On 60th Anniversary, Pakistan facing bitter realities

When I landed in Pakistan, on a 2-weeks visit in July, I found, people surrounded to their television sets watching high terror climax of Red Mosque (known as Lal Masjid). More than a week long war-style battle between the so-called inhabitants and the liberators of the red mosque left more than 100 people dead and lot more severely wounded. The bloody drama ended following the sequence of suicide bombing at the public places in the urban and ruler areas of Pakistan including capital –” Islamabad –” by yet anonymous terrorists.

When the nation was going through the appalling movements of Red Mosque, the top home-based and exiled Pakistani politicians were busy in luncheons and dinners in London, in relation to finalising deals aiming how to throw out Present General Pervez Musharraf and his companions from the capital.

The horrific images of human bodies of dead or dying in the hands of their love ones terrified me. I found that watching bloody and terrified images of lethal attacks are a routine matter in Pakistan now. Everyday bloodshed has shattered the entire nation.

Unfortunately, in the last 60 years of Pakistan’s life, the country has gone backward. First, the decades’ long undemocratic and autocratic rule led country split, in 1971, when people of former East Pakistan decided to be a separate nation and created Bangladesh. The Post fall of East Pakistan further divided the people in the remaining West Pakistan which is composed of four provinces – Sind, Punjab, Baluchistan and North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). The unjust administration in the feudalistic and bureaucratic system created more divisions among the provinces. To understand the present unstable and politically falling situation in Pakistan, one has to look back the ill-fated history of Pakistan beyond its creation.

Historical facts show that all India Muslim League failed to obtain the support of the majority of Muslims in the Muslim-majority provinces till 1946 in United India. In the general election of 1937 the Muslim League could not achieve the prominent support from the Muslim voters in the Muslim-majority provinces. In Sind, Punjab, Baluchistan and NWFP where the landlord culture had been ruling for centuries, Muslim League could not obtain the mandate from the masses as the landlords in these states had not yet announced the support for then Muslim League. When Pakistan was close to the reality, the far sighted landlords started shaking hands with Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan to secure the survival of their tribal-based power. In Punjab after realizing the situation the big landlords like Mumtaz Daulatana and Nawab Mamdot changed the horses and joined the Muslim League. After the fateful Indian general election of 1946, most of the feudal class became the part of Muslim League and when Pakistan founded, n 1947, these landlords became the frontline leaders. In Sind, the State was in the hands of changing coalitions of Muslim and Hindu landlords. Their social background was much the same as of the Unionists in Punjab. The big landowners’ families like Bhutto, Mukhdoom, Jatoi, Talpure felt the need of the time to join ruling Muslim League. Similarly, in the NWFP, Congress was in power until the creation of Pakistan and Baluchistan was too isolated in the political campaign. Since then the feudal culture is the main dominion of the country through monarchical-style rule of the big landlords’ families. No wonder why Jinnah, at his on his last days, had said that he had the bad coins in his pocket.

Another dilemma in Pakistan is those religious-cum-political leaders ( Mullahs) who, from the very beginning, were against the ideology of Pakistan and condemned the movement of Pakistan. These figure heads control those underprivileged on the name religious who are in the in majority and generally belong to undeveloped and tribal areas. Most of these religious leaders are from the same family or parties who declared Jinnah as ingrate ( Kafir) and the agent of then British Rulers. But when Pakistan came into existence, these anti-Pakistan but so-called wardens of Islam along with their slogans opted to make Pakistan their home. They changed the slogan of Pakistan after its creation. The country which was the symbol of struggle for the social rights of the Muslims of Muslim-majority states was claimed as the country to implement Islam.

The truth of the matter is that the struggle for Pakistan had never been to rescue Islam from the danger. Islam has been the most flourished religion in the Indian subcontinent for centuries. With about 150 million Muslims in 1 billion people, Islam is the religion of the largest minority of India. Therefore, Islam had never been in danger in the subcontinent.

The true ideology of Pakistan was defined by its founder himself. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, in his most historical speech of August 11, 1947, while addressing to the anticipated legislators of Pakistan, said, “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed –” that has nothing to do with the fundamental principle that we are all citizens of one State…."

Unfortunately, Jinnah could not survive due to his falling health and died on September 11, 1948 when Pakistan was only one year old. After the death of Jinnah, the immature and weak parliament which could produce a formal, written constitution until 1956 was eventually thrown out by the army. Field Marshal Ayub Khan brought the first Marshall Law in the country in 1958. Since then Pakistan has been ruling by the army-landlords-bureaucrats trica.

Securing permanent roles in the establishment, the bureaucrats also preferred to follow autocratic atmosphere. Today, the top level positions in the Pakistani establishment are occupied by the members of the families who have close relations with the army Generals and landlords. In the last 60 years, the faces might have been changed but most of the bureaucrats belong to the same families who have been running the establishment since the creation of Pakistan.

During the ten years (1977-88) rule of former army dictator General Zia ul Haque that supported pro-US Taliban in Afghanistan on the name of Jihad and then the ongoing 7 years old rule of General Pervez Musharraf who supports US-led war in Afghanistan against Al Quaeda and Taliban have created a dangerous extremist culture among the followers of the different religious groups who want to implement Taliban-style system in Pakistan. These religious fanatics on the name of implementing Sharia (Islamic system) in Pakistan are ready to take law and order in their hands. Red mosque incident was an open evidence of what they are cooking underground.

On the other hand, nonstop increase in prices on consumable items and food has made the life of common people miserable. Rising cost of living promoted high-level of corruption in almost every department. This has also increased the crime rate in the country, at the same time, people scare to go to the police station to launch report for any incident as there is a common impression that report to the police means asking for more trouble and paying another cost and getting no justice.

This complicated situation in Pakistan has segregated the entire nation into different sections of contradicting creeds. The people who claim themselves as religious are becoming fanatics and they hate western societies. On the other hand, the people who claim themselves as moderate are loosing their culture and family-values on the name of enlightenment and moderation. As the leaders have no defined direction or vision for the country except one agenda that is how to be in power the people also don’t have any direction as a nation. Every one is just running after money aiming to survive in the society. The level of insecurity among the people can be measured by the fact that the powerful army general and the president of the country –” General Pervez Musharraf – has been lucky enough to escape with narrow margin from the bloody attacks.

The situation in North-West Frontier Province is very dangerous. The rising pro-Taliban extremists taking hold of the region. They are now directly clashing with Pakistani arm forces. Frequent suicide attacks on the security forces are creating turmoil in the northern region. President Musharraf and his government who has been the close ally of US-led war on terror are found in an awful situation. One side, they have pressure of US-administration to launch firm operation against pro-Taliban & Al Quaeda members and produce results. On the other hand, there is enormous public pressure – which is leading to the growing opposition – on the issues like leave the military uniform, have fair democratic election and take firm stand against US not to launch any operation on Pakistan soil against Taliban and Al-Quaeda.

Musharraf had claimed that he would work to make Pakistan an enlightened and progressive country. After more than 7 years in power, the country stands where it was before and may be in worst conditions. The ground realities are that the people are not safe even at the religious places. How can the people have a fair and honest society when level of justice system in Pakistan is such a mess that a judge of the Supreme Court is sacked by the army ruler and then the same judge brought people on the roads and led the demonstration under the political banners? How can President Musharraf bring a clean fair democratic system in Pakistan while he is enjoying in power sharing with the old and corrupt politicians?

President General Musharraf might still be a powerful and useful man for the western capitals but he is facing the toughest time of his 7 years rule in the country. The continuous undemocratic system could not produce a political awareness among the people. The lack of effective public opinion has produced the ambitious and corrupt leaders whom aim is how to get the power of the country. To achieve this, the political leaders who otherwise condemned army rule are found shaking hands with army generals. Instead of including a broad citizenry in the political process, power is concentrated in the hands of an elitist bureaucracy and over-ambitious military. To deal with the strong and growing opposition especially from the religious sections Present Musharraf is now ready to handshake with the exiled and two times Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto about who Present Musharraf had openly said that she would never have a place in the Pakistani politics.

Whether General Pervez Musharraf will continue to rule or share power with the same old political pundits, one cannot see any reason that even after 60 years to the creation of Pakistan, the nation could see any hope to get out from political chaos and instability.