Resetting national priorities and agenda | Pakistan Today

 Resetting national priorities and agenda

  • Where did we go wrong?

At the time of Partition in August 1947, the Subcontinent was divided into two separate countries, India and Pakistan. In 1971, because of the myopic vision of the ambitious selfish mediocrity that ruled this country, Pakistan was further divided and Bangladesh emerged as the third major country in the Subcontinent, apart from Nepal and Bhutan.

We as a nation need to do some introspection as to what mistakes were made, and accept our collective and individual responsibility for the harm to the country. We must reset our priorities to serve our own long term national interests with an aim to boost our economy, without which there is no national sovereignty or geographical security. It is a good sign that our present security establishment realizes the significance of a sound national economy. The Founding Fathers, led by the Quaid-e-Azam realized the dangers posed by Hindu supremacists, revealed by likes of Vallabhai Patel and others, and decided to seek a separate homeland where we could live as free citizens. The Quaid could never visualize that having achieved independence, the remnants of the British Raj and of the Unionists of Punjab and members of Indian Political Service with a few ambitious adventurers in uniform, would emerge and derail his vision of a modern democratic welfare state. We have for too long allowed Pakistan to be needlessly involved in this civil-versus-uniform controversy and must unite to defend our country from the evil designs of the Hindu supremacists who today rule India.

Pakistan must revert back to an undiluted democratic system of government with an independent Parliament and a strong judiciary to ensure that nobody dares to transgress their limits of power as defined in 1973 Constitution

No individual, whatever his public office, has the right to compromise state sovereignty by giving sanctuary to foreign extremists or allowing religion to be exploited and get this country involved in the CIA-sponsored so-called Jihad in Afghanistan. We made this cardinal mistake of fighting proxy wars, and earlier in 1960 offered bases like Badaber, which did not serve our own national interest. For too long, the over-ambitious ruling elite, without any vision, exploited our strategic location to get aid, grants, and so on from countries by serving them, whilst export revenues suffered and the internal investment climate was no longer favorable for foreign investments.

It is an established principle that the State alone must have the monopoly of creating a disciplined militia to defend it from foreign invasion and help the elected executive when called upon to do so for any other legitimate duty. The Zia and Musharraf juntas violated state sovereignty by allowing private militias to emerge on our soil. Over 75,000 citizens, including thousands of our valiant soldiers, lost their lives fighting these foreign terrorists and extremists who were given sanctuary. The economy alone suffered losses of almost $100 billion. The only beneficiaries were a few junta members and the corrupt politicians they nurtured.

After the Quaid’s death the leadership that emerged wavered from his vision and went off track. To start with, we delayed the process of finalizing our Constitution, which the Quaid stressed upon in his historic address to the first Constituent Assembly on 11 August 1947. The Constituent Assembly which the Quaid formed, consisting of all those elected in the 1945-46 General Elections, was summarily dismissed by the Governor General in 1954 and we remained a Dominion until March 1956 when a Constitution was adopted.

Iskandar Mirza was from Indian Political Service, which he joined in August 1926 as a lieutenant. On 14 August 1947 Iskandar was a colonel and was nominated by Raj to the committee responsible for dividing assets of British Indian Armed Forces between the two countries. He was promoted major-general in 1950, while he simultaneously served as Defense Secretary under PM Liaquat Ali Khan. Lt Gen Iftikhar was to have been the first native to assume command of Pakistan Army in 1951. When General Iftikhar died in an unfortunate air crash, it was Defense Secretary Iskandar Mirza who helped convince the PM to bypass Maj Gens Akbar, Ishfakul Majid and NAM Raza and instead promote the junior-most major general, Ayub Khan, who was earlier superseded by three officers junior to him when the Quaid was alive.

Intrigues by Iskander as Interior Minister, and General Ayub in uniform as Defence Minister, were instrumental in derailing the Quaid’s vision. Instead of focusing on investment in its human resources, increasing export revenues and generating more employment and achieving self-sufficiency in technological development and research in science, economics  and so on, Pakistan became a Security State serving the global strategic interests of USA, UK and so on through membership of pacts like SEATO and CENTO. Our territory and sovereignty were compromised when we offered our soil for bases to counter the USSR. Yet it was Pakistan whose weapon supply was frozen in the 1965 War and again in 1971 by our so-called allies.

Discontentment and resentment started in East Pakistan when A.K. Fazalul Haq’s  government was dismissed and the East Pakistan Legislative Assembly dissolved. Mirza was relieved as Defense Secretary and posted as Governor of East Pakistan on 1st June 1954. He ruled East Pakistan with an iron fist. Over 1051 Bengalis were arrested by June 1954, including two professors of Dhaka University and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Yusuf Ali Chaudhry, who both had supported creation of Pakistan. It is a bitter ugly truth that the Constitution was deliberately delayed by vested interests, including those who had given land by the Raj. They feared confiscation of these holdings, as was done by India, after they became a republic.

An already angered majority East Pakistan, which had shown resentment at the imposition of Urdu as national language was further harassed. Despite all reservations, East Pakistan supported Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah. Mirza and Ayub who advocated One-Unit, adopted in 1955. Ayub Khan in uniform was appointed as head of West Pakistan. Resentment was further escalated when Ayub after taking over imposed a new Constitution in 1961 which introduced basic Democracy System reducing majority East Pakistan to parity with West Pakistan.

In 1971 when Bangladesh was created, its total exports were 0.005 billion takas which have risen to 271.93 billion takas in January 2019. Their forex reserves stand at $32.775 billion as compared to their record low, of $7.47 billion in June 2008, while GDP growth is 8.13%. What Bangladesh chose for itself in 1971 was adopting a constitution, ensuring uninterrupted self-rule through its elected representatives, which the Quaid had elaborated upon in his address to the Staff College Quetta in 1948. There have been brief periods of political instability but no supra constitutional interventions. Their total exports n 2018-9 are $40.53 billion with imports of $55.44 billion. Bangladesh has ensured some sort of political stability and focused on development of its industry, investment in human resources and boosting its exports and GDP.

Men like Ayub Khan thought East Pakistan was a burden on West Pakistan. Ayub Khan and members of his junta lacked the vision and commitment to Pakistan when they intentionally wavered from the Quaid’s vision. Pakistan must revert back to an undiluted democratic system of government with an independent Parliament and a strong judiciary to ensure that nobody dares to transgress their limits as defined in 1973 Constitution. We must focus on developing our human resources and refrain from getting involved in other nations’ proxy wars, nor should we encourage our uniformed services to perform duty in foreign lands, except for training assignments. Pakistan needs all its trained uniformed men and women to protect its soil from foreign aggression and root out the evil of terrorism which is legacy of the Zia and Musharraf juntas.