- The corrupt may create chaos, but it won’t help
‘May you live in interesting times’, is a Chinese curse that applies well to the land of the pure. Now that political cleansing has been attempted, the corrupt have shamelessly teamed up to fight back. Creating chaos is their main weapon of defense. Conviction for white-collar crime is almost impossible through the prevalent application of Common Law. NAB (National Accountability Bureau ) laws are Draconian in nature which are in conflict with the law of the land, thereby resulting in delays. The cases drag on without conviction or exoneration. After trying to dodge accountability, the corrupt now realize that Imran Khan is determined to clean the stables. As their political survival is at stake, they are now willing to tear the system down.
‘Finally the Zia Dark Ages may be coming to an end. Even if the Kaptaan falls the operation clean-up will continue till the stolen wealth of the impoverished nation is recovered. Like Quaid-e-Azam and Quaid-e-Awam, he too will be remembered for having selflessly served the nation
After the first elections under the 1973 Constitution in early 1977 a similar chaos was created in the country. Unfortunately the establishment of that time supported the uprising against the elected, popular government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Riding on the establishment bandwagon, the opposition wanted to enter the corridors of power. The deposed Prime Minister was kept in protective custody for a few days in Murree and then released. Elections were announced and political activities were allowed. ZAB arrived in Lahore to a hero’s welcome. Wherever he went, the crowds followed him. As a leader of a genuine political party, his popularity never waned. His ‘awami hukoomat‘ (people’s government) had served the awam (people) well who wanted him back. The nine-party opposition alliance (Pakistan National Alliance), with the full support of the establishment, could not knock him out politically. The unanimously agreed Constitution came under attack. The country was plunged into the ‘Zia Dark Ages’ which lasted for over 11 years and produced corrupt political leadership like the Sharifs of Lahore, Chaudhrys of Gujrat, Dastagirs of Gujranwala, Khawajas of Sialkot and others that we have to endure. ,
Today Pakistan has a popularly elected leader who is running the country under the Constitution. The opposition is united to save their loot in order to preserve their political future and to stretch their exploitation of the masses. Fortunately they do not have the establishment support this time. Creating chaos remains their best option while the government pushes for their much-deserved conviction. Caution is important. Nations must learn from their past mistakes. Going against the Constitution has always been disastrous with long-term consequences that the people have to endure. Political gatherings or Jalsas are fine but street protests can hurt democracy if not handled properly. In 1977 the slogan used was; ‘Nizam-e-Mustafa’, now it is ‘Vote Ki Izzat’. No one could ever explain the framework of this ‘Nizam’ to me then but I am all for the ‘Vote’ if the players who are fighting for it carry any credibility. Free and fair elections is another myth. With out-of-turn promotions and recruitment against merit in most government departments, the sanctity of the ballot stands compromised. Only Karachi has been cleaned up of MQM control while interior Sindh remains under PPP influence and Punjab infected by the PML(N). In Lahore there are ‘No-Go’ areas where the writ of the state does not prevail, which come under the rule of Takht-e-Lahore and Gullu Butts of Gawalmandi.
In the checkered political history of Pakistan only two national parties emerged on their own merit. After the 1965 war debacle, ZAB revolted against the first dictator and formed the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in November 1967 at Lahore. In April 1996 Imran Khan launched his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), also at Lahore. While te PPP came into power of what remained of Quaid’s Pakistan in 1971, Kaptaan had to struggle much longer. Three real leaders of the republic with political following were: Quaid-e-Azam, Quaid-e-Awam and now Kaptaan. The rest were launched by anti-democratic forces. While Jinnah won freedom for the Muslims of India, ZAB succeeded in creating a constitutional republic which was derailed in July 1977. Now Kaptaan is trying to restore the democratic order by massive political cleansing. While the task is gigantic and the team weak, the PM has shown resolve to bring the country back on track.
A constitution is a basic document to regulate the functioning of a democratic state. Unfortunately it has been repeatedly disrespected both by men in uniform and the civilians riding on their coattails. Zia had the audacity to say that it is not worth the paper it has been written on, and he could tear and trash it at will. Musharraf, the fourth usurper, came with a strange logic: according to him, the country came before the Constitution.
He imposed emergency to prolong his rule for which he was then tried for sedition but then his civilian abettors (Shaukat Aziz, Zahid Hamid) were spared by Khalifa Nawaz Sharif. Khalifa Sahib managed to get an absolute two-thirds majority not once but twice; even then he failed to restore the disfigured constitution, and instead he wanted to be officially declared Khalifa or Ameer-ul-Momineen. After tinkering with the democratic order three times, he has now come up with the slogan; ‘ Vote Ki Izzat ‘ of which he has history of tampering.
ZAB was financially clean, and the ISI did not have dossiers on his corruption. He was constitutionally elected PM, as such he could only be eliminated through revolutionary justice or judicial manipulation. Similarly there are no charges of financial corruption against the Kaptaan, though the Ex-PM has demanded accountability of rebuilding his Zaman Park ancestral property while the Sharif family has not been able to give the money trail of moving from a three-marla Gawalmandi house to the 7500-kanal Jatti Umra Estate. When his daughter was called by the Lahore office of NAB, it came under an organized stone attack. This week, when one of the vehicles used in the attack was identified and taken into custody by the police, the party termed it political victimization and disrupted the session of the Punjab Assembly for days. Being a product of the establishment, the PML(N) behaves like one. Like the infamous agencies it indulges in all kinds of fake propaganda against its opponents. The organized personal defamation and character assassination of the Daughter of the East and Kaptaan, leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Even if chaos prevails this time around and the system collapses, Kaptaan will survive to fight back. Both the judiciary and the establishment have learnt their lessons. Today the judges are free, ZAB’s judicial murder continues to be the biggest blot on our legal system. Despite his physical elimination there are still chants of “Bhutto Zinda Hai” over four decades after this establishment debacle. Finally it was the corruption of Zardari that brought down his party. The best course for the corrupt is to enter plea bargain and return the looted money to live their remaining life in peace, but it seems they have chosen confrontation. In 1977 the Constitution was trampled, hopefully this time around it will prevail to steer the country in the right direction.
Yes ‘Vote Ki Izzat’ is paramount but will not happen unless there is consensus on the way forward. Conviction after due process is in national interests while chaos will not serve any purpose, it may prolong the life of the corrupt political elements but doomsday awaits them. Finally the Zia Dark Ages may be coming to an end. Even if the Kaptaan falls the operation clean-up will continue till the stolen wealth of the impoverished nation is recovered. Like Quaid-e-Azam and Quaid-e-Awam, he too will be remembered for having selflessly served the nation.