Pakistan is faced with multi-dimensional threats pregnant with ominous repercussions. Most worrisome is also the fact that there is no political leader on the horizon who can steer the country out of the quagmire. We hear big time rhetoric but no action that can even remotely match that rhetoric. Nothing seems to be moving in the right direction so as to give hope to the 180 million downtrodden but extremely patriotic people of Pakistan. An incoherent parliamentary system of governance is in place which is truly neither parliamentary nor presidential and the ensuing political instability in the country is actually a result of this confusion and our obstinate persistent efforts aimed at making an unworkable system of governance work for Pakistan – an exercise that will always be in futility. Its time for Pakistan to have a directly elected ruler (President) around which the rest of the system must be laid out – more in line with the US model with all its effective checks and balances. What we have at present is absolutely rotten and no one will ever be able to make it work efficiently.
The much trumpeted so-called democratic process of the post Musharraf era has made no difference at all because it was never meant or designed to make the difference that the people of Pakistan had unsuspectingly expected. Too much had been manipulated over the heads of the people of Pakistan by exceptionally powerful international and national political players with the then incumbent President Musharraf who, at that time, ruled Pakistan as his fiefdom. These manipulations and compromises have let Pakistan down once more and its people have been left marooned on an island of deprivations and hopelessness. I shall like to take my readers back to the open letter I wrote to my most respected political leader i.e. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in December 2007 as a last resort to try and draw her away from the political deal that the PPP was then implementing with Musharraf. I failed in my last attempt. The earlier attempts had been made during my meetings with my late leader whenever I met her in UAE and in UK. For those who may like to read that letter please click on this link http://teeth.com.pk/blog/2007/12/12/open-letter-to-bb-why-i-left-ppp and see what is written there in the context of the existing ground situation.
Let it now be said that this splendid Pakistan Army of ours is an institution that need not feel apologetic about what Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia ul Haq or Musharraf did. They are relics of the past and the Army cannot be remotely associated with the acts of these individuals. I say this because once power had been seized by the Army Commander on the occasion of each political intervention the Army always went back to professional duties and their commander, on his own, thereafter manipulated Pakistan’s politics through the evergreen, ever present and shamelessly opportunistic politicians who then ruled on behalf of the military ruler even during the military regimes. These worthless political sycophants rode piggy back on the backs of all the military rulers that Pakistan has had. While the Army was in cantonments, involved in military exercises and route marches these piggy back riding politicians made merry each time till they sank the military rulers, Pakistan and its poor downtrodden people. The cycle has been vicious indeed. For commentators to tarnish the fair name of the Army as an institution, instead of those fumbling military rulers, is truly unwarranted.
So where do we go from where Pakistan now stands? There is little doubt that Pakistan now needs to restructure itself entirely rather than bear the weight of a proven failure that it continues to toy with in the shape of parliamentary democracy. The Westminster Parliamentary System has now failed to deliver as far as Pakistan is concerned. There is absolutely no doubt about that. This failure has also always been the cause of the military interventions that Pakistan has seen in the past. Why would there be any military interventions if the politicians and the political structure were functioning unscrupulously and if that political system had an inbuilt corrective machinery to correct its trajectory when things were going wayward and a leader, at any point of time as has been happening often enough, was going on a tangent to the interests and the will of the nation.
Why must Pakistan persevere with a failed system of governance? From my military days and what I learnt while at the Army’s Command and Staff College way back in 1978 I can say that failures must never be reinforced while successes must always be reinforced. The perverse political system that Pakistan possesses runs contrary to the psyche of our people and it appears to be falling apart at the seams once again. The parliamentary system that Pakistan has is always manipulated to facilitate the vested interests from the feudal and big business network to obtain a stranglehold over the country’s resources and then manipulate the same to work for them as if Pakistan was another company of this or that business group. This has always happenned and the country has been on a steady and constant downslide because of the parliamentary system being always heavily, ruthlessly and easily manipulated. The military dictators too have loved the parliamentary system as it was always easy to manipulate to keep themselves in power with the political sycophants always at their beck and call to do their biddings as their most obedient slaves devoid of a conscience. All of this must now end if Pakistan must be rescued.
The vested political interests power blocks (read feudal and big business politicians) will never revamp the current manipultaive political structure of the country but I do wish any one of the military rulers that have intervened in the past had done this and had just ruled the country as a military ruler in a reformist role without any pretension of being a democrat wanting to restore the Constitution that he had then just trampled upon. Maybe history would have pardoned that ruler and even given him a high pedestal in the history books for being someone that gave Pakistan the platform to be the flourishing and peaceful country that it could have been on this day had any one of the past military rulers truly brought about far reaching reforms in our political structure so as to replace the present perverted and constantly dysfunctional parliamentary system with a directly elected Presidential form of government.
All he would have had to do was to stay in power on the basis of the military might that had brought him to power without leaning on the discredited slavish politicians like each one of the military rulers has actually done in their own respective eras. That one military ruler whose word of mouth was the law of the land could have ceased to talk of democracy and the Constitution being restored and instead should have just proceeded post haste with the job of putting the country through a reformist process in all spheres of national life and particularly so in the field of the country’s political restructuring. He could have selected a team (cabinet) of twenty to thirty hard core but outstanding people with impeccable credentials to run the affairs of the State under his direct supervision and he should have then set about redesigning the political structure of the State so as to make it a country governed by a directly elected President and directly elected provincial governors with assemblies and senates of their own in each province in which the senators too should have been required to be directly elected and with the assemblies and the senates doing only legislative work and being barred from taking any office of profit in the service of the State.
Look at the Pakistani Senate of today and you will find it packed with cronies of all the political leaders. Most Senators in Pakistan cannot win an election even in their own villages what to talk of a bigger constituency. The moment these selected senators and the elected MNAs take public office the wheels of corruption, inefficiency and aimlessness start turning. How one wishes that one of the past military rulers had, in right earnest, redesigned the country’s bureaucratic structure and implemented massive reforms in the judiciary and whatever else the country possesses. Only if one of them had brought about a situation wherein merit could never have been bypassed and all Pakistanis had begun to live in an environment of equal opportunities Pakistan would have been a developed country today. Believe me, if after doing and achieving such things that military leader had come on television and announced that now that the country had been placed on an even keel he will hold an election in which he will not contest for anything and leave the country to the people’s representatives there would have been massive processions asking that military ruler to hang on to power rather than asking for his scalp. Alas nothing like this has happened and the rotten and totally failed parliamentary system continues to be the dead weight around Pakistan’s ankles and prevents the country’s forward surge towards betterment.
The only hope for Pakistan’s salvation now lies in the country’s absolute adherence to the rule of law till the other reforms can be brought about by some positive thinking Pakistanis at some near future point of time. Till then the heavy responsibility of keeping the balance and retaining equilibrium lies with the judiciary which undoubtedly has more public support today than all the political parties put together. The talented middle class will now have to step into the electoral process if they want to truly salvage the Pakistan from the ruins on which it lies after 62 years of being ravaged by a dysfunctional, corrupt and inefficient parliamentary system ripped apart through manipulations by the political as well as the military rulers this unfortunate country has so far had.
A reminder:- We know that there are, undoubtedly, numerous covert and overt pulls and pressures being exerted on Pakistan from within and from outside. These are threats and dangers that the valiant Pakistan Army is handling extremely well in circumstances when it doesn’t get the back up support in the field of foreign and other affairs from the political system ruling the country. Its job is made even more difficult when it is attacked and targeted unjustifiably from domestic as well as foreign quarters. To the knowing eye it is more than apparent that, in the given circumstances, the Pakistan Army is holding the structure of Pakistan together and is fending off all visible and invisible threats to Pakistan very efficiently indeed in a manner that is professionally par excellence. Undoubtedly, the people of Pakistan love and firmly stand by the Pakistan Army in these difficult times. If, somehow, some force was to succeed in neutralizing the Pakistan Army and its intelligence network Pakistan would lose its sovereignty and integrity within hours. Let no one have any doubt on this aspect. This is crunch time and there is no room for the slightest lowering of guards. Inertia will, by itself, prove to be a blow Pakistan cannot afford. Pakistan needs to quickly develop and flourish at a fast pace and be recognized by the world as a responsible, peaceful and self respecting state. The people of Pakistan cannot be ignored by anyone anymore be they dictators, political rulers or powerful foreign entities. Hillary Clinton set that ball in motion when she, during her visit to Pakistan, spent more time with a cross section of the people of Pakistan than she did with the rulers of Pakistan. She was wise and saw the divide and looking into the future decided to interact with the people of Pakistan who are peace loving, progressive and moderate in their thoughts and actions.