I was recently watching a TV program in which Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain s/o Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi the founder of the ‘Chaudhry Political Dynasty of Gujrat’ was addressed as, ‘Baba-e-Siasat’ (Father of Politics). I had heard of several revered ‘Babas’ before which included: Baba-e-Quam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, ‘Baba-e-Sahafat’ Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Baba-e-Socialism Sheikh Rashid (Sr), Baba-e-Ghazal Mehdi Hasan, Baba-e-Zarafat Umer Sharif, etc.
Knowing the exploits of the ‘Chaudhry Dynasty’, I was able to understand the rock bottom, the deplorable state of our politics whose ‘Baba’ belongs to this family. In my entire years of political activism, I was most perturbed when ‘Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi’ as Chief Minister (CM) Punjab offered to elect the dictator Pervaiz Musharraf as President in uniform not once but seven times. So blatant was this statement that I decided to personally contest against the usurper or leave the country in protest as the thought was unbearable to absorb.
The murky politics of exploitations
Such blatant abuse of people’s mandate is not even perpetrated in the sham democracies of the world. In order to hold an elected office General Abdel Fatah Al-Sissi had to shun his uniform and so did his predecessor Hosni Mubarak. Even our first dictator Ayub Khan promoted himself to the rank of the Field Marshal before taking oath as President. In the 1965 Presidential contest against Madar-e-Millat Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, he withdrew his title as the opposition was planning to file a writ petition against his own elevation.
Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi a dismissed Police sub-inspector was introduced to politics by the first usurper. He was given the charge of the Progressive Papers Limited (PPL) owned by Mian Ifthikaruddin of Mughalpura. First ‘Sarkari Muslim League’ also launched through him from the Muslim League House on Davis Road which is now controlled by PML-Q of the Chaudhry Clan. Somehow, they have always managed to retain power and influence in the largest province of the country despite several inquiries and cases against them for alleged corruption.
It did not end here; he played a very negative role in the trial of Bhutto and celebrated his conviction by his friend the then Chief Justice of Lahore High Court (LHC) Maulvi Mushtaq Hussain. Finally, when the judge was ambushed in revenge, he was unfortunate to be riding in his car. While his friend barely survived, he lost his life.
As Interior Minister, Baba-e-Siasat used his old connections within the Police force and ensured the induction of criminals to create a constituency for their electability. When the fourth usurper took control of the country, they abandoned their old partners in crime the Sharif brothers and together with Mian Azhar carved their own brand of ‘Sarkari League ‘ called PML-Quaid. In the 2002 electoral contest, they outmaneuvered Mian Azhar and his brother and took complete control of the party.
A fresh start has to be made
While Pervaiz Elahi took charge of Punjab, Baba-e-Siasat kept in close proximity of the dictator in Islamabad. In order to dominate the politics of the largest province of the federation, they ensured that no one else gains prominence from Punjab. First, they managed to get the important post of Prime Minister (PM) for Mir Zafarullah Jamali and then himself as a stop-gap PM paving the way for Shaukat Aziz who had no political background or following to become their political lackey.
Baba-e-Quam struggled hard and delivered a free homeland for the Muslims of India. Till today he is revered and respected for his struggle and sacrifice. The inning of Baba-e-Sahafat was also exemplary. He played a key role through his newspaper in building public support for Pakistan. Baba-e-Socialism as health minister under Bhutto introduced the system of ‘Generic Medicine’. In India, the same approach has been adopted after four decades as it cuts through the exploitative manipulation of the big Pharma Companies.
The other Baba’s also left their positive mark leaving ‘Baba-e-Siasat behind to bemoaned by several generations. For our ‘Siasat’ to move forward, we need to change our ‘Baba’. In the words of Donald Trump, a bad experience is no experience and should be looked down upon. Like the Sharif’s the Chaudhry’s have outlived their utility and have become a national burden to be dealt with. While their empires have grown the country has been sunk into debt.
In his later years, the legendary writer Ishfaq Ahmed went looking for ‘Real Babas’. He did share some of his search experiences but did not leave behind any guide to find them and then revere them. While we honor all the other ‘Babas’ who served the nation but we reject those who continue to exploit us with their third-generation induction into the federal cabinet.
A new term should be used for such ‘Baba’s resembling the ‘Amal Baba’ who operated on Ferozepur Road at Shama Chowk, they should be called; ‘Baba-e-Siasi Talisim’ (Father of Political Spells). After the death of the Bengali Baba, his center ‘Talisim Kada’ was shut down as he had no heir apparent for his evil work but the ‘Siasi Talisim Kada’ of the Chaudry’s on Zahoor Elahi Road remains alive and vibrant through a well-defined succession plan for their political spells to continue.
The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.