Mirza Aslam Beg
THE Supreme Court of Pakistan formed the JIT, comprising officers drawn from government institutions for digging the political dirt related to their elected Prime Minister. And as the investigations started, the opposition political parties, supported by the media, launched an unabashed trial of the Prime Minister to create a situation where a regime change could be possible without holding the general elections, because they don’t want repeat of the mistake of 2008 elections. The Washington Times of 19th March 2008, thus lamented:
“Washington’s Pakistan kibitzers will soon rue the day they decided regime change through the democratic process and squeezed President Pervez Musharraf to restore democracy. “Democracy” is what has now emerged, or an unholy alliance of long-time America haters. This also puts (Gen) Kayani in a quandary. Musharraf has handed over his military powers, along with a Rubik’s Cube.”
The elections are due next year, most probably PML(N) would win the day, which our Godfathers, do not approve. Their aim is to “manipulate regime change” and turn Pakistan into Bangladesh to achieve cultural and social harmony with India, as the pre-requisite for establishing Indian hegemony from Afghanistan to Bangladesh. For this purpose, Afghanistan was declared part of South Asia in 2005, to bring it under the Indian orbit. The conspiracies thus continue unabated, despite the defeat of America and their allies at the hands of Afghan freedom fighters.
The most disturbing sight was the bundles of evidence, collected by the JIT, being carried to the Supreme Court in big boxes, resembling coffins. A painful thought flashed through the mind; “as if the funeral procession of democracy was proceeding to bury its ethos at the altar of political expediency” Our democratic order thus has reached this sorry state of affairs, la courtesy the opposition political parties, which reminds me of Benazir Bhutto’s words “Soon that day will come, when you will remember my father and cry for him and the void created.” No doubt, it is the aberrated form of democracy emerging after the execution of Prime Minister Bhutto in 1979, which now has reached “the tipping-point” — either to hold elections 2018, to let the democratic process continue, or follow the path of fatal crash.
The ugly practice of “dirtying each others’ faces”, by our political parties, has marred the political environment. The results of the recent bi-elections in Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan indicate that the voters rejected both PML(N) and PTI and elected PPP candidates, yet the Peoples Party, not recognizing this change, is riding the opposition band-wagon, which is surprising. As far as PML(N) is concerned it has to re-orientate its attitude and political preferences, for its own sake: The Prime Minister degraded Parliament, by not attending its sessions and preferred to run the government from the house, assisted by the kitchen cabinet. Parliament, the bastion of political authority, thus was rendered unimportant and powerless. The Prime Minister’s exclusive reliance on family members, and his cronies, alienated him from the worthy and competent personalities, who could have served him much better. The personalized way of decision making has proved harmful bringing his government to disrepute. Instead he should have formed a consultative body, designated as National Security Council (NSC) working 365 days of the year, to directly provide him the policy guidelines on all national security matters.
Since 1958, due to several military actions against political dissent in the country, the army is in virtual control of over forty percent territory of Pakistan. This is a slur on the face of democracy. Therefore, an extra effort is needed to establish the authority of the civil administration and the writ of the government in those areas. The JIT has completed its task of collecting evidence. The SC not being a trial court, in their pre-amble to the judgment of 20th April 2017 had explained the follow-up action:
“Once the facts have been uncovered and evidence has been collected, the matters need to be placed before a Court of competent jurisdiction for trial in accordance with the law and in line with the rights guaranteed under Article 10A of the Constitution. It is only after such an exercise has been undertaken that a person found guilty can be convicted and visited with various penalties and punishments provided by the law and the Constitution.” (Page 438 of the Judgment)
A trial Court, thus is going to look into the evidence, and through a ‘lengthy process of rule of law,’ which could extend over several months, to come to some conclusion. And in the intervening period, the elections 2018 could be held, establishing the tradition of a decent political culture. The new enlightened law givers, with a fresh approach to life thus, would help establish healthy democratic trends and traditions, what Pakistan desperately needs. This would be possible if the trial court judgment was implemented with a true sense of purpose.
— The writer, a retired 4-star General, is former COAS, Pakistan Army.