Political Maneuverings in Governance
26 December, 2007
By Dr. Tanvir Hussain Bhatti
The well-fixed big-timers have done several experiments in Pakistan with its manipulative system of governance. The office of the Governor General was replaced by that of the President after the implementation of the First Constitution of 1956.Muhammad Ali Bogra coined One Unit scheme to bring parity between the two wings that was put into operation in letter and spirit after the enactment of the first constitution. President Major General Iskandar Mirza imposed Martial Law as a quick fix in the country in 1958 after abrogating the first constitution that smashed-up and basket cased democracy and resulted in elbow greasing of white hats in the corridors of power. Field Marshal Ayub Khan after assuming the office of CMA introduced Basic Democracy and Presidential form of the government through introducing Constitution of 1962 according to which all powers were concentrated in the hands of the President. In 1969 due to the PPP vehement protests he transferred powers unconstitutionally to General Yahya Khan who once again imposed Martial Law after scrapping the Constitution of 1962.Transparent elections of 1970 could not suit Pakistan’s disputatious atmosphere and led to the country’s dismemberment. Disparagingly, these free and fair elections were held under the tutelage of a copper-hearted man in khaki having his own dagger to sharpen.
Parliamentary democracy reinstated when enterprising and passionate Z.A.Bhutto came to power in the lopped Pakistan. He became the first civil Chief Martial Law Administrator after General Yahya Khan quitted. After lifting Martial Law he became the President and ultimately assume the office of the Prime Minister after the approval of the constitution of 1973 .He was desirous of introducing presidential system by amending the statute with two-third majority; therefore, under the aegis of PPP the pliant state machinery rigged the elections of 1977 to get two-third seats in the National Assembly to modify the required provisions of the statute. Bhutto had deep roots in the public and on his single call millions of the eager beaver penurious, whom he gave voice for their rights, were ready to follow the words of the Quaid-i-Awam as gospel truth. By introducing presidential system he wanted to rely directly on the public rather than on the skinflint winning lobsters and gasbag log-rollers that were part and parcel of the parliamentary system to form the government. However, he was ousted and executed before his dreams could be materialized. He suffered because he has courage to have eyeball to eyeball contact with the western alligators who conspired to get rid of him. Henry Kissinger once said that they would make Bhutto an example for the rest of the world and ultimately they committed their pre-announced crime. It is tragic that power lust stickybeak headliners blindly follow American dictations to gain authority that has wrecked and folded-up the political fabric of the country.
By imposing Martial Law General Ziaul Haq drove out Z.A.Bhutto from the vestibule of power and banned the political parties and their activities under the guise of Islamization. After lifting seven years Martial Law he installed hand-picked Parliamentary form of the government whose legislators were elected on non-party basis. The ulterior motive of this engineered democracy was to legitimize the military government to save its face in the comity of the nations. The despotic kibitzer President was all powerful from which all authorities gyrated. He ruled like a true totalitarian ruler by concentrating all powers in his hand. When Junejo regime assumed an attitude of defiance the behooving President sacked his government and threw the baby out with the bath water by using his discretionary powers under the article 58(2) b of the constitution that is still dangling over each civilian government like a sharp instrument of destruction that can knife any democratically elected government.
Both former Premiers Benzir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif twice changed the driving seat between 1988 and 1999 but they were not permitted to complete their tenures due to unending conspiracies by the vested interest against the public representative regimes. During their terms both of the leaders used constitutional and unconstitutional means to clip the wings of the personalities threatening their rule. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif brushed the article 58(2)b through Thirteenth Amendment during his second term in office as the head of the government. After compelling President Farooq Ahmed Khan Lughari to resign,President Rafiq Tarar was installed in his place whose role was restricted to attend ceremonial meetings. But this set-up could not long last that resulted in wimp out of the democratic process. The overambitious military junta and follies of the bungling politicians conked-out the course of democratic development. Thus the splurging flesh-pressers succumbed due to their own unbridled excesses. Flash roll and embezzlement of the public funds skyrocketed during these civilian governments. The successive regime installed after ousting PM Nawaz Sharif spare no effort in grafting and malversation to make megabucks.
After the military coup or counter coup of October 9, 1999 General Pervaiz Musharraf created a new office of the Chief Executive for himself. For a long period he held headship of the four public offices. Nine Eleven proved a blessing in disguise for him because he was impatiently seeking legitimacy of his government in the eyes of the international community. Pakistan became the fresh-spruced darling of Uncle Sam because it again came to the region to safeguard its vested interests and to extend its hegemonic designs under the guise of war against terrorism. Baggage-smasher and tough customer Richard Armitage threatened Pakistan to smash it into smithereens and bury the debris under piles of dust, converting it into Stone Age rubble. Boorish and grunge American President warned, “Either you are with us or against us.” Our leaders bent over so backward to fulfill American ambitions that their cranium was touching the land. Pakistan was left with no other option but to support the unjust American war against Afghanistan. Billions of dollars were funneled to Pakistan but on the heart of each dollar was a mind-boggling message “Do More”.After shunting out President Rafiq Tarar General Pervaiz Musharraf maintained the dual office even after the Presidential referendum of April 30,2002 because Washington that always grassed up Pakistan provided full backing to his twin posts. He hired the services of the clergy to bring Seventeenth Amendment that was a package of compromises that eroded statutory spirit by skinning its soul. According to this amendment that mutilated the constitution the behooving President announced to doff his uniform before December 2004 but in due course he backed out of his words.
Our politicians follow dictations of Uncle Sam that plays the role of intermediary in striking political deals. The chief aim of political bargain is always mutual backscratching rather than establishment of the public rule. It is ironic that politicians negotiate for power by throwing their own parties’ manifestoes to the backburner. They always use the name of the public that is otherwise totally inconceivable even in their state of vibrant wakefulness. They never slide out of the slammer of their egocentric obsessions. The government has recently introduced NRO to withdraw the cases of corruption against the politician framed during 1986 to 1999 but actually it is a part of the deal between the PPP and the regime at the wheel that may be finalized. The PPP is also stressing to wipe out the Devolution Plan but the ruling regime is adamant to continue this political process. All this trialing is for gain of power and cleave to it after usurpation. All military and civilian governments rule in an authoritarian way instead of following democratic norms and practices. Therefore, politics in our country revolves around political giants rather than institutions.
Even after the lapse of more than six decades we have failed to understand what form of democracy suits the country. If Presidential system is successfully working in America, France, etc., then the Parliamentary form of government is harmoniously functioning in UK, India and several other countries of the world. It means there is no fault with the method of the governance. There is fault with the governing persons whose excesses have hobbled national economy and brought the country to the brink of disaster. Ironically, the vested interests are not permitting any structure of government that can fruitfully work. Several experiments have been done with the political system of Pakistan. It can afford no more operations. The brains of the country should join heads to work arduously to give viable scheme that suits its ambiance so that the business of the country can be performed in a thriving manner. Pakistan is passing through a miserable phase of institutional decay. Good governance will only take firm roots when institutions will be fortified. The state offshoots can be reinforced through a practicable system of running the affairs of the country established with popular backing. This is possible when true democracy established through ballot rather than rigging is permitted to work. A popular regime can act as a steppingstone to provide sound basis for the feasible constitutional and political system.