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Old Monday, October 25, 2010
Ali Ahmad Syed's Avatar
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Default Democracy and dictatorship

Democracy and dictatorship

Dr A Q Khan

Our rulers still firmly believe that “the worst democracy is better than the best dictatorship.” But ground realities are different. There have been examples in recent times where dictators have changed the fates of their nations. Have we forgotten how Chairman Mao, Stalin and Park Chung Hee changed the fates of China, Russia and South Korea, respectively, within the span of a generation?
In our country, democratic governments have been no better than dictatorial ones, and things have never been as bad as they are today. The whole nation is cursing the corruption and incapability of the rulers. As far as the “patriotic generals” are concerned, they are truly patriotic only as long as they are at the borders, in their units and in their garrisons. Once they get a taste of luxurious Islamabad living, they change like chameleons. Like civilian leaders, they soon surround themselves with sycophants and come under the illusion that they are know-alls. One should not forget that, in a democracy, governance is according to the wishes of the people, while a dictator rules according to his whims.
Allama Iqbal’s opinion in the following verse about democracy is thought-provoking:
Gurez az tarz-e jamhuri ghulam-e pukhta-kare shav
Ke az maghz-e do-sad khar fikr-e insani na mi aayad
In another verse, the Allama has defined democracy thus:
Is raaz ko ik mard-e farangi ney kia faash
Harchand ke daana isey khola nahin kertey
Jamhuriat ik tarz-e hukumat hai key jis main
Bandon ko ginah karte hain, tola nahin kertey.
A true democratic system has been practiced and has flourished in Western countries for centuries and its success lies in the literacy rate and well-being of the public. In most Asian and Islamic countries, dictatorship has deep roots and the dictators are devoid of any feeling for the sufferings of the public.
In Pakistan we see family dictatorships in one way or another. These dictatorships continue generation after generation, with no regard for the sweating and suffering public. Members of the same family do not necessarily have similar leadership qualities. If there is no democracy within parties, how can they have a feeling for it when governing? In short, both the individual politicians and the parties must be sincere, honest and just if good governance is to prevail in Pakistan.
Never before have we seen such nasty and insulting words being hurled at the rulers, and the public believe these accusations to be correct. Everybody knows about the past of our president and the “titles” given to him by the foreign media. Painful and annoying is the attitude of Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani. While claiming to be a descendant of Hazrat Ghaus-ul-Azam Abdul Qadir Gilani, he does not hesitate to tell lies with a poker face in defence of his “boss,” President Asif Ali Zardari. The prime minister’s international standing appears to be so low that not once was he mentioned in Bob Woodward’s latest book Obama’s Wars.
A few days ago, the former head of the department of international relations of Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad used such scathing words against him that one wonders at his lack of reaction or resolve to be his own man. Mr Gilani’s boast that he is a descendant of Hazrat Ghaus-ul-Azam and a Syed is as good as the claim of Gen (r) Musharraf that he is a Syed, and that he has superiority because of his having entered the Kaaba and Roza-e-Mubarak. The less said about the latter the better. The army and the public are well aware of his past.
For almost a year now we have heard so much about the NRO and the 18th Amendment that many are fed up with the topic. Every time, the Supreme Court issues an ultimatum and then backs down, creating serious reservations in the minds of the public about its writ and sincerity. I am far from being a legal expert, but I am familiar with judgments meted out by Qazis in past times. One has only to read about the lives of Hazrat Umar-e-Farooq (RA), Hazrat Umar Bin Abdul Aziz (RA), caliphs Haroon al-Rashid and Mamoon al-Rashid, and Hajjaj bin Yusuf, Abdul Malik, Jalaluddin Khwarizm Shah, Mahmud Ghaznavi and Alauddin Khilji, etc., to see just how quickly justice was dispensed during their rule. All cases were decided in a single hearing and nobody complained of injustice. Contrary to today’s large benches, a single Qazi dispensed justice. Nobody could raise a finger at the integrity of the Qazi. Before the Qazi, Khalifa Hazrat Umar-e-Farooq (RA) and a slave were equal, as were Mahmud and Ayaz. The Qazis commanded respect due the judgments they passed, not by statements and/or threats. At the present time we have examples of quick, non-discriminatory justice in Saudi Arabia and China.
Unfortunately, in Pakistan ordinary cases drag on for years, even decades, and the poor don’t get justice, leading to serious doubts about the integrity of the judiciary. We saw how the case of Gen Musharraf’s eligibility was allowed to drag on and on, enabling him to strike and paralyse the judiciary. That case, according to many legal experts, should have been decided in one hearing of not more than about one hour.
Many such cases are now dragging on and the government, recognising the reluctance and hesitation on the part of the judiciary, is making a mockery of the courts, while ministers and party leaders pass sarcastic comments on the neutrality of the judiciary. This is a bad omen for the future.
It is disconcerting how frequently government officers ignore orders to present themselves in court or to submit documents. Instead of taking immediate, strict action being takens, a new date is simply given. In my own case, eight or nine officers of the Islamabad administration had stopped me by force from attending the high school graduation ceremony of my granddaughter. This was in clear violation of a court judgement. The court issued contempt of court notices to all of them. But to-date, nearly one-and-a-half year later, no hearing has taken place. The mischief still continues with many friends and/or associates being stopped from seeing me, despite prior intimation to the authorities concerned and my express permission.
It is painful to see that in this country of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the orders of an SHO and/or a patwari seem to carry more weight than those of judges. The public fears there will be some sort of compromise between the government and the judiciary on all important government-related cases. Gone are the golden days when we had Justices Hamoodur Rahman, M R Kayani, Shabbir, Samdani, Dorab Patel, A R Cornelius and Abrar Hasan Khan to look after our interests.
The handing down of a correct judgment or the telling of the truth in an apologetic manner is an even bigger sin than a wrong decision. The Holy Quran and Ahadith contain commands on just and non-discriminatory justice. Unfortunately, these edicts are not acted upon.
“There is no God but You (Allah Almighty), You are far exalted and above all weaknesses, and I was indeed the wrongdoer”. AL-QURAN
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