Dr Ijaz Ahsan
It is said that people get the rulers they deserve, If this saying is true, then our people deserve better rulers than they have. On the 18th of February the people of Pakistan gave a resounding verdict. They gave the coalition parties a two-thirds majority to undo the illegal actions of the previous regime. The most important of these acts was the totally illegal and unconstitutional action of army chief Musharraf on the 3rd November 2007, in which he sent as many as 60 Supreme and High Court judges home and also, horror of horrors, incarcerated them! He used authority that he did not possess, to take an action that was in any case illegitimate.
The people’s vote, that all but annihilated the party that was supporting Musharraf, was firstly for reinstatement of all the judges, and secondly against Musharraf’s policies. Soon thereafter, the ruling coalition, through the Murree Accord, declared they would reinstate the judges within 30 days of formation of the federal government. It is a matter of great concern that due to palace intrigues, the people’s mandate for reinstatement of the judges and ouster of Musharraf is being stood on its head; it is being turned 180 degrees around to keep the chief judge out and Musharraf in. God in his Heavens!
It will be a sad day if Musharraf’s supporters, the Establishment and those who wanted to elect him in uniform as many as ten times, could extract victory out of the jaws of a crushing and humiliating defeat. If this happens, the people will know that the PPP helped the Establishment rubbish the people’s mandate. Already the PPP has lost nearly all of its credibility. The people know fully well that BB herself secretly negotiated with Musharraf over a period of many years to get rid of these court cases.
Once she was even caught meeting him in Dubai. Who knows how many more times she had met him without being discovered? She was negotiating with Musharraf secretly even when she signed the Charter of Democracy, m which both sides had promised they would never negotiate with a military ruler! She then had the London All Parties Conference (APC) postponed half a dozen times saying she was not available, on one pretext or the other. When the APC was finally held, she did not attend, and did not allow Makhdoom Amin Fahim to sign the declaration.
In this way she took the wind out of the sails of the APC, and threw a lifeline to Musharraf, something the people feel is being done by the PPP boss even today. The PPP leadership ought to realize that the people know all this. If they continue on this self-destructive path, the PPP will suffer irreparable damage. That will be a sad day for Pakistan, as PPP is the largest, most liberal, most moderate and progressive party around. The alternatives to PPP are obscurantism, mullaism, and extremism; God save us if they take the place vacated by the PPP.
With the brutal assassination of Mohtarma, the PPP ought to have been rid of the excess baggage of the court cases, and would have been enabled to fight the dictator side by side with the PML(N). However, unfortunately for the country, the cases were equally against her spouse, and are proving the Achilles’ heel of the movement against the dictator.
We fought one independence movement before 1947. Today we are fighting another independence movement to be rid of the lawlessness stitched into the fabric of our body politic by decades of military rule. Any weakness or wavering at this critical juncture will set the clock back for a hundred years. There is still time.
The PPP leaders should not allow all the gains of the movement for the rule of law to be frittered away. The only time in my life I felt nauseated over a political incident was for several days after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. I am having the same sickening feeling today. If we slip this time, it will be said that although our military rulers are illegitimate, our politicians are worse. I beseech our political leaders to save us from this taunt. God help us!
Courtesy: The Nation, 2/5/2008