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Saturday, January 28, 2023
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The Irrelevant Prime Ministers of Pakistan

The age-old and ineffective Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) has now become more powerful than the once-dreaded National Accountability Bureau (NAB). From a relevant PM like ZAB to the current irrelevant head of government the decline has been painful and uncalled for.

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Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (14 Aug 1973 to 5 July 1977) was the last real or relevant Prime Minister of Pakistan. All the rest who followed had to toe the line of the all-powerful establishment. Muhammad Khan Junejo, who followed Bhutto, tried to be his own man but was shown the door. Bhutto’s daughter tried to follow in his father’s footsteps but failed. Recently Imran Khan went out fighting.

As Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation (Aug 15, 2002, to Aug 13, 2005) I interacted with two PMs. I was appointed by the President of Pakistan on the advice of Zafarullah Khan Jamali. After he stepped down Shaukat Aziz managed to get the slot. On the day of Jamali’s resignation on 26 June 2004 and Munawar Baseer Ahmed, the then Managing Director of Sui Southern Gas Company, met him to convince him to induct technocrats in technical ministries. He disapproved of the idea on the grounds that they would replace politicians who were elected by the people.

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Understanding the matter better

I explained to him that technocrats had replaced bureaucrats worldwide about half a century ago. I even left written proposals with him which he agreed to consider.  We also discussed the proposal of providing Sui Gas to the people of Ziarat to save the destruction of the unique juniper trees.

Before us, his recently appointed Chairman of the Alternate Energy Development Board (AEDB) had submitted a proposal through his brother, who happened to be his adviser, to supply the people of Ziarat solar cookers to cook their food on sunny days only. AEDB had also prepared a proposal to run the Pakistan Steel Mill on wind energy. Luckily the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission sought my comments, I did some research and found no reference to a steel mill being run on wind power.

While my push for the induction of technocrats did not see the light of day, the people of Ziarat were able to get a stable supply of gas to prepare their daily meals even when the sun did not shine and PSM kept running with stability on the thermal power produced in-house. Personally, I always had respect for Jamali Sahib but he had surrounded himself with people of vested interests and sycophants. It was also rumored that his appointment was subject to a pre-signed resignation letter. As PM when he refused to take military action in his home province of Baluchistan, he was booted out that very evening.

Shaukat Aziz, the Plastic PM, replaced Jamali Sahib. He called a meeting of all the senior officers urging them to introduce reforms in their respective departments. After his spiritless, unconvincing speech there was a question-and-answer session. Tasnim Noorani, who was federal Secretary of Commerce, was the first to stand up, saying; ”Sir I have only a few months of service left; you should convince the younger officers to start this crusade of change“. As I was involved in fighting the Mafia within PSF, I was the next to stand up; “Most departments are infested with Mafias, will you back us up if we take them on?”. There was silence for a moment, he then gathered himself and said; “Yes as we cleaned up the banking sector, you have my full support”. Unfortunately, it never came; when it was asked for, the crusaders were left in the cold.

In the words of Comrade Hanif Ramay, “Bhutto Sahib left the struggle from where it had started”. Now IK is leading the charge. He has termed it; “Haqiqi Azadi” (Real freedom through Vote Ki Izzat). His demand for free and fair elections holds ground. Struggle lines are clearly defined, ‘Peaceful or Bloody Revolution’. Sanity must prevail to guard national interests. 1971-like confrontation is no one’s interest. People’s power is bound to prevail. Hopefully in his second stint as PM, major structural reforms would be carried out to rebuild institutions while confining the men in uniform in the barracks where they rightfully belong.

The Sharifs and Zardaris had their own agenda of empire-building at the cost of the nation. While their slogan was “Vote Ki Izzat”, they collected ‘Notes’ for the coming generations. I remained in touch with Imran Khan and Dr. Arif Alvi who did their best to provide relief. After the untimely death of Naeem-ul-Haq, who was an important link between the party and power, bureaucrats took control of the PM Secretariat. According to the PML(N), the Principal Secretary to the PM has left the country like their own leader, while IK continues to fight on. Those who run away establish their guilt.

Read more: Floods are seasonal but debts are perennial!

Nawaz Sharif and Azam Khan are now in the same league

PM Shahaz Sharif is totally irrelevant. He was just in London to consult with his absconding elder brother Nawaz Sharif. He has a slim two-seat majority which can slip at any time. Baluchistan Awami Party (BAP should be called Mai-Bap Party) can slip at a slight nod by the powers that be. After gaining power about six months ago the Pakistan Democratic Movement has succeeded in getting rid of its cases and stalling the accountability process in the country.

The age-old and ineffective Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) has now become more powerful than the once-dreaded National Accountability Bureau (NAB). From a relevant PM like ZAB to the current irrelevant head of government the decline has been painful and uncalled for. After the inclusion of Article 6 of the constitution, ZAB was convinced that the era of Martial Law was over, but he was twice proven wrong. As President, Zardari got rid of the Draconian Zia Amendment of Article 58 (2b) but the power of the establishment could not be contained.

Despite his personal popularity, IK was shown the door in April this year. With over a dozen disputed electoral contests the democratic system remains derailed. Boot Polish works, not  Vote Ki Izzat.

The movement for Pakistan was spearheaded by our brethren in the Eastern Wing. After their revolt against the establishment, they went their own way and carved out their own progressive democratic state. On the Western side, ZAB picked up the pieces of what was left of Jinnah’s Pakistan. In defeat, the Armed Forces were licking their wounds. After the enactment of the 1973 constitution, civilian authority was established. The military action in Balochistan in 1975 brought them back into the mainstream of power.

It did not end there, The Hyderabad Military Tribunal was established in which the leaders of the Wali Khan-led National Awami Party (NAP) were being tried. ZAB was trapped into holding early elections, and the agitation that followed was sponsored by the establishment. The democratic order was derailed.

Read more: Pakistan drowning in floods and debt – Dr. Farid A. Malik

In the words of Comrade Hanif Ramay, “Bhutto Sahib left the struggle from where it had started”. Now IK is leading the charge. He has termed it; “Haqiqi Azadi” (Real freedom through Vote Ki Izzat). His demand for free and fair elections holds ground. Struggle lines are clearly defined, ‘Peaceful or Bloody Revolution’. Sanity must prevail to guard national interests. 1971-like confrontation is no one’s interest. People’s power is bound to prevail. Hopefully, in his second stint as PM, major structural reforms would be carried out to rebuild institutions while confining the men in uniform in the barracks where they rightfully belong.

 

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.