It is widely believed that a chain is as strong as the weakest link. After a long time, the powerful establishment is on the back foot. It was the first usurper who introduced corrupt politicians to maximize their influence and exercise control. He created his own brand of Pakistan Muslim League (Convention). Chaudhry Zahur Elahi, a dismissed Police Constable was given an important position in the new party. After the fall of the dictator in March 1969, the party had to bite the dust in the first free and fair elections held in the year 1970.
With the surrender of the Armed Forces in the Eastern Wing, the establishment was in disarray and cornered. Taking advantage of the situation, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) consolidated civilian authority. The 1973 constitution was also a gift of this democratic era. Unfortunately, it was short-lived (1971 to 1977), the anti-democratic forces connived to get rid of the Quaid-e-Awam pushing the country into the Zia Dark Ages from which it is still to recover.
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Zia tried to neutralize the popularity of ZAB’s party
He discovered the ‘Sharifs of Lahore’ who were then propelled into the corridors of power. Mian Muhammad Sharif was the brain behind the ‘Sharif Group’. First, it was Pakistan Muslim League (Junejo) from which emerged PML-N when Junejo Sahib revolted against the third usurper. Unlike ZAB’s Pakistan People’s Party which had an ideological base, Nawaz Sharif’s (NS) gobbled an alliance of interests that were interested in increasing their wealth. Corruption was institutionalized during this period.
The party was bestowed with all kinds of favors including an absolute majority not once but twice (1997, 2013). Their insatiable lust for power led to a confrontation with the Armed Forces. In 1998, Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister pushed out General Jehangir Karamat the COAS (Chief of Army Staff) and replaced him with Pervaiz Musharraf. On his second shot at removing the COAS within a span of a few months, he was deposed and captured.
Due to Abba Ji’s astute approach, he managed to reach an agreement to stay in exile for ten years. After the Lawyer’s Movement in 2007, NS managed to stage a comeback through a controversial NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance). The infamous ‘Dawn Leaks’ again disturbed the balance of power between the corruption-laden political party and the establishment. Paving the way for Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek -e-Insaf (PTI) to come into power.
PML-Q was promised election victory in the 2008 elections but the assassination of Benazir Bhutto brought her party into power. Asif Zardari managed to become the President after ousting Pervaiz Musharraf with the help of General Parvez Kiani the then COAS. In the 2013 elections, PTI emerged as a major political force but was denied victory due to the connivance of the establishment with PML-N. IK called it foul and decided to fight back. Again, in the 2018 electoral contest, PTI was denied an outright majority.
In order to gain power IK had to rely on coalition partners and remained at the mercy of the establishment. The vote of no-confidence was the last attempt by the establishment to tarnish the credible image of IK but it backfired. The return of the corrupt to power created a huge public backlash. IK’s valiant fight back resulted in his mass public support.
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Today all dirty players stand fully exposed
After 1971, the establishment has again been cornered by an honest political leader. All attempts to tarnish his image have failed. The corrupts are now on the run. With the help of his mentors, NS did manage to escape his jail term but his reputation followed him. The chants of ‘Chor’ are a daily routine outside his hideout in London After the recent defeat of PML-N in the provincial assembly elections despite the support of the establishment, the writing is on the wall. This time even the establishment cannot manipulate the electoral process to ensure the victory of the corrupt that suits them.
The battle lines are clearly drawn, the corrupt and the establishment on one side versus the honest on the other led by IK. Return of NS will be the last-ditch effort by the establishment to counter the popularity of Kaptain but the tide is against them. The corrupt will be in jails soon while the Khakis will return to the barracks for the first time after crossing the line in July 1977 followed by the judicial murder of ZAB the most popular political leader of his time. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan will finally emerge as a ‘Constitutional Democracy’ which IK has termed as ‘Haqiqi Azadi’ (Real Freedom) which was usurped by those who were meant to serve not to rule.
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The dream of the founding fathers for a free land seems to be close to fruition. As the first born free generation, we too have lived and struggled for this freedom by deposing not one but four usurpers and effectively dealing with the fifth hidden hand. Another free and fair election can bring back the long derailed democratic order paving the way for a prosperous and vibrant republic as envisioned by Iqbal and Jinnah.
The writer is Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.