Crippled Democracy

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In his present speech of July 12 2002 Pervez Musharraf made politicians the targets of his criticism. He also listed some shortcomings of the democratic environment before 12 October; he especially talked about corruption, indiscipline and lack of law and order. Democracy is like a person. As a person has good and bad attributes, similarly democracy has its qualities and defects. Alas! Pervez Musharraf tried to ruin the face of history. He listed a lot of defects of democracy but he didn’t talk about even one quality of those 14 years in which Pakistan progressed by leaps and bounds and covered the huge journey of decades in years. Here this point should be kept in mind that these politicians inherited a martial law stricken nation, whose national confidence had been badly shaken. Then the way politicians trained the nation that too is an example in itself. Change comes with silence and continuity, saying this that period was the period of injustice and inequality, is like making fun of history.

Mr. Musharraf! What else could be a better example of indiscipline that Ayub Khan rebels against his own made constitution, Yahya Khan is reluctant to accept the results of the elections that were held under his command, Zia-ul-Haq sent his own made non-party assembly to their homes and you yourself gave the punishment of a single person (Plane Conspiracy Case) to the entire democratic system.

Mr. Musharraf! Which politician can be compared with Mansoor-ul-Haq and Waqar Azeem in respect of corruption?

Mr. Musharraf! Isn’t it true that Pakistan faced worst conditions of law and order not only in the days of Yahya Khan and Zia-ul-Haq, but in yours also?

When will you stop blaming the politicians for all faults and shortcomings? For God sake stop this or else a gentleman will have to think a hundred times before stepping into the politics.

Please review this period of 14 years, you will find many steps taken in respect of construction and reformation that would not have been possible for Zia-ul-Haq or even you. Pakistan no doubt progressed in every field. Nawaz Sharif inherited an undemocratic system but rising from a military government, he implemented democracy during his rule as a Chief Minister and Prime Minister. On the return of Benazir Bhutto to Lahore in the year 1986 no state terrorism was observed. Police was not misused to stop MRDs public meeting of 14 August. These things are praised even by his enemies. And then didn’t he include the opposition in the government in order to promote a model democratic culture? Didn’t he make Benazir Bhutto the chairperson of Foreign Committee? Didn’t he take into confidence all the representative political parties along with the opposition in respect of all the important national and defense matters? Didn’t he set up a suitable environment for consultation? Didn’t he provide a true environment of democratic freedom for all the political parties? MQM, which had been made by Mr. Zia in order to get hold of Sindh, Didn’t MQM change its thought in a positive way after the advent of democracy? Who won them the confidence of nation? After MQM, who included ANP in the national stream? The people who didn’t even want to hear the names of each other, who bound them in unity? Akbar Buggti who swore not to speak Urdu, who made him to work in the interest of the country? In 1991 who resolved the 80 years old problem of water division? At that time didn’t all the provinces have a bilateral consultation? Did the provinces find such confidence in each other at any other occasion? Wasn’t this democratic behavior? Did the nation find such a democratic environment in any military government (including yours)? Isn’t everyone today against each other? Isn’t opposition amongst people growing these days? Mr. Musharraf! Think with a cool mind who are you trying to deceive by listing the baseless defects of that period; the nation or yourself?

Isn’t it true that a democratic leader, who was a production of martial law, gave an up-thrust to the democratic system several times? Especially on the constitutional amendments, which were carried out by his well-wisher Zia-ul-Haq, to make his imposed rule long lasting? Can you find even a single person, even in military governments, who fulfilled his promises? Wasn’t that a democratic leader who fulfilled the nations promise by amending the eighth amendment? Will you be able to forget that time when two opposition parties, both Pakistan Muslim League and Pakistan Peoples Party, were undoing the eight amendment together just for the sake of nourishment of democracy. Don’t you know that horse-trading (that was a gift of Ayub and Zia governments) was given an end in such a democratic way. Was any such amendment ever made in the constitution on which even the opposition showed its acceptance? No, Mr. Musharraf! No! Because such events happen only in democracy. Vote of the public is strong enough to ensure that their elected person doesn’t turn his back on them. He thinks for the nation all the time even if he has to bear bad consequences in return.

Mr. Musharraf! Can you deny the fact that the freedom movement in Kashmir was on its climax when there was a democratic government in Pakistan. Didn’t we start to celebrate 5th February the day of solidarity with Kashmiri in the democratic period? Wasn’t this the miracle of democracy that Kashmir dispute was considered to be one of the main issues of the world? Didn’t Prime Minister Vajpayee come to Lahore to resolve the Kashmir dispute in the democratic period? Wasn’t this the success of the democratic government that at the time Washington Declaration was signed, President Clinton promised to show personal interest in resolving the Kashmir dispute? Wasn’t a way to resolve the Kashmir dispute cleared in democratic period? Isn’t it true that democratic leaders kept the Kashmir dispute on top of the list whenever they met the Indian leadership? A brute Hindu like Vajpayee and a fundamentalist like Gujral couldn’t resist producing flexibility in their views based on obstinacy about Kashmir. Had the Kashmir dispute been worked out like this in any non-democratic government? And you yourself didn’t consider it appropriate to give Kashmir dispute a place in your 7 point agenda.

Were the Jihad Organizations banned in a democratic period? Was the telecommunication system of the mujahideen made ineffective in a democratic period?

Do you remember that police force was used to disperse the rally for solidarity with Kashmiris? Was this done in some democratic government?

Wasn’t it a democratic government who first tested Ghuri and then Shaheen and ultimately carried out 5 nuclear explosions despite the threats from India? Even the undemocratic ruler Zia who ruled for 11 years without anyone to share his powers couldn’t achieve this task, and you are not an exception to this. Martial law government was so upset due to the advancements of India for war, that it ultimately took help of cricket diplomacy to cope with the problem. What have you yourself done? You went for shake hand with Mr. Vajpayee, when there was a need to look in the eyes of Indians, hurting the dignity of the Nation. Alas! You tried to make this nation a nation of cowards.

Wasn’t this the miracle of democracy that keeping aside the tensions due to the Nuclear Explosions a democratic ruler invited the Indian Prime minister to visit Pakistan? Prime Minister Vajpayee came to Pakistan on a bus and under the shade of Minar-e-Pakistan he accepted the independence of Pakistan and also gave his words to solve the Kashmir issue on priority basis. Did we bear an insult in any democratic government, which the present government has made us bear by saying several times, We are ready for negotiations with India any time any place. Mr. Musharraf! Don’t hurt the self-respect of the nation to such an extent.

Will you deny the performance in the materialistic progress in these 14 years so easily? This nation was deceived at the name of bread, cloth, house and implementation of Islamic System. Who pulled them into reality from a dream world? Weren’t different fruitful schemes, like Self-Employment schemes, Yellow-cab scheme, Mera Ghar scheme and many more, the gifts of the democratic government? Weren’t millions of people given employment by starting huge industrial projects? Had construction of roads been carried out before or after that period on such an extensive scale? Were the means of transport from the fields to the markets available before that period? Did any non-democratic government do such an important but risky task of privatization of industries? Wasn’t the confidence of investors regained due to this? Didn’t the democratic governments, especially of Nawaz Sharif, implement preventive measures against corruption and bribery (that were gifts of Ayub Khan). Was there enough courage in any non-democratic government to present the Annual Audit Report of Defense in the parliament? I admit that this couldn’t even be done in the democratic period, but didn’t the person that had been elected by public votes showed the courage to ask the military to present its annual Audit Report. Didn’t he then face its consequences?

Were the traders tortured in any democratic period for not paying taxes? Mr. Musharraf! Don’t forget that the psychology of the Nation can be understood by the person who himself is a responsible person of the nation and whom the public has given the responsibility to do whatever he can do for the country and the nation. As making progress is a slow process similarly gaining the confidence of the nation is also a process that takes place slowly. Was the confidence of the traders not regained in the democratic period? Didn’t they start paying taxes on their own? Didn’t at that time the government, contradictory to you, reject pressure from IMF and World Bank in respect to taxes? Didn’t the green channel help in regaining the confidence of the common person? Didn’t this stop the illegal earnings of the custom authorities? Wasn’t a hundred years old tradition of toll tax given an end? Do you call this indiscipline?

Wasn’t that a democratic period (1991-93) when a total of 195 new companies were registered in the stock market? Comparatively, in your undemocratic government, only 5 new companies were registered in the stock market during the last three years. Wasn’t it the progress of the democratic governments, who got success in regaining the confidence of the foreign investors?

Wasn’t it a democratic ruler, who started the development projects in Baluchistan, the previously neglected province?

Did the democratic government increase the prices of the necessary goods at the rate you have increased them? Was 15% sales tax on ghee and medicines implemented in democratic periods? Were the prices of diesel and petrol raised to such an extent in any democratic government? You have even taken away the right of living from the poor by increasing the prices of medicines. Do you remember that when was the Kidney Hospital and Shaukat Khanum Hospital etc. established? Were the poor not given free treatment there? Have you forgotten when was the jihad against polio started?

Did you forget the progress made in the field of telecommunication in those 14 years? The number of telephone connections increased from 0.25 million to 2.2 million in a period of just two years. And then up till 1999 this number increased to 5.1 million. Didn’t the democratic governments introduce mobile phones, fax, Internet etc. in Pakistan?

Did you forget that how much accountability was carried out in democratic period? About 250 cases were reported against a politician, but in the end he was not found guilty. Also he didn’t spare anyone from being accounted in his period (even he made those persons accountable who were his followers, so that no one smells favoritism). Mr. Musharraf! You also failed to prove any corruption case against the democratic rulers. Your accountability will be thought of as revenge till the Day of Judgment.

Why do you forget this that the nation, who was given the gift of Kalashnikov by your ancestor Zia-ul-Haq, was made a different nation by the courageous policies and preventive measures of the democratic governments? The democratic government replaced the Kalashnikovs in the hands of the youth by books and gave them yellow-cabs, loans and chances of employment.

How easily you blame these leaders to be Indian cherishers. Did you forget that what happened to the traitors during their rule? Wasn’t Junoon group banned from television in democratic period and then you in your non-democratic government embraced them. Wasn’t Najam Shethi sent to jail for being an Indian Favorite and calling Pakistan an unsuccessful state? Today have you given these elements unnecessary independence in the name of Freedom of Journalis? Didn’t you prefer Ajmal Khattak (who calls Pakistan an unsuccessful state and talks against Muhammad Ali Jinnah) to other more patriotic politicians in the hour of need? Wasn’t that a Fauji Sugar Mill that sold sugar to India and then a democratic ruler was blamed for this? Knowing all this, still how easily you brand them as dishonest.

Recently you have arrived from Bangladesh. What have you done for those 0.5 million Pakistanis who are bearing punishment over there for just being Pakistani. Wasn’t that a democratic ruler who in 1991-1992 settled approximately 5 thousand Beharis and laid the foundation for this noble deed? Why can’t you do so? Perhaps because you have changed the clamor of democratic governments Sub Say Pehlay Islam to Sub Say Pehlay Pakistan. You have made this nation as senseless as never done by any undemocratic government before.

Weren’t those democratic governments who arranged their policies regarding Kashmir, Bosnia, Palestine, Afghanistan and Kuwait in accordance with the desires of the public? In the Iraq-Kuwait war you democratic people raised the banner of rebellion against the then elected government and tried to revoke people by making their views, grace of the newspapers obstinately. Then wasn’t it a democratic government who views were appreciated across the world and afterwards they were the winners. You didn’t even have the courage to send Pakistan Army to Kuwait on the other hand a democratic ruler made the image of Pakistan Army and Pakistan itself brighter by sending forces to Bosnia. And wasn’t that a democratic ruler who makes a promise to fight against Taliban due to certain known and unknown reasons but never makes any advancement in this respect for 18 months and on the other hand you were not able to bear American pressure even just for 24 hours.

Mr. Musharraf! Only democratic people can handle foreign affairs and they no doubt fulfilled their duties in this respect. For God sake take pity on this country republic.

Will you also call this failure of the democracy that a democratic ruler risked his rule, only to save Pakistan from a nuclear war? Didn’t he also preserve the honor of Pakistan Army? Isn’t today the honor of Pakistan Army a question mark?

Had the nuclear scientists been humiliated in democratic periods? Wasn’t Dr. Abdul Qadeer isolated from Kahuta Plant in an undemocratic period? Wasn’t Sultan Bashir-ud-din imprisoned against the law in an undemocratic period?

These are not the only achievements of the crippled democracy. There are many more to be discussed, but to avoid lengthy discussion, I finish my argumentation here.

Mr. Musharraf! A historian can neglect the facts but history does remember the truth. You can not eliminate the chapters of progress and developments made in the democratic eras from the pages of history.

Mr. Musharraf! Please have pity on this nation. This nation is the guardian of this country, the country that was formed through a complete democratic procedure. Please don’t make it mentally retard. What do you think? Is Army sufficient for defense of the country? Did you forget the year 1971 when there was a clear difference in the interests of the nation and army? The result is before your eyes. Please don’t push us again towards 1971. This nation is your nation, and this country is your country. Please don’t destroy them. This army belongs to this nation, so do the politicians and civilians too are a part of this nation. This nation is as much patriotic as much you think yourself to be patriotic or perhaps even more than you because this nation has bore all the hardships for this country.

All these requests of mine don’t mean that the democratic periods practiced true democracy. Everyone makes hay when the sun shines. Make everyone accountable. But don’t do this by yourself, don’t give an impression of revenge. Let them come to the nation. They themselves will find how worthy they are. The nation will make them accountable. Let the democratic process come into play, in this way the confidence of the voters shall be regained. People themselves will make the democracy work. There would be definitely some difficulties in the start but a period of 12 years is not a big period in the life of a nation. You think that there is a lot of garbage in politics. This garbage will be cleaned itself. The nation will clean it. Please trust in this nation for at least once.