After inserting Article 6 in the 1973 constitution, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) was confident that the era of military takeovers was over. It was not only violated in his life time, but also the entire judicial system was hijacked to physically eliminate him. After failing to contain the ‘Bhutto influence’ in politics, Zia the first violator of this article, decided to create an establishment within the establishment.
Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was chosen for this dirty job. A midlevel but ambitious business group was chosen for this purpose. First Mian Muhammad Sharif was handed over their nationalized ‘Ittefaq Foundry’ totally without any financial liabilities and then his eldest son was inducted into the Punjab cabinet as Finance Minister. There was no looking back, Nawaz managed to become the Chief Minister under Prime Minister Junejo, a seasoned politician from Sindh. Always watching the establishment interests, Nawaz played an instrumental role in getting the PM axed under Zia’s Draconian 8th Amendment when tried to stand up for the people affected by the Ojri Camp disaster.
Being an embryo of the establishment, he was allowed to operate as one. He was given a free hand to make appointments in most government departments, doled out thousands of plots to gain loyalties, issued SRO’s to favour his family businesses, indulged in out-of-turn promotions of government servants to expand his personal influence, launched ambitious projects that allowed huge kickbacks, usurped land, the list goes on. After forcing one Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to retire, when he tried to remove the freshly appointed one, the Army decided to take over in violation of Article 6. Finally, after Musharraf’s NRO, when NS managed to become PM for the third time, he decided to invoke this Article to avenge his removal.
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Exercising law only when it serves personal interest?
Perhaps NS will be remembered for initiating the first trial ever of a usurper under Article 6 of the Constitution, but then again its application was partial, typical behaviour of the powerful who consider themselves above the law of the land. The emergency ordinance of 2007 signed by Pervez Musharraf was prepared by the Law Minister and forwarded by the PM for the signatures of the President. Under the law, all three should have been tried, as well as the Secretary of the Ministry. The entire effort seemed more of a personal vendetta of the two powerful men of influence who considered themselves above the Constitution and the law of the land. Despite his conviction, the General slipped away, and recently Nawaz also escaped in a similar fashion. While one lives in the comfort of his Dubai apartment the other resides in the luxury of his London home, both claiming to be sick and under treatment and waiting for an opportune time to come back to fool the masses again.
This highlights the importance of the two real national political parties (PPP-Bhutto, PTI) to steer the country towards true democracy which is free from the clutches of both the establishments that have been manipulating the democratic process for the last 40 years. There should be only one establishment subservient to the 1973 constitution, reporting to the genuinely elected representatives of the people as it were in the period between 14 August 1973 to 5 July 1977 before the start of ‘Zia Dark Ages’
Not one but two establishments
There are two establishments operating in the land of the pure: Establishment (Colonial) and Establishment (Nawaz). While one was inherited at the time of partition, the other was created during the ‘Zia Dark Ages’. The current tussle is between the two ‘Establishments’. There was a third one operating in Karachi under Altaf Hussain which has been finally been neutralized. It took me a while to understand the PML(N)’s apolitical, heavy handed behaviour. It blatantly challenges the writ of the state. When its leaders are called by the NAB (National Accountability Bureau) they go with stones instead of papers in their defence. For court appearances, they pack the courtrooms with their workers to intimidate the judges. Exploiting the weaknesses of common law, when they succeed in getting bails they claim exoneration.
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On August 14, 1973 Islamic Republic of Pakistan attained the status of a constitutional democracy. The Establishment (Colonial) was in disarray and retreat after the East Pakistan debacle, while the Establishment (Nawaz) did not exist at that time. The era of constitutional democracy did not last long. ZAB surrounded himself with the ‘ Freemasons of Democracy ‘ the same class of politicians his party had defeated in the 1970 elections. By 1977 the Establishment (Colonial) had also recovered from the 1971 defeat. ZAB was convinced to hold national elections ahead of time in early 1977. The day the over-confident PM dissolved the assemblies, an alliance of nine opposition parties (the Pakistan National Alliance) was waiting in the wings. A movement was launched against the first elected PM of the country which paved the way for the third Martial Law on July 05, 1977 thus plunging the country into the ‘Zia Dark Ages’. Under international pressure the dictator decided to launch a civilian version of the Establishment which has now taken roots in most institutions. Unlike the Establishment (Colonial) this is a family run affair. Now that Nawaz Sharif is in trouble, his daughter is leading the pack. Disrespect of the constitution and rule of law is the common thread between the two brands of the ‘Establishment’.
Two establishments in tussle with eachother
The PML(N) is right in saying that the Establishment (Colonial) has been manipulating the electoral process since 1977, as they were launched into power by them. Now after over 30 years of their misrule, the Establishment (Nawaz) has positioned itself to achieve the same results through the use of its own influence in the state apparatus. They were able to use this control in the 2013 elections but were not able to do so in 2018 as the Police and the District Administration was not allowed to enter the polling stations. Free and fair elections is the way forward for which neutrality of the state apparatus is essential. Under the circumstances this may not be possible, unless the entire provincial administrative machinery is reshuffled or the elections are held under the auspices of the United Nations as both Establishment (Colonial) and Establishment (Nawaz) are tainted.
This highlights the importance of the two real national political parties (PPP-Bhutto, PTI) to steer the country towards true democracy which is free from the clutches of both the establishments that have been manipulating the democratic process for the last 40 years. There should be only one establishment subservient to the 1973 constitution, reporting to the genuinely elected representatives of the people as it were in the period between 14 August 1973 to 5 July 1977 before the start of ‘ Zia Dark Ages ‘.
Dr. Farid A.Malik is the Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. He was a Shadow Minister PTI and Co-Ordinator of the PTI Think Tank where the framework of the Welfare State was developed. The article was first published in Pakistan Today and has been republished here after making certain changes for which prior permission from the author was taken. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.