Politics in the land of the pure have been transformed from honorable to dishonorable conduct. The level of legislation, debate, discussion have deteriorated to the lowest level. The welfare of the people and the common good seem to be on no one’s agenda. Pakistan has not recovered from the ill effects of the 1985 partyless elections. The first and only undisputed elections of 1970 produced a very able house. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) was the leader of the house while the opposition was led by Abdul Wali Khan the Red Shirt leader from the frontier province (KPK now).
Khan Qayyum Khan another credible leader who headed his own faction of the Muslim League was a coalition partner of ZAB. Elections were contested on the basis of ideology, not personal agendas. While the Muslim League supported a strong central government (Mazboot Markaz), Wali Khan stood for provincial autonomy.
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The notion of ideological differences
As a Muslim League child, I was made to believe that the National Awami Party (NAP) did not support the partition of the Sub-continent and were closely aligned with the Congress Party of India but my old man always praised their steadfastness to their ideology and integrity of the leadership. As a leader, Wali Khan was upright, able and honest with honorable conduct. In his own words, “We had ideological differences with Qayyum Khan but have neither blamed each other for corruption or dishonourable acts “.
After the first Martial Law in October 1958, Ayub Khan’s EBDO (Elected Bodies Disqualification Ordinance) did dent the political order to a great extent but the 1985 partyless house proved to be a death blow to democracy from which we have not recovered till today. Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy as a former Prime Minister (PM) successfully defended the charges against him. ZAB fought a valiant legal battle and held his ground till the end. He had no faith in the Maulvi Mushtaq Hussain-led trial court yet he did not boycott or delayed the proceedings of the court.
The decision in the Supreme Court was split despite manipulation by the dictator. Nawaz Sharif and his gang of moneymakers decided to flee under a secret agreement with the fourth dictator after his government was toppled in October 1999. Around 150 ticket holders of the party left for greener pastures as they were not honorable individuals.
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Imran Khan as leader of the new order had to struggle for political support
He surrounded himself with honorable individuals till the massive show of support in the 2011 public gatherings (Lahore October 11, Karachi December 25). The honorable old guard of the party was led by Comrade Ahsan Rashid a founding member of the party, while the newcomers were split into two groups. The right of center-leaning members sided with Javed Hashmi while the centrists combined under Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Being an honest and honorable person, Ahsan Sahib kept losing grounds to the tainted newcomers.
Fearing his rise to the pivotal position of Chief Minister (CM) Punjab, he was first made to lose the Inter-Party Elections followed by the Provincial Assembly seat from Lahore. Despite the setbacks he kept his honor intact, never complained or challenged the dishonorable actions he had to face in the party he had built with his flesh and blood. He was weak and frail, the battle with cancer had its toll but he kept going.
He was the first leader to reach the Dharna at Lalik Chowk on the eve of the election day in 2013 while the rest had gone home. IK came into power without two very honorable teammates (Ahsan Rashid, Saloni Bokhari) while Comrade Naeem-ul-Haq remained with him till his last day. With his demise in February 2020, the party lost another honorable companion of IK.
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A few months back there was an interesting debate in the National Assembly
Khawaja Asif a senior leader of PML-N and Ex-Foreign Minister raised hell on India being inducted into the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). His speech gave an impression as if our arch-enemy had become a permanent member of the UNSC. The reply from the Foreign Minister was equally disappointing, he said it was only for a period of two years as if it did not matter. Both the Ex and the current head of the Foreign Office are a typical product of the 1985 Partyless house that continues to hijack our political journey.
Instead of fighting every inch for national interests, they were both involved in point-scoring. On the floor of the legislature, most members either remain disinterested or indulge in a cover-up of the past misdeeds of their leaders. Honour has to be restored in the highest national forum of the country. The provincial assemblies are no better either. It looks like a circus of vested interests which seems to be unending.
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Special sessions should be arranged for the members in which the proceedings of the 1970 house be shown where honor was taken seriously. This dishonorable conduct of the members of the elected bodies must come to an end for the nation to move forward.
The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.