Thomas Hardy, a Victorian novelist known for his pessimistic orientation to life in one of his novels “Mayor of Caster-bridge”, makes an assertion: “Happiness is but an occasional episode in the general drama of pain.” While it may be contested as an exaggerated perception of reality, it holds ironically, true for Pakistan. Ever since its creation, the nascent state braved problems of colossal magnitude. The massacre and genocide that came in the wake of partition, horrifying as it was entailed a colossal problem of rehabilitation of millions who sought refuge in their dreamland – Pakistan – who had nothing left with them except their running breath, when they reached the destination, wading through the grossly inhuman bloodshed.
Kashmir which would have been part of Pakistan, from all conceivable logic but defying all norms of justice and morality, India forcibly annexed it as its “Atoog ang”, and till today is reluctant to abide by the resolutions of United Nations which make plebiscite mandatory for the Kashmiris to decide their option. They would have naturally gravitated towards Pakistan. Three successive wars with India – 1948, 1965 and 1971, besides running skirmishes on the LOC, were largely due to the illegal occupation of Kashmir and depriving its people the right to freedom. The 1971 war, however, was imposed on Pakistan, as part of collaborative design on the part of India, former Soviet Union and even so called friend USA, to cut off our Eastern Wing – ‘East Pakistan’ to become an independent state called Bangladesh. This was a great strategic loss to Pakistan, largely due to our leaders, much too myopic in their vision, who made many tardy mistakes to lend vulnerability to be capitalized by our eastern enemy.
The Afghan War due to the thoughtless invasion by the former Soviet Union provided the military ruler General Ziaul Haq, opportunity to lend full support to the Afghan Mujahideen at the behest of USA, culminating into the ignominious defeat of the Red Army and its retreat from the soil of Afghanistan. General Ziaul Haq, besides prolonging his dictorial rule, promoted theocratic interpretation of Islam and was instrumental in creating fanatic militants in the madrassas all along the Pak-Afghan border. It had frightening consequence for Pakistan, which we are reaping today, notwithstanding millions of Afghan refugees seeking shelter in Pakistan. They brought with them Kalashnikov and drug culture, which has practically ruined our social fabric. USA was the lone gainer in the Afghan War, as its greatest rival former USSR was ousted from the power arena of the world to become the lone super power, to revive the old colonial game of seeking imperialist hold over the world.
Another lackey, General Pervez Musharraf ®, who served the US very well in order to perpetuate his illegal political hold, was trapped into involving Pakistan, in the so called War on Terror, a semantic aberration for concealing the strategic objective of gaining control over Iraq’s huge oil reserves and physically occupying the territory of Afghanistan to have easy access to oil and gas reserves in Central Asian States, besides controlling Iran, China and South Asia. The pressure is now mounting to persuade Pakistan to fight against the Afghan Mujahideen who are fighting a war of liberation, which is wrongly being dubbed as ‘terrorism’. USA has encountered defeat both in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan. The emergence of Islamic Resistance Force (IRF) seemingly appears to be a divine intervention that the impoverished soldiers are fighting the mightiest military power – USA and its NATO allies. Defeating them is nothing short of a miracle of the century.
USA, like a typical manifestation of frustration is caught in the “repetitive compulsive syndrome” of committing the same errors over and over again, adding more troops and not accepting in good faith, the reality to engage in dialogue with the Taliban, who represent the Pashtun power in the region to work out a face-saving exit strategy. To occupy Afghanistan for any longer period will be a devastating strategy for USA. The fall out on Pakistan has manifested itself in accentuating the internal threats, which are targeted towards destabilizing Pakistan. The menace of extremism, as a natural outcome of USAs’ flawed policy of invading Afghanistan has surfaced in the shape of very frequent bob-explosions, suicide attacks of a proportion that has put Pakistan’s internal security at a great peril. India, taking advantage of assuming a great strategic role in Afghanistan – a la courtesy USA – has not only spread a network of espionage against Pakistan, Iran and China in Afghanistan, but is actively involved in the acts of terrorism being committed in the different cities of Peshawar, Punjab and now extending to Karachi. It’s notorious intelligence agency – RAW – is hell bent to fan regional conflicts, particularly in Balochistan by providing all out support to the so called Liberation Army of the Balochis, capitalizing on the death of its renowned leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, whom General Pervez Musharraf got killed oblivious of its dangerous repercussions on Balochistan’s separatist elements.
It is typical of India that it’s Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna, while confirming that its intelligence agency RAW, was running a parallel government in India and that whatever it did should not be attributed to government of India. A Kautalian strategy indeed! Both the wars in Afghanistan, the first one during the dictatorship of General Ziaul Haq and the second one thoughtlessly called global war on terror (GWOT), besides entailing mega problems of law and order, fanning secretarial and ethnic rivalries and causing economic hardships and grossly affecting the investment climate put Pakistan into contradictory paradigms. The first war pushed it towards religious bigotry and fanaticism so that USA’s threat of communism could effectively be countered, the second one impelled towards ‘enlightened moderation’, a construct created to promote secularism and devalue Islam and its values so that ‘western liberalism’ should be the regulatory principle for the post-cold war, global governance.
The security position, threatening and challenging as it is, the internal political dynamics is also quite murky and depressing. The transition to political governance after the ouster of the dictator General ® Pervez Musharraf, was deemed to be a precursor to the end of praetorianism once for all. But the euphoria was short-lived as the civilian government is hardly functioning the way it was expected, as the same military syndrome of over-centralized power in one hand in being continued. The uniformed dictator is now being replaced by a civilian dictator. He is functioning as a typical Mughal ruler and presidency is full of sycophants. The Parliamentary democracy is reduced to a ‘sham’ presidential rule. Corruption is endemic, crossing all limits, and ironically in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
All these notwithstanding there are also episodes of happiness. The resurgence of mass consciousness, culminating into a lawyers’ social movement, brought back the deposed Chief Justice to his original position, despite all reluctance on the part of the Government to do so for reasons not hard to discern. While December 16 will always be a day of great mourning for the loss of former East Pakistan, it is also a day of exhilaration for the establishment of the supremacy of the law and the judicial system’s robust emergence as an independent institution. The legacy of the rapacious judges like late Justice Munir and the crafty lawyers like Sharifuddin Pirzada, who used his judicial acumen for personal gains and justified what was quite unjustifiable under the infamous ‘Law of Necessity’, which thank God is in its grave. The judiciary backed by the popular will is now functioning as an independent institution true to the vision of Qaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The controversial National Reconciliation Order (NRO) has been declared unlawful and un-Islamic and outside the pale of civilized functioning of legal system for deliverance of justice. This is a historic decision by the 17-member full bench of the Supreme Court, nullifying NRO from the day of its promulgation by the wily General ® Pervez Musharraf, who had set a very repulsive precedence of condoning mega corruptions. Undoubtedly, the judgment against NRO, is a happy turning – a silver lining in the dark clouds that hang over Pakistan. It has now been put on the right path, which will enable it to find its true destiny. The deep-seated malady is on the wane.
G.K. Chesterton said: “Evil comes at leisure like the disease, good comes in a hurry like a doctor.” The good is the glorious judgment of the Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. It is a very timely therapeutic measure that Pakistan so desperately needed.
Dr S M Rahman is Secy Gen of FRIENDS, a Think Tank founded by General Mirza Aslam Beg. He is a regular writer for Opinion Maker.