Politics in Pakistan
James Freeman believes, “A politicians thinks of the next election, a statesman, of next generation.”
63 years of political instability, military coup, religious exploitation, economic deprivation, social injustice but successful survival of the West Pakistan.
Rulers in sub-continent introduced art, music, but not democracy. The British introduced controlled democracy.
Politics of Conflict since 1947:
11 dissolved assemblies, 3 Martial Laws; making, amending and abrogating 3 constitutions; frequent LFOs and Ordinances.
American Influence in the Politics of Pakistan:
Security threat, economic need and political incompetency have always made Pakistan subservient to US- which supported the dictators
Role of Fragmented Opposition:
Worked for personal interests instead of national interest
Personalization of Politics:
Not manifestoes but personalities, family politics, No party elections.
Sick of dirty politics, they want decent just, and prosperous life.
Factors behind political instability:
Illiteracy, corrupt politicians and bureaucracy, weak judiciary, Generals, controlled Media,
True democracy, strong Judiciary, free media, people’s participation, Literacy, Development.
“The essence of democracy is its assurance that every human being should so respect himself and should be so respected in his own personality that he should have opportunity equal to that of every other human being to show what he was meant to become.”
Anna Garlin Spencer
Since the demise of the Quid and the murder of Liaqat Ali, our motherland has been experiencing recurring military coups, instable democracy, crippled economy, fragile judiciary and social stagnation due to brain dead politicians, ear jammed bureaucracy, egoistical feudal, religious war lords, profit oriented industrialists power hunger generals, and illiterate masses.
The list of failures surpasses the achievements. Rule of law, an independent judiciary, respect for fundamental rights, free media, merit-based procedures, and questioning masses are some of the essential features of democracy. Unfortunately, these basic rules have openly violate since independence.
History of Political Crisis:
Muslim Rulers and Hindu Rajas flourished art, literature, and music but not democracy. The British introduced controlled democracy and strengthened chosen people of elite class. Hamza Amir in his book “Pakistan-an overdeveloped state” has revealed the fact that after independence, the governing class was highly educated, on the pattern of the British mind set, while on the contrary the masses were miserably illiterate. This huge gap created management crisis.
Regimes of Conflicts since independence:
1947-56 Absence of constitution, rise of regionalism in Bengal, no strong political party, first 9 years and 11 prime ministers, 1955 dissolution of constitution assembly and Black Doctrine of Necessity.
1956-58: First parliamentary constitution, abrogation of constitution and Martial Law.
1958-69: Ayub’s Martial Law, Presidential System and 1962 constitution, making of Muslim League (Conventional) system of basic democracies, media censorship, but also better economic growth.
1970-77: Fascist civilian rule under Bhutto, agreed 73 constitutions, Bhutto tried to oust military from politics but failed, the poor friendly regime but negative effects of nationalization, Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) and movement against Bhutto derailed democracy. Opposition invited Zia to take over.
1977-88: Zia’s martial law and ban on political activities, making of Majlase Shoora (1982), 8th amendments with Powerful President non party based election 1985, making of pressure groups like MQM, Anjuman Sipahe Sahaba. Restricted women participation in politics.
1988-99: The most corrupt regime of Benezir and dictatorial regime of Nawaz Sharif, dissolution of assembly, rising poverty and decreasing people’s interest in politics.
Role of Army:
The Oath now prescribed for the Members of the Armed Forces as given in the Second Schedule (Article 244) of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan is as follows:-
“ I-------, do solemnly swear that I will ear true faith and allegiance to Pakistan and uphold the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan which embodies the will of the people, that I will not engage myself in any political activities whatsoever and I will honestly and faithfully serve Pakistan in the Pakistan Army (or Navy or Air Force) as required by and under the law.”
The generals maneuvered the circumstances in their favor and implemented such policies which strengthened their illegal hold.
Surprisingly, the dictators got ‘cooperative’ Judges and ‘friendly’ politicians to prolong their rule.
The army, for all practical purposes, has been and remains in charge. It has steadily increased its power since the first military coup in 1958. The military has a veto over most critical decisions affecting both foreign and security policies, and during the Zia era, it expanded its reach into some areas of domestic politics as well, fomenting, and then containing, ethnic discord in the Sindh and pandering to religious zealots in social policy.
Civilian governments in Pakistan are of transient significance. The military, the higher echelons of the civil service, and the intelligence services are the permanent features of the state. There is little or no evidence that the civilian government has any meaningful autonomy.
Ayub had a political party, the Convention Muslim League, just as Zia enjoys the support of Majlase Shoora and Musharraf has his Quaid-i-Azam MuslimLeague. The system of basic democracy and local government created a new supporting class for the generals. Ironically, geo strategic situations always benfitted the dictators.
GeneralAyub got US assistance due to cold war, General Zia was favoured due to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979), lastly General Mushraf was bestowed due to front line state. So, US backed military rules did not care about people’s will.
The economy grew in Ayub’s time. GDP growth rates were high under Zia and Mushraf. But what is Ayub’s legacy? The fall of Dhaka-after Zia sectarian and Ethnic madness and Mushraf left fragile economy, destruction of state institutions and horror of US Intervention.
General Vs Judges:
On the three occasions since independence when military coups have ended democratic rule in Pakistan the judiciary not only failed to check extra-constitutional regime change, but also endorsed and abetted the consolidation of illegally gained power.” Numerous judges have been removed by force, Justice Ramday lamented. Objectives Resolution (1949) explained, “The independence of judiciary shall be fully secured.” Despite every ensurance in subsequent constitutions, independence of judiciary was mocked at by the all powerful Executive not only in military rule but also in so called democratic regimes.
On 25th Oct. 1954, Governor General Ghulam Mohammad dissolved the first Constituent Assembly, the president of Assembly Molvi Tameezuding challenged the action, and won before the Sindh High Court. On the contrary, the Chief Justice of Federal Court, Justice Munir declared that the Sindh high Court judgment limited the powers of governor General, thus validated the action of dissolution under ‘Doctrine of Nessity.’
On 8th October, 1958, General Ayub imposed Martial Law and ended the 1956 constitution. For the second time, Justice Munir favored Executive supremacy over the Legislative. Only after the fall of Yahya Khan, the court repudiated this doctrine of necessity in Asma Jeelani case.
On July 4th , 1977, General Zia ul Haq ended civilian rule, again the Supreme Court, in the Nusrat Bhutto case, validated the military coup on the bases of necessity. More surprising, the court explained that Zia had the powers to pass all necessary laws, including amendments in the constitution 1973.
on October 12th 1999 General Mushraf, seized power, issued ‘Provisional Constitutional Order No. 1 of 1999’ barring any court making any order against the Chief Executive’s Authority.
In Pakistan, the struggle for an independent judiciary is as long as struggle for democracy. Persecution of Justice Sajjad during Ms Bhutto’s tenure and then his sacking at the behest of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and now the suspension of CJ Iftikhar under General Musharraf. No civilian or military ruler has ever respected the independence of judiciary in Pakistan which, in turn, become an instrument in the hands of every military dictator in the name of the “doctrine of hecessity.”
Bureaucracy’s role in bringing democracy to its knees:
The founder of Pakistan Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah said on 25th March 1948 in his address to the civil service officers at Chittagong:-
“I know you are saddled with the old legacy, old mentality, old psychology. Make the people feel that you are their servants and friends, maintain the highest standard of honour, integrity, justice and fair play.”
Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated on Oct. 16th, 1951. senior bureaucrats persuaded Nazimuddin to be a powerful prime minister on the lines of Liaquat Ali Khan. This manipulation was engineered by, Iskander Mirza, to make Ghulam Mohammad, a member of the Accounts Service as GG.
He was finally removed as PM by Ghulam Mohammad. Mohammad Ali Bogra was handmpcked to replace Nazimuddin. With his close friend Gen Mohammad Ayub Khan (who remained C-in-C) he joined the Bogra cabinet as interior minister and defence minister respectively. For challenging GG’s despotic authority, Bogra was replaced by Ch. Mohammad Ali. Making Ghulam Mohammad into a mental case, Mirza became acting GG and removed Ghulam Mohammad to become GG, Promoting himself from major to the rank of major general.
In 1956, Pakistan became a Republic and Iskandar Murza its first president. By 1958, he had installed and removed four PM,s Choudhry Mohd. Ali, Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, II Chundrigar and Feroz Khan Noon. Since there was no way he was ever going to be elected in his own right, in the face of deteriorating political and economic conditions he declared marital law on Oct. 7, 1958 and made the C-in-C of the Pakistan Army, Gen. Ayub. Conspiring to oust the very armed forces officers who had supported him, Mirza was himself removed by the army on Oct. 27, 1958.
Between 1960 and 1968, the bureaucracy was the dominant partner with the technocrats and politicians. A popular democratic movement brought Ayub down in 1968. he handed over power to Gen. Yahya Khan, the C-in-C.
Yahya Khan’s military rule ended three and a half years later on Dec 20, 1971 after a violent civil war and the war with India and Pakistan got dismembered Zulfikar Ali Bhuto became Pakistan’s president
and its civilian chief martial law (CMLA) administrator on Dec 20, 1971. He remained president Aug 1973, under the 1973 Constitution he assumed the office of a powerful PM and FAzal Elahi Chaudhry became president. Bhutto must be given great credit for exhuming democracy from its grave and resuscitating it after 20 years. Democracy’s downfall was nationalization on Jan 1, 1974. this made bureaucrats all – powerful again by proxy, heading most of the state-owned enterprises and the nationalized ones.
On July 5, 1977 Gen Ziaul Haq seized power and became CMLA, relieving Fazal Elahi Chaudhry as president on 16 Sep 1978 and remaining so till his death in the aircraft crash on Aug 17, 1988. an appointed Majlis in 1982 gave way to party-less elections in 1985, Mohammad Ali Khan Junejo becoming PM. Zia removed Junejo in May 1988 and assumed day-to day control. During the Zia period, Ghulam Ishaq Khan.
On Zia’s death, ghulam Ishaq Khan, who was made chairman of the Senate by Zia, became acting president. He was elected president by the assemblies on Dec. 13, 1988. From Dec 2, 1988. As President till July 18, 1993, this bureaucrat sent two elected PMs home on flimsy grounds.
Farooq Laghari, another bureaucrat-turned-politician, was elected President on No. 14, 1993. before being made to resign on Dec. 2, 1997, he ousted his own party PM Ms Benzir, and was planning to send home another PM, Mian Nawaz Sharif who had become all-powerful. Mohammad Rafiq Tarar was elected president on Jan 1 1998, remaining so till Jan 20, 2002. instead of making democracy work, Mian Nawaz Sharif went on binge of sacking all those he did not like. When he tried this with the COAS, Musharraf and his close aides threw him out on Oct 8, 1999.
Great powers have great designs Pakistan has resource rich area in the north-west, people rich in the north-east. Pakistan is junction of South Asia, West Asia and Central Asia. US interests in the regions to contain the Growing China, nuclear Iran, terrorist Afghanistan, and to benefit from the market of India.
Security and Business are two main US interests in the region while Pakistan is playing a from line role against terrorism. Therefore Pakistani governments, either military or civilian, always sought green signal from Washington which supported dictators.
Role of Opposition:
Opposition parties less worked for democracy and more for getting into power-even with the support of undemocratic forces and illegal actions
Unfortunately, political parties always managed to reduce the objectives of political movements downs to one a point agenda—toppling of the civil/military government. Instead of challenging the status quo, the oppositional forces were more interested in the capturing state power to reap the benefits for themselves. Consequently, every political movement that took the sacrifices of many people turns out to e no more than a change of faces at the top level with continuity in social, economic and foreign policies of the country.
Role of Media:
The civilian and military dictators curbed media which snubbed people’s voice, nourished every type of corruption, kept the people ignorant and the judges weak.
Factors behind terrible weaknesses:
The balance of power between the executive, judiciary and parliament is the most fundamental prerequisite for a liberal democratic state. However, the post-colonial state o Pakistan was never able to achieve this balance due to the political role of the military, which we inherited as the most organized institution in the post independence period. Furthermore, the willingness of the mainstream political parties to work as the ‘B’ team of military and civil bureaucracy and the
Superior judiciary to compromise its independence by invoking the doctrine of necessity compounded the situation.
Personalization of Politics:
The military is more powerful and resourceful than all other civilian institutions and organs of the state put together.
This enables the military to control civilian institutions, political processes and democracy either directly or from behind the curtain.
When one institution of the state retains such unbridled power, it becomes extremely tempting for other political forces to seek its assistance in acquiring political office or dislodging others from political office.
Effective Measures to strengthen the System:
In a nutshell,
- To create physical asset by educating the masses, proper allocating the land, credit, Zakat and Usher ensuring cost effective provisions of basic needs. Improved efficiency in the public and Corporate sectors to provide rule of Law.
- Independence of Judiciary will strengthen democracy, restore trust between Center and Provinces, and facilitate quick dispensation of justice.
- Depoliticizing of public departments to avoid unjust political pressures.
- Peace inside and outside the borders will provide sufficient resources, skills and opportunities to focus on the national prosperity.
- Media will its magical power can unite the warring factions by minimizing the differences through open debates.
- Stable democratic system to work for welfare state:
- Patriot intellectuals writing to bring harmony.
- Accountability at all levels. Autonomy to the Provinces. Awakening of Islamic ideology.
- It becomes the social responsibility of the educated middle class and the civil society to protect.
- All politicians must be on board as Pakistan steers itself towards genuine democracy and away from terrorism and violence that has begun to take roots in society.
- There is an urgent need for better networking and coordination among various sections of society such as lawyers, journalists, human rights activist and students.
- Unless the Pakistani state craft is conducted within constitutional parameters, Pakistan will remain vulnerable to external threats.
- To create a moderate system of values that accommodates different points of view, not just religious but also ethnic linguistic and regional.
- It must develop strategy for economic growth, poverty alleviation, and reduction of interpersonal and interregional income disparities. It must allow the development of institutions that would work independently of those who control politics.
- The judiciary and the Election Commission are the two most important institutional devices that need to be free of political influence. But institutions such as the SECP and the State Bank also need to be set free.
We need to strengthen our political system and institutions, develop a dynamic and sustainable growth, eradicate corruption, provide timely justice, enhance employment, undertake steps for population control, seek consensus based political solutions, and resolve ethnic, sectarian and religious fault lines.
BY MIRZA MOHAMMAD SALEEM LAHORE