The Political Stability of Pakistan
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Since the demise of the Quaid and the murder of Liaquat Ali, our motherland has been experiencing recurring military coups, instable democracy, crippled economy, fragile judiciary and social stagnation due to brain dead politicians, ear jammed bureaucracy, egoistical feudal, religious war lords, profit oriented industrialists power hunger generals, and illiterate masses.
The list of failures surpasses the achievements. Rule of law, an independent judiciary, respect for fundamental rights, free media, merit-based procedures, and questioning masses are some of the essential features of democracy. Unfortunately, these basic rules have openly violate since independence.
Regimes of Conflicts since independence:1947-56 Absence of constitution, rise of regionalism in Bengal, no strong political party, first 9 years and 11 prime ministers, 1955 dissolution of constitution assembly and Black Doctrine of Necessity.
1956-58: First parliamentary constitution, abrogation of constitution and Martial Law.
1958-69: Ayub’s Martial Law, Presidential System and 1962 constitution, making of Muslim League (Conventional) system of basic democracies, media censorship, but also better economic growth.
1970-77: Fascist civilian rule under Bhutto, agreed 73 constitutions, Bhutto tried to oust military from politics but failed, the poor friendly regime but negative effects of nationalization, Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) and movement against Bhutto derailed democracy. Opposition invited Zia to take over.
1977-88: Zia’s martial law and ban on political activities, making of Majlase Shoora (1982), 8th amendments with Powerful President non party based election 1985, making of pressure groups like MQM, Anjuman Sipahe Sahaba. Restricted women participation in politics.
1988-99: The most corrupt regime of Benezir and dictatorial regime of Nawaz Sharif, dissolution of assembly, rising poverty and decreasing people’s interest in politics.
Role of Army:
The Oath now prescribed for the Members of the Armed Forces as given in the Second Schedule (Article 244) of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan is as follows:-
“ I——-, do solemnly swear that I will ear true faith and allegiance to Pakistan and uphold the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan which embodies the will of the people, that I will not engage myself in any political activities whatsoever and I will honestly and faithfully serve Pakistan in the Pakistan Army (or Navy or Air Force) as required by and under the law.” The generals maneuvered the circumstances in their favor and implemented such policies which strengthened their illegal hold. Surprisingly, the dictators got ‘cooperative’ Judges and ‘friendly’ politicians to prolong their rule. The army, for all practical purposes, has been and remains in charge. It has steadily increased its power since the first military coup in 1958. The military has a veto over most critical decisions affecting both foreign and security policies, and during the Zia era, it expanded its reach into some areas of domestic politics as well, fomenting, and then containing, ethnic discord in the Sindh and pandering to religious zealots in social policy. Civilian governments in Pakistan are of transient significance. The military, the higher echelons of the civil service, and the intelligence services are the permanent features of the state. There is little or no evidence that the civilian government has any meaningful autonomy.
Ayub had a political party, the Convention Muslim League, just as Zia enjoys the support of Majlase Shoora and Musharraf has his Quaid-i-Azam MuslimLeague. The system of basic democracy and local government created a new supporting class for the generals. Ironically, geo strategic situations always benfitted the dictators.
GeneralAyub got US assistance due to cold war, General Zia was favoured due to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979), lastly General Mushraf was bestowed due to front line state. So, US backed military rules did not care about people’s will.
The economy grew in Ayub’s time. GDP growth rates were high under Zia and Mushraf. But what is Ayub’s legacy? The fall of Dhaka-after Zia sectarian and Ethnic madness and Mushraf left fragile economy, destruction of state institutions and horror of US Intervention.
General Vs Judges:
On the three occasions since independence when military coups have ended democratic rule in Pakistan the judiciary not only failed to check extra-constitutional regime change, but also endorsed and abetted the consolidation of illegally gained power.” Numerous judges have been removed by force, Justice Ramday lamented. Objectives Resolution (1949) explained, “The independence of judiciary shall be fully secured.” Despite every ensurance in subsequent constitutions, independence of judiciary was mocked at by the all powerful Executive not only in military rule but also in so called democratic regimes.
On 25th Oct. 1954, Governor General Ghulam Mohammad dissolved the first Constituent Assembly, the president of Assembly Molvi Tameezuding challenged the action, and won before the Sindh High Court. On the contrary, the Chief Justice of Federal Court, Justice Munir declared that the Sindh high Court judgment limited the powers of governor General, thus validated the action of dissolution under ‘Doctrine of Nessity.’
On 8th October, 1958, General Ayub imposed Martial Law and ended the 1956 constitution. For the second time, Justice Munir favored Executive supremacy over the Legislative. Only after the fall of Yahya Khan, the court repudiated this doctrine of necessity in Asma Jeelani case.
On July 4th , 1977, General Zia ul Haq ended civilian rule, again the Supreme Court, in the Nusrat Bhutto case, validated the military coup on the bases of necessity. More surprising, the court explained that Zia had the powers to pass all necessary laws, including amendments in the constitution 1973.
on October 12th 1999 General Mushraf, seized power, issued ‘Provisional Constitutional Order No. 1 of 1999’ barring any court making any order against the Chief Executive’s Authority.
In Pakistan, the struggle for an independent judiciary is as long as struggle for democracy. Persecution of Justice Sajjad during Ms Bhutto’s tenure and then his sacking at the behest of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and now the suspension of CJ Iftikhar under General Musharraf. No civilian or military ruler has ever respected the independence of judiciary in Pakistan which, in turn, become an instrument in the hands of every military dictator in the name of the “doctrine of hecessity.”
Role of Opposition:
Opposition parties less worked for democracy and more for getting into power-even with the support of undemocratic forces and illegal actions Unfortunately, political parties always managed to reduce the objectives of political movements downs to one a point agenda—toppling of the civil/military government. Instead of challenging the status quo, the oppositional forces were more interested in the capturing state power to reap the benefits for themselves. Consequently, every political movement that took the sacrifices of many people turns out to e no more than a change of faces at the top level with continuity in social, economic and foreign policies of the country.
In a nutshell, We need to strengthen our political system and institutions, develop a dynamic and sustainable growth, eradicate corruption, provide timely justice, enhance employment, undertake steps for population control, seek consensus based political solutions, and resolve ethnic, sectarian and religious fault lines.