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Pakistan: Strange Democracy At Work

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By Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja *

Pakistani politics is hub of intrigues and backdoor conspiracies. Democracy stands no chance to take roots in the current highly volatile and disruptive political culture. Feudal lords turned politicians would have hard time to define the democratic norms and principles in a rational manner. The take-over of Islamabad by the military is unwanted and unwise. The Generals do not have the moral and intellectual capacity to manage political problems. Rationality spells out a clear picture of political failure of the civil administration. There is no national emergency warranting military intervention or administration of the capital security and governance.

If PM Nawaz Sharif is a political failure as appears to be case, why should the Generals protect him from the ultimate consequences of his failure? Do the Generals owe loyalty to Sharif and his political clan? Or do they have professional integrity to be the Generals of the Pakistan armed forces to defend the nation and country against mishaps and foreign threats? The national defense means, the safeguard of the rights and dignity of the people and security of the country. Rolling out tanks and flying bullets and gunfire on public demonstrations would not be in the interests of the armed forces or the masses. Sharif is not a leader of vision and change. The nation under Sharif’s regime is enduring tormenting pains, insecurity and instability and deprivation.

There is a conflicting time zone between the rulers and the ruled. Pakistan faces multiple critical problems for its survival. Almost all major domains of its political, economic, social and strategic lifelines are ruptured by its own egoistic and incompetent rulers. The law and order is terribly broken. Human rights, dignity and law and justice are fast becoming issues of global concerns. It is hard to make sense where the country is heading to. Politics is corruption, trading-in national interests for increased foreign bank balances. General Musharaf, Bhuttos, Zardari and Sharifs – are all popular names to perpetuate hatred and disgust. Imran Khan, a cricketer turned politician is new and exception in this discipline.

Under the Constitution, circumstances do not justify military take-over of Islamabad. To have Freedom March in a democratic governance is not anti-freedom or a threat to the security of the nation. Military administration is a false pretext to cover-up the political mismanagement of the ruling elite. Why should the nation waste time in keeping such a corrupt regime in power when there is no logical ground to do so? But reason and logic appear irrelevant to Pakistani politics of the few. Pakistan has a history of catastrophic consequential politics to undermine the public interests and national freedom. Only absurd mindset could indulge and intervene to protect Sharif and his party at a great cost of losing the national freedom. For almost half of a century, Pakistan’s politics has been disruptive, degenerational and non-productive. Its overwhelmingly military domination has led to political defeats and moral and intellectual degradation across the board. No one was ever held accountable for heinous crimes committed against the freedom and integrity of the nation.

Since more than a year Nawaz Sharif has been in power. Nothing has changed from the utter failure of his associate Asif Ali Zardari. As Prime Minister, twice dismissed before on corruption charges and even tried by a court on “terrorism” accusations and exiled abroad. Legally, he should not have been sworn-in for the third term if there was any law and justice system still operative in Pakistan. Like the Bhuttos, in 1999 Sharif conspired to highjack a PIA plane with General Pervez Musharaf on board and some 280 passengers coming from Sri Lanka to Karachi. Nawaz Sharif wanted to replace General Musharaf with one of his buddies and he was out there to get him even if the plane got crashed or diverted to India. General Musharaf initiated coup to oust Sharif. During the Kargil –Kashmir crisis, Sharif took about 50 people of his own party on a pleasure trip to America. While the nation faced a war situation, Sharif enroute to the US spent 6 hours in a London furniture store selecting personal furniture. When he went to see President Clinton at the White House, only four of his colleagues were allowed to go to the Whitehouse. Why did he take so many other people as burden on the national treasury? Clinton did nothing to support the Pakistani stance on Kashmir.

Do the Pakistani Generals think critically of their policies and practices corresponding to the national interests? Not so. They do not appear to think openly and critically out of the box. Few of the infamous Generals and their by-products politicians - Bhuttos, Zardari, Chaudri of Gujrat and Sharif have been the crux of the political problems for the nation to search for a new political future. All have come into power through intrigues and in-house political conspiracies of gangesterism, killings and maintaining death squads and even surrender to India in 1971.

After a military coup against Ayub Khan, General Yahya Khan assumed the power. His governance had the hallmarks of cocktail parties, intrigues and prostitution as the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. ZA Bhutto saw best opportunity to grab power and promised to keep General Yahya Khan as President after the election if Sheikh Mujib ur- Rehman- the Awami League majority leader from East Pakistan was arrested and the power was not transferred to him as the new elected Prime Minister of Pakistan as it should have been done according to the Constitution. The Generals were complacent not knowing the cause and effects of their own folly. India was waiting for such an opportunity to intervene and change the map of the Sub-Continent and carve-up a new state of Bangladesh out of East Pakistan. Leader turned traitor, ZA Bhutto should have been held accountable in a court of law and punished for the planned disintegration of Pakistan. Instead, ZA Bhutto became absolute ruler - the President, Martial Law Administrator and Prime Minister of defeated Pakistan. The army Generals were part of this shameful indoctrinated conspiracy to break One Pakistan and to insult the educated and conscientious Pakistanis. How stupid and ignorant were the Pakistani military Generals not to have imagined the outcome of their actions in East Pakistan against the interests of the nation and its freedom? Have they learned any lessons from the formative history? What are they up to this time in Islamabad?

For almost fifty long years, Pakistani nation failed to produce any intelligent and credible leaders to represent its national interests to a challenging world of competing interests. For too long, Pakistan’s national interests were not part of the political characters encroaching political power through backdoor conspiracies and secretive intrigues to maintain the status-quo for foreign dictates. There are critical issues involving large segments of the society and politicians to be complacent in sustaining institutionalized corruption and dismantling the foundational framework of the freedom of the nation. There is no scarcity of informed, well educated and intelligent people to take up the challenging role of new-age leadership to change the course of self-geared destruction of the society but most are not part of the corrupt “no system” of politics as they have not earned wealth through bribes and backdoor deals, so their chances to any meaningful participation in national politics are non-existent. The institutionalized corruption is itself an operating powerful system of governance and it denies receptive opportunities to outsiders – the honest and educated people of the new generation to enter into politics and make the difference.

In August, 1988, according to the media reports, Begum Zia ul Haq and son Ejaz ul Haq, blamed Bhutto family (namely Mrs. Nusrat Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and Zardari) to be involved in the killing of General Zia ul Haq, 12 senior army Generals and hundred of others including the US Ambassador to Pakistan in a plane crash. ZA Bhutto was sentenced to death for the murder of a political opponent of Lahore- Kasuri. It was obvious the presidential plane was not well protected by the security apparatus and the Bhutto family had successfully planned to carry out the conspiracy to kill General Zia ul Haq and his immediate associates to pave the way for Benazir Bhutto to reclaim political power. Informed Pakistanis believe that Bhutto family carried out the conspiracy for the plane crash but nobody was held responsible for this tragic development.

PM Sharif is no angel to institutionalized corruption, greed, moral and intellectual incompetence. Simply put, he was groomed by General Zia ul Haq and moved onward in a similar pattern as did ZA Bhutto, Miss Bhutto and Asif Zardari. In 1997, he invested $2 millions out of the national treasury to have Asif Zardari and Benazir Bhutto investigated for money laundering and other criminal activities. Subsequently, The New York Times published four pages of investigated reports showing the hard evidence as to how these people transferred several millions of bribed money to Swiss banks and other paper-based organizations across the globe. The Swiss court indicted Miss Bhutto and Zardari for $60. millions money laundering schemes. They bought mansions with stolen money in UK, Spain and Dubai. When Sharif returned to Pakistan in 2007, he embraced Benazier Bhutto as his “Sister” and got glued to Zardari to share political power throughout his infamous and corrupt presidency. Do these people have any morals, any democratic principles and any sense of honesty to be political leaders of Pakistan? What a shame……what a shame ….what a moral and intellectual disgrace that Thinking Pakistanis have to co-exist with these criminals that no other modern civilized nation could have imagined to tolerate them.

Is the military action in Islamabad a prelude to a full-fledged military take-over of the country? Military actions are one-sided and do not solve political problems but create more complex and critical dangers undermining the freedom and integrity of the nation. Common people wondered if there is another Martial Law age in the making. How would a military administration safeguard the capital city’s lifelines and ensure calm and harmony when the issues are essentially of political nature and require political ingenuity and visionary leadership for change? Wherever, a military regime assumes power, the nation becomes victimized in both short and long terms ripple effects. Imposition of Martial Law signals complete failure of political governance in a society. The action tells a lot about the people, the culture and the nation as a lost resort to save its body and continuing existence. More of a crisis situation where cruelty replaces rationality. Is this the prevalent picture of Pakistani politics? If so, why PM Sharif should not be removed from power and as this author suggested several months ago (“Pakistan: In search of New Life” Opinion Maker: 12/13/2013), a workable remedy, a new Government of National Unity be formed under able and non-partisan leadership to articulate a sustainable future based on new a Constitution and building new public institutions for change and national development:

Evil is not one but many and they all appearing to be active in dehumanizing the nation and its moral, spiritual and intellectual heritage. Pakistan needs a new beginning, away from the obsolete politics of the few historical dead conscience figures. Pakistan is deliberately fractured and susceptible to all kind of foreign influence under the heavy load of IMF debts. One rational and workable remedy that Pakistani masses should consider as a national priority is to demand the National Assembly to sack Sharif and set up a non-partisan Government of national unity under an able and intelligent leader to focus on systematic political capacity-building and to initiate work on a New Constitution, new public institutions and to encourage new educated and intelligent people of the young generation to participate in political development aimed at sustainable future-building of a nation being oppressed and its functional capacity continuously being shattered by the few crime-riddled politicians.

Imagine, if in 1971, the known conspirators - ZA Bhutto and General Yahya Khan were arrested and tried for their crimes against the integrity of the nation, and political power was peacefully transferred to Sheikh Mujib-ur -Rehman- the majority political leaders after the elections in One Pakistan, the nation could have been saved from the humiliation of surrender to India and further dismemberment. History offers learning lessons to all those who are willing to learn from the past. Is Nawaz Sharif any different than what treacherous and shameful acts ZA Bhutto and Yahya Khan did to the nation? Are there any proactive and intelligent people to think critically and honestly about the present and future of our nation? To THINK of ANEW political beginning is the essence of time and urgent need for the future of Pakistan.

What is wrong with that unless few Generals have self-centered interests to undermine the national interests and forge a corrupt alliance with Sharif to continue the unthinkable. If so, the nation will lose more of its integrity and freedom, more parts could disintegrate; more domestic rivalries could emerge to destroy the nation. If Nawaz Sharif is overwhelmed with greed of power and lack of political imagination and leadership, why should he be allowed to remain in power? There must be a systematic political mechanism to facilitate peaceful change and transfer of power to the legitimate representatives of the nation.

* Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Publishing Germany, May 2012


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