May 25, 2022, will go down in history as one of the darkest days in our democratic struggle. Instead of operating within the ambit of law, Punjab Police operated like a private ‘Sharif Malatia’. Houses were raided, illegal arrests were made, private property was damaged, and windscreens of parked cars at Liberty roundabout were smashed. Dr. Yasmin Rashid was not only stopped from leaving Lahore, her car was attacked by ‘Gullu Butts’ of PML-N. The entire episode was recorded and then shared on social media.
For the first time in the history of the province, Police entered the Assembly building to ensure the election of Hamza Shahbaz as the Chief Minister (CM) with the help of 25 ‘Lotas’. These PTI dissidents, twenty males, and five females were won over allegedly by the power of money. The Governor’s House was barricaded and Omer Sarfraz Cheema the incumbent was not allowed to enter.
Read more: ECP de-seats 25 dissident MPAs of PTI
Not only the Police, but the entire civil administration also displayed complete loyalty to the ‘House of Sharif’ totally ignoring their official protocols. When the tide changed with Imran Khan’s triumph in 15 constituencies, the Inspector General (IG) sheepishly stepped down while the Chief Secretary (CS) held his ground as if no illegality had been committed.
Law enforcers and breakers become one
As CM, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi (CPE) has been tasked to clean up the ‘Sharif Mess’ in the largest province of the country. CPE is a chip of the same block that understands the system well. While Sharifs were created by the third usurper, the Chaudhrys of Gujrat were launched by the first. Zahoor Elahi was the founder of this ‘Political Dynasty’ that has been loyal to the establishment.
When Nawaz Sharif (NS) was elevated to the center as Prime Minister (PM) it was agreed that the CM slot would be given to the ‘Chaudhrys’. Instead, Ghulam Haider Wyne was given the position with Shahbaz Sharif (SS) the power behind. CPE was given the slot of Speaker of the provincial assembly. Coming from a Police family, Chaudhry Shujahat Hussain decided to become the Interior Minister. Together they built a private ‘Police Force’.
When the fourth usurper took control of the country, Chaudhrys decided to side with their college friend Pervaiz Musharraf and Tariq Aziz. While CPE enjoyed a full term as CM, his cousin had a brief stint as PM finally agreeing to the appointment of Shaukat Aziz a non-political entity to replace him. Another cousins’ duo (Hamuyan Akhtar Khan and Jehangir Khan Tarin) were skillfully bypassed. Earlier the original President of PML-Q Mian Azhar was pushed out of the arena.
At the time of partition while most government departments were corruption-free, however, Police was corrupt and coercive. After the 1985 partless elections, criminals were recruited in Lahore by the Sharifs and Chaudhrys in Gujrat. Law enforcers and breakers became one. Personal loyalty became the order of the day. It did not stop here, some of the ‘Basta B’ individuals (Bad Characters) managed to enter the legislatures.
Two important approaches were adopted ‘Muk Maka’ (give and take), and ‘Mitti Pao’ (Cover-up) which resulted in the collapse of institutions that we see today. ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) was tasked to maintain the ‘Saisi Basta B’ record which they use as and when required by them. If the establishment has decided to be neutral then this record on ‘Bad Characters’ should be released. After all, public funds were used in collecting this vital information.
Breaking the status quo
In the checkered political history of Pakistan, only two genuine political parties were formed (PPP and PTI), the rest were created by the establishment. Most ‘Muslim Leagues’ have been rogue parties and repeatedly used to derail the democratic order.
The largest province of the country has the worst civil administration. The Police force is a ‘Mafia’ that operates through ‘Gullu Butts’ and touts. Police Stations are auctioned as it has become a very lucrative business. The Sation House Officers (SHOs) are totally on their own, exercising unlimited authority much beyond their legal mandate. The government of PTI brought Nasir Khan Durrani to reform the Punjab Police on the lines of the KPK force but was made to step down. The Model Town massacre remains un-punished, and families of the dead continue to wait for justice. Their leader, Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, decided to leave the country.
Under CPE the clean-up operation has started. A massive bureaucratic reshuffle is on the way. Hopefully, lessons have been learned by the PTI cabinet members to break the dreaded status-quo that existed under Usman Buzdar the previous CM.
Some structural changes may be needed to deliver relief to the public which has been long denied. Civilized nations operate under the ambit of law and constitution in which ‘Gullu Butts’ should have no role. The Gujrat/Gawalmandi launch has been disastrous for the republic which must now come to end with the revival of institutions.
The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.