By Naeem Sheikh
How do we change the plight of our nation? Is a drastic action warranted? Could democracy bring about the required changes? The answer lies in history of the land, and the people of our country.
It is no secret that Indus Valley, the land of our nation, is also the land of oppression, exploitation and injustices perpetrated by foreign invaders, plunders and looters that came from Afghanistan and Uzbekistan many centuries ago. They overpowered the land, trampled over the natives to rob the populations, seize their lands and properties and suppress them brutally to turn them into slavish subjects, keeping them as poverty-stricken and illiterate serfs. The descendants of those invaders are now doing the same in Pakistan.
Those foreign plunders and looters had since become the powerful Jagirdars or feudal landlords, still keeping their foreign sounding names and brutal mentality of oppressive and unjust domination. Their descendants are now the political leaders and rulers of our country. They might have become Punjabis, Sindhis, Baluchis and Pathans but mentally they continue behaving and acting in the traditions of their forefathers because their mindsets are still oppressively bent upon exploiting, looting and plundering the land and the people of the Indus Valley. In short, this is the story of Pakistan.
Lamentably, the people of the Indus Valley, mostly the Punjabis and Sindhis, have failed to recognise the true nature and background of their political leaders. They do not realise that their so-called political idols are actually offspring of the brutes that were not from them or from the land. This is why their descendants have no sympathy or care for the populations. This is also why they have done nothing for the people or the country. They are also not likely to do anything for the native populations because they do not belong either to the people or the land. It, therefore, does not prick them to rob the people or the state since they are not from the land. They are psychologically geared to live in the frame of mind of their ancestors, and so they do not hesitate to rob the people and the state shamelessly.
With such a grim historic background, could the people of Pakistan expect any benevolence from current politicians by virtue of Democracy? Frankly, they can’t, because these brutes control votes of the populations by their economic weight and control of food supply. Hence, it is impossible to unseat them by elections. Originally, they came by force and now rule by oppressive domination. And so they could only be pushed out by force and not by democratic process. They came by force and would go only by force. Democracy is not for leaders of invading background or oppressive mentality. It is a noble concept fit for decent people. The Punjabi and Sindhi leaders from the stock of the invaders do not qualify for this noble treatment. This is a fact that the people and the military of Pakistan must recognise and take appropriate steps to push out offspring of the ancient invaders that are now roaming around our country cloaked as politicians and political leaders. The media must also educate the public about the history and background of these brutes to warn them who their leaders are, where they came from and what their ancestry was. Merely saying that they are corrupt is not sufficient information. They must be unmasked by their names and anthropology to expose their real character. The people must know how these brutes entered the Indus Valley, how they acquired lands (estates or jagirs) and how had they been suppressing the populations over a prolonged period of many centuries. The people are entitled to know the history so they might know the truth about their so-called politicians. The media had responsibility to probe the names and historic backgrounds of all the leading feudal politicians and expose them so the people might recognise that majority of them are not even Punjabis or Sindhis, they are rather former Afghan and Uzbek invaders who are still suppressing the people in the tradition of their ancestors.
If masses could grasp truth of this history then they might be impelled to take suitable action to protect themselves from the ancient enemies of the people. This could then lead us to embrace a Benevolent Dictator to set us free in a real sense. We are opting for Benevolent Dictatorship not that we love dictatorships but because we need it to free our people and the land from the yoke of descendants of the ancient invaders. Do we have time to experiment for the change with democracy? Sorry to say, time might not be on our side because of the rapidly deteriorating cohesion of our nation. Many analysts fear that if swift action is not taken then we might not be left with the country that we know and love as Pakistan.
This is the case for a Benevolent Dictator because it is the only option available to remedy a deeply rooted ancient problem.
So, how do we save our country, and go about doing it? We do not want another Ayub Khan, or Zia or Musharraf. We want a totally different kind of a dictator who could free us not only from clutches of this ancient predatory, but also put us on track for democracy and prosperity. Using a dictator to establish democracy is a unique and new concept that we must develop according to our needs. The rest of the world would have to understand our predicament and condone our remedial action of military force.
We should also use the channels of our media to build a national consensus through a nationwide debate whether a Benevolent Dictator is warranted or whether we should continue with the same old invalid process of democracy?
In my view our nation badly needs a Benevolent Dictator. However, such a dictator would have to be a controlled dictator overseen by a National Watchdog Board comprising of dedicated elders, scholars, academics and journalists who have a blemish free reputation, including retired military officers who are also similarly blemish free and unconnected with the ruling politicians. A blended civil and military Watchdog Board is necessary to fulfil civilian requirements that may be enforced by military power to effectuate the necessary changes to restore rule of the people.
Our country still has many dedicated patriots both in the civilian ranks and the army cadre that we could bring forth to save our nation.
Once the army concurs with the proposal and puts forward a ranking officer for the job and the National Watchdog Board is constituted, the mandate of the Benevolent Dictator may then be defined and stipulated for execution. The goal is to end the rule of the looters, and improve the social, economic and political conditions of the people by paving way for a lasting democratic system. The tenure of this dictatorship shall not exceed more than five years. It shall be subject to strict scrutiny by the Watchdog Board to ensure that progress is made to accomplish goals as set in the mandate. All actions and policies of the Benevolent Dictator would be supervised and approved by the Watchdog Board to comply with the mandate. The Mandate for the Benevolent Dictator may consist of:
1. An unwavering commitment to transform the social, economic and political structure of the country within 3 to 5 years under a specified timetable by the Watchdog Board.
2. A firm promise to replace the entire generation of corrupt and failed politicians with a new generation of younger leaders from the public rank and file.
3. Therefore, all existing political leaders whether sitting or former shall be barred from holding political offices for life.
4. Family members of the barred politicians shall also be disallowed from contesting elections for 50 years to end family holds on local populations.
5. No political party shall bear personal names or reserve its top leadership for family members. All denominations of the Muslim League shall be abolished, and only one title of Pakistan Muslim League shall prevail. The practice of calling it a Nawaz Group or Bhutto family party or Bhutto chairman or co-chairman shall be abolished and leadership of all political parties shall be opened widely to party members. ANP would not be allowed to be controlled by the Wali Khan or Ghaffar Khan Family.
6. Existing four provinces shall be subdivided into fifteen or seventeen new provinces to establish a new political structure in which local populations could play active roles in building social and economic prosperity of their communities. Political restructuring is now urgent to satisfy demands and needs of the people. The voice for local control is becoming louder and louder.
7. New leadership may be groomed from the younger generation who are university graduates, young professionals and dedicated young men and women who could take charge of the country and run it with fresh ideas and warm passions and a new national zeal. They must come from the grassroots without connection with feudal or industrial aristocracies. Their only criteria to become leaders shall be education and civic integrity.
8. At least five major universities to be commissioned to offer Leadership Development courses, either a two-year graduate course or a one year postgraduate course to groom future leaders in public service and inculcate leadership ethics to serve the country honestly and diligently. The state may provide funding for suitable candidates from the general public to take advantage of these courses to enable them to participate in the evolution of a new political set-up and leadership.
9. Pakistan has been blessed with natural resources as well as human resources. We must utilise these two great blessings to build our nation. The neglected talent of bright Pakistanis must be nurtured to serve the country. An elaborate plan may also be devised to bring back the Overseas Pakistani talent at least on an assignment basis of 3 to 5 years tenure to serve the country in the fields of their expertise.
10. Overseas Pakistanis are an untapped reservoir of talent that must now be utilised in building Pakistan. There are many Pakistani professionals nearing retirement age or already retired who could still contribute to the development of Pakistan if there were a well-organised program to utilise their skills and services on an assignment basis. We have no shortage of brilliant economists, scientists, engineers, food and agriculture experts, experts in Information Technology, medical and healthcare services and education systems and public service specialists. There are also business entrepreneurs with ample financial resources to stimulate our economy. A realistic plan has to be developed and implemented to motivate our citizens to come back and play a meaningful role in building Pakistan.
11. We must create social and political environments conducive for the talented Pakistanis to invest in Pakistan and work for progress of the country. They could structure an economic recovery plan, and also administer it to make it a success.
12. Implementing land reforms to boost agriculture and achieve self-sufficiency in food production is also a priority. This would mean building new irrigation canals and water reservoirs, including tube wells to irrigate old and new lands.
13. Overseas Pakistanis could also raise funds abroad for building hydroelectric power stations and water desalination plants to meet the growing needs of the country. They have the skills and acumen to supervise these projects.
14. Pakistani engineers both local and overseas, to be commissioned to develop alternate energy sources. We have plenty of sunshine and wind power that must be tapped to overcome the energy shortage.
15. Economic stimulation to be spurred by foreign and domestic investments. Again, many Pakistani businessmen are loaded with money and waiting for the right economic climate to invest in the country. Their confidence has to be raised by realistic policies and planning, but more importantly by a stable political environment. Unless new political environments and investment climate is created Overseas Pakistanis would remain sceptical and shun from risking their savings. Nawaz Shareef had already betrayed them once, and so they would be reluctant to take a second chance with the corrupt band of leaders.
16. The Benevolent Dictatorship must avoid corruption both in the military ranks and the civilian sectors. Corruption in services must be suppressed and perpetrators severely punished to control this menace. All known national thieves who have stacked up stolen money in foreign banks and local holdings must be put on notice to bring back the national wealth and surrender all ill-gotten wealth or face severe penalty, including life imprisonment.
17. Military appointments to civilian posts must also be avoided unless warranted by genuine needs.
18. Tax evasion, bribery and corruption in the government system to be eradicated by exemplary conduct of civil and military officers, businessmen and social and political dignitaries.
19. A new breed of police force and bureaucratic functionaries to be cultivated through training and education. Their salaries must be raised enabling them to live in a respectable standard.
20. Electoral reforms to be implemented to make it easier for the common person to take part in the political process.
These are only a few suggestions for the mandate but other issues could also be added or expanded to create a viable and comprehensive plan of action to save and build our nation.
It is important to empower the Watchdog Board to over rule the Benevolent Dictator if he detracts from the stated goals and mandate. In case of differences, the Supreme Court may be moved to resolve the disagreement.
More importantly, the Benevolent Dictator shall demonstrate an exception moral conduct to inspire the nation with a sense of national pride and nationalism. He would bridge the gap between the people and the establishment, and eventually relegate greater powers to the people. He would also be expected to create a sense of purpose for the people, provide them with a direction and motivate them to work for a common goal so the nation might enter a new phase of harmony and stability.
A common ideological goal is also necessary to unify the nation and establish stability. If the country was founded on the premise of an Islamic State and the people still wish to fulfil their original aspirations, then the Benevolent Dictator would be obliged to initiate a plan to develop the fundamentals of a dynamic and forward looking Islamic State that would meet modern social and economic needs of the people within the overall spirit of Islam. It may be remembered that original proponents of the Islamic Pakistan, people like Allama Iqbal and many scholars from Aligarh and several other universities, were not espousing a conservative or orthodox Islamic Pakistan bound in regressive or antiquated traditions or customs. Their vision was based on the revolutionary spirit of Islam to prepare the Ummah for twentieth century challenges and beyond. They were knowledgeable people who were aware of the two Golden Ages in the Islamic history when education in science and philosophy brought social and economic progress and opened many new horizons in knowledge for the Muslim Ummah. These were the periods of Caliphs Umer bin Khattab and Al-Mamun and a few others. The original founding fathers of the concept of Pakistan (Iqbal, not Jinnah) were aiming to revive these nostalgic Golden Ages. The Benevolent Dictator would be expected to resurrect their aspirations and revive their mission to establish a dynamic Islamic State to fulfil dreams of the people. This would also entail reviving the Islamic history showing the progress and achievements of the People of Qur’an, and inspiring the younger generations that Islam is a dynamic and forward looking ideology. Muslims have a rich heritage of social and economic progress as well as enviable achievements in sciences and philosophy. The Benevolent Dictator should clear ground to build Islamic state on the patterns of Umer bin Khattab and Al-Ma’mun. As said earlier, these are only a few ideas that may be taken up further to start a nationwide debate to Save and Build Pakistan.
It may also be remembered that we have an inherent right to free speech. We can propose newer ideas to save and build our country even if it means using military force to clean up the atrocities of the past.
The feudal landlords controlling the parliament have crafted a constitution that forbids military intervention. They have abused the constitutional powers to insert clauses that protect their obnoxious and abominable domination. However, we also have an unwritten constitution based on tradition whereby the Law of Necessity enables the military to intervene to remedy a destructive situation. The Law of Necessity had been used several times in the past and approved by several Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, including the current Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. We, therefore, still have the option of invoking the Law of Necessity to save our country regardless of the restrictions imposed by the feudal constitution of 1973 and its 18th amendment instituted by a corrupt regime. Surely the judiciary and the people of Pakistan would recognise the wisdom of ushering a Benevolent Dictator to clean up the mess for the good of the country.