Opinion Politics

Lost opportunity

18th February elections in Pakistan put politicians of opposition in a position to invoke parliamentary sovereignty, independent judiciary and civil rights hence setting their targets towards a shared goal of Pakistan as a welfare, democratic, progressive and just society. Loss of Benazir Bhutto as well as indecisiveness of her successors in decision making have halted the whole political system and we are progressing day by day to strengthen the dying regime rather than finishing them with the power of coalition in the early days of Parliament.

I thought the mandate required them to do certain action(s) within days of the inaugural session of the parliament and the kind of things they were professing in their charter of democracy were unachievable unless both liberal and conservative forces work in alignment to achieve the reversal of 17th amendment, restoring 2nd November judiciary and ending military dictatorship of 12 October and putting barricades in the way of future coup-de-tats. However to prove Paul Nitze wrong, who will bell the cat.

Our military is not under civilian rule at any standards. India and Bangladesh learnt that lesson and brought from Major to Colonel promotions under the Civil government however, our top army elite is only responsible to the chief and chief is under the constitution answerable to the elected premier, though in reality he is all in all. In Pakistan Pentagon to GHQ relations are much closer and stronger and has a long history as compared with that of our politicians. These bilateral military relations gives the Pentagon an opportunity to meet our future commanders and they inadvertently mentor the future leaders of Pakistan and have their views known to their assessment bodies, at the same time playing the stick and carrot approach with our politicians who are always under cloud of accountability for their mal administration as Paul Henry Nitze professed to deal with military in the longer run, and play with politicians with carrot and stick with accountability always hanging on their heads. This nexus which is running fine for US as well as Pakistan cannot easily be broken unless our political clan understands it fully, ready to work for the country and in a coalition for a longer time taking the top army leadership in a confidence. It entails many dangers too. The fate of two Bhutto’s, Liaqat Ali Khan and Nawaz Sharif is in front of all. At this very moment, as it appears they are not ready for it.

Pakistan was made for high morals, on bigger claims and ensure self respect, dignity and identity, we are running short of all despite the fact that it has a potential to rise individually though not collectively yet. Democracy could not fit or survive in a society where mind set is ripe for mental dictatorship. Political classes made General Ayub part of cabinet in his uniform despite the warning given by its founder Mr. Jinnah about the aspiring General and neglected the mandate given in 1971, thus losing one limb along with it all chances of democracy. Pakistani elite establishment are never ready to accept the verdict of people. Adjudication on merit and justice is extinct in a society where 4 Prime Ministers are out of scene without any trial of facts. Lack of political infrastructure and respect for political classes where Police is corrupt, judges blindly follow orders and military foot prints every where is the root cause of lack of institutional strength in the 60 years old country. Political parties never could regroup, and if they ever do by luck, they lose their leaders, thus making bigger parties leaderless or confined to its strong holds. It has truly become an experiment ground at the hands of a clan who knows no boundaries and has limitless authority. Dictators pitch the story that they always came to save the country and always returned halving the remaining part, and the country as a nation could never learnt from their mistakes identified in Hamood ur Rehman commission, in fact we close our eyes on incidents like 12th of May, Benazir’s death, sacking of Judges on 3rd November, and attacks on Pakistani post in tribal areas where scores were killed and we deny the reality as if it never happened.

We are part of a war on terror in which other states are contributing too. Turkey refused 35 billion package and preferred to deal with the issue through Parliament as they concluded that they could not decide an issue which has far reaching repercussions for the generations. Bangladeshis intelligently got all their debts wiped off in exchange of their support for this new ideology and their 2008 budget is in surplus as compared with Pakistan which is trailing in around 10 billion. Our supreme leader in dream of pouring dollars caved in meagrely and offered ‘unstinted support’ for a drive which has a fatal consequences for us in years to come like a nightmare. Our politicians cried out loud from exile and prisons that they will work closely to make parliament sovereign and so far the most controversial and highly sensitive matters have yet to see the Parliament, though army chief has been armed with the power to call shots without a debate in Parliament. The power which rests with the Prime Minister.

This uncertainty is the asset of the ruling government which will be their charge sheet when someone sacks them. Their negligent quietness on national matters will cost the drive for rule of law big time and longer military regimes will be our destiny for which this time people may not be blamed as they came when called, and voted whenever asked, as opposed to our politicians as a class failed as they joined the military dictators when it suits them, passed 17th amendment, got Generals elected for presidential post in uniform, and they will do it again to prove Pau Nitze right about Pakistan. The nation will have to work heart and soul, all institutions, all political forces including armed forces and only drive for rule of law and constitutionalism is anti dote of Paul Henry Nitze’s theory on Pakistan. The historic event of 9th of March 2007 is potentially a turning point in the country’s short history – Pakistan’s leaders are now at a crossroads. The Pakistani society on the whole including lawyers, judges, civil society and media have a very important role to play to return Pakistan a country akin to a ‘dream come true’ to a democracy where the rule of law, rather than military rule, holds sway and for that we need a collective effort, political will and unified approach coupled with result oriented efforts in good with, as it stands, yet again we have lost a big opportunity. The question in every one’s minds is we truly ready to prove Paul Henry Nitze wrong once for all about Pakistan.

Amjad Malik is a Solicitor-Advocate of the Supreme Court (England) and a political analyst based in UK

About the author

Amjad Malik

Amjad Malik, Solicitor–Advocate of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, life member of SCBA of Pakistan, a specialist in immigration and Human Rights Law. He is a member of Law Society’s Immigration Law Committee’, he was awarded ‘Young Human Rights Lawyer Award’ for the year 2000. In the year 2001,Young Pro Bono Solicitor’s Group also named him for the national ‘Young Pro Bono Solicitor Award’. On 28 February 2007 he was awarded by (UICF) United International Community Forum (UK) in recognition to his outstanding professional contribution towards service of Asian and British community in role model capacity where Chief guest was Mrs. Cherrie Blair. He sits on ‘UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Pro Bono Lawyer’s Panel.’ He is UK representative on young lawyer committee of the International Bar Association & UK Director of Human Rights Foundation (USA) and is a current Vice chair of ‘Association of Pakistani Lawyers (UK)’.

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