Pakistan’s political dynamics has seen its different colors over the last six decades. The country saw some of the most oppressive military regimes and also some of the most corrupt periods of elected plutocracy. Our history saw struggles between left and right and also became an active player in the cold war period.
Though our politics has been influenced strongly by the foreign masters of our ruling elites. But in that our establishment has always played a vital role either as a proxy rule for foreign powers or as a king maker in local politics, many times the role has been a mixture of both. The honest reality of our history is that this role of our establishment has seriously dented our political culture, damaged rule of law and also harmed our rights as free citizens of this country.
A country which was founded on the principles of justice and equality didn’t live up to the expectations due to the dismal performance of our establishment and their cultivated corrupt political culture based on feudal-corporatist mindsets. Right from the days of Ghulam Muhammad, Pakistani establishment strengthened its hold on the affairs of the state and its politics. Pakistan was thrown into an unwanted cold war and thus it gave up its freedom which it got few years ago into the hands of imperialist forces lead by USA, which at that time took place of United Kingdom as world super power along with its rival USSR.
Initially establishment rule was evenly balanced between civil and military establishments but later on especially after Ayub Khan martial law, military acted as the main force of establishment. Now by establishment we can easily refer to GHQ as main source of political power. Even Fatimah Jinnah, one of the strong political figure of our country and sister of founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah was not able to defeat this system. But her role in politics did make our establishment to get involved more in party politics or politics of masses. Now if I see things as an ordinary student of politics, foundation of PPP was meant to fill the political vacuum in the country so that those forces including Awami League, Jamat e Islami and others, who opposed Ayub martial law openly could not strengthen their grounds as alternate political reality other than establishment.
This approach worked in West Pakistan due to strong feudal system but failed in East Pakistan so establishment with the backing of feudal political class decided to use force on our own people. And we all know the consequences of 1971 riots and later Indo-Pak war. There was a chance for the nation to learn lessons from the mistakes and change the future course of actions.
But it didn’t happen except for few adjustments, including a real major one of developing 1973 constitution, our political outlook remained same. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was a product of establishment, who tried to become larger than he should be in the eyes of establishment and also started a nuclear program against the wishes of our imperialist masters, became a liability to the system and so he was removed from the scene through Zia martial law and later hanged till death in a murder case of controversial nature.
Removal of Bhutto, instead of giving some relief to martial law forces became counter productive especially in the province of Sind so a new political reality of MQM was given space and support by military establishment. In Zia’s time not only constitution was treated badly but his use of religion to give cover to his oppressive and hypocrite regime proved to be another major blunder in the history of our country.
Later after the death of General(R) Zia ul Haq, PPP with sympathy votes and deals with local and international establishment came into power. Instead of learning from past mistakes and doing accountability of constitutional violations and corruptions by Zia regime, PPP started a new era of corruption and nepotism in Pakistani politics. They were also joined by their rivals, PML(N) which was a product of Zia remains, in this political culture. This culture saw its ups and downs and political maneuvering by establishment through the formation of IJI and sacking of governments.
In this time Nawaz Sharif of PML(N), also emerged as a big political force through a huge mandate in 1997 elections by bagging 137 seats. Nawaz tried to undermine the unwanted reality of our political history i.e. military establishment and did not follow the line of imperialist master while conducting nuclear tests in 1998,was sacked in a military coup by General (R) Musharraf. In Nawaz’s sacking his controversial 15th amendment and attacks on judiciary also played a key role as these actions weakened the rule of law and supremacy of constitution in the country and thus giving more room for unconstitutional measures by opportunist forces of martial law.
Musharraf rule proved to be one of the most disastrous periods of Pakistani history. In this tenure Pakistan get involved into a foreign war and this war was later dragged into our cities through some of the most evil policies. This war and Musharraf’s rule converted the diversity of our society into a clash between sects, ethnicity and social classes.
Actions like attack on Supreme Judiciary, abrogation of constitution, illegal abductions, extra judicial killings, military operations including heavy bombings on civilian areas, 12 May 2007 and 9 March 2007 and others really broke the back of Pakistani economy and society. The society after Musharraf is more fragmented and country is facing some of the worst consequences of his actions.
Then another foreign sponsored deal, between forces of martial law and feudal-corporatist political elite, resulted in current NRO government. In return of Musharraf’s safety and continuation of his imperialist slave policies, current ruling alliance was not only given power but all criminal cases were removed in the name of reconciliation. In the mean time, removal of Benazir Bhutto from the scene also helped her cronies and beneficiaries of NRO deal to capture more sympathy votes. Despite a report by UN, Benazir murder case is still not seeing much progress except for cover ups.
Our history saw politics of so called Left and so called Right, so called Red and so called Green and also the so called struggle between forces of dictatorships and so called forces of democracy. The reality is most of these setups were fake and were meant to serve the goals of ruling elite and their foreign masters.
Old games are now again being played by our ruling elite with assistance from foreign masters. Former dictator Musharraf is planning to come back into politics. Pir Pagara has also started his alliance of failed politicians in the name of uniting Muslim League.
PPP and allied parties are still playing their dirty games to strengthen their rule through fear and control politics as a result a commercial hub like Karachi is seeing one of the worst periods of target killings.Institutional corruption, high inflation and a huge government-created energy crisis to pave way for their corruption in Rental Power Projects are putting us into further economic disaster.
Natural resources and assets are on sale for nothing and again our nation is being fooled just for the monetary gains of few.So called opposition comprising of PML-Q and PML-N are busy in playing their hypocritical role. People are still not able to come out of their prejudices and short term greed and so giving strength to this system through “Zindabad” mentality.
Even floods have not changed the situation much. Supreme Court, which has provided some hope after restoration is being sidelined by government and institutions. Lawyers and media which emerged as a new force in national politics are now being divided through money and threats. Government involvement in SCBA elections and threats to media are examples of this approach. Situation in Afghanistan will come with its own dynamics and impacts on Pakistani politics.
Luckily few good things happened in recent times including the revival of civil society, emergence of free and resilient media, and an independent Supreme Court. These are real challenging times for those who love freedom and justice. These include all those who are struggling for rule of law, justice, accountability, freedom and respect for nation, and above all a better Pakistan. Lot is needed to be done and it seems to be an almost impossible task but lets hope for the best as we are responsible for our actions and decisions not the given conditions and out of control realities.
We have seen some interesting developments in last 4-5 days including NRO case and government deceptions, government sponsored rifts between lawyers and we also need to look at this in Supreme Court Bar elections and now the notification issue.
PPP leaders including PM gillani have given statements in the past regarding the March 2009 restoration notification . Circles in PPP have been talking about it as a possible card to counter the judiciary. PM also hinted this in parliament when he said that the restoration order is still needed to be endorsed by the parliament.
Its good to see that media , civil society and judiciary are alert on this issue. SC has clearly said that a move like this will be termed as high treason and will be dealt with according to Article 6 of the constitution.
Our ruling elite doesn’t want Supremacy of Law and Constitution based on justice and equality. They want a rule of elite including feudal-corporatist politicans and military establishment. They only know how to serve their greed and the will of their imperialist masters.
It seems our government is planning another game. They want to come out of this situation as victims as they are not able to government properly. It will be on judiciary, media and civil society to ensure accountability and justice to prevail.
We as civil society should keep ourselves ready for any attempt to again create a constitutional crisis. The struggle for Rule of Law must go on all grounds. We all need to play our part and the least thing can be done is not to support the evil.
Also there is a planning of North Waziristan Operation going on . The decision will further damage the federation and will result in more terrorism as we have seen in the past.
18th amendment has made government more strong and more above the law. Now judiciary will be literally a subordinate institution of parliament and will be lead by the will of
plutocrats. Real bad part of this so called revival of 1973 constitution spirit is that they have further damaged the institution of judiciary and no curbs are put on corruption.
It doesn’t matter much who exercise the power , PM or President. The real things are transparency, accountability and rule of law which now seems to be further weakened.
Now judges will be appointed by a seven membered committee having only 3 serving judges and one retired judge appointed by government, rest of the members will be from government. The approval of the judges appointed by the committee will be approved by an 8 membered parliamentary committee having 4 members from and government and 4 from opposition.
Now the opposition will play give and take even on the issue of judges appointment, judges will be nominated by party heads.
No checks on corruption. They have only exploited slogans , no true decentralization of power.
I don’t know where the people who don’t like both opposition and government or don’t have their share in electing these corrupt feudal-corporatist will go?
We have been saying this regularly that military-feudal-corporatist are playing with our country, they don’t want to give up their control and treat everyone as equal in front of the law.
We need to continuously make efforts for freedom and justice.
We need RULE OF LAW!
We don’t need RULE OF A MAN or RULE OF ELITE.
Current plutocracy is no different than dictatorship. They, including feudal, corrupt corporatist and corrupt generals are all same.
The US elections grasp attention of people all over the world and for a period of time, the two terms “Democrats” and “Republicans” become the most iterated of terms. In Pakistan also, it creates a lot of buzz with debates and discussions all around. But my intention to refer US elections is certainly not to debate over “Why Obama won?” and “What should Republicans do?” Here, I am more concerned about the differences between the two terms i.e. Democracy and Republic; or are these terms synonymous enough to be used interchangeably?
Literally, the word Republic is derived from a Latin words res and publica, which mean everybody’s thing or interest or a public affair. Whereas the word Democracy has its origins from Greek, with Demos meaning people and kratos, meaning Government. Literally, democracy means Government by or of the people.
In modern political science, republicanism refers to a specific ideology that is based on civic virtue and is considered distinct from ideologies such as liberalism. Democracy is a political government either carried out by the people (direct democracy), or the power to govern is granted to elected representatives, without the restraint embodied in a fixed body of law. The law is whatever an official organ of government determines it is.
Considering our case i.e. of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, we follow a specific ideology that is based on civic virtue as prescribed by Islam. For us, as mentioned in the Objective Resolution “Sovereignty belongs to Allah alone but He has delegated it to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him as a sacred trust.” Consider an extreme case of an ideal Democracy in Pakistan; if a law is passed by majority which is against the teachings of Islam or which goes against the fact that “Sovereignty belongs to Allah”, should we consider it as a law? In my opinion, I would have a vocal ‘NO’ against that. Now refer to our constitution where it is clearly prescribed tha Islam is the state religion which means in any case the principles described in Holy Quran have to be upheld, we can say that it does not exactly fit into the definition of the term ‘Democracy’. So it is necessary to keep distinction between implementing a complete Democracy and keeping some principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice fully observed as prescribed in the constitution.
In order to have an idea of the will of people, consider the survey conducted last year by British Council of Pakistan which suggested that almost three-quarters of the Youth in Pakistan (which currently constitutes two-third of the whole population of Pakistan) define themselves as Muslims First then a Pakistani. Moreover, according to a survey conducted by Maryland University, almost 71 percent agreed with requiring “strict application of [sharia] law in every Islamic country.” Despite more than six decades of our creation, the debate still continues amongst the masses, on which side we fall but what is important here is to realize the difference between being a Democrate or a Republican, as this misunderstanding is becoming a major reason behind the dichotomy that exists within our society – a society which faces extreme opposition from many scholars regarding ‘Democracy’ and on the other hand extreme proposition from various circles. So the bottom line is instead of imposing a system which is executable in any other part of the world, we should work out in designing and implementing a system suitable for our needs and which rightly addresses our values. Now surprisingly, Urdu being our national language and the language of masses; has the same word “Jamhoriat” for both Democracy and Republic. Yes! The word Jamhoriat, a word which echoes repeatedly and amplified by various political personalities, is also reflected in the name “Islami Jamhoria Pakistan”.
So it should be kept as two distinct approaches whether the leader or party, for whom we keep on chanting slogans, wants a “Democratic Pakistan” or will keep it “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”?
As John Marshall (Chief Justice, The US Supreme Court 1801-1835) observed: “Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.”
Here is an interesting but a real thought provoking article by Dr. Ron Paul.
Political Power and the Rule of Law
by Ron Paul
With the elections over and the 110th Congress settling in, the media have been reporting ad nauseam about who has assumed new political power in Washington. We’re subjected to breathless reports about emerging power brokers in Congress; how so-and-so is now the powerful chair of an important committee; how certain candidates are amassing power for the 2008 elections, and so on. Nobody questions this use of the word “power,” or considers its connotations. It’s simply assumed, in Washington and the mainstream media, that political power is proper and inevitable.
The problem is that politicians are not supposed to have power over us – we’re supposed to be free. We seem to have forgotten that freedom means the absence of government coercion. So when politicians and the media celebrate political power, they really are celebrating the power of certain individuals to use coercive state force.
Remember that one’s relationship with the state is never voluntary. Every government edict, policy, regulation, court decision, and law ultimately is backed up by force, in the form of police, guns, and jails. That is why political power must be fiercely constrained by the American people.
The desire for power over other human beings is not something to celebrate, but something to condemn! The 20th century’s worst tyrants were political figures, men who fanatically sought power over others through the apparatus of the state. They wielded that power absolutely, without regard for the rule of law.
Our constitutional system, by contrast, was designed to restrain political power and place limits on the size and scope of government. It is this system, the rule of law, which we should celebrate – not political victories.
Political power is not like the power possessed by those who otherwise obtain fame and fortune. After all, even the wealthiest individual cannot force anyone to buy a particular good or service; even the most famous celebrities cannot force anyone to pay attention to them. It is only when elites become politically connected that they begin to impose their views on all of us.
In a free society, government is restrained – and therefore political power is less important. I believe the proper role for government in America is to provide national defense, a court system for civil disputes, a criminal justice system for acts of force and fraud, and little else. In other words, the state as referee rather than an active participant in our society.
Those who hold political power, however, would lose their status in a society with truly limited government. It simply would not matter much who occupied various political posts, since their ability to tax, spend, and regulate would be severely curtailed. This is why champions of political power promote an activist government that involves itself in every area of our lives from cradle to grave. They gain popular support by promising voters that government will take care of everyone, while the media shower them with praise for their bold vision.
Political power is inherently dangerous in a free society: it threatens the rule of law, and thus threatens our fundamental freedoms. Those who understand this should object whenever political power is glorified.
Dr A Q Khan
The duty of a government is to protect the lives and belongings of the public. It is duty-bound to provide justice without discrimination and to ensure the basic necessities of life.
Mahmood of Ghazni was a great king and his empire stretched across a vast area. One day a caravan was looted by dacoits within his kingdom and some travellers, including a young man, were killed. The old mother of that young man went to the court of the king and complained bitterly about it. When Mahmood made the lame excuse that it was a far off place, she became infuriated and reprimanded him for conquering such far off places even though he could not ensure the security of his subjects there. The king immediately ordered a contingent of soldiers to go to the spot and impose the government’s writ.
In the olden days rulers did not hesitate to acknowledge their mistakes and apologise and accepting shortcomings, and advice was not considered something to be ashamed of. Kings and rulers of old were said to be absolute rulers with unquestionable authority, but the common man had access to them. Justice was dispensed promptly and there was no way of escape, even for the rich and powerful.
Caliph Umar (RA) punished his own son through lashing. Hajjaj Bin Yusuf punished the corrupt by lashing, and Sher Shah Suri punished his son in the same way when he was caught sitting on an elephant and teasing the wife of a poor man. Emperor Jehangir had a bell hung at the gate of his palace which any needy or aggrieved person could peal in order to get prompt justice or help. Mirza Ghalib was arrested for allowing gambling in his house and was prosecuted in the court of Mufti Sadruddin Arzu (Ghalib’s own disciple) who convicted him according to the law, but paid the fine from his own pocket.
Hundreds of years before the birth of Prophet Isa (PBUH), there lived an Emperor in India by the name of Vikramajit (Vikamadattya), who had his capital in Ujjani (near Bhopal). The concept of “Nau Ratan” (nine wise people) originated in his court. They were persons famous for their wisdom and knowledge. Famous poet and playwright Kali Das, who wrote Shakuntala and Maghdoot, was one of them. Vikramajit is reported to have had the blessings of Almighty God to extract evidence from stones, trees, birds, and animals. He was famous for dispensing justice.
The Moghul Dynasty flourished just as long as the rulers were honest, God-fearing and just. After the death of Aurangzeb, the dynasty deteriorated and ultimately disintegrated and many local rulers declared themselves autonomous, making it possible for the British to colonise the whole subcontinent. The British cleverly applied the concept of “divide and rule” and regularly paid those who were willing to take up arms against the Indian rulers. Consequently, the Moghul Empire became limited to the Red Fort in Delhi.
The success of the British was due to their intelligence and intrigues and also because of the differences between the local rulers, their cruel and corrupt rule and the absence of justice and rule of law. The uprising of 1857 put the last nail into Indian rulers’ coffin. The British gradually conquered the whole of the subcontinent and also made meticulous plans to keep it under their control for as long as possible. They eliminated those whom they considered to be nationalists, replacing them with stooges to make use of their services as and when required, as was done in both World Wars. They established Fort William College at Calcutta where British colonialists were compulsorily taught Urdu. Some became so fluent that they even became Urdu poets.
The British were wise in that they decided not to disturb local laws and religious traditions. Marriage and inheritance laws were left untouched and Maulvis and Pandits were employed to take care of these matters. They did not force people to learn English, but whoever spoke the language were assured of good jobs. They conferred titles on those who translated the Civil Procedure Code, the Indian Penal Code and other British laws into Urdu, notably Shamsul Ulema Deputy Nazir Ahmed. They did not change the names of the cities and abstained from interference in religious matters.
Hindu and Muslims festivals were declared holidays and loyal Muslim and Hindu officers were given titles such as Khan Bahadur, Rai Bahadur, Sir, etc. In the police force, the constable, head constable, inspector, DSP, SP and DIG were locals. Only the IG Police was British. Similarly, in the Revenue Department, the Patwari, Tehsildar and deputy revenue commissioner were Indians and only the revenue commissioner was British. In the army, the ranks of soldier to colonel were filled by Indians and those of Brigadier General and above by British.
There was no favouritism, nepotism, superseding of officials, corruption in civil work contracts, etc. Consequently, the quality of the work carried out was of such high standard that many roads, bridges and buildings still stand today and are in relatively good condition. People respected the law and fear of punishment kept them from breaking it. Law was the same for everybody. Immediately after Partition, the leaders and law enforcing agencies were honest, but within a few years corruption, nepotism and favouritism became the order of the day. Nowadays people are even committing suicide (or suicide bombings?) and the rulers are least bothered.
The Indians did a much better job. Its independent area was reduced to less than the size of Pakistan because 553 states were sovereign. However, Sardar Patel, the home and deputy prime minister, immediately annexed all the states and also abolished the Jagirdari System, thus saving the country from future intrigues and manipulation by a few rich families. We failed to take similar action. During the rule of Liaquat Ali Khan we had such a good system in place that the editor of Blitz, Mr Karanjia, advised the chief minister of Bombay, Mr Murarji Desai, to visit Pakistan and learn about good governance.
Soon autocracy and dictatorship destroyed the very fabric of the country and we are now known as one of the most corrupt, intriguing and cheating nations of the world. The ruling elite has only one purpose in mind – how to earn money quickly, by whatever means. Courts became corrupt, further facilitating the rulers in their nefarious activities. Stolen money was transferred abroad and property bought. If a case was initiated, it dragged on for years and was ultimately dropped.
Contrary to general expectations, the military rulers turned out to be no better. Dictators, having very little public support, relied on foreign powers and sold the sovereignty of the country in return for personal survival. The result is there for all to see. Loans worth almost Rs200 billion have been written off, foreign debt has increased, submission to foreign dictates is the norm, selling citizens for bounties has become acceptable, and foreign powers have been allowed to operate within the country and kill locals with impunity. Our leaders have not learnt to apply economic austerity. Our only survival lies in a popular public uprising and cleansing of the whole system, once and for all.
گر حشر بپۃ ہوتا ہے تو حشر بپۃ ہو لینے دو
گر ظلم خفا ہوہے توظلم خفا ہو لینے دو
اے عدل کے ایوانوں کے منصف سن لو
انصاف قتل نۃ ہونے دو انصاف کوزندہ رہنے دو