â€˜Free ride at the cost of Pakistan and public purseâ€™
23 October, 2007
By Amjad Malik
In Pakistan establishment always nip the voice of descent which they successfully did when Nawaz Sharif landed at Islamabad on 10 September and his party’s main leaders and supporters were under arrest and Islamabad was sealed despite clear court orders and we will keep hearing contempt proceedings for weeks to come, but the damage is done. On the other side, here comes all time hated by the General the so called corrupt Ms. Bhutto entering the arena with free hand, full protocol, bullet proof truck, and her billions and change intact and her militia around her with support of the military dictator entering the political landmine with pomp and show. Her supporters are allowed to travel from Karachi to Peshawar and i believe some are travelling for days without any policemen noticing their journey. People’s party despite their politics and style of anti establishment gave in at the eleventh hour for a little relief in lieu of ousting a military dictator preferred to join hands with him. Some democrats and hard-line supporter of PPP are critical and questioning her wheeling dealing and some are leaving the party and others doubt her slogan ‘with Benazir comes employment’ to the one that ‘with Benazir goes what’s left in Pakistan’. Most of her supporters are jubilant as their leader is amongst them.
Corruption of billions from public purse is a matter of public interest and of great importance and at best will be decided by 20th July born new courts however death of Mir Murtaza Bhuttoo is quite an other. Fatima Bhuttoo, daughter of the martyred in her latest article in the News on 20 September 2007 questions the impropriety of PPP govt in that killing when she says, “ Curiosity impels people to ask about the not-so hidden hand, the highest level of government.’ The government of no other but that of her aunt Be Nazir. Its not a matter of politically motivated stealing of a goat or a buffalo or commission allegations of polish tractors, or French spare parts repairs or oil or food programme of UN or money laundering its a pure criminal investigation for which a case is pending for years and that little girl seeks justice, and i think BE Nazir must bring those to accounts who are in power or at least re open her father’s case and deliver justice to his soul.
I think one must be happy that twice premier is allowed to enter politics as desired and deserved however the style with which such deal is negotiated is bit shameful. Her attempts to seek pardon from corruption via ordinance than courts and her secret dialogue to keep Nawaz Sharif a one time arch rival out of electioneering process is not democratic whereas they both came close to some sort of ‘political reforms package’ under ‘Charter of Democracy’. BBC in their online survey exposed that over 82% questions the validity of free polls if Sarifs are kept outside the arena and on the 8th anniversary International Republican Institute in their fresh polls between 29 august to 13 September with 4000 people declared sharifs as the highest in rating with 36% with Be Nazir trailing with 28% and Military man on the bottom with 21%
Whilst democrats welcome her return to play her due role however Pakistan’s establishment knows it better that partnership with ppp with crippled opposition can be very dangerous. It can act as a double edge sword and only restoring two party system in reality as was before 12 Oct 99 is the ultimate solution and key to the security of the system guaranteeing protection to the state. Q league with divided vote with N league will suffer heavily at the hands of PPP, in fact PPP will eat them alive if allowed to canvass single handedly and maturity desires the return of other exiled leaders to ensure free, fair and impartial elections to allow the people to elect and reject the leaders. This fair dual is also necessary to have a check and balance to preserve serenity and common sense.PPP in power with military dictator will not be able to deliver as per claims and assessments are that such govt will be short lived and could be toppled with any uneven incident whether it is an incident like 9/11 or sudden death of any stalwart and then the situation will desire a rematch calling all the players again but at that juncture the loss will be of Pakistan and as long liberals are allowed to canvass against conservatives will keep the hardliners at arms way but a match between pro signing and dancing nightclub with direct pro madrassha clans could be fatal.
Mullah is not the root cause of the actual problem, lack of political will is, and the direct diagnosis of such extremism is vacuum and the absence of political leadership which has roots in the masses on conservative front which use to keep middle class mobile and up right to check and out number the militant out fits. If you remove conservative leadership, ultimately you are left with hardliners whether they are Lal Masjid style leadership, or Tribals who are fighting in northern areas who are ready to interpret Islam to their own choosing though not shared by commoners but have a frightening effect on masses and create a terror thus spoiling the balance.
I feel time is up and rather than opening one door channel of secret and open negotiations with a,b,c parties and damaging the system further, military leader must act as Spartan and initiate open and public discussion in the supreme national interest with all political parties at a round table ensuring unconditional presence of all exiled leaders to discuss how an exit can be practically made possible and how a fair and transparent elections can be held in Pakistan. Those consultations may discuss the mechanism of inducting an independent and reliable care taker set up possibly judges along with powerful election commissioner who will impartially hold elections which appears to be and are in fact transparent and fair. He also needs consultation with all parties how the independence of judiciary can be secured as his actions speak louder than his claims that he believes in justice and fair play. Only a fair and independent judiciary can guarantee holding of a fair election(s) in Pakistan.
These suggested actions are not imminent and may not happen at all as our leadership lack political will and have no roots as well as wisdom which needs to solve the crisis they are in and they can chant national reconciliation but when it comes to crunch they speak with oppression and operations where our soldiers are at war with our own people and some of them are kidnapped, on 12th May and 10th of September Govt sealed off Karachi and Islamabad for Chief Justice and Sharifs, however the same city is open on 18th Oct for one and only. Though Imran Khan is considered worthy of expulsion orders each time he attempts to visit Karachi. These dual policies needs to be addressed before national reconciliation is talked about and in all this 160 million people are somewhere missing as they are not party to any negotiations. How long will the regime run this government with these discriminatory tactics, they must come up with the task as Article 5 of the Constitution binds them that loyalty to the state is their basic duty and obedience to the constitution and law is inviolable and they need to ask themselves whether those duties are discharged properly , fairly and indiscriminately. Sometimes they need to get out of the bullet proof cars and go to local market and see with their eyes and listen to the live people how they see their performance.