WHETHER it was intended to be such or not, would its citizens wish the establishment of Pakistan be a receptacle for any variant of Islamic/Muslim fundamentalism pervading politics and determining social behavior?
Citing words and conduct, most would say history shows that this was not the motivation or goal of the Quaid-i-Azam and his lieutenants. Indeed, some of the leading Ulema were critical of the concept of a separate state for the Subcontinent’s Muslims.
Plaudits are due the revolving pageant of official Information bigwigs whose fatuity conceals the adroit competence of their ministry of information, no matter which of them is managing it. That institution has the varied segments of public opinion exactly as it would have them be: numbed and distracted with statements both highly-charged and conflicting; repetitive and inconsistent; contradictory and confirmative; denying and reaffirming; so that no one quite knows what the government and its minions and bogeymen are about. Reportage and news is a turbid flood of speculative analyses and patchy investigations of what could be reality or should be reality or may or may not have happened.
THE PTI government which has now been in office for more than two years still approaches the discharge of good governance primarily in the past and future tenses. It focuses unblinkingly on the black legacy of the tenures of the PML(N) and PPP that remains the prime mover (Pray, why not disenabled?) in Pakistan’s current dire civic and fiscal straits; and the rhetoric then moves into the future that the PTI will assuredly make golden. The trouble is the electorate tends to dwell more in the present.
The government is not unaware of this and, seeking to alleviate present distress, the PM reassures citizens by reiterating there will be no NRO: Once accountability puts paid to the PPP’s and PML(N)’s rotten dynastic party platforms and wickedly selfish unpatriotic leaders, national progress will be unimpeded. The political opposition is unmindful of public weal, and limited to saving its leaders’ skins. It is even heedless of national security. If this were indeed so the PTI would not need to point it out – the vote-banks would. No matter how they may be cheated, voters are not fools. For ordinary people the bald fact is the PTI commands present political space and is strongly affecting political culture.
IF one begins by saying the civil politician is as much to blame for military influence in politics as any army general, one can then stop mincing words and — having implicitly ceded that army boots do march upon civil political space — embark on a less coy discussion of this aspect of Pakistan’s democratic march with reference to the pulsating present not just the detonated past. What have the civil and military learnt from abounding exemplified lessons of history and how do they use that knowledge? Bear in mind that the canvas common to both is the space Pakistan’s people inhabit. They should be calling the shots – but not in cross-fire. Which is all that civil politics as played presently by professional politicians seems to be doing: Is there a Cheshire cat grin on military faces?
Justice Munir early on provided the doctrine of necessity as just recourse for dissolving assemblies, legislative or otherwise. General Ayub, the trailblazer of military political interventionism who as C-in-C helped President Iskander Mirza shelve Pakistan’s very first much belated but non-durable constitution of 1956 in 1958, wasn’t much bothered about cosmetic constitutional camouflage. But such is the law of popular political gravity, he came to see wisdom in promulgating a civil presidential system with a customised rule-book. They called it the 1962 Constitution. When parliamentary nostalgia and popular discontent reached a critical mass, Bhutto, founding the PPP, rode the civil storm; but the instrument for a return to regard for the will of the people was an intra-martial agreement. The army, commanded by General Yayha, structured with a legal framework order, voluntarily oversaw a return to civil electoral politicking, with elections duly held as promised in December 1970 which are still undisputedly deemed historically pristine and translucent. They also turned out to be popularly unacceptable and the eastern wing parted from the western wing.
IT is false to say those were lawyers attacking doctors or doctors under attack on December 11th in Lahore. It was us: people like you and me were doing that to people like you and me in and to our hospital. Something increasingly toxic within and around us is generating an atmosphere of violence. Personal self-respect has degenerated into self-righteous entitlement and intimidatory demand. Can we arrest this slide into the bestial before we all become completely desensitized or submerged?
and where did it begin? It is chastening to remind ourselves that an angrily
contested partition was integral part of the subcontinent’s venture into
self-rule. Simply put: this vast subcontinent’s major Muslim minority and
heavily Hindu majority did not trust each other enough to share a common space.
That was 1947. In 2019 the polity is still wrangling violently within its
separate states, failing to resolve a sociopolitical equation of common human
interest: We can justly point a finger at the subcontinent’s cannabilistic mother
India; emergent Pakistan; Bangladesh; Nepal; Bhutan; and even a not that safely
enough offshore Sri Lanka. Why then is the rampage at Lahore’s PIC particularly
We have so many regulatory bodies, inquiry commissions, supervisors and monitors, that the only reason we don’t keep nervously looking over our shoulders is that we are also on the watch for what could lie ahead. The ambience is of unfocused anxiety. The analogy of a police state doesn’t come to mind, for the police force too is under scrutiny. However, PEMRA may soon have TV channels genially tell us ‘Big Brother is watching YOU’ for PEMRA is certainly watching them. If they are naughty or complain there could be recourse to a tribunal and the exercise – for this is civil dictation not military – may not be, like General Zia’s 90-day electoral guarantee, liable to indefinite postponement.
‘Corruption’ has been the make and break PTI slogan and the
outstandingly ‘corrupt’ leaders of yore have been electorally dis-enabled and
the two mainstream grassroots parties left floundering if not quite sunk. Common
citizens are gauging what is on the march in the field: Imran Khan (for the
party is the man) and his support base. Bear in mind that the mandate to govern
was formally conferred by perhaps too gullible an electorate in the framework
of the much-amended and sometimes vacillatingly so, as with the 8th amendment,
1973 constitution. It is a landmark consensual constitution that, though unceremoniously
stamped upon by boots in 1977 and 1999, has yet to follow Pakistan’s earlier constitutional
tomes into the unemptied dustbin of history.
Pakistan’s democratic advances and retreats are usually perceived
in terms of a tussle between power-belts: a civilian establishment comprised of
what– post lateral-entry– we may no longer justly call mandarins, enabled by
and facilitating administration and policy for an electorally empowered party
leadership: now called chors and dakkus. (Party activists,
dissidents, and turncoats of lesser stature we could soon be calling raillu
kattas.) In the scales for charge of
the governmental process is the military establishment.
We still term it the khakis.
Notwithstanding the fact that the last military coup was essentially a day-long
airborne drama, those clad in blue and white do not emerge as coup-Caesars.
Perhaps what really matters is what you have on the ground — or the ground
realities of the political field. What
are these and who determines them? Supposedly in the electoral democratic
process the voters. But who enfranchises and disenfranchises?
QAMAR Zaman is the father of an infant boy. He works in Karachi’s
Defence Authority’s Phase 4 Commercial Area. He had just finished his
duty at 6pm on June 10 and had stopped to purchase vegetables for his
wife to cook for dinner, when he was knocked out by a hail of gunshots.
For him everything went black thereafter.
He later learnt that a guard before a mobile shop close by had accidentally pulled the trigger claiming that he did not know that his gun was loaded. He had just received the weapon from his colleague who was going off-duty.