18 May 2024 09:09 AM


Humayun Gauhar | 8 FEBRUARY, 2016

Wanted, A Democratic System in Pakistan

Jinnah and Gandhi: little in common

“In any case, Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic State to be ruled by priests with a divine mission” – Jinnah

“Let me first say,” I told my wife who I could see was spoiling for an argument, “that Nasser Jaffar has set a great tradition by resigning as Chairman PIA after three employees of the airline were shot dead by God knows who while protesting against its privatization. Nasser is an honourable man who, perhaps in a moment of madness, agreed to join a gang of dishonourable men. By resigning he has redeemed his honour. Stay away from bad governments that are products of a bad system my friend, because the leaders of such governments have to invariably be bad too.”

“Yes,” said my wife. “He has. Nasser is a good man and one of our few civilized people around, a gentleman in the true sense. Be that as it may,” she said in high dudgeon, “I can’t understand you. You don’t like the parliamentary system yet you don’t want the army to intervene either. Then what the hell is it that you want?”

“Yes,” added Maverick the Monkey, Commander-in-Chief of the E-7 Monkey Brigade who had also joined the conversation on our terrace. “You want change but you also say that the system should be allowed to continue and self-correct. Self-correct by the time we are all dead? Yes, what do you want?”

“I want a democratic system that works and delivers to the people,” I said trying to stop myself from getting hot under the collar and exploding. I’m fed up of saying the same thing to deaf ears. “Maverick my good man, not by the time we are dead but Pakistan is dead. Sure I wanted evolutionary self-correction, but when it seems that self-destruction, not self-correction is in the genes of the system, then I wonder. Is there the danger that the while self-destructing the system could take Pakistan with it? The process has already gone a long way in that direction. So I’m thinking feverishly. If I were convinced that the army could bring change for the better on a long-term basis and not for the usual few years, I would be all for it.

Four times has the army got the chance to act as redeemer and deliverer. Four times it failed abysmally. It showed us mirages of prosperity like flashes in the pan and then returned us behind square one back into the hands of our old political fiends along with their equally fiendish progeny, stooges and jesters whom it had promised to rid us of. Meantime, the generals continued to create more bonsai politicians to become future fiends but they lose control of them. They should do neither: create bonsai politician-fiends or try to control them. We forget that generals belong to the same ruling class as the rest of us so their spontaneity is the same. In the second of those four military spasms the army presided over the disintegration of Pakistan. Blame Bhutto and Mujib as much as you like, but the buck stops with the ruler. That was one “fat and flabby” general called Yahya Khan who was himself a buck in rut.

“To be fair you cannot expect generals to have the capacity to totally reinvent the system,” I continued, warming to the subject. “But then, nor should the generals think that they can. Since thankfully I am not hostage to western political, judicial, bureaucratic and social constructs, so the problem still remains: what sort of system should we have that arises from the native, is truly democratic and delivers?

“For direction,” I suggested, “why don’t we listen to what our founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah said. Speaking to the military he said: ‘Do not forget that the armed forces are the servants of the people. You do not make national policy: it is we, the civilians, who decide these issues and it is your duty to carry out these tasks with which you are entrusted’.

“Note that Mr. Jinnah said ‘civilians’, not ‘politicians’. Good thought though, but the great man could never have imagined that our small feudal-tribal minds with bad intent caused by continuing mental colonization would adopt the colonizer’s system that would regularly hand policy-making over to rapacious and stupid civilians who would hardly ever be proper representatives of the people, who stand for their hopes, aspirations and frustrations. The problem is the system for these civilians are ‘elected’ under its bad fashion after the army gives them birth. Such civilians are more interested in megalomania for self-aggrandizement. It is they who secretly go through GHQ’s Gate Number 3 to beg the generals to mount a coup – so long as the generals don’t forget them. It is civilians who have always created conditions conducive for military intervention. Is that why the army creates them, to periodically pave the way for them to intervene?

“As the people’s situation worsened a bigger problem arose: nationhood and national integration. Today those who don’t have genuine stakes left in the country are more than those who do. It is every province for itself as the last general election results betray, with Punjab the favourite whipping boy to the point that the Punjabis are getting dangerously fed up. The question that no one dared to utter in the past, ‘What has Pakistan given us?’ is now escaping from the lips of most ordinary citizens, the ‘common man’ as they are called, not the miniscule filthy rich who have participated in the plunder of Pakistan.

“Look at how our clueless government sleeps while Pakistan misses the boat and Iran catches it, with China being asked to seriously consider Iran’s port Chabahar as a viable replacement for Gwadar in unstable Pakistan’s unstable province Balochistan.”

“If that happens,” moaned Maverick, “it will be treason of the highest order not only by those who caused it but also by those who let it happen.”

“But you haven’t answered my question,” scolded my wife. “You keep talking to this monkey. You are against the British parliamentary system and you are against an army takeover if they follow their standard operating procedure. Then what the hell is it that you are after? What can make us change for the better and save ourselves?”

“The point of a sword, my dear lady,” I replied. “The point of a sword.”

“And who will be holding the sword may I ask you my incorrigible romantic?” she asked.

“This pure messiah is neither in my hands nor in yours. As Faiz said, it is only in the hands the people, the wretched of the earth. If the people rise, pure sword in hand, with the army at least not opposing them if not supporting them, change for the better could occur and evolve. For a while there could be a reign of terror, as the French Revolution was initially called, but if the people don’t rise, real terrorists who are already wielding an impure satanic sword will. It is for no reason that the operation against terrorists in North Waziristan is called ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ – ‘Strike of the Sword’ – ‘Azb’, meaning ‘purity’, being one of the swords of the Prophet (pbuh) that he fought with in the battles of Badr and Uhud.

“Remember Iran?” explained Maverick. “The people took to the streets and finally the army acted in concert with them to overthrow the Shah. We came close to it when Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri brought the people out, but the army didn’t support them at the time, perhaps because the generals thought the two were too confused, too egotistical, too unpredictable and had the wrong people around them.”

“That may be so, Maverick,” I said, “but could it also be that the generals were being selfish and letting Imran and Qadri do their dirty work for them, which was to denude the civilian government of the power that the army wanted because the civilians couldn’t handle it? The generals got what they wanted. However, the generals should know that supporting the people is supporting God, for the people are His vicegerents. But neither rebellion nor army intervention would work unless the purpose is clearly to change the status quo for the better and finally make Pakistan into an Islamic Welfare State as Mr. Jinnah told us to do. Else they will fail again.”

“The people won’t rise,” scoffed my wife, “so what pipedream are you having?”

You don’t mess with a Diva in umbrage, but I risked it. “Don’t say that. The people have risen twice before but lost because they placed their faith in power hungry politicians and generals. You forget, my dear little lady, they rose once against Ayub Khan and again against Bhutto. But both times they were being controlled by ruthless charlatan politicians and generals, rascals, rogues, freebooters and carpetbaggers all, exploiting fake platforms only to grab power any old how – the PPP’s Islamic Socialism and the Six Points of East Pakistan’s Awami League the first time and Nizam-e-Mustafa of the mullahs joined by lost secular politicians in an unholy gaggle of nine called the Pakistan National Alliance or PNA the second. They made the mess messier, but they did rise. They failed because they were not clear about what they wanted. ‘Democracy’, they said, ‘Islamic Socialism’, but they didn’t understand what democracy or socialism are and don’t to this day. Nor Islam. They didn’t understand that ‘Islamic Socialism’ and ‘Nizam-e-Mustafa’ were only slogans in the hands of ruthless feudal-tribal politicians and semi-educated political mullahs only to fool them. ‘Islamic system’ they said without understanding God’s Islam and His intent and objectives or ‘maqasid’. All they parroted were the myriad ‘interpretations’ of Islam done by mullahs who always miss God’s point, often deliberately, for their intent is self-serving so they mislead the people.

Take guidance from Mr. Jinnah who variously said: “The great majority of us are Muslims We follow the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). We are members of the brotherhood of Islam in which all are equal in rights, dignity and self-respect. Consequently, we have a special and a very deep sense of unity. But make no mistake: Pakistan is not a theocracy or anything like it”… “In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic State to be ruled by priests with a divine mission.” [Emphasis added].

The terrorist-loving mullahs we are landed with are no scholars but ‘fitna’, troublemakers who spread discord and disharmony – ‘fasad’. If the army or the people fail now, it’s over to the terrorists. Get used to wearing a burqa and staying at home my dear lady and I will grow a beard and start wearing my shalwar above my ankles.

“As things are going,” I continued, “it is the terrorists who are wielding the sword today. They have changed your life. But because human beings are inherently adaptable, you don’t really notice it much and get used to it without realizing it. Could you have imagined that parents would be frightened to send their children to school one day? That schools would be closed for days because of terrorist threats? Could you ever have imagined that there would be security red alerts all the time? Could you have imagined that large parts of cities would be cordoned off into ‘red zones’ by governments, zones that effectively belong to the terrorists because of the fear they have instilled in the hearts of security and law enforcing agencies? So wisdom and the survival instinct demand that before terrorists force us to change our ways at the point of a sword, we should do it ourselves because it is more likely then that change will be for the better rather than what the terrorists will bring.”

The wife and the monkey fell silent.