it jelled into a movement for the rule of law for which the restoration of CJP became the rallying point.
Then the long march to Islamabad was planned. Despite being a seasoned activist, it was the experience of a lifetime. As part of the Concerned Citizens of Pakistan (CCP) convoy, we left Zaman Park where Comrade Aitzaz was kept under house arrest around 2 pm. There was a flotilla of about thirty cars, some of them turned back from Shahdara rest continued. On the way, we were received as hero’s part of a liberating force marching on to the capital. Every town or village that we passed there was a sea of humanity waiting with music, food, and flowers. That day with proper logistical support 40 to 50 million people could have come along. Early morning we reached Jhelum where a formal reception had been arranged at a roadside hotel right on the banks of the river. Black Coats also arrived led by Kurd Sahib and Comrade Anwar Kamal who was the President of LHCBA at that time, the PTI flotilla led by comrade Ahsan Rashid who was President Punjab was very colorful and energetic. After the speeches and rest, we left for Islamabad where we arrived around 10 a.m. The final showdown at D-Chowk started around 4 p.m.
There was a technical flaw in our approach; the march was against the dictator but it landed outside the irrelevant rubber stamp parliament.
While the marchers were protesting near the constitution avenue across from the Assembly building, Musharraf was negotiating his survival through Benazir and Nawaz. There was a technical flaw in our approach; the march was against the dictator but it landed outside the irrelevant rubber stamp parliament. Finally, around 4 am comrade Aitzaz ended the march and asked the protestors, to go home empty handed. The dictator survived by reviving the political rogues through his NRO, it was an act of desperation for personal survival by a political pygmy.
Will there be another long march?
Pakistan has been damaged by Ayub Khan’s EBDO, Yahya Khan’s military action followed by the surrender, Zia’s misrule and manipulated elections, ten in a row, from 1977 to 2013 and the political rogues that he created and Musharraf’s NRO and its beneficiaries. That is the bad news, on the positive side, the Comrades are ready to march again to topple that NRO revived political rogue Mian Nawaz Sharif who claims to have people’s mandate. No one derails the system.
From 1977 to 2017 Pakistan has been through hell. Mian Nawaz Sharif does not have the public support of ZAB or the Khaki muscle of Musharraf. Only the Punjab Police stands between him and the comrades. It the number game, the size of the crowd determines the response. Once the crowd is energized, even the might of Musharraf or the ‘Kursi’ of ZAB cannot save them. Lahore is the epicenter of all political movements. Let the struggle start from here. In 1977, it was the ouster of ZAB, in 2007, Musharraf, and in 2017, comrades have to focus on ending the torture of political villains politically, first by coming out on the streets followed by a neutral ballot, 2017 will then be remembered as a year of change that revived the much needed democracy in the country.
Dr. Farid Malik is a prominent technical and management expert in mining, materials, engineering and high-tech industry; he is a regular columnist for The Nation and Pakistan Today. He is ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. This article was first published in Pakistan Today and is republished with the permission of the author. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.