Why democracy failed in Pakistan

It is a fact of history that democracy has failed in Pakistan because its foundations were not laid with democratic mortar. The history of Pakistan dates back to 1937 when the first elections under the government of India Act of 1935 were held in all the provinces of India. The Indian National Congress bagged all the general seats and obtained absolute majority in the legislative assembly of the United Province of India. The All India Muslim League bagged the majority of the Muslim seats. The Congress party in the U.P assembly of India proposed to form a coalition government with Muslim League. The Muslim League agreed but asked for two seats in the cabinet of the U.P government, ostensibly for Chaudhry Khaliqueuzzaman, leader of the opposition in the U.P assembly and Nawab Mohammed Ismail Khan, President of the U.P Muslim League. Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then President of the Indian National Congress was power drunk under the intoxication of the majority in most of provincial assemblies of British India who put forth his precondition not until the proposed Members of the Muslim League in the U.P Cabinet signed the Congress election manifesto. This was the turning point in the history of India. It is a pity that the makers of history do not take lesson from history. When Egypt was fighting for Independence from the British yoke, Zaghlol Pasha sought the cooperation of the Christian minority. The Christians asked from him for future safeguards. Zaghlol Pasha signed a blank paper and handed it over to the Christians. Write all the safeguards they wanted Muslims were still in majority. Later on during the days of King Fawwad, when Nahas Pasha was asked to form the government, he again asked for parliamentary support from Christians. The Christians demanded two seats in the Cabinet. Nahas Pasha offered them four; he was still in majority. It is sad that the maker of history in India was oblivious of this fact of history and considered himself as the demi God of Indian political scene.

Thereafter the All India Muslim League went into effective opposition and United Province was the power base of the Muslim League. They formed the Pirpour Committee under the chairmanship of Raja Sahib of Pirpour to look into and highlight the atrocities committed or imagined to be committed on the Musalmans in the provinces under the regime of Indian National Congress. Had Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru accepted the demand of two seats in the U.P Cabinet put forth by the All India Muslim League. The Pakistan Resolution of 1940 would never have been tabled. The political trial of strength between All India Muslim League and Indian National Congress went on. There were Muslim Chief Ministers in Assam, Bengal, Punjab, NWFP although controlled by Indian National Congress and Sindh supported by the Vederas.

The idea of Pakistan was in the minds of the Muslim League leaders and any one who questioned the Quaid-e-Azam about the future of Muslims in India, he was told to wait for the 1940’s Lahore Session of the All India Muslim League. Pakistan Resolution of 1940 became the cornerstone of Muslim politics, while Congress was fighting for India’s Independence from the British Rule. Gandhi gave a clarion call in 1942 to the British to quit India, Quaid-e-Azam replied divide and quit, this culminated in trial of strength between the Congress and the Muslim League around a table, which was also participated by prominent members of the British Parliament, this proved beyond any shadow that the Quaid-e-Azam was superb Barrister, who pleaded the case of Pakistan very ably before the British Parliamentarians, who agreed to divide and quit.

Divide they did but the British were not oblivious of the parting kick, which they gave in the form of partition of Punjab and Bengal. This was not what was envisaged in the Pakistan Resolution. Quaid-e-Azam was in a hurry because of his ailment of which only he had the knowledge and consulted a couple of his colleagues, who had little say in decision making and agreed the proposal sponsored by the British. The fact remains that democracy or no democracy, had there been no Jinnah, there would have been no Pakistan. If the Indian National Congress and the British government would have known about the Quaid-e-Azam’s terminal disease, they would have lingered on the partition plan and ultimately there would have been no partition.

It was in 1946 when the Viceroy of India threw a challenge to Mr. Jinnah to decide the Pakistan issue in General Elections. Jinnah accepted the challenge, when he returned to his house, 10 Aurangzeb Road, Delhi, he was surrounded by prominent members of his working committee to know what talks he had with the Viceroy. The Quaid replied, the Viceroy has thrown a challenge to him and he has accepted the Challenge. The prominent members of the working committee who had surrounded him were flabbergasted and said that they were not prepared for the elections yet. The Quaid asked them to leave and went into his room. Next day they returned again to the Quaids residence, they found him sitting in the same clothes on the same sofa on which they had left him. No one dared enter his room and they went to Miss Fatmah Jinnah, who informed them that he had even turned her out as well and was saying all the times Oh God. Khwaja Nazimuddin was a bit closer to the Quaid because of his simplicity and meek nature; he went into the room with a towel and a jug of water to wash the Quaids face. He was followed by the rest of the Members. The Quaid replied you are facing a General whose commanders have refuse refused to fight, they all of then, they all of then in one voice replied, they were ready to fight the elections, such was the superiority of the Quaids towering personality over the rest of the Muslim League leaders, who were more or less a rubber stamp.

The arsenal of Muslim India as the Quaid use to call them, the students of Aligarh Muslim University were let loose to travel all over India and carry the message of Pakistan which meant Pakistan Ka Matlab Kiya, Laa Illaha Illallah. The atrocities of the Congress were highlighted by these Aligarh Muslim University Students and thus the foundation of Pakistan was laid on hatred against Hindus rather than on any economic programme for the Musalmans of India. The Muslim in the minority provinces were not to be benefited at all, yet they were shown an Eldarado and were made to believe that a strong Pakistan was a guarantee for the future of the Musalmans in India as well.

During the interim period of planning for the partition of the country a national government was formed with Congress and Muslim League members. Sardar Patel was adamant on to have the Interior Ministry portfolio and the Congress in their folly believed that the Muslim League would not be able to manage the Finance portfolio. Liaquat Ali Khan was a bit reluctant to have this portfolio when Chaudhry Mohammed Ali came running in and advised him to accept this portfolio. So the first and the only budget prepared by Finance Member Liaquat Ali Khan which was called a Poor mans Budget, which gave the poor man his bread and the rich man his grave. This raised a hue and cry amongst the Billionaires and Trillionaires of India, mainly Hindus, who were the source of financial strength to Indian Congress to name a few Gansham Das Birla, Sir Padanpat Sanghania, Seth Ram Kishen Dalmia, Seth Juggilal Kamlapat. The Budget had to be revised by the British Governor General under his special power to suit the Hindus.

The Budget made by Finance Member Liaquat Ali Khan in India was termed as poor man budget, which gave rich man his grave and poor man his bread. Have we ever been able to prepare such a budget in Pakistan, the answer is No, because our budgets are not prepared by our managers, they are prepared abroad or even if they are prepared by our Finance Minister they are prepared under the direction from abroad. United States of America has been keeping a full control over Pakistan’s finances through its own representatives to name a few, Mr. Mohammed Shoaib the Finance Minister in Ayub cabinet, Dr. Mehbubul Haq, Finance Minister in Ziaul Haq cabinet, Mr. Sartaj Aziz in Nawaz Sharif cabinet and Moin Qureshi hoisted as the caretaker Prime Minister and then Mr. Shahid Javaid Burki, Advisor Finance in Meraj Khalids cabinet, these are the reasons of failure of democracy in Pakistan, because people who take decision in our affairs are not responsible to our people, hence democracy never got a chance to flourish in Pakistan and has failed in Pakistan miserably.

Jawaharlal Nehru being the President of the largest political party in India was appointed as the Vice President of the Viceroy’s Council. So he called a meeting of the Cabinet at his residence. Liaquat Ali Khan did not believe in the idea of Jawaharlal Nehru being the senior most member of the council, so he refused to attend and called a meeting of the Muslim League members of the Council at his residence. When Jawaharlal Nehru appointed his sister Vijay Lakhshami Pundit as Ambassador of India to United States. Liaquat Ali Khan refused to sanction any amount for her salary, her establishment and her travels, because the appointment has not been approved by the Cabinet. Jawaharlal Nehru offered to resign if he can not appoint even an ambassador. Lord Mountbatten the Viceroy sanctioned the appointment and the crisis was averted. Little pin pricks here and little pinpricks there made the working of Government of India unworkable. It was therefore decided between Gandhi, Jawaharlal and Sardar Patel to get rid of the Muslim League and concede Pakistan, so that they may live in peace in the rest of India. Even Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a very senior member of the Congress and many times President of the Indian National Congress opposed the idea of Pakistan and was kept in the dark upon the decision taken by Gandhi, Nehru and Patel. Thus Pakistan was won, round the table and not by the people, and for the people, hence democracy has never taken root in the foundations of Pakistan.

The greatest achievement of Quaid-e-Azam was to weld the Musalmans of different provinces of India with different languages and culture, eating habits and even the dress into one nation. This unity was based on Pakistan Ka Matlab Kiya, La Illahah Illalalah. Nation needs a state, after the nation has been formed and the state was Pakistan. By a natural corollary the state needs a nation. Pakistan needs a nation of Pakistanis. Soon after the creation of the state of Pakistan on 14th August 1947 Quad-e-Azam died on 11th September 1948. He did not get time to provide the state with a united nation of Pakistanis. Muslim nations of India who have to their credit the state of Pakistan are again divided into different ethnic and linguistic nationalities, they are again Baluchis, Sindhis, Pathans, Punjabis and another segment has entered into the body politics of Pakistan by the name of Muhajirs. There are the refugees, who claim to have fathered the state of Pakistan.

August 1947 saw the Musalmans of the provinces in which they were in majority as independent people of their homeland free from the yoke of the Great Britain of which they had no perception, so much so, that some time back a Minister of Government of Pakistan had the cheek to say that if the Quaid had to achieve Pakistan, he should have done so in Lukhnow or Allahabad. In Punjab the Muslims were already in majority and they did not need Pakistan. The reply of the listener was that in that case Lala Chottu Ram would have been the minister in his place. One Sindhi Central Minister has observed that he was against the idea of partition and he was told blatantly that in that case Dingomal would have been the Central Minister in his place. Such was the beginning of Pakistan, which started its journey into history with the viceregal system, a deathblow to the democracy. Self interest self-projection and corruption on top of it.

Now when Pakistan has been achieved it has no programme and policy. Leaders who are supposed to have achieved it from the minority provinces were busy in resettling themselves through just and unjust claims of lands, houses, and factories and in some cases factories which they did not posses. Instead of establishing the roots of democracy our leaders have been busy in establishing themselves. There was a move in the beginning of a one to one meeting between Quaid-e-Azam and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, that was sabotaged to serve the interest of the lesser elements, probably this meeting would have laid the foundation of some democratic tradition or forum. Every thing said and done, partition of India has not solved the Hindu Muslim problem of India. The dream, which the great philosopher poet saw still remains unfulfilled and will remain unfulfilled till God knows when.

The greatest beneficiaries of partition have not been the Musalmans of undivided India, but civil and military bureaucracy and the corrupt members of the society. Corruption is rampant which goes deep down into the blood vessels of our countrymen and democracy can never thrive under a corrupt atmosphere and that is why democracy has failed in Pakistan. It has never been given a try even, every ruler harped on democracy and every ruler even elected by the so called democratic institution has acted and ruled like a despot in right royal moghal style. The death of Liaquat Ali Khan, which was a result of palace intrigue, gave rise to more intrigues and under an ambitious General Iskender Mirza, Ministries were falling like nine pins. When he could not hold the scepter singly, he shared it with Commander-in-Chief of the Army General Mohammed Ayub Khan. Kingship knows no kinship and General Ayub Khan overthrew General Iskender Mirza in twenty-one days, this was the first blow to the infant democracy of an infant country.

Every ruler needs a constitution, so General Ayub also had to promulgate one which was tailored to keep him as President for life, all articles of this constitution could be summed up in one single sentence and that is in the name of Allah the merciful, there will be a President of Pakistan, who will rule the country for life till he is removed by bullet and not by ballot. Thus Ayub Khan ruled for ten years. While leaving the President House, he gave a parting kick to his own constitution and handed over power to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, this was the second kick to democracy. Twenty-two years of Pakistan’s life have gone by without democracy. General Yahya Khan ruled under Martial Law till he was replaced by a civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator with the debacle of East Pakistan. 1971 to 1977 saw some sort of a constitution based on democratic principles; the enforcement of 1973’s Constitution was the precursor of suspicion of fundamental rights to the people of Pakistan by the so-called champions of democracy. This democracy was also crushed under the boots of the Army in 1977 when the great champions of democracy rigged the March 1977 elections to obtain three fourth majority to change the 1973 constitution into presidential form and make himself the President of Pakistan. When General Ziaul Haq promulgated martial law and ruled the country by adhocracy putting all the norms of democracy away. His rule lasted till 1988 when he was killed in a mysterious plane crash.

Eleven years of so called democratic government were witnessed by falling of nine pins and rampant corruption, which again resulted in the overthrow by the Army. The democratic death of democracy was perpetrated by the President of Pakistan Muslim League Mian Nawaz Sharif when he inserted 13th amendment in the constitution, where the members of Parliament lost their freedom of thought and freedom of speech. History of Pakistan is a sad history of failure of democracy because of Pakistanis themselves and because foundation of Pakistan has been laid negatively on hatred and not positively on progress, reforms and solidarity of the country.

Democracy is government of the people, for the people and by the people at the same time it should also have confidence of the people and then and only then democracy can thrive. Pakistan never had any democratic blood in its veins.

Mr. Ali Ashraf Khan is a Pakistani Businessman and Ex-Politician who bid good bye to politics in order to concentrate on more useful service benefit of the political intrigues prevalent in the National Political life of Pakistan. He frequently writes for English and Urdu newspapers in Pakistan.