Best Independence Day homage

Courtesy:- Wajid Shamsul Hasan

On the 65th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence best homage to the Muslims of the subcontinent who sacrificed all they had for the creation of a separate homeland under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah would be to sincerely rededicate ourselves as a nation to the ideals of the founding fathers.

Pakistan was established as a nation-state with democracy as its polity in which people of Pakistan were to be the sole arbiters of power to be exercised through an elected sovereign parliament. All other institutions were to be subservient to the dictates of Parliament. None could over-ride the general will of the people as manifested in the sovereignty of the Parliament. 

Today Pakistan stands at crossroads of history once again after having established an electoral democracy and supremacy of the Parliament. It is a defining moment in its chequered history. The sovereignty of the Parliament is being challenged by forces that have been in cahoots in the past in derailing democracy whenever they found it taking firmer roots.

Any independent student of Pakistan’s history would bear witness to the fact that what is happening in the country is much more of the same that it has suffered since its inception— an unending conspiracy not to allow Pakistan to become a progressive liberal democracy ensuring empowerment of the masses as sole arbiter of power expressed through an elected sovereign Parliament not subservient to any other state institution.

Our history has been a catalogue of intrigues, conspiracies and extra-constitutional interventions sanctified by the judiciary to convert Pakistan into a security state rather than allow it to get established as a social welfare nation-state.

Pakistan was pushed into a roller-coaster existence by the dismissal of the Mother Parliament by dementia-afflicted Governor General Ghulam Mohammad upheld as legal by the then Chief Justice of Pakistan late Justice Munir when Sindh High Court had declared it illegal and unconstitutional. Same was repeated by Chief Justice Munir when he sanctified first Martial Law of General Ayub Khan.

Successive dictators were supported by the Supreme Court for their acts of treason in subversion of the Constitution. The overthrow of the elected government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto by General Ziaul Haq in July 1977 was once again endorsed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan with Justice Anwarul Haq as Chief Justice.

While democracy was in the blood of our people, the Praetorian conspirators receded some what following the awakening of the masses to fight for their democratic rights. As such a new approach was adopted for elimination of popular leaders through judicial support. Its first victim was ZAB who was judicially murdered through a Supreme Court conviction on the basis of 4-3 judgement—four judges from Punjab upholding the conviction while three from the smaller provinces rejecting it.

The abuse of judiciary continued ever after. The most popular leader spearheading the movement for the restoration of democracy—Benazir Bhutto and her husband—were embroiled in fabricated cases of corruption and twice PPP government was dismissed through judicial-establishment staged coups against Bhutto.

Strangely for the first time the Supreme Court—in the absence of substantive evidence— accepted as admissible plethora of allegations unleashed by the media at the behest of its invisible wire-pullers and upheld her unconstitutional dismissal by the then President. As a consequence of this orchestrated campaigning against her, rigorous persecution and long incarceration of her husband on unproven charges—she had to spend long years in exile including the long dictatorship of General Musharraf once again sanctified and supported by the apex judiciary.

Only civilian exception was former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif who was declared guilty for hijacking and given life imprisonment by the court. He was pardoned by President General Musharraf on foreign intervention and released on ten-year agreement that he would not return to Pakistan. The Supreme Court remained a silent witness to it and did not question General Musharraf’s action. His Presidential power to pardon a convicted person was recognised by the Supreme Court on the age-old concept of “King can do no wrong”.

Despite odds and threats to her life by the dictator, Benazir Bhutto returned to lead the democratic movement. She made a historical return home welcomed by millions of people only to be assassinated by the perpetrators of dictatorship.

Benazir’s assassination set the entire country on fire. It was saved from sure disintegration by President Zardari when he defused the violent masses by telling them that Benazir Bhutto had laid down her life for saving Pakistan and not destroying it.

It was in most challenging circumstances that President Zardari was elected and entrusted with the responsibility of saving Pakistan. He brought the emotionally charged nation back onto a course that was to culminate in the achievement of the cherished destiny of democracy as envisioned by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.

President Zardari translated into action the essence of the Charter of Democracy by adopting a policy of national reconciliation and sharing power with all the stakeholders so that there was no room for discontent that provided opportunities for extra-constitutional forces to intervene. This was Bhutto legacy which had spelled that Pakistan could only survive as a democracy ensuring just resolution of the thorny issue of provincial autonomy that had been responsible for the division of the subcontinent in 1947 and break up of Pakistan in 1971.

Ever since return of democracy, anti-people forces got into action to derail it. It had a unanimously elected prime minister who had survived a rollercoaster existence with parliament reposing confidence in him on several occasions, including the passage of five budgets as well as standing by him through thick and thin only made to exit what was described by the Wall Street Journal as a “judicial coup”. The President, his party PPP and his coalition partners —in order to sustain democracy under threat—accepted the decision of the apex court.

In UK and abroad there has been mixed reaction to all that has been happening since. Some leading lawyers and experts have described it as an ominous development not good for the country. The Wall Street Journal called disqualification of Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani “unnatural death of another civilian government. While less dramatic than the military variety, this judicial coup…perpetuates the cycle of unelected institutions “rescuing” Pakistanis from their own chosen leaders.”

The Wall Street Journal’s conclusion should serve as food for thought for the democratic forces to act above self interests. It says: “Having stepped in to overthrow so many civilian Presidents, the judiciary and military view coups as their prerogative and even duty. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that this time democratically elected leaders managed to stay in power for an impressive four years…” with “coup-makers felt constrained by public revulsion at a return to military rule.”

All through since 2008 all machinations to derail the electoral system were countered effectively by democratic forces who have made it clear that they would not be a party to any extra-constitutional intervention nor would they accept a judicial coup. After all Pakistan had suffered an irreparable loss by the judicial murder of a prime minister and Praetorian coups in the past. They were opposed tooth and nail to repetition of the previous mistakes to avoid being condemned by history.

At this defining moment the existing Parliament—having to its credit 18th, 19th and 20th amendments—should not allow to go in vain untold sacrifices in blood in thousands at the hands of dictatorial forces. It must pass yet another amendment prohibiting criticising democracy as a failed system much in the manner constitution protects the armed forces and judiciary.

The nation has had enough of extra-constitutional interventions initiated by the Praetorian, civilian and judicial bureaucratic troika that had constantly played foul with the Quaid’s vision of a democratic and egalitarian Pakistan. The best tribute to martyrs of freedom movement would be for all the democratic forces to unite and oppose all ongoing conspiracies to derail democracy, challenging the supremacy and sovereignty of parliament.


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