PAKISTAN-A SHIP WITHOUT HELMSMANAugust 10, 2009
By Mr. Ahmad Subhani
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—How truthful it has been stated that, “before the creation of Pakistan, there was a statesman without a state; today there exists a state without statesmen. The difference between a politician and a statesman is that the politician thinks of the next election, whereas the statesman thinks of the next generation; a politician looks for the success of his party, the statesman for that of his country. Lastly, a politician never means what he says and never says what he means, but a statesman says what he means and means what he says.” The foregoing description truly mirrors the condition that has prevailed in Pakistan since its inception. Its founder, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was a great statesman and acknowledged so by all those who knew him. The leaders that followed him fit in the description of ‘leader’ as given in the above quotation. Leaving aside the distant past, let us glance through the credentials of the current two major political contenders to the power, namely, Pakistan Peoples Party and Muslim League (Nawaz). Incidentally, both these parties have remained at the helm of affairs, twice in succession during the period 1988 to 1999. PPP is again in power since the year 2008. For brevity sake, I have ventured to recollect here only the salient features of their self-acclaimed “accomplishments” during their tenure to refresh the memory of worthy readers in this respect.
Late Benazir Bhutto, Chair-person of the Peoples Party held the reins of her office during 1988 to 1990 and then again from 1993 to 1996. She was dismissed from office by the then President primarily on the charge of corruption. President Ghulam Ishaq Khan also alleged that she had maintained close friendship with the Indian Prime Misnister, Rajev Gandhi; had links with RAW and had betrayed the ‘Khalsa Movement’ by providing names of important sikh leaders of the movement to the Indian Govt. In 1996, President Laghari dismissed her on charges of mismanagement, nepotism and corruption. In those days it was openly talked about that she and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari were robbers; though born with silver spoon in mouth, yet they looted and plundered the national treasury with both hands and transferred the looted money to their accounts in the foreign banks; also they had purchased property and assets worth billion of dollars abroad with the ill-gotten money.
The oft-repeated claim of P.P.P. leaders including Benazir Bhutto, that they had promoted democratic culture in the country is a complete hoax. Apart from her persistent dictatorial stance in her day to day dealings with fellow countrymen that bordered on fascism, she never conducted in-party elections; nominations were the normal course of action. She readily accepted the life- chairmanship of the party without any qualms. Last but not the least, she in her “will”, nominated her husband to be her successor party chairman, as if this all was a dynastic rule. Thus democracy was confined to only holding of elections.
Coming to Nawaz Sharif, he held office of the Prime Minister from 1990 to 1993 and then from 1997 to 1999. In 1993, he was dismissed by the President on charges of corruption, nepotism and incompetence. In 1999, he was ousted by the then Army Chief, General Pervez Musharraf when Nawaz Sharif tried to eliminate him from the scene by not allowing the aircraft by which Musharraf was returning from Sri Lanka, to land any where in Pakistan. But for the timely intervention of the army the crash of the plane could not have been averted because the plane had run short of fuel and was not at all in a position to fly outside of Pakistan. In fact, it was the third attempt on the part of Nawaz Sharif to have complete control and hold over the destiny of the nation. Earlier on, he had gotten rid of the former Army Chief, Gen. Karamat and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan by underhand means.
The three “ achievements” of which Nawaz Sharif has been boasting here there and every where are promotion of :-1 Democracy ; 2 Independent Judiciary ;and 3 Freedom of Press. Let us examine this claim on the altar of ground realities. When talking of independence of judiciary, Nawaz’s confrontation with the judiciary readily comes to mind. In 1997, the then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court held Nawaz Sharif in contempt of court for passing derogatory remarks against him and other judges. This episode created a riot in the Supreme Court that eventually led to the Chief Justice’s resignation. Nawaz Sharif had unleashed his entire propaganda machinery to undermine independence of judiciary. He had no patience for independent judges and tried to replace those who disagreed with him. The judges under the political influence, used to pass the judgments first and hear the witnesses later. His political workers and goons physically attacked the Supreme Court, abused the judges and indulged in violence and made the judges flee the court room to save their lives. It, therefore, sounds amusing to hear from the “tamer of the democracy” that his “first order if he returns to power would be to restore the deposed judges.”
As for democracy, the champion of democracy repeatedly trampled the same by issuing draconian laws like “Ehtisab Accountability Law” under which a number of opposition leaders were arrested and detained on fake charges. “Anti Terrorism Act” empowered the law enforcement agencies to kill a person on mere suspicion and conduct search operations without warrants. This turned the country into a police state. Military courts were set up for the trial of civilians. To reinforce his authority further and to ensure his rule for an indefinite period, a new Islamic order by imposing Shariat (15th Constitutional Amendment) was promulgated enabling him assume unbridled powers as “Amirul Mominin”. All this smacked of establishing ‘theocratic fascism’ in Pakistan.
He now talks of ‘press freedom’ which he tried to curb soon after his assumption of office as Prime Minister. by promulgating ‘Registration of Printing Press and Publishing Ordinance 1977 which authorized magistrates and sub-inspectors to initiate action including forfeitures of newspaper copies without judicial review and restraint. This led to harassment and intimidation of journalists. Fundamental rights were suspended by imposing a state of emergency in the country, apparently aimed at freezing foreign currency accounts of the people which drastically undermined domestic and foreign investors’ confidence, an idea of which can be had from the fact that almost 13 billion dollars in the FCAS evaporated in no time. His claim to have left a peaceful and progressive Pakistan behind, is a cruel joke played on this nation. All economic social and security parameters had been relegated to the worst ever position when he left.
Finally,Pakistan’s history pertaining to the period from 1988 to 1999 and then since 2008 is a witness to the fact that Nawaz Sharif , Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari have proved to be the spoilers of democracy and betrayers of peoples’ trust, hopes and aspirations. At present, no other leader of substance is visible who could steer the ship of the state out of the troubled waters to shores of safety. Ex.-President, Pervez Musharraf (1999—2008), did illuminate the dark horizon of our country for a while, when his stupendous efforts and pragmatic approach salvaged the sinking economy and put it on even keel. He brought about remarkable upturn in all spheres of national life and earned acclaim and approbation nationally and internationally. But certain crucial mistakes committed by him during 2007
Onwards which were blown out of all proportions and exploited to the hilt by his adversaries forced his exit from the scene. Now, no body can say when another rescuer like him would surface, to guide the destiny of this virtually lost nation to a successful and vibrant future.