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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Is Pakistan witnessing demise of charter of democracy?

If the people's mandate is manipulated this time, there will be trouble. A free and fair election is the only way forward. The establishment will have to establish its neutrality. History sides with the righteous, the forces of honesty will prevail over the dishonest in a fair contest.

After sixteen years the Charter of Democracy (COD) has been replaced with the Charter of Corruption (COC). Both the events took place in London, the capital of the Common Wealth of nations where most ill-gotten wealth has been parked. COD was signed by Nawaz Sharif (NS) and Benazir Bhutto (BB) on May 14, 2006. After her assassination in the year 2007, Bhutto’s party was taken over by the Zardaris. Though death annuls ‘Nikah’ (Legal Marriage) yet Asif Zardari claimed to be the heir of her political legacy and managed to become Co-Chairman by producing a handwritten will of BB which has never been authenticated.

He then propelled himself to the highest position of President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Zardari was always impressed by the money-making ways of the Sharifs while being critical of the sacrificial approach of the Bhuttos. In her first stint in power BB (1988 to 1990) was able to contain her husband within ten percent (Mr 10%) of the ‘ Speed Money ‘ but once she was no more, he managed to match the Sharif in Empire Building by using the state apparatus. While Mian Mansha continues to be the richest Pakistani, Zardari and NS compete for the second and third positions.

Read more: From Governor Sarwar to Governor Sarfraz

I have excluded my school fellow Shahid Ali Khan from this list as he now resides in USA and keeps away from the corruption-laden business arena of the land of the pure. His family still runs the Stationary and Drawing store in Anarkali but he is not willing to increase his investments here. During the recent visit of his cousin, I implored the family to establish auto parts manufacturing plants in Pakistan but he declined due to rampant corrupt practices in the country.

How success is determined?

Coming from a business family, I was always told that real success is through honest hard work not through shortcuts and manipulation of state power through political influence as has been the case in the last about forty years (1977 to 2018). In my vocabulary, while Shahid Ali Khan of Anarkali is a genuine businessman, both Zardari and NS are political bounty hunters whose wealth is a result of corruption/manipulation/kickbacks, not entrepreneurship. Now that all the tainted politicians are under the unified fold of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) it made perfect sense for them to sign a new charter to move forward in the changing times.

Bilawal Zardari son of Asif Ali Zardari and grandson of Hakim Ali Zardari manager of Bambino Cinema in Karachi traveled all the way to London for a new understanding with the Sharifs of Gawalmandi. Finally, they agreed on the Charter of Corruption in April 2022. This move was necessary as today, they stand fully exposed. Battle lines have been clearly drawn, while Imran Khan operates under COD, the rest have agreed to follow the recently signed COC. Finally, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) with his legacy of service to the nation intact will be able to rest in peace, with no more chants of Bhutto Zinda Ha (Bhutto is alive).

I remember a famous American inscription that I once read which aptly applies here; “In God, we trust, in cash we believe”. It is all about cash, that freely moves without a trail, from Lahore to London or Karachi to Surrey. The new slogan should be “Sharif Zinda Ha ” (Sharif is alive) as it was Abba Ji who followed the Golden rule “Every person has a price, pay and get the job done”.

Read more: Why Pakistan needs course correction?

In the decade of the seventies, ZAB stood for free and fair elections on the basis of one man one vote (Adult Franchise) and redistribution of wealth while Sheikh Mujib demanded provincial autonomy. Both leaders demanded major course correction. After the unfortunate civil war in the Eastern wing and the break-up of Jinnah’s Pakistan,  ZAB picked up the pieces of what was left. A major rebuilding process was started which included the formulation of the constitution, revamping of the nuclear program, basic/defense industrialization.

In the current political scenario, IK seeks another course correction to put an end to the ‘Zia Dark Ages’ that has destroyed most civilian institutions. He also seeks to bottle the ‘Genie’ of corruption that has engulfed the nation. Despite his heroic struggle to punish the corrupt, the legal system has failed him badly. Adjournments after adjournments have been the norm. Just today (April 27, 2022) the lawyer of Shahbaz and Hamza succeeded in getting yet another date in the famous money laundering case.

They are not alone, around 26 members of the current cabinet are on bail against serious allegations of corruption, misuse of power and serious conflict of interest. For the first time since July 1977, the corrupt are on the run with incorruptible IK after them. Their survival is now in their unity, which was predicted, as the saying goes; ‘Birds of a feather flock together’ now the seasoned and habitual corrupt have joined hands to dodge accountability.

As the pandemic of corruption runs deep they enjoy some support as well. Even the role of the establishment is being debated while the bureaucracy and judiciary has been compromised for long. The IK I know will neither withdraw nor surrender. I remember the words of  Wali Khan;  “Na Bikthe hain na Baghtay hain” (Neither saleable nor runaway). He will fight till the last ball no matter what the odds are stacked against him. In his own words “I will fight till my last breath”. Despite the support of the system, the corrupt do not stand a chance against the resilient Kaptaan and his team now that the dirt has left, he is in a better position to fight back.

Currently, there are no cases against Bilawal Zardari, he may still have a chance if he breaks loose from the past and acts more like a Bhutto. His illustrious mother had signed the COD but I am confident she would have not been a party to COC.

Read more: The problem with Pakistan’s establishment

This Sharif-Zardari Money Grab Show has to end for Pakistan to move forward

Though I am not in favor of dynastic politics, I personally think Fatima Bhutto is the rightful heir of the ‘Bhutto Legacy. As her family is under threat, she will only return to the land of the pure once Uncle Zardari is out of power in Sindh. While she is in self-exile to save her life, NS has escaped to London to escape punishment and to protect his ill-gotten wealth. There are almost daily demonstrations outside his home in the upscale locality of London where people chant; “Nawaz Sharif Chor Ha”.

Bilawal went all the way to sign the COC in the corruption-polluted environment of Avenfield Homes were three male members of the Sharif family reside waiting for their next turn to generate wealth through unscrupulous means. Certainly, the COD could have established real democracy in the country while the recently signed COC will rob what little remains in the land of the pure, so down with such agreements of loot and plunder which have taken away the future of our coming generations.

Pakistan started off as the ‘Land of the Pure, it is time to restore its purity. The task at hand is not easy but the ‘ Task Master’ is equally battle-hardened to deal with the corrupt and to clean up their mess. Being the only functional institution in the country, the Armed Forces have a major role to play in this crusade against the corrupt. In the nineties the then COAS General Jehangir Karamat sided with the forces of democracy he thwarted the coup attempt against an elected government.

His appointment was on merit under the principle of seniority, no one was super seeded. Now that the appointment of a new chief is being considered, the selection process should be revisited. Like the judiciary, for the sake of transparency, the ‘Seniority Principle’ should be applied here as well. In addition to external threats, the republic faces serious internal fissures now that the corrupt are at the helm in the name of the constitution which they have always defied and disrespected. In the sea of corruption, IK stands out as a beacon of hope, a lighthouse to direct the young and the restless so that they come ashore to build ‘Naya Pakistan’ the land of the pure, able and brave.

Read more: The Real Prime Minister of Pakistan

In other words it would be a one-on-one contest between PTI and PDM, quite similar to the 1977 electoral contest between PPP and PNA (Pakistan National Alliance). Hopefully, the same mistakes would be avoided this time. Threatened by Bhutto’s popular support the establishment in PNA played all the dirty tricks to delay elections. Finally, when the contest took place after 11 years and 2 months in 1988, PPP under the leadership of BB came ahead but the damage had been done by then.

The constitution had been deshaped and the democratic order was damaged beyond repair. A lot of water has flown under the bridge between the years 1977 to 2022. If the people’s mandate is manipulated this time, there will be trouble. A free and fair election is the only way forward. The establishment will have to establish its neutrality. History sides with the righteous, the forces of honesty will prevail over the dishonest in a fair contest. COD will overcome COC by leap and bounds, the people of Pakistan have decided to stand up against the evil that has sold out our freedom for a few pennies.


The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be reached at  fmaliks@hotmail.com. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.