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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Pakistan’s series of mis-steps which has left us in our current pathetic state

Farid A. Malik |

Considering the flight of the people of Pakistan it is abundantly clear that there are enemies in the midst. Centuries ago wise men said, “Know thy enemy”. Opinions differ on the extent of damage caused by the evil-doers but there is a consensus that the establishment is the number one enemy of the people.

Initially, the colonial empire was unified (khakis, Qazis, Baboos) now there are divisions. Their created politicians (Siasis) have also entered the ranks of the enemies. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s Peoples Party bravely resisted this alliance but after Zardari’s takeover, it too lost direction.

There is a consensus that the establishment is the number one enemy of the people.

It is widely believed that the slide started after the assassination of the first Prime Minister (PM), Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, in 1951. Khawaja Nazimuddin, the Governor General (GG), was forced to step down as PM and Baboo Ghulam Muhammed was inducted in his place.

Despite his failings, Liaquat Ali was an honest and strong leader. He resisted internal and external pressures very boldly and eventually had to sacrifice his life and was rightly bestowed with the title of Shaheed-e-Millat. As Liaquat Ali Khan had migrated to the new land he was accused of building his constituency here.

Read more: “My vote is not for sale,” Achakzai on the Revival of Military Courts

While India pursued independent foreign policy and remained a member of the Non-aligned Movement (NAM), the dictator signed unfriendly treaties like SEATO and CENTO.

By contrast, the political leadership of East Pakistan was well established with their constituencies intact. Heavyweights like Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy, Khawaja Nazimuddin, Maulvi Fazal Haq, and Maulvi Tamizuddin held their ground against the establishment onslaught. Then there were Unionist toadies in Punjab who willingly sold their soul to the new power brokers. Till today the case of Speaker Tamizuddin stands out as a bold attempt to save the federation. Justice Muhammad Munir’s law of necessity ruined the democratic struggle.

The Country Suffering Under Dictators

Since October 1958 when Ayub Khan took over, Pakistan has always been on the wrong side. Its national interests have been blatantly compromised. While India pursued independent foreign policy and remained a member of the Non-aligned Movement (NAM), the dictator signed unfriendly treaties like SEATO and CENTO.

One proverbial telephone call from Washington DC was enough to deter khaki usurpers like Ayub Khan and Pervez Musharraf. In 1962 when Indian troops were mauled by Chinese an opportunity was lost to take over Kashmir. After 9/11, Colin Powell’s call changed the entire direction of the country’s foreign policy.

Read more: Pakistan & Afghanistan: Victims of each other?

On the fall of the mighty Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev remarked that the USA will now create another enemy. Since then the war on terror has continued unabated. There is an American-Indian saying “An Apache rides his best horse”. In life, one has to make a choice either to be an Apache or the horse. Unfortunately, expect for the truly elected political leadership (1947-1958, 1971-1977) every leader has been a horse and carried all kinds of external loads in total disregard of national interests.

When Zia pushed Pakistan into the Afghan war, ZAB was still alive and rotting in the Chaklala Jail. From his death cell, he warned about the consequences of this clandestine misadventure. Mujahidin sanctuaries were organized in the tribal areas to fight the proxy war for the USA. It was a big mess where arms, drugs, and refugees poured in.

The basic fabric of the nation was strained. Sectarianism and intolerance took over. Through party-less elections in 1985, he introduced political rogues who continue with their roguery till today. He not only got rid of the elected PM but also disfigured the constitution. Pakistan continues to suffer from this khaki misadventure till today which continued unchecked for over eleven years.

On the other hand, the USA just walked away after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan leaving the mess behind. By this time Taliban had managed to seek control of the war-torn country. Then came Colin Powell’s telephone and the tables were turned overnight by another Khaki usurper. Now it was decided to eliminate the terrorist networks that Zia had created for his foreign masters. Today terrorism is the biggest menace faced not just by Pakistan but the entire world.

Read more: Where does Pakistan fit in the emerging US-Russia conflict in Afghanistan

It is Time to Stand Up

It is time for the nation to wake up. Only the collective wisdom and will of the people can take the country forward. The 1970 free and fair election and the 1973 constitution is the benchmark of democracy. GHQ played a dominant role in delivering an honest ballot in 1970, but since then it has not sided with the aspirations of the people.

The lawyers’ movement not only toppled the fourth Khaki dictator, it also liberated the entire judiciary. Under General Retd. Raheel Sharif the prestige of the Khakis has been restored. It is payback time for both. The Qazis and Khakis should play their role in getting rid of the enemy of the people by ensuring a credible ballot as was conducted in 1970.

Those who steal people’s mandate by stuffing ballot boxes should not be allowed to rule. Self-correction is only possible when the electoral process is credible, which it is not. The irregularities pointed out by the Nasir-ul-Mulk Commission must be corrected.

The 1970 free and fair election and the 1973 constitution is the benchmark of democracy.

It calls for a Suo-moto notice by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP). My right as a voter has been violated by the enemy of the people not once but ten times. State institutions should play their role for the will of the people to prevail otherwise they will continue to be a part of the enemy of the people alliance, also called status-quo. This ‘Awam Dushmani’ (contempt for the people) must end. People have to come first. In the words of ZAB ‘Takht ka Sarchashma Awam Hain’ (people are the real source of power).

Bhutto was perhaps the first real politician of the country. In his last publication, ‘If I am Assassinated.’ He predicted that the waters of River Indus would turn red in case of his judicial murder but they did not in April 1979.

Read more: Sixth Census: A bright beginning but fraught with challenges

As a visionary leader, most of his predictions have come true. The enemies of the people are now fully exposed. They can run but cannot lead or hide in Quaid’s country. A new “Awam Dost” (people friendly) Naya Pakistan is now unstoppable. The forces of status-quo have to either retreat or surrender; their demise is inevitable.

Dr. Farid Malik is a prominent technical and management expert in mining, materials, engineering and high-tech industry; he is a regular columnist for The Nation and Pakistan Today.He is ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation.