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20 February, 2008

By Amjad Malik


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This is not gallop survey or western frenzy human right organisation’s guess work, people of Pakistan in reality have given verdict and have shown serious dissent to the policies of general Musharraf and his way of governance, in particular to his treatment to top judiciary of Pakistan and his own handpicked Q league stalwarts have lost their own home seats which is a clear sign of charged mood of the nation.

Sharifs and Bhuttoo’s party have landslide in Punjab and Sindh respectively and moderates in NWFP showing red card to the bearded Prime Ministerial aspirant Maulna Fazal u Rehman. These parties if can carefully muster a coalition government, it will be a big victory for the people of Pakistan which will bring continuity, stability and strength in governance. However, the task ahead is not small as they will have to be wise enough to acknowledge lawyers,  media and civil society’s movement for justice and they must invite open heartedly Imran Khan, Qazi and APDM components to join them too in their coalition. Lawyers will be content if pre 3 Nov judicial position is restored and Chief Justice is brought back to his position along with his colleagues with honour and order of 7 member SC bench is given due respect and preference. Media men who were banned from reporting must be asked to resume at once especially Hamid Mir. And Dr Shahid Masood, however a code of conduct must be discussed along with setting up an independent complaints body for consumers and public separate from PEMRA and law of compensation for sleazy, and slanderous reporting must be introduced which will pave way for the due role of media which is acknowledged by all in the run up of election(s). I think printing and electronic media representatives may jointly draft a code which is reflective of the need of the state as well as encompassing the international norms.

Having said that, opposition voice must be protected too, now that the winning party is in government, they must treat the opposition the way they wished the treatment for themselves which they never received. Opposition plays an important part in democracy, and winning graciously is the key and ‘forgiveness’ and ‘live and let live’ principle must not be ignored. Any component of opposition may not be barred from going from one province to another, their families must not be disturbed and no false and trump up charges should be brought against them. Even if charges are made, they must be offered due process of law and fair trial ideally in the court before Justice Choudhry. I believe that political defeat by vote is the biggest revenge one may take from their opponent.

I for one am not in favour of selective accountability. Sharifs idea of holding people accountable through Saif ur Rehman and General Musharraf’s pardon through NRO are not ideal solutions and give rise to suspicion of selective accountability which people dissent. I feel accountability trials may be conducted through normal courts, higher as well as superior courts if public representatives have violated the law, they must be brought to justice and no sacred cows must be left unattended in law. However what these two parties can do is to create a political will to strengthen the judicial process, as well as the existing court system and the way judges are appointed. If judiciary is strengthened, then that truly can stop military intervention as it can play a role of a buffer zone where a military man does not need to jump in on the name of wiping out corruption. I think winners must bring true meaning to the slogan of servants to people in its true form too as people do not like big cars, grand offices and luxurious foreign trips when there is a shortage of flour, oil, gas, and sugar in the country and people are dying of suicidal attacks so simplicity could be the key to avoid any suspicion of mal administration and government should be reflective of the people it serves, a poor state in debt over head and heels.

Finally, the main man himself, I think General Musharrf must consider where he went wrong, his advisors made him a deaf and dumb and showed him a true picture of his governance and he lost the pulse of the people. He did not learn even from the build up of dissent on 5th of April in Lahore when obedient subservient Chief Justice was admired as a bold courageous man for saying ‘No’ to the dictator, however he rather than understanding the will of people tried to show muscle on 12th May  like a genuine public leader resulting in many deaths. Hired spectators can never make one a leader similarly a serving General devoid of legitimacy can never be a legitimate elected leader as he never has roots in the masses. He lost his constituency when he shed off his uniform and rest is history. We can divide his rule between pre and post 9th of March 2007 and he is a victim of his own deeds and may be considered an ignition of waking  this slept jinni a nation of 160 million who only wake up when they are to loose everything and they woke up when they saw the country loosing its ground and institutions started crumbling.  In all honesty, he could have been a leader if he had not gone for his own elections first  and had held these elections post 20th July accepting Supreme Court verdict but end of the day he was a man not a saint. Its for him to decide how to manipulate his exit as military has honourably distanced themselves from him and civilian politics. However, whatever happens the game is on and people once again have vetoed against the turn coats.

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