By Vidya Bhushan Rawat, New Age Islam
17 Jan 2013
Pakistan is in a big mess as the protest against the government increases on the streets of Islamabad while the chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court Iftikhar Choudhury has sought arrest of the Prime Minister Raja Ashraf Pervez. It look absolutely unprecedented but then nothing is normal in Pakistan and a chief justice who was considered to be a martyr when General Pervez Musharraf got him dismissed, has again become one of the most powerful individual of Pakistan after its arm forces.
It is an irony that after independence Pakistan could not develop democratic institutions and the country is paying a price for it today. The independent judiciary, free media and non-political army should have been the hallmark of a democratic Pakistan. The country has to change constitution every time a new dictator assumed power. The weak parliamentary institutions were corrupted and the army used these to penetrate into the civilian administration. It is not surprising therefore if today find that the entire operation LOC is a close operation of Pakistan army with Laskkar and Jamat-ud-dawa and other terrorist organisations. It is easier for Pakistan to put an offensive on the LoC as if India retaliate then there is danger of internationalization of the Kashmir issue which new Delhi does not want at any cost. The reason for that is that New Delhi has really not bothered about Kashmiris and its opinion. Except for an Abdullah family, it never really felt strengthening democratic institutions in that state. Being a Muslim majority state, Pakistan feel that it is easier for it to communalize the issue and put India on defensive, however, such adventurous posturing on any side would be extremely dangerous for the South Asian subcontinent.
The Pakistan army plays an important role in ‘running’ the country. The civilian government at the moment took after General Parvez Musharraf resigned and decided to leave Pakistan. Musharraf was the hero of Kargil and the entire operation was an open secret yet completely denied by Pakistan army. They continued that it was a Jehad by the Mujahiddins and not a war by Pakistan army. Such blatant lies only help the army power elite in Pakistan to strengthen its hold in Pakistan. The situation today Is that it is the Pakistan army which is not only guiding and controlling various rogue actors which are destroying Pakistan but also instigating various Mullahs to launch movement against their own government. The Pakistan’s judiciary has come handy for the armed forces at the moment. A strong civilian government would never be acceptable to Pakistan army as they are not habitual of playing second fiddle to anyone.
It is not a coincident that the massive march against ‘corrupt’ government which has lost ‘legitimacy’ to rule was led by Muhammad Tahirul Qadri who has raised various issues of lawlessness and killings of innocents. He also said that except judiciary and military, every other institution in Pakistan has failed. Qadri has been seen speaking in chaste Urdu and English simultaneously and many in Pakistan look towards him a harder version of Anna Hazare. When Qadri was addressing the gathering outside parliament, the Pakistan Supreme Court was ordering arrest of the Prime Minister within 24 hours and as the news spread in, the crowed jumped in joy and celebrated.
A close aid of the prime minister has already suggested that all this has pre-planned army operation as the cleric who led the march yesterday has close ties with the military. According to many experts, the army has now got an opportunity to intervene as the Supreme Court Judgment has opened a way for it. Ofcourse, the ruling party may be consulting again and might decide for a new prime minister as a face saving measure. If democratic institutions in Pakistan were stronger, the government would have gone to Parliament and sought to challenge the supremacy of the democratic institution. How can Supreme Court be bigger than Parliament? Unfortunately, on previous occasion also Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani had to resign after he was ‘removed’ by the order of the Supreme Court and the parliament did not have the courage to question it.
Many of our friends feel happy with such a situation that it is good that Pakistani judiciary is becoming powerful and impartial. It can take on the government and send the leaders to jail. Like India, Pakistan too had only two things to be proud of and that is the best weapon for the rightwing fundamentalists to use as a tool to spread their own vicious agenda. It is ‘we have the best ‘army’ and our judiciary is equally the best. If we see the ranting of the Hindu right wing here and Muslim fanatics in Pakistan, it is clear that they both match in raising jingoism for their own narrow political confines. Pakistan’s chief justice has not been able to take on the military and the government on killings of innocent people particularly Shias in the mosques, in the congregation and in the streets. How is it that so many innocent people are being killed, rogue elements are roaming free and the ‘powerful’ Supreme Court is just silent?
Though polls are due in Pakistan now and political commentators feel that it was right time that Pakistan be replaced with a caretaker government. While the chief of army General Ashfaq Kayani has openly asserted against any military coup, the fact is that the army would try to influence the new administration and it might be a possibility that the new care taker government before the election have the ‘military’ ‘approval’. The way Tahir Qadri was speaking looked as if he was being propagated as new leader of the civilian unrest in Pakistan. General Zia used Islam and Sharia to legitimize his long military dictatorship in Pakistan, it looks Kayani is looking for a similar experiment with a difference.
Pakistan must look forward to strengthen secular democratic form of government and for that international pressure must be exerted to strengthen civil society and political movement in that country. Perhaps, the western world too is not keen to see a stable and strong Pakistan as they would lose their battle in Afghanistan. Today, the different warlords of Afghanistan have made life miserable for common person and if that kind of situation is allowed to happen in Pakistan, the similar tendencies might move to India. It is in the good health of India that a strong civilian government takes shape in Pakistan. At the moment, it looks clear that both ‘Allah’ and ‘army’ are playing their role to deny Pakistan civilian government.
The war mongering from India will only help the military in Pakistan as it suits to their interest very well. It is sad to hear the crap being produced by likes of BJP for a ‘hardline’. There is a new low in the political debate when Sushma Swaraj calls for bringing ten heads from Pakistan. It is shameful that the leader of opposition in India is speaking the language of a Taliban. A war between India and Pakistan is not going to resolve anything. India and Pakistan will gain nothing out of this war. They will only spread hatred among people as well as strengthen the military leaders in both the country. War is a macho game and it only strengthens the male chauvinism which both the countries are victim of. After so much of cry for the ‘brave’ girl we are back to ‘our’ brave ‘sons’. We have seen during the kargil war, how every woman on television was speaking for her ‘brave’ son. War makes women subservient and subjugated and must be stopped at all cost. India and Pakistan cannot alter the boundaries of each other as if they try to do it, the matter would internationalize. As far as Kashmir is concern, India and Pakistan must satisfy with their position and make it a place at least where people from both the sides can travel to each other. Let both the countries give special autonomy to this region and to maintain that it is time that Pakistan’s political establishment has the power to do so. International pressure and Indian political establishment should do everything to strengthen that in Pakistan so that the covert operation of their intelligence and army are stopped. War mongering does not help but Indians also should understand the fragile political situation in Pakistan and how the civilian government is on its way out. An Asif Ali Zardari was a better bet for India then any rogue government supported by army. India must play the elderly role in this and must get international opinion to assert that it would only speak to a duly elected civilian government and not to a military junta in future. In the meantime, we strongly feel that the sanctity of LOC must be maintained and there should be a complete ceasefire so that people on both the sides can live in peace.