Let justice be done upon them
The Supreme Court decision in the Asghar Khan case is a subject of great interest among the intelligentsia, legal community, politicians and the media with regards to its repercussions and impact on the political landscape of the country in the future. There are diametrically opposed views on the subject which reflect the political polarization that has remained the hallmark of Pakistani politics since the ’70s. The immediate impact of the decision is that the ruling PPP, who justifiably feels vindicated by the court verdict, and PML-N which was a major component of the IJI raised by the praetorian powers to subvert PPP’s chances to have access to the corridors of powers, are again locked in an intense blame game reminiscent of the crass politics of the nineties. Some retired generals and the main characters of the episode have also jumped into the fray, particularly General (retd) Hameed Gul who is not only seen defending and justifying the formation of the IJI with a disdainful posture towards the political leadership of the country but also taking pride in the fact that he personally played a role in putting together the sinister alliance. His arrogance and propensity to always speak from a higher pedestal with a spiteful tone, in fact, reflects the mindset of the establishment which considers itself above the law and the constitution. In the backdrop of the Supreme Court decision, his convulsions clearly constitute an affront to the court decision. Since he himself has confirmed his complicity and the leading role that he played in the birth of IJI, it surely warrants suo muto action by the SC.
The decision of the court is unique in the sense that for the first time in the history of the judiciary, the generals have been put in the dock and a guilty verdict announced against them for their unconstitutional acts. It also confirms the unholy alliance that has existed between the top echelons of the establishment, the religious and rightist political elements against PPP. This collaboration did not come about during the 1990 elections but in fact it was forged in 1977 before the launch of PNA movement against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Later, Mian Nawaz Sharif also joined the club that remained active till 1999 and during that period conspiracies were hatched to either keep the PPP away from the corridors of power or not to allow it to rule the country as per the mandate of the people. The PNA movement paved the way for military takeover by General Zia who ruled the country with the support of these elements and the props provided by the US in lieu of his support for Afghan war.
The general did everything within his power to banish PPP from the political landscape of the country and erode its public support. And finally when his tyrannical rule ended with his death in a plane crash, the establishment had no choice but to hold elections. The PPP emerged as the single largest party and Benazir Bhutto formed the government. But the establishment and the anti-PPP forces, who had not reconciled to the reality of people’s mandate for PPP, choreographed a conspiracy and had her government sacked only after twenty months on fabricated charges of corruption. These forces then joined hands to make sure that the PPP did not return to the corridors of power by forming the notorious alliance known as IJI.
The matter, however, did not end with the 1990 elections. When Benazir Bhutto won elections for the second time she was again removed through a conspiracy with the support of the establishment much before the completion of her mandated period. It is now also a proven fact that General Musharraf also rigged the 2002 elections in favour of (King’s party) the PML-Q. The then ISI chief in an interview with The News is on record to have admitted his role in rigging the elections on the instructions of General Musharraf. General Musharraf also coerced about 20 PPP MNAs-elect to defect the party and join the coalition government that he stitched together to give a civilian façade to his dictatorial rule. When General Musharraf perforce had to hold elections in 2008, the people of Pakistan for the fourth time expressed their faith in the PPP. The result proved beyond an iota of doubt that it was a party of the masses and no conspiracy or malaise against it – harboured by the establishment or the reactionary elements – could scuttle its vote bank or remove it from the political arena.
The crimes of these elements are unpardonable and their actions cast them in the role of the enemies of the people and democracy. It does warrant action against all the actors under article 6 of the constitution. Their machinations were not against the PPP only but also against the country itself and a clear defiance of the vision of the Quaid.
The decision of the apex court also casts doubt over the legitimacy of the decisions taken by the Nawaz Sharif regimes that were formed as a result of the rigged elections. It is also a proven fact that Nawaz Sharif, acting on behalf of the establishment, instituted false cases against the PPP leadership including the Swiss cases to malign and victimise them; a fact which he has admitted in an interview with a renowned journalist who has mentioned it in his book written on the political developments during the ’90s. The elements within the media and political entities who cry hoarse from every convenient rooftop to blame the PPP leaders for hitherto unsubstantiated corruption, should not loose sight of the context of these cases.
These are irrefutable historic facts. The wrongs perpetrated on the people of Pakistan need to be rectified. The villains need to be punished for their acts of sedition. Now that the court has clearly identified culprits and confirmed the conspiracies that have been hatched to undermine the will of the people, it would perhaps be desirable that the SC should itself take the initiative to punish these hostile elements instead of leaving it to the government to take the follow up action as it is likely to generate an unending political confrontation in the country with unpleasant fallout. It is a matter of paramount national importance and must be taken to its logical end by the court itself. If further probing and investigations are required then a judicial commission be constituted like it has been done in other cases.