Sultan M Hali
JOURNALISM is a serious matter. Reporters, correspondents, stringers, analysts and opinion builders must express their opinion with responsibility, irrespective of the medium they use. Pakistan has a brief history of slightly over seven decades, which is not a long term in the epoch of nations. During this turbulent period, post-natal pangs have shaken the country on numerous occasions. Political upheavals have resulted in Army’s takeovers, which enabled military dictators to prolong their stay in the name of purging the nation of corruption and ultimately using willing politicians as crutches to elongate their rule.
While tremendous good may have resulted during the initial period of military rules, in the later stages of their ruler-ship, the same dictators have tolerated corrupt politicians to hold sway only because they promised to prop up the waning authority of the autocrat. For the last decade, civilian rule has been established; two governments have completed their full terms, which is an accomplishment. Equally substantially, media freedom has been achieved, which has given rise to the mushroom growth of pseudo-intellectuals, who have considered it prudent to target each institution of Pakistan, including the Army.
The defenders of Pakistan are no angels, but it is a fact that in this tempestuous era, when the region is embroiled in a war against terror and the miscreants have wreaked havoc claiming more than seventy thousand precious lives, it is the armed forces who have stood like a rock against the heinous attacks of the terror mongers. Without a murmur or demur, the armed forces have sacrificed their lives to protect Pakistan. There is not a single household, which has sacrificed a father, a son or brother in the defence of the motherland. Under the circumstances, the pseudo-intellectuals have found it opportune to fire broadsides at the Army, accusing it of corruption, usurping power and meddling in the affairs of the State. One such opinion builder, in his latest opinion piece titled ‘History of Rulers and Prevalent Corruption’, published in weekly “Friday Especial” (4 to 10 Jan 2018), has taken the liberty of denigrating the defenders of Pakistan. While a few in this country sing praises for military dictators, nary a soul can deny the blood, sweat and grit spent by the men and women in Khaki, Whites or Blues.
The pseudo-intellectual in discussion, states that “the Constitution of any country describes its ideals and priorities; however, Pakistan had faced serious constitutional crisis from the very beginning. The Constitutions of 1956 and 1962 were abrogated by the military dictators. Pakistan was created because of sacrifices rendered by the civil population; however, the Generals have become its lords. General Ayub was in direct contact with the US officials before imposing martial law in 1958. Similarly, General Yahya was responsible for dismantling the country in 1971 crisis.” The writer fails to take cognizance of the prevalent turmoil because of the civilian political leaders. Prior to the 1958 Martial Law, civilians had created such a chaos and turmoil that the country was at the brink of disaster. Military Rule was not the answer, but no judicial or constitutional solution was visible.
In the 1960s, Ayub Khan had arrested the East Pakistani leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman under the Agartala Conspiracy case. Sheikh Mujib had conspired with India to dismember Pakistan. The intelligence agencies of Pakistan had ample evidence of the Sheikh’s complicity in treason and he would have been sent to the gallows, but the civilian political leaders forced Ayub Khan to drop the charges against Sheikh Mujib and release him. History will stand witness how Sheikh Mujib went on to fulfill his heinous agenda of severing Pakistan’s Eastern Wing and creating Bangladesh with the active support of India. Today his daughter rules Bangladesh and spares no opportunity to target Pakistan at the behest of India. Prior to that, it is the civilian leaders who refused to accept the results of the 1970 polls, in which Sheikh Mujib’s political party, the Awami League, won a majority. Some ambitious and power hungry civilian political leaders of West Pakistan wanted to govern Pakistan thus they forced the hand of then military dictator General Yahya Khan to not invite Sheikh Mujib to form the government. Perhaps history would have been different if the Awami League had been asked to form govt of Pakistan rather than opt for separation and creating Bangladesh. A lot of bloodshed would have been avoided and Pakistan’s sovereignty would have remained intact.
The “erudite” opinion builder, in his above-named article opines that leaders are produced in every country through a process of evolution. That is true, but he laments that in Pakistan, leaders are created in test tubes by the Establishment. Important examples include Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, Muhammad Khan Junejo, Altaf Hussain and Imran Khan. He also opines that every dictator created a new political party. As expressed earlier, the totalitarian regimes require civilian political partnership to provide credence to their rule and hunt for malleable and ductile politicians. He fails to mention that the latter succumbed to temptation of power and become willing hand-maidens of the military. The author believes that the accountability court should not target the Sharifs and the Zardaris only, rather the Generals, Judges, Journalists and leaders of every political party should also be held accountable. Perhaps he is unaware that the military accountability system, which is more stringent is already active in taking punitive action against corrupt military personnel. The columnist should avoid passing selective judgment.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.