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Just For Democracy

24 June, 2008

By Ashfaq Hussain Shah


“Sometimes tragedy can lead to resurrection of hope and spirit” wrote late Benazir Bhutto in her book Whiter Pakistan: Dictatorship or Democracy? (page 34).

No surrender to the barrel of gun was the message the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto conveyed to his able daughter, Pinky, the late Benazir Bhutto. Theirs was the struggle against the establishment. Both raised voice for the down trodden people of Pakistan called Awam. Both Bhuttos bequeathed on the people awareness to their rights and the accompanied strength to demand the same: roti, kapra, aur makan..

The history of Pakistan is witness to the military coups having been actuated under the pretence of saving the country lest it might fail by the elected governments. At the argument level, that could be acceptable but why was it necessary to do the judicial murder of the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto? Was that heinous act to save Pakistan or to save oneself (the military dictator of that time) from Article 6 of Constitution of 1973 is the question which is yet to be addressed. The born-again democrats, the ex-servicemen belonging to the military, have been repenting of their past deeds but to what avail? Is it to pressurize the incumbent President General (retd) Pervaiz Musharraf, nay is it to save themselves from the onslaught of the suicide bombers who have regularly hunted the military cantonments? Perhaps, the latter is the case. Had there been no coup on 12 October 1999, there would have been no need for such agitations to display the change of minds by the ex-servicemen, there would have been democracy in the country, and the precious life of the late Benazir Bhutto could have been saved.

It was decision of Benazir to abstain from voting for Musharraf in his presidential elections on 6 October 2007. Consequently, Musharraf had to pack off the then bench of Supreme Court. Then, Musharraf got the favourable decision through the newly installed bench of the Court thereby openly flouting the concept of the rule of law. That was how, Musharraf declared himself the constitutional President. Nonetheless, Musharraf is still being haunted by Article 6 of the constitution and Asif Ali Zardari, the late Benazir’s husband, has been declaring Musharraf an unconstitutional president. Benazir had limits of her compromise and the eligibility of the presidential candidature of Musharraf stood away from that. Zardari cannot cross the limits set by the late Bhuttos: the military dictators will never be helped get legalized and indemnified.

The late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto did not submit to those who he rescued after they had surrendered their weapons at the Palton ground, Dhakka. Why did the Bengalis revolt? Zulfiqar never deprived them of their rights – the democratic rights. It was not Zulfiqar who constituted One Unit formula to balance the numerical supremacy of the populace of the then East Pakistan ; it was not Zulfiqar who ordered the military to crush the Bengali dissent by force; and it was not Zulfiqar who incited the Bengalis to pick up weapons against the military. Similarly, in the wake of October 1999, it was not Benazir who forced the slogan of ‘true democracy’ on the country; it was not Benazir who ordered killing of the late Akbar Bugti of Balochistan; and it was not Benazir who provoked the poor people to be the suicide bombers. All that was not due to the Bhuttos; instead, it was due to absence of democracy that plunged the country deep into trouble – both before and after 1971.

Interestingly, the medal of democracy was conferred on a military General, Aslam Baig, for not imposing martial law on the country (after the abrupt departure of General Zia ul Haq), as if it were Aslam’s institutional right to impose martial law. The elected governments thank the military regimes for not toppling them. In fact, the elected governments are fearful of the coups: the coup makers are not afraid of democracy which should hold them accountable for their acts tantamount to high treason.

Those who abetted in passing the 17th Constitutional Amendment thereby indemnifying the October 1999 coup of Musharraf have now been agitating against Musharraf on one platform or the other. What an irony! First strengthen the hands of a military dictator at the cost of an elected government and then turn against the same military dictator to earn the currency of popularity for being pro-democracy. Most of the pro-democracy agitators of today are the product of the clandestine help rendered by the country’s intelligence agencies. In the post-1988 period, funds from the national exchequer were used to deny the PPP an entry into Parliament. Nonetheless, the vote bank of the PPP could not be reduced. Those who tried to diminish the PPP unfairly have either now been disappeared to oblivion or have become born-again democrats like the ex-servicemen (even if because of different reasons).

What makes the Bhuttos distinct is that they carve their own political ways. The Bhuttos prefer dialogue to achieve their goals. After the fall of Dhaka on 16 December 1971, Zulfiqar won battles of arguments with India on the table thereby retrieving the lost areas and recovering the prisoners of war. After the surrender of democracy to the military on 12 October 1999, Benazir won the argument of Musharraf’s doffing his uniform thereby abandoning the military role and providing the level playing fields to all. Surely, had Benazir alive today, the president house would have been adorned with some worker of the PPP as its new dweller.

Like Zulfiqar, who could not disassociate himself from the poor people, Benazir also could not keep herself aloof from the masses. For the down trodden Pakistanis, Benazir was the ray of hope. At the altar of that, Benazir braved death but did not surrender to the threat of assassination. The Bhuttos bestowed hope on those even who had surrendered to the barrels of the enemy’s guns: the Bhuttos themselves never surrendered to the barrels of any gun; instead, they fought for democracy. That is what makes the Bhuttos the proud Pakistanis.

End.

Reader Comments:

JUSTICE (R) QAZI ISMAIL !!!

Justice (R) Qazi Ismail !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lets talk about another justice, a true story of Dictator Zia's Crimes, I read this story in a news paper and was extremely disturbed, Nation would like to know how many other innocent educated people were send to jails or killed because they challenged or did not bow their heads in front of dictators and corrupt politicians, Very unfortunate tale of personal sufferings of someone who was never proved guilty. It must be condemned and his case must be heard, there is no justification of such breach of human rights and imprisonment without due process. AHMED SHAH AFRIDI OF FRONTIER POST was recently released after his crime of not obeying his head to Nawaz sharif's regime. It was indeed inconceivable, unforgivable fascist crime of Zia regime. Government should scrutinize the roll of every jail and probe into this matter and give relief to such citizens of Pakistan in jails so that they may come out and become a part of country 's progress. Its amazing that people who are involved in suicide bambings, killing innocent people can be released but not the ones who are innocent and not criminals. Last but not least Justice Ismail should be re-instated to his post as per his seniority to pay some compensation. This act will help to overhaul the decaying systems of government infrastructure and the same intelligence agencies, which kidnapped him must come forward to help him finding his wife and the only son. People who are talking about restoration of judges should also pay attention to this issue. If Zia and his wife's names are / were involved, there must be inquiries made after all beneficiaries of their legacies are still around rubbing their sense of glory and pomp into our noses everyday, without failing. Ejaz Ul Haq is one who can hardly justify his wealth and hide his high profile religious inclinations and connections. It is the judicial system of pakistan that needs an overhauling for after 22 years a man comes out of jail acquitted from all the allegations that have been put forth on him, what has he got to do with his remaining life. Its also excruciating for the loved ones and in our society still a matter of shame even after having been justly acquitted and not by an NRO which is considered respectable acquittal like to know where were all these champions of 'rule of law' for twenty two long years, why no judge ever mentioned this to the Govts after Zia regime? Was media unaware of this tragic event or was just ignoring it.? I am lost after getting through the unbelievable news. In deed, it was very shocking and alarming that a person having such an high profile not on the national level but on the international level also as he was married to the daughter of foreign head of state.



Mwaqar, United Kingdom - 30 June, 2008

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