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National

AS
Akram Shaheedi
October 23, 2017

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Development and security without democracy inconsequential

Development and security without democracy inconsequential

The responsible civil, military leaders recently underscored the importance of development and security as these hinge on each other and therefore equally important at the same time. But they, perhaps, forgot the basic and absolutely important linkage -- the uninterrupted functioning democracy without which development and security may remain vulnerable and most likely fall prey to the law of sustainability. Sheer development and security may not guarantee political stability that is the sole distinction of the longevity of democracy. Without political stability economic development and security may remain a distant cry. The history of Pakistani politics bears witness to this irrefutable reality. Dictatorship had repeatedly embarrassed the nation to the hilt, and indeed played havoc with the collective destiny of the country.

Dictatorship is the worst thing that must not revisit Pakistan because such model had failed proving invariably proving bigger disaster than the earlier one. One eminent and widely respected media personality of this country rightly narrated in his recent column, “martial law is the number one enemy of Pakistan”. He is right when track record of the despotic rules is reviewed. Despots were undoubtedly responsible for the mega mess the nation was embroiled in today. It is hard to find the views in support of any form of dictatorship. The eras of General Ayub Khan, General Zia and General Musharraf are remembered by the people with disdain, and the history has handed out the judgment cutting them to the size as they deserved. The hangover of the chronic problems attributed to them continues to hound and haunt the people with terrifying remembrances. The DG (ISPR)’s much needed and categorical clarification to the effect -- no danger to democracy from the security establishment -- may allay the fears of the people being spread by those who are eager to come to power by hook or crook.

Undoubtedly, Pakistan can only survive and thrive under democracy because the creation of Pakistan is the result of democratic movement. Democracy did not harm the country, dictatorship did perpetually. To illustrate the bitter facts -- all territorial losses to the country were the heart-breaking legacies of the successive dictatorships, the dismemberment of the country, occupation of Siachin, Kargil, hare-brained misadventure , and imposition of Afghan war on the nation to perpetuate their illegitimate rule. On the contrary, not an inch of territory of the motherland was lost to the enemy country during the civilian/democratic rules, and instead Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto retrieved thousands of square miles of territory from the Indian occupation. Not the least, Feroz Khan Noon added Gwadar in the landmass of Pakistan and its huge multidimensional importance speaks volumes of the quality of the vision of the civilian leadership.

Undoubtedly, Pakistan would have been in a permanent mode of appeasing the Indians if Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had not made the country a nuclear power. The country would have not been worthy of its existence what to speak of its sovereign status. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto made the defence of the country impregnable with missile technology capable of targeting the aggressor’s territory with pin-drop accuracy. Elected prime minister dared to prove the nuclear capability of the country to the world in 1998. Dictator would have not dared in the face of US declared reprisal. Also, no war was fought with India during the civilian rules because the civilian leadership preferred diplomacy over brinkmanship and the results were hugely favourable. Meaning thereby, the political means can achieve much desired results those cannot be imagined to be achieved through strong arms tactics. In this national background, only enemy number one will raise his hands in favour of tyrannical rule. The people of Pakistan’s resolves not to forgo their privilege of electing their rulers are hardly surprising and indeed very reassuring.

Quite a few political parties in the present political scenario are unfortunately engaged in encouraging, by design or by default, the anti-democratic forces to take direct or indirect control of the political system on the one pretext or another. The talk of technocrat government and postponement of elections are in the air. Their aberration is loathsome and may be exposed and resisted. Such political or other forces’ impetuousness may prove self-infliction with unforgiving mortification. They may recollect the fate of Iskander Mirza who was not tolerated more than two weeks despite the understanding of rewarding him with the highest office of the country as a quid pro quo. General Zia marginalised all those who colluded with him in PNA movement to oust the elected government. Those who are now swayed by the magnificent delusions may reconsider their juggernaut against democracy keeping in view the ill-fate of such collaborators earlier on.

This thinking of dragging the state institutions in the domestic politics, and the pursuit of invective politics cobbled with wild allegations allegation for the furtherance of the party politics is deplorable if not outright condemnable. Opposition leader Syed Khurshid Shah while talking to media recently was categorical in his assertion that the PTI was responsible for dividing the Opposition that might not bode well for the democratic politics in the country. The division in opposition ranks strengthened the government of the day proportionally, he opined. The abysmal part of this politicking is that the political leadership is blaming each other with gnashing teeth. They are defying the fundamentals of democratic practices to the dismay of the people. They plead to avoid this course while at the same time continue their treading on Micaville’s theory of hypocrisy and deceit hoping to be adopted as children of fortune.

In fact, many of them are playing to the gallery with the exception of PPP leadership. PPP’s unequivocal commitment to democracy is based on its ideological moorings it cannot afford to deviate from. Its track record in this count is impeccable without an exception. PPP has scuttled such politics in the past to save democracy that was under insurmountable pressure mounted by the covert and some overt forces. The PPP cannot imagine to fall short of its commitment come what may. Understandably, PPP is ideally positioned to undertake the salvage operation yet again because it holds balance of power that can break the back of the opponents of democracy. As in the past, it may not hesitate in coming up to the expectations of the people of not letting the sun down on democracy that was nurtured with the blood of the founding leaders and the workers (Jialays). Constitutions, democracy, empowerment of the people are the underpinnings of the PPP politics. PPP’s unflinching conviction of seeking redemption in the constitutional rule is a great source of satisfaction for the people of Pakistan. For, all other roads lead to unforgiving hell. 

Ironically, a few imperious political leaders, fueled by their insatiable desire to power, spare no opportunity in their bid to win the favours of other than the people of the country with misplaced hopes -- entering the corridors of power regardless of the nature of means. Whether these are the cases of Dawn-Leaks, or Panama Papers or foreign minister’s recent utterance’ to put the house in order’ or even Rangers’ deployment at the Judicial Complex, all present sufficient evidences to the effect of their shenanigans. Their unguarded statements are neither helpful for cause of country’s politics nor of the foreign policy because such criticism gives the message across the world of a divided nation.

The aftermaths of the Supreme Court’s decision on Panama Papers has, ironically, unfolded a state of uncertainty in all walks of national life. It was surely for this reason that the PPP insisted on that the issues of political nature should be resolved in the Parliament instead of in the streets or in party political rallies. The ruling party did not agree on the Terms of Reference (TORs) of the Opposition at that time and the matter landed in the apex court that handed out the judgment inviting unprecedented criticism within and without. It was for this reason that the US Supreme Court in Baker v/s Carr case ruled that the court ought not adjudicate on questions those are fundamentally political as opposed to legal.

The PML-N also contributed in the prevalent political mess by not giving the due importance to the Parliament. Its apathy towards the parliamentary forum was unforgiving, and now paying the heavy political price. The Parliament stood like impregnable wall against the onslaught of sit-in politics spearheaded by PTI may be with ‘covert’ support, fueled by PAT, reportedly financed by PML-Q followed by laughable AML predictions serving as comic relief. But, the Parliament stood behind democracy like impregnable wall throwing its full weight against the pressure for unconstitutional political change. The sit-in politics and its apologists had to bite the dust and backed off. PPP being the second largest opposition party in the Parliament played the key role in thwarting the juggernaut against democracy. But, PML-N forgot the PPP and others and resorted to their witch hunting instead through the federal institutions. The PML-N owes an apology for its maltreatment meted out to those who gave it new lease of life at that time. Worth considering as stakes are very high indeed.

Muhammad shaheedi@yahoo.com

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