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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

From Lord Macaulay to General Zia ul Haq

Dr. Farid A. Malik, an Ex-Chairman of the Pakistan Science Foundation gives us a nostalgic recount of the times when Lord Babington Macaulay was in the subcontinent and the time when Zia ul Haq was ruling. He further talks about Zia ul Haq's brutal doctrine when it came to reforms in Pakistan and how the country is still suffering from that blowout.

On February 02, 1835, Lord Babington Macaulay uttered the following words about the people of the Indian Subcontinent, ” I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber that I do not think we could ever conquer this country unless we break the very backbone of this nation which her cultural and spiritual heritage and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system’.

Thus started a journey of enslavement and domination by the colonists. Not only our self esteem came under attack, by some estimates we were robbed of our national wealth close to $ 45 Trillion. Due to this plunder and destruction, both Pakistan and Hindustan continue to suffer till today. Perhaps only the Sikhs were able to retain their honor and till today retain some of the old values of the land. A Sikh never begs and is prepared and willing to lay his life for his beliefs. The Bengalis after going their own way have left both Pakistan and India behind in economic growth.

Read more: Plane Crash: Gen. Zia ul Haq

Giving new means to democracy 

As a new nation, the people of Pakistan struggled to survive and progress despite repeated dictatorial derailments by the Colonial leftovers. In October 1958 it was Ayub Khan and in July 1977 it was Zia-ul-Haq who neutralized all democratic gains. 1956 unanimously agreed constitution was abrogated before its full implementation. After taking over Zia showed his disdain of the constitution by saying,  ” What is the sanctity of the constitution? It is a thirty page document that I can tear and trash”. As a young engineer, I was very upset to read the statement of Lt. Gen. Faiz Ali Chisti who was sent to capture the elected Prime Minister.

After meeting with a cross section of influential people to determine the way forward he said;  ” Every Pakistani has an opinion on national issues although they do not perform their own duties well’. It applied more to his own conduct. Personally, I think, both Zia and Chisti should be tried under Article 6 of the 1973 constitution that they tried to deface. When I took over as Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, I saw a Martial Law amendment in the act. In the original document, it said that the Chairman once appointed could not be removed before the expiry of the term. On inquiry, I was told that the General wanted to appoint his own brother-in-law who was then a Professor at UET Lahore hence the amendment was forced down.

Read more: Ziaulhaq son blames CIA & Gen Beg for death of his father

After Lord Macaulay’s onslaught in 1835, General Zia and his team willfully attacked civil institutions that were consciously built by the founding generation of Pakistan. All the hard work and efforts put in by our parent’s generation who sacrificed their homes and belongings to build the new nation were neutralized for personal gains by a few and then this attack continued even after the death of the dictator in August 1988. As elected Prime Minister ( PM ) Imran Khan is trying to stop the decline but the institutional damage runs deep. This year cases for promotion to Grade 22 were sent to the PM.

The deep-rooted useless bureaucracy

So far he has refused to go by the mostly bogus recommendations as the general public is totally dissatisfied with the performance of the bureaucracy. He desires to seek public inputs, which I am sure will be negative hence warranting no gains. This could prove to be a good starting point to jump start the stalled administrative machinery, but more needs to be done to revive institutions. Recently a unified primary curriculum has been implemented across the board. Now all five year olds will get uniform education with an emphasis on national/regional languages while studying English as a subject.

My father’s family left a thriving Watch business in Ludhiana to start all over again in Lahore. Through sheer hard work they were able to regain the lost ground but then the major policy shift in 1958, destroyed many businesses. A corrupt to the core scheme of Bonus Vouchers was introduced. Over and under invoicing became the order of the day to rob the nation. My father-in-law started his career as a professional Railwayman. Pakistan Railway ( PR ) was once the pride of the nation and the largest employer. Till the decade of the seventies, PR remained profitable. As Communication’s Minister Lt Gen. Saeed Qadir was sent to jolt the Railway Board. He not only insulted the officers but also took away the profit making freight business from the carrier.

Read more: Soul searching must to revive the essence of democracy

In protest, both the Secretary and Chairman of the board resigned. Since then the organization has not recovered. Instead of professional Railwaymen at the helm, Generals and Bureaucrats have badly failed to run the facility. The list of destroyed institutions is long, only the Engineering Design House NESPAK has survived mainly because of its unique expertise and professional depth.

Zia’s constitutional amendments

Zia’s constitutional amendments were disgraceful. The infamous 8th Amendment changed the very nature of the constitution. In reaction, the lethal 18th Amendment has challenged the federal structure of the country cutting Islamabad to size. Nawaz Sharif a Zia protege as Chief Minister ( CM ) Punjab, challenged the authority of Benazir Bhutto as PM. Once he managed to reach Islamabad, in connivance with his younger brother as CM. He started to burn public records to usurp properties.

Recently it has been reported that 127 Kanals of evacuee land was acquired by the Jatti Umra estate of the Sharifs. Reannexation efforts by BOR have been stalled through a stay order from the court. Zia first used the judiciary and then dismantled it. Those who resisted were sent home. In the entire legal history of Common Law, only two accused were executed despite split decisions, Bhagat Singh by the gang of Lord Macaulay and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto ( ZAB ) by General Zia the tormentor of the nation.

Read more: Strengthening rule of law through speedy convictions & election reforms

Our forefathers struggled to contain the Macaulay onslaughts and finally won freedom for us 74 years ago. Now it is the duty of the first born free generation of Pakistan to get rid of Zia’s evil machinations and his political offspring that continue to exploit the nation. In the coming days, the 18th Constitutional Amendment will be debated as the federation is feeling the heat but it should be linked with Zia’s 8th Amendment. In principle, all Martial Law amendments should be annulled by the parliament.

Fresh legislation should be carried out on a needed basis with the consensus of the legislators as was done in the enactment of the 1973 constitution.. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has been a hostage of the ‘ Zia Doctrine ‘ which has been as lethal as the ‘ Maculay ‘ attack of our institutions in 1835. Without institutional strengthening and clean up of the land of the pure will remain impure with a broken backbone. Lord Macaulay lives through General Zia in the 21st year of the 21st century, let us burry them to move forward.

Read more: Gen Zia’s Crash & Return of Democracy: Reflections after 31 Years

Dr. Farid A. Malik is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. The article was first published in The Nation and has been republished with the author’s permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.