Pakistan: People’s Revulsion against Political Stagnation
By Mahboob A. Khawaja, PhD.
Observers interpret events and political challenges as they see fit to their imagination. But prevalent realities speak their own language loud and clear. Nawaz Sharif will put to shame all the egoistic men called politicians and disgraced puppets who operated on foreign myths and encompassing agenda. Reviewing the politics of Pakistan for the past half of a century, if there were men of moral and intellectual conscience, the masses would have stood on guard to respect and honor their much desired qualities. Not so, Pakistanis were not fortunate to have educated, honest and accountable politicians at the political powerhouses. Assuming power whether through self-generated intrigues, military coups or backdoor conspiracies, they practice absolutism devoid of political interactive dialogue to demonstrate flexibility and respect for the will of the people. The curse in Pakistani political strife is in need of urgent and workable cure. But all factors embedded in making the politics indicate a denial to public revulsion against the political curse. The dilemma of political legitimacy and accountability to the people cannot be ignored. For more than a month, millions of common folks appear to be engaged in shouting matches outside the parliament challenging political indifference and insanity in Islamabad. Nobody can predict the outcome for political change, justice and accountability. Sharif brethren have lost amicable opportunities to come to terms with the overwhelming realities demanding political change and legal justice.
They missed the opportunity to see the mirror and accept masses demand for political change and law and justice. Out of several public demands few deserve special mention: (1) Accountability for the stolen wealth and purchase of properties in London and business enterprise in Saudi Arabia; (2) Rigging of May 2013 national elections and getting into power as PM while Nawaz Sharif was already twice dismissed on corruption charges; (3) killing of 14 members of the Minhaj ul-Quran academy- Dr. Al-Qadri group at Lahore and injuring 80 protesters by Shabaz Sharif-the Chief Minister of Punjab and police prevented to register the FIR for the bloody acts of the people in power. You would burst with laughter or cry at the political nuisance, the response given by Sharif brethren to these critical issues involving life and death situations of Pakistani politics. If Sharif brethren had a cause and courage, they should have come out in public to respond and defend themselves. They demonstrated a dehumanized gutted culture of naïve politics, be it inside the National Assembly or in news media that make no sense in a 21st century knowledge-based age of reason and political accountability. People’s tormenting pains,, political agony and continuing sufferings cannot be transformed into a single portrait to show to the global audience. Would another military coup address the masses charge sheet against Nawaz Sharif? The Generals are cautious to foresee a puzzling future without genuine political remedies. How and where the feasible solutions to crime-riddled politics will come from? At a glance, Pakistan appears to be reaching at a dead-ended political discourse. The masses gathered at Islamabad would not compromise the outcome on matters of principles. The political deadlock needs a high power jolt of intervention to pave a smooth way out of the stagnated political culture of the few. People are the legitimate force for change if there is any glimpse of democracy still operational in Pakistan.
To silence the voices of REASON for political dialogue and peaceful change, Sharif brethren relied on police force. It strengthen the resolve of the people to stand in unity and encounter the unthinkable obstructions of free movements, freedom of expression and calls for legal justice to see the Sharif brethren arrested and to face legal accountability for their crimes. Is Pakistan a morally and intellectually broken nation that cannot question the few criminals in power? Sharif continues to govern as if there is no world outside the PM well guarded House or the secluded parliament. Those occupying the seats inside the National Assembly failed to demonstrate legitimate sensitivities to the interests and priorities outlined by the people. Their demands if not all but some do have solid legitimate grounds to ask for political accountability and legal justice. The mayhem at Islamabad continues to haunt the present and future of freedom, public accountability of politicians, and the normal requisites of law and justice available to the ordinary people. Pakistani people have learned from the distractions of time and history how few have robbed the nation under false pretexts and egoistic exploitation.
Democracy is a strange phenomenon in Pakistani political culture. Pakistani nation faces many critical perils in its search for a peaceful democratic future. No wonder, why Islamabad is under continuing siege by the political activists –one group is led by the new generation leader Imran Khan, the former captain of Pakistani cricket team. The other by a religious scholar Dr. Tahir -ul -Qadri, whose Lahore Minhaj ul-Quran Center was brutally attacked by the police resulting in massacres of 14 peaceful participants and wounding hundred of others for no obvious reason. It is hard to imagine how rationality could overcome insanity being perpetuated by the Sharif brethren at provincial and national levels over the Pakistani nation. None appear to signal the scenarios of peaceful transformation of serious issues into workable solutions. Lacking political imagination and legitimacy, Sharif brethrens have used power to deal with sensitive issues of public communication and result-oriented political dialogue. Political failure and corruption allegations are nothing new to the profile of Nawaz Sharif. He was twice dismissed as Prime Minister on corruption accusations. The 1999 hijacking of an incoming PIA flight from Sri Lanka with 250 passengers and former General Pervaiz Musharaf on board. Mr. Sharif wanted to assassinate all in a plane crash as the plane was not allowed to land at Karachi international airport. He wanted to install a new Chief of the Army Staff to replace General Musharaf. Even Sharif asked the pilot to go to India but it was refused. After the military coup, Sharif was tried in a public court on terrorism charges and exiled to Saudi Arabia. Now wonder in Pakistani politics how such a criminal made comeback and got elected by rigging the 2013 election to reclaim the office of Prime Minister.
When pretension and stingy greed give life to politically manipulated leadership, treachery and oppression become the rule of political governance in which people are seen as the eggs and chickens, conveniently broken and slaughtered and politicians are akin to assume the above normal role play lacking legitimacy and accountability. Pakistani politics regrettably as is, a venture of intrigues, self-engineered conspiracies and dead roll calls to explain the history of this beleaguered nation. Feudal lords are the political masters, and Bhutto family with complacent army Generals, has been one of them to unfold a naïve and destructive chapter of the Pakistan’s political misfortunes. Mr. ZA Bhutto, the leader of the PPP, his daughter Benazir Bhutto, two of her brothers, all are dead but they still ruling the country by imposter Asif Ali Zardari as the past president. Alive or dead, Bhutto family has been the centre of political intrigues and destructive problems in Pakistan. How irrational and untrue it seems that dead people are leading the living masses of Pakistan? Since 2008, Sharif has been in collaboration with the Bhutto family to continue the political curse as determining factor in Pakistani politics.
The military dictators, Bhuttos, Zardari and Sharifs could never have come into power unless the whole nation had lost the sense of rationality, PURPOSE and MEANING of its existence. These sadistic and cruel monsters have institutionalized chaos and fear, demoralization of a moral society and dehumanization of an intelligent nation and have transferred these naïve traits and values to the psychological-social-economic and political spheres of the mainstream thinking hub of the nation. Why should we care – many will assert at the cultural levels. Are there any concerned thinkers, intellectuals and proactive political activists to safeguard the national interests of the present and future generations of Muslim Pakistan?
Pakistani politics is operated by those of whom the great majorities have absolutely no qualifications to be at the helm of political power – yet they are continuously engaged in systematic degradation of the educated and intelligent young generation of Pakistanis who are deprived of opportunities to participate in the national politics. The contemporary history of political degeneration includes few generals, neo-colonial feudal lords, members of the assemblies, family-vested few houses of political power, ministers or prime ministers; they have the distinction of all acting in unison against the interest of the people of Pakistan. Political Power is aphrodisiac. Do the people belong tothis mad scrum overwhelmingly witnessed at the Islamabad freedom march? To an impartial observer the scene is clear that wrong people are conducting the political governance where reason and legal justice are outlawed. This contradicts the essence of the Freedom Movement of Pakistan. It appears logical to think thatat some point soon, those who are fit to lead must take over from those who are misfit to govern with credibility. It could be a bloodless coup – or it could be a bloody insurrection. One way or another, the process of phasing-out the obsolete and phasing-in the fair and much desired and deserving must happen. Are the demonstrators approaching the point of no return? Is Pakistan’s freedom and futuristic integrity being sacrificed for few dumb and dull criminals who wish to extend their power beyond the domains of reason and honesty? It will be extremely harmful and deeply flawed and dangerous ethos to the interests of the people if Sharif brethren are allowed to continue the crime riddled political governance while their legitimacy is under sharp questioning. The path to peaceful change and political success requires the wise and informed to establish an organized council of responsible oversight to move-in to the void once the despots are ousted. That is an essential component of any public uprising determined to manifest genuine and sustainable political change and legal justice.
Pakistan urgently needs a savior. A military takeover is not the solution but General Raheel Sharif- the Chief of the Armed Forces and his conscientious colleagues could take a moral stand for the best of Pakistan. This means, Nawaz Sharif must take leave or step down to clear the allegations of 2013 election rigging, killings of the protesters at Lahore and Islamabad and transfer of money to foreign assets. If cleared by a court of law, he should resume his office as PM. If not, the he must face the ultimate legal consequences. The use of security forces and power against the people will not resolve the problems – the absolute power, a draconian strategy to dispel the notion of freedom. It is shameful for a functional democracy if any and as harmful in short terms as deadly and anti-freedom in long terms for the sustainability of a free nation. Recently, this author (Pakistan: Emerging Democracy or Hall of Shame.” The Cyrano’s Journal Today, USA: 9/04/2014), offered the following remedial strategy to deal with the current crisis in Pakistan:
The nation’s capital is under siege for over two weeks. People want political change and justice to their grievances that is nowhere to be seen. The demonstrators are not hired agitators but real people standing for hard core moral principles and democratic values. Islamabad depicts chaos, extreme insecurity and frightening trend of political mismanagement and failed governance. PM Sharif was already on a life support system of his own making. Now, the oxygen tank is fast running out of the life maintaining system. Nawaz Sharif has lost sense of direction and political maturity to see the mirror and to resign from the powerhouse gained by rigging the 2013 elections. Undoubtedly, Sharif lives in a matrix of lies. He does not have the courage to encounter a truthful statement. Informed Pakistani masses can tell the difference between the truth and a lie…..The ruling elite and the people live in a conflicting time zone being unable to understand the meaning and essence of the Pakistan Freedom Movement. Nawaz Sharif must go. The allegations of election rigging must be investigated. What is the cure to the current problems? It will complement the interests of the nation if a new Government of National Unity is formed under a non-partisan-non political leader of moral and intellectual integrity for a period of two years; a New Constitution is framed with new public institutions under leadership of the new generation educated people and then a new election could be meaningful to transform the ideals of a legitimate functional democracy.