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Dr. Muhammad Ali Ehsan |

Arriving on the heels of 70th independence day of this country, the judgment by the Supreme Court on the “Panama gate scandal” has hopefully changed and turned the ways politics will now be conducted in this country. The judgment is most likely not only to infuse order in a society that remained ‘autocratically manipulated’ and ‘democratically corrupted’ but also change the most important aspect of the state – power.

Those that have for long believed that it’s not the process or the system (means) but the end result (end) that matters will have to change the ways of their politics to attune to the new post Panama judgment political landscape in this country in which institutions would now matter more than the individual leaders.

Read more: Nawaz’s disqualification: Will Pakistan descend into chaos?

COD: Allowing endless corruption

Democracy was always inclined to serve the people but entitling and servicing people was never possible through ‘chartering democracy’ (an agreement signed between Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif in 2006) that literally wiped out democratic accountability from the political system in this country making those in government not only powerful but unchallenged and corrupt to the core.

Stopped in its tracks by the judgment of the Supreme Court, PML (N) government has now not only to bear the indignity of seeing their thrice elected Prime Minister being disqualified on the charges of corruption but also the embarrassment of witnessing the trial of the family members of their leader and tainted leadership in the party- all to be tried by NAB.

If the idea was to put up a united front against the other competing power – the military- it worked. The generals were kept at a distance from the parliament but the parliament also distanced itself from the people. Governed by the principle of ‘democracy is the best revenge’, Pakistan witnessed allegedly the most corrupt government complete its constitutional tenure (2008-2013). It became most corrupt because it was allowed to become so by the ‘charter of democracy signed and restrained opposition’ in the parliament.

Those that didn’t act and check the ‘looters and plunders’ of the national wealth during their tenure in the opposition were reciprocally given the same treatment when they came to power in 2013. And then Panama happened. Stopped in its tracks by the judgment of the Supreme Court, PML (N) government has now not only to bear the indignity of seeing their thrice elected Prime Minister being disqualified on the charges of corruption but also the embarrassment of witnessing the trial of the family members of their leader and tainted leadership in the party- all to be tried by NAB.

Read more: Countering Sharif’s apologists

Supreme Court check mates the corrupt political elite

With the end of PML (N) government in 2017, the ‘Charter of democracy’ would have turned a full circle and come to its beginning. Democracy in Pakistan emerged from the ashes of dictatorship, evolved (2008-2017) in a (charter of democracy signed) corrupt system only to be stopped in its tracks by a judiciary that has now held the corrupt countable. By doing this, the judiciary has ensured that the charter of democracy signed and designed corrupt political system would no more prevail.

If this was not enough, we opened ourselves to the Arab world as well. The superpower (USA) patronage and the Wahhabi Islamism that together with endless weaponry and limitless funds that were showered on us as blessings created this intolerant and fighting with itself and its identity Pakistan that we have today.

One million people died and 15 million were uprooted from their homes when Pakistan came into being. If this country was led and governed by abled men and women, would seven decades of political instability be the cost we would be paying? Military dictators opened their arms to embrace American patronage ($78 billion received as military and economic aid from them since independence) and thus gave them the right not only to infringe our sovereignty but also act as our masters to ask us to ‘do more’ and continue doing more.

If this was not enough, we opened ourselves to the Arab world as well. The superpower (USA) patronage and the Wahhabi Islamism that together with endless weaponry and limitless funds that were showered on us as blessings, created this intolerant society that we have today.

Read more: No judicialization but only democratization of democracy

Politicians making mockery of democracy

The two very relevant questions that one may ask are – Is Pakistan in this state because of the military dictatorship and military rules? Does the military keep the politicians under check in Pakistan?

These questions are important to be asked, debated and answered because these very questions will be the civilian electioneering slogans in the run up to 2018 elections. Spiked by the Supreme Court decision, democracy is most likely to jump on the ‘revenge bandwagon’ to challenge the only other stakeholder and competitor of power – the military.

In fact, both the Zardari and the Nawaz Sharif governments (2008-2017) have demonstrated a keen desire to unilaterally spearhead policy making and taking actions that are not preceded by thoroughly debated and deliberated political and military estimates and without considering the long term effects of such actions on the national security.

Seen in the context of the post-General Musharaf military standpoint and view that democracy must be allowed to flourish in this country, the military cannot be entirely blamed for keeping the politicians in check. Politicians themselves have demonstrated that they lack the political will to thoroughly deliberate important issues that are related to our national interests in the parliaments.

In fact, both the Zardari and the Nawaz Sharif governments (2008-2017) have demonstrated a keen desire to unilaterally spearhead policy making and taking actions that are not preceded by thoroughly debated and deliberated political and military estimates and without considering the long term effects of such actions on the national security.

Read more: Political elites of Pakistan: Promoting or subverting democracy?

The announcement of the decision to send DG ISI to India in haste after the Mumbai attack, President Zardari sidestepping from Pakistan’s nuclear first strike doctrine, Memo gate scandal, Nawaz Sharif’s one sided Modi bend, dawn leaks, Indian Prime Minister’s visit as his private guest, Nawaz Sharif’s mute response to the capture of Indian spy and meeting an Indian businessman who is Modi’s point man as his personal guest at a time when India is carrying out cease fire violations on LOC are all examples of how the civilian leadership has been more inclined to prioritize their personal intersts over those of the ciuntry.

Making the matters worst, the military also recoiled and given the unilateral deep state impressions that the civilian leadership continued to give to the world (sometimes from their diplomatic outposts like the one headed by Hussain Haqqani as a Pakistani ambassador in Washington) the military was also forced to ask a question – ‘can the civilian leadership be trusted with the state secrets?’

Pakistan was conveniently photo shopped to look like a deep state being run by the military generals in both the democratic tenures of Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. Unlike the military, the civilians have a leadership that is answerable to the voters. All pending actions against the specific extremist groups in Punjab are not because the military does not want to rein them in but only because the civilian government is reluctant to undertake such an action as it will eat into its electoral votes.

A Dawn leak was made to give an impression that the deep state was entwined with the Islamist radical groups. Managing to portray themselves as victims at the height of their political power (2008-2013), the civilian leadership chose not to join hands with the military because it believed that Pakistan is in such a sorry state because of the military dictators (dismal)rules(first question). So it chose to lead and confront the military by dictating what it considered was best for Pakistan.

Making the matters worst, the military also recoiled and given the unilateral deep state impressions that the civilian leadership continued to give to the world (sometimes from their diplomatic outposts like the one headed by Hussain Haqqani as a Pakistani ambassador in Washington), the military was also forced to ask a question – ‘can the civilian leadership be trusted with the state secrets?’

Read more: Stop the Fear Mongering – Nawaz Sharif’s Disqualification Is Great…

The gifts of COD

The ‘Charter of democracy’ gifted us a polarized Pakistan. Its two poles, the democracy and the military unfortunately worked at crossed purpose not because the military did not want to submit to the civilian authority but only because it resented the civilian leadership involved in corrupt practices (in the absence of democratic opposition) and which had removed all the constitutional ways of remaining accountable to anybody in the State. All that the military needed was a sincere and ‘people servicing’ democracy and not a democracy that took to taking its revenge on the military.

A true leader can sense this civil-military imbalance. Only a true leader can understand the importance of joint civil-military huddle (a national security council) with the military entirely and totally willing to submit to the civilian authority. For seven decades, Pakistan has been deprived of such a true visionary leadership. Isn’t it time that we had one?

Read more: Is democracy consistent with Islam?

P.S – Writing in his masterpiece ‘classical political order in changing societies’ the eminent political scientist Samuel P Huntington made a point – ‘before a polity could be democratized it had to provide basic order’. Only that true leader and his leadership can infuse that order missing from our society.

Dr. Muhammad Ali Ehsan did his doctorate in International Relations from Karachi Univ; where he also teaches. His Ph.D. work is on ‘Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan’. He served for 25 years in Pakistan Army, and remained an Instructor in Pakistan Military Academy. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

Dr. Muhammad Ali Ehsan, did his doctorate in International Relations from Karachi Univ; where he also teaches. His Phd work is on ‘Civil Military Relations in Pakistan’. He served for 25 years, in Pakistan Army, and remained an Instructor in Pakistan Military Academy.

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