5 July 1977 invokes a lot of bad memories. It was the start of the Zia Dark Ages whose lasting product has been the Sharifs of Lahore together with their sidekicks. Unfortunately, it also kicked in a new era of ‘ Immoral Politics ‘ which was unheard of in the land of the pure. Despite Ayub Khan’s onslaught on politicians in 1958 through his infamous EBDO (Elected Bodies Disqualification Ordinance) politics remained clean and within moral limits.
The 1970 elections were credible but resulted in the break-up of the Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan. An ‘ Awami ‘ or democratic era kicked in. The establishment was in clear retreat, civilian authority had been established. First the 1972 interim constitution and then the 1973 permanent version was unanimously passed by the truly elected representatives of the people.
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While the charismatic Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the leader of the government, the equally impressive Abdul Wali Khan was heading the opposition benches. The level of debate and legislation was outstanding. Despite external pressures, ZAB’s popularity was on the rise. The title of Quaid-e-Awam was bestowed upon him. At the peak of his political career ZAB was tricked by the ‘establishment in retreat’, into holding national elections ahead of time in March 1977.
How the political gains of 1971-77 were neutralised
The day after the dissolution of the assemblies a political alliance called PNA (Pakistan National Alliance) was announced to challenge the PPP. It was a one-on-one direct contest. ZAB was clearly leading, a few constituencies were disputed. The election results were rejected by the opposition and a movement was started to topple the elected government.
To save Pakistan, this era of ‘ Immoral Politics ‘ has to come to an end, as it can no longer continue. Almost all civilian institutions have been rendered non-functional
The establishment was waiting in the wings, and the rest is history, as they say. The political gains of the democratic period (1971 to 1977) had to be neutralized. Civilian institutions came under attack. The 1985 partyless elections proved to be the last nail in the coffin of ‘Moral Politics’. PPP, the largest political party of that time, boycotted the electoral process, leaving the field open for political novices like Nawaz Sharif.
Beginning of the era of Mian Nawaz Sharif
There was no looking back, first as Finance Minister and then Chief Minister Mian Sahib took control of the largest province of the country. With those elections came the pandemic of ‘ Immoral Politics’. Plots and perks were doled out to workers as bait. Public records were destroyed to annex properties. It was free for all.
A ‘Darbari System’ was introduced by Abba Ji to win over support of the bureaucracy. While the agencies kept preparing dossiers the President looked the other way. Finally when the dictator was blown in the air, Benazir Bhutto came into power in 1988 but under very tough conditions that she had to accept, when she resisted a vote of no-confidence was moved against her. A camp of MNAs was established at Changa Manga to ensure success of the move but it failed.
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Finally came the dismissal of the elected government of Benazir in 1990. To keep her out of power the IJI (Islami Jamhoori Ittehad) was cobbled up by the establishment, quite like the PNA of the 1970s. Mian Sahib now moved from the province to take control of the country to spread his brand of ‘Immoral Politics’ all over the land of the pure.
When Ghulam Ishaq Khan tried to contain him, Mian Sahib rebelled against his mentors and creators. When his government was dismissed it was restored by the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Nasim Hasan Shah. Now it was one-on-one conflict between the President and the Prime Minister. Fearing anarchy, the COAS, Gen Waheed Kakar, intervened and both were sent packing to save the federation.
Here comes the ‘immoral brigade’
The elections that followed in 1995, Benazir came back into power but this time the ‘Immoral Wisdom’ of Zardari prevailed. The PPP followed in the footsteps of Mian Sahib. After the murder of Murtaza Bhutto who was a critic of the Zardari ways, serious differences emerged between the President, Farooq Leghari, and Benazir. Mr Leghari dismissed the government of his own party and promised across-the-board accountability but caved in to pressure. Mian Sahib was back with an absolute majority.
As time passes patience is running out. Another ‘Political Corona’ could be in the making, which even the face masks will not be able to stop, It is called Bloody Revolution
The ‘Immoral Brigade’ struck back with a vengeance. First the Supreme Court of Pakistan was attacked followed by the early retirement of the Army Chief, and then the President came under their fire. Mian Sahib now wanted to be declared Amir-ul-Momineen.
The PPP majority in the Senate led by Comrade Aitzaz Ahsan stopped the bill from becoming law. It was a narrow miss for the Caliph of Pakistan. Mian Sahib did not give up, he then tried to send another COAS home before his time but in the process lost his government.
NROs: Taking turns to rule
Then came the NROs, driven by COAS Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiani, that brought both the parties back into the mainstream to take turns through their brand of ‘ Immoral Politics’. In 2008 it was the PPP’s turn and in 2013 the PML(N)’s.
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Judge Bashir was hearing the corruption cases against Mian Sahib; fearing adverse judgement Mian Sahib first started softening Arshad Malik the other Judge in the circuit. When the evidence had been gathered against the Judge, an application was moved to transfer the case to his court.
When complete relief was denied the entire incriminating evidence was released to the press. Then started the charade of Mian Sahib’s platelet count. While in Lahore an hourly update was released to the press whereas in London secrecy prevails.
How to save Pakistan and implement reforms?
To save Pakistan, this era of ‘ Immoral Politics ‘ has to come to an end, as it can no longer continue. Almost all civilian institutions have been rendered non-functional. The common good has become uncommon. Mafias run the show to their advantage while public is made to suffer.
Read more: Pakistan’s bureaucracy needs overhaul
Without political cleansing the bureaucracy will continue to stall all attempts at reforms. Conviction through common law courts is almost impossible, the cases can drag on forever. In his narcotics case Rana Sanaullah has already taken three adjournments. Shahbaz Sharif has been able to dodge NAB appearance through mob pressure on courts.
Common law assumes moral behaviour which is missing amongst this Immoral Political lot. Delay is their only defence which they have so far successfully employed. As time passes patience is running out. Another ‘Political Corona’ could be in the making, which even the face masks will not be able to stop, It is called ‘Bloody Revolution’. Three of them took place in the 20th century ( Bolshevik, Chinese, Iranian ).
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 Daily Times 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.