Between the devil and the deep sea | By Zaheer Bhatti


Between the devil and the deep sea

PAKISTAN, caught between the devil and the deep sea, has been groping and not allowed to find its feet with a system of governance most suited to its complexion of a Muslim polity, owing to both internal turmoil and external factors; internally in disarray due to the premature departure of the Quaed who was the guiding force and inspiration, externally by India not reconciling with its creation and up to something from the word go, and the US wrongly chosen as its bedfellow which has never been sincere.

The choice of an Ameer with an impeccable character and determination like the Quad ought to have been made by the people to head a Shurain order to run the affairs of the Government; least of all a Colonial Parliamentary System which is not just far removed from Islam, but is being followed only in words.

In a truly parliamentary set-up, the high offices of the President, Chairman Senate and Speaker of the National Assembly before their election are constitutionally required to resign from their respective political parties before assuming office in order to become neutral.

But it is quite the opposite in Pakistan, as they resign only as a formality but never abandon their allegiance which is evident from their conduct of blatantly siding with their respective parties, without any qualms of conscience.

Evidence of this was amply furnished by the President of Pakistan in his day-to-day statements and during his annual addresses to the joint session of Parliament invariably eulogizing the Government without much justification.

The Speaker publicly declares that nothing could stop his Party from attaining the required numbers in a vote of confidence, whereas Chairman Senate time and again manoeuvres passage of Treasury bills when the Opposition which is in majority, is not present in numbers.

This is the case not just with the present incumbents in office but has been a traditional trait, with just two exceptions which acted according to their oath and paid the price.

One was the principled Fakhar Imam as Speaker of the National Assembly later termed as the Shura during Gen Ziaul Haq’s regime who refused to be his Master’s voice and was removed, while the other being President Farooq Leghari a PPP stalwart who assumed office after relinquishing his Party affiliation, but was branded as a traitor of the Party as he in his wisdom sent home Prime Minister Benazir for mal-administration courtesy her spouse and himself resigned when Nawaz Sharif came to power and curtailed his powers.

One cannot help mentioning a person who served as Law Minister, Chief Minister of Punjab, Speaker of the National Assembly and Caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan, and maintained his neutrality as Speaker of the National Assembly was Malik Meraj Khalid; originally a Peoples Party stalwart with a Marxist outlook who was widely respected both by the Treasury Benches and the Opposition due to his balanced approach in the various offices he held.

In the current political situation, one can fault Prime Minister Imran Khan for several things in his wish list he has not been able to accomplish besides the commitments he made to his fellow countrymen and women; being unable to fathom and anticipate the extent of malaise and degeneration which had crept into the body of whole of the country, as he set about trying to translate his dream after taking charge.

One can also fault him for his unbending nature resulting in failure to muster the necessary political support in the House in order to carry out direly needed legislation to strengthen national institutions including Parliament; having to rely heavily upon Presidential Orders which are no substitute for endorsement by Parliament in a parliamentary form of government.

The Prime Minister is also criticized for invariably not measuring his words before speaking on various domestic issues; often having to retract, and principally being unable to control prices direly impacting the common man.

Nonetheless, he cannot be accused of being dishonest as his intentions have always been sincere.

He deserves credit for forthright statements about matters relating to international issues, which after the Quaid-i-Azam no one else except Zulfikar Ali Bhutto has had the courage to make; his probing of world conscience over Kashmir and lambasting the West for its obsession with the followers of the Islamic faith which has come to be termed as Islamophobia, and lately his dissection of the global attitude towards Afghanistan whose infrastructure and economy have been reduced to ruins by the Russian and then the NATO assault.

“The US war on terror has bred more terrorism”, is what Imran Khan unambiguously exclaimed while talking to Ahmad Zakaria over the CNN, which capsules the outcome of the unpardonable misadventure by the West in Afghanistan.

Early this week while talking to Oksana Boyko of Russian TV ahead of his visit to Moscow, he made it unambiguously clear that Pakistan would not be part of any Bloc henceforth; having immensely suffered by aligning with the US in the past and serving its interests.

He pointed to schematic US sanctions on Companies involved in the Russian-Pakistan Gas Pipeline, as it did to stall the Iran-Pakistan Gas conduit, impairing direly needed energy for Pakistan’s industrial needs.

During his historic visit to Russia Imran Khan desired effective trade and business relations with all nations of the world but particularly with Moscow as he engaged in an extended three and a half hour long fruitful discourse with President Putin covering a whole range of issues including Afghanistan and the regional situation, as he stoically impleaded dialogue to be the way out instead of military means, referring to the Russia-Ukraine standoff.

The Opposition and part of the Press in Pakistan as usual, engaged in criticism of the PM for what it termed as an untimely visit in the middle of the Ukraine crisis, rather than back their Premier galvanizing relations with one of the major global powers.

The US Administration on the other hand which has always kept Pakistan barely afloat and dependent, has been guilty of its deliberate assault on Afghanistan, as none of the alleged hijackers of US aircrafts striking Twin Towers in Manhatten, nor any among the released list of hijackers were Afghans or from Pakistan, but it is these two countries; both strategically located, which were made to bear the brunt.

Whereas it ought to have tendered an unqualified apology for its mass massacre of Afghans and vainly trying to subvert their social order for 20 years to replace it with its alien ideology, the US instead displayed its moral degeneration after suffering humiliation of withdrawal by first freezing the Afghan national reserves and then releasing barely half of them under international pressure but retained the rest for the ridiculous reason to compensate the 9/11 victims for which no Afghan was responsible.

The US which has held the UN hostage for the last several decades, has yet again used its indiscretion by freezing Trillions of Dollars in Russian Banks in the US in retaliation of the Russian action; making the UN look redundant again.

This besides hypocrisy is sheer banditry to say the least, to which there has to be an end.

—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.


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