Politics in the land of the pure has suffered due to backdoor entries. The list is long and painful, from the Chaudhrys of Gujrat to the Sharifs of Lahore or the Wattoos of Okara, and so on, there are trails of corruption, nepotism and plunder. It is a great national tragedy that while the front door entrants have been blocked the Chor Darwaza‘(backdoor) has been kept open for the entry of the unscrupulous by the half-educated chowkidars.
East Pakistan was the first to break off. The brilliant lawyer Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, the Chief Minister of United Bengal, was bypassed to establish back door links with his ordinary party worker Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman who later on rose to become the father of the Bangla Nation ( Banga Bhandu ). Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, the first elected front-door Prime Minister, was assassinated and so was the second ( Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto ).
Khan Qayyum Khan, the undisputed leader of the Frontier Province, was humiliated in the dungeons of the Lahore Fort. From Balochistan the Khan of Kalat was also captured and kept under house arrest in Lahore. A Sarkari League was launched as a political entity called the Pakistan Muslim League ( Convention ) with its headquarters on Davis Road Lahore, the property is now under the control of PML(Q), led by the Chaudhrys of Gujrat.
Read more: Handmade prime ministers and fate of Pakistan
The Quaid-e-Azam’s sister and mother of the nation, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, challenged the ‘Chowkidars ‘ in January 1965 in the first Presidential election held under the 1962 forced constitution. She travelled the length and breadth of the country and addressed public gatherings. The old guard of the Muslim League ( Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan, Khawaja Nazimuddin, Mumtaz Daultana, among others) fully supported her campaign.
Naturally the Head Chowkidar had to rely on the coercive state apparatus to win the elections. The area SHO was tasked to deliver the BD Member (Basic Democrat ) to vote for the dictator and then kept under watch till the announcement of the results. Under the President there were two iron-fisted rogue governors (Ameer Muhammad Khan in West and Abdul Monem Khan in East Pakistan). While the rest of the country surrendered to the whims of the first dictator, Karachi the city of Quaid, remained defiant till he was toppled.
A strategy was developed to ensure free and fair election in the metropolis. The students surrounded the police stations after the morning prayers, not letting the SHOs take control of the BD members to ensure their vote for the dictator, and as a result Fatima Jinnah prevailed over the President. It seriously dented the invincibility of the Head Chowkidar, which proved to be the beginning of the end for him.
The PPP (Bhutto) was indeed a front door political entity but it has been disgraced by Zardari to be bracketed with Chor Darwaza parties like the PML (N) and PML(Q)
In the Anarkali-Nila Gumbad area, Haider Ali Bhatti was a very complaint BD member. He had a hair-cutting saloon close to the Tollington Market intersection. For the favours he received from the authorities he used to display lifesize portraits of the President. During the election campaign the students gathered around his shop and forced him to remove the posters. Late in the evening the poor fellow was summoned to the Governor’s House for a dressing down.
Next day the posters were back. Finally under pressure from both sides he went underground to emerge after the elections. This was typical ‘Chor Chowkidar‘ (cos’n’robbers) democracy of the 1960s. With backdoor entries, it was called Basic Democracy or Controlled Democracy. The electorate consisted of 80,000 members, 40,000 from each wing. It was Quaid’s sister who had the courage to challenge this charade and real-life political drama.
In the checkered political history of Pakistan very few real national political parties were formed. Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party was the first political entity to gain this distinction in November 1967. YMCA Hall on the Mall was the venue where ZAB challenged the ‘Custodian of the Back Door’. The progressives joined hands with him and soon it turned into an anti-establishment movement.
Read more: A country marred by corruption
The mighty Ayub Khan was toppled to replaced by another dictator who promised to hold elections on the basis of adult franchise. In 1996 two political parties appeared in the arena, both seeking change and offering a third option to the corrupt politics of the PPP and the PML(N). Farooq Leghari formed the Millat Party which was announced with great fanfare at PC Lahore while Imran Khan launched his Tehreek-e-Insaf in a modest way.
Leghari Sahib could not resist the temptation of power and decided to merge his frontdoor party with a backdoor entrant, the PML(Q) led by the Chaudhrys of Gujrat. Imran Khan kept his political course to finally enter the corridors of power in 2018. In the 2013 elections it was denied victory by the ‘Chor Darwaza‘ politics of the PML(N).
The current situation is quite interesting. The PTI has entered the corridors of power through the front door after over 22 years of struggle. The PML(N), a backdoor inductee that was able to reach the front door, is now being pushed back from where they were made to enter. The front-door political entrants and the backdoor custodians have joined hands to move the political players to their respective ends for normalcy to be restored.
Read more: Pakistan’s democracy & model of development: A bubble burst
The PPP (Bhutto) was indeed a front door political entity but it has been disgraced by Zardari to be bracketed with Chor Darwaza parties like the PML (N) and PML(Q). After Zardari Trauma is over, the PPP may yet emerge as a national party but the era of backdoor parties is over, the custodians have learnt their lesson. In real life, as it is widely believed that there is no shortcut to experience; in politics, struggle is an essential ingredient for sustainability.
Loot and plunder alone cannot ensure long-term survival for a political outfit. Finally after wasting a lot of valuable time and enduring pain the era of Chor Darwaza politics seems to be fading away. The backdoor custodians should now ensure for the health of the nation that political players enter through the front door while only garbage is moved out from the back to be dumped at the waste site.
Dr. Farid A.Malik is the Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. (Fr. General Manager PITAC, Process Engineering Manager Intel Corporation Engineering and Management Consultant). An expert on mining and energy, currently working on developing clean Coal Technologies for Thar Deposit. 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 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.