This Darkest Day of History When Generals Shamed Us
Wajid Shamsul Hasan
July 5: Nations are proud of some dates as landmarks that make
them hold their heads high. July 4, when "we the people"
formed the United States of America, set the world ablaze with
a new momentum to human endeavor, gave new meaning to human liberty
and dignity. For Pakistan July 5, 1977 was the darkest day in
our checkered history.
this day 28 years ago, a General, Ziaul Haq uprooted the nascent
sapling of democracy from Pakistan and that act of high treason
committed by him continues to hang even today like a cursed albatross
with all its evil ramifications casting a long shadow of doubt
on country's future.
similarities between Pakistan under General Zia and Pakistan today
under General Pervez Musharraf are plentiful. The fact cannot
be ignored that military rule then had put Pakistan on the road
to destruction and under Musharraf the journey to doom is doing
the final run.
so-called 'savior' in military uniform in 1977 had dug the country's
grave. Our latest 'savior' now is all geared up to lay the body
Founder, the Quaid, had established Pakistan with hopes of making
it a model of a democratic state. While Zia made Mr Jinnah's dream
sour, it is Musharraf who has converted it into a horrific nightmare.
Zia's greatest disservice to Pakistan was to drown Quaid's democratic
liberal ideological Muslim moorings into an ocean of confusion
with the objective of converting it into a Sunni Wahabi state.
am referring to this issue because of the controversy ignited
by Indian BJP leader LK Advani. It has finally dawned upon him
that Mr Jinnah was a secularist and not a communalist. It is indeed
an irony for Mr Jinnah that we in Pakistan have to have a certificate
from Mr Advani to merely assert the truth and nothing but the
whole truth what Mr Jinnah was.
early as 1893 Sir Syed Ahmad Khan had made it clear that India
was a two-nation state. He based this observation not on grounds
of religion but on account of economic disparities. He believed
that Muslims with the best of education and talent would always
be outnumbered by sheer numerical strength of the Hindus when
competing for jobs. Nowhere did he assert that Muslims as a religious
minority would be at the receiving end. Besides, Muslims at that
time were free to go to their mosques, observe their religious
festivals and prayers without any hindrance.
was fear of economic annihilation at the hands of the majority
rather than religious domination which became the raison d'etre
for a separate Muslim homeland. Zia straight jacketed Pakistan
into his Sunni-Wahabi-Deobandi mould. His ten years were most
abusive for the minorities and oppressive for women.
Remember Nawabpur incident when village women were paraded in
the nude, molested, depraved and humiliated in public. Ever since
such orgies have become a common feature to the point that now
under Musharraf hardly a week passes by when a woman or two are
not raped, paraded in the nude and their spoilers remain unpunished.
General instead of going after the criminals has extended to them
a license to do it more with pleasure, by putting a ban on the
travel of victims like Mukhtaran Mai. Now he wants to resolve
the issue of the growing incidence of rapes by calling a convention
of rape victims to hear their tragic stories. This seems to be
a sickening manifestation of a sadist mentality reflected in his
desire to hear rape stories.
Not only the rape cases, in others cases too his government supports
men who disparage womenfolk. Look at the fate of the Opposition's
legislative bid to outlaw Karo Kari, the so-called honor killings
that too have acquired an epidemic form under Musharraf and that
have been justified by his King's Party.
rub salt into the national wounds, the General does not get tired
of orchestrating on his 'enlightened moderation' and when it comes
to action, be it removal of highly abused blasphemy law, draconian
action against rapists or putting his foot down firmly to stop
introduction of religious column in the new passports, the General
surrenders to the religious extremists without a squeak.
I compare Zia with Musharraf, I am reminded of the story of a
notorious coffin thief who had made life miserable in a village
by stealing coffins from freshly buried dead bodies in the graveyard.
After a while he got sick and summoned his sons and asked who
among them would do something extra-ordinary that would make the
villagers remember him kindly. His son in the army promised that
he would do something that will force the villagers to declare
that his father was a kind person. The man died and for a few
days there was no incident at the graveyard until the coffin thief's
son struck. Some one had not only stolen the coffin the body had
been raped and a spear put in the back. The villagers gathered
in the local mosque and all remembered the deceased coffin thief
in kind words for respecting the bodies.
moral of the story is obvious:
Musharraf has definitely made good use of his nearly six years
of power by outdoing Zia. No doubt Ayub started it all, Yahya
followed him, it was General Zia who laid the foundation and it
is Musharraf who as the incarnation of all three has soldered
all the dirty tricks of the Praetorian management as the primary
weapon of demolishing the civil society beyond reprieve.
All the four military dictators, more so Musharraf, obtrusively
raped the Constitution of the day and trampled with their jackboots
those institutional oaths that give meaning to patriotism, loyalty
and commitment to serve and protect the country.
Except Yahya who did not get time, rest of the three dictators
had referendums carried out for perpetuating their hold on power.
Zia had a referendum on the issue whether people liked Islam or
not and by virtue of the seven per cent votes cast in favor, declared
himself President for all time. Musharraf circumvented the constitutional
requirements for presidential election by holding his own referendum
to declare himself President. He had 97 per cent votes cast in
his favor of the total seven per cent registered voters. The international
community declared his referendum as a fraud.
General Zia had made the judges of superior courts take oath on
his Provisional Constitutional Order so did General Musharraf.
Both showed the door to those self-respecting judges who refused
to join hands, and were sent home for defending their honor.
Zia's various electoral contraptions to keep doors closed on Benazir
Bhutto, Musharraf's, polls in October 2002 were loaded with Bhutto-specific
laws to keep her out of the electoral race, declared by international
observers as overly rigged and manipulated before, during and
after the votes had been cast, in favor of the King's Party and
Mullas of MMA in cahoots with his Intelligence apparatus. He has
kept the mullas alive and kicking to blackmail the Americans as
well as to counter the liberal democratic forces.
Musharraf's Legal Framework Order (LFO) later incorporated in
the Constitution of 1973 as part of a sinister deal between him
and the MMA, making him an absolute ruler, has been much of distortion,
disfigurement and dislocation of a sacrosanct document playing
foul with it that amounts to high treason and carries with it
death sentence as punishment.
When one refers to political horse-trading during his time, Musharraf
wins the race hands down. Bunch of political thugs, co-op swindlers,
sunshine politicians, all wanted by his very own National Accountability
Bureau for various financial scams running into billions, have
been allowed by him to remain scot-free in exchange for political
support that he needs to sustain himself.
and above they have been given an open licence to convert their
ill-gotten millions into trillions. The entire accountability
process has become a joke. His minister of Information acknowledged
the other day that the country is in the grip of various mafias.
Invariably most of the uniformed top guns or their kith and kin
are doing full time real estate business. Besides the whole army
of white-collar criminals, many of the king pins in his government
are history sheeters and killers.
Constitution of 1973 was the most outstanding achievement of Zulfikar
Ali Bhutto and the post-1971 political leadership. It resolved
the tricky issue of the quantum of provincial autonomy to the
satisfaction of the elected representatives of the federating
units who agreed to its shape and form unanimously. By introducing
arbitrary amendments in the 1973 Constitution, he converted it
into a handmaid of the President and Praetorian center to transform
it into a garrison state rather than the guarantor of equal distribution
of resources, just power sharing, equality in job opportunities
to all the citizens of the federation.
pitching one province against the other, fanning of fissiparous
tendencies and by letting the Mullas run berserk, Musharraf has
provided fuel to a process initiated by General Ziaul Haq, that
would sooner than later Talibanize Pakistan.
Remember Zia's promise of holding elections in 90 days and his
great betrayal. As his obedient follower Musharraf more or less
did the same when in December 2003 he pledged that he would give
up the post of Army Chief by December 31, 2004. He is still holding
the two offices and the news is that he would keep his uniform
until 2012. His uniform is what hair to Samson were, source of
all his manly strength and prowess.
Zia demolished Pak-Afghan borders for the American Jihad. Zia
kept quiet on Kashmir, Musharraf is about to do a sell-out. He
has already surrendered Pakistan's traditional stand. Musharraf
has rendered our independence into a myth for Washington's war
Ali Bhutto gave his life to provide nuclear glow to Pakistan,
Musharraf is hell bent on extinguishing it. South Waziristan is
still under Pakistani military's occupation with American commanders
breathing hot air down our necks. There is a civil war on in Balochistan.
Instead of putting balm on their ulcerating wounds, Musharraf
wants to hit them so hard that they would not know what hit them.
Baloch Liberation Army has been striking with great impunity.
Even Chief Minister Jam Yusuf's well-secured residence is not
safe and is hit by rockets. Anger from Dr Shazia's rape continues
to simmer. It reminds one of General "Tiger" Niazi who
used to ask his officers and jawans during the civil war in East
Pakistan not how many enemies did they kill but how many Bengali
women did they rape.
lost Siachen Glacier to India without firing a shot in its defence,
Musharraf's Kargil misadventure has had a devastating effect on
the morale of the Pakistani jawans, many of whose colleagues were
brought dead in the dark of the night and post mortemed to discover
they had been living on grass while their Generals continued to
lead "spirited" lives that according to Shakespeare
"takes away the performance".
had laid the foundation of making Pakistani military a business
enterprise. Musharraf has erected a whole empire on it.
Zia and Musharraf sold Pakistan's vital interests by assuming
the role of disposables in the service of their foreign masters.
General Musharraf, as the so-called democratic leader of the "most
militarized state" in the world, has acquired the stamp of
legitimacy not from his own people but from outsiders.
is the story of Pakistan under Musharraf and it began under General
Zia on this ill-fated date of July 5. Pakistan today is not known
for enlightened moderation but because of the outrageous stories
of rape like that of Mukhtaran Mai and Musharraf's bid to kill
the patient rather than cure the disease by putting a ban on her
sowed the seeds of Balkanization and Talibanisation, Musharraf's
policies have made it a failed state or a failing state that is
likely to meet the fate of Yugoslavia under his jackbooted leadership.
There is a consensus that our Generals have pushed Pakistan into
a quagmire of problems that pose much more serious a challenge
than that of 1971. When they surrendered half of the country to
the Indian army (December 16, 1971), the residual Pakistan was
fortunate enough to have a dynamic leader like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
who had the enormous capacity to "pick up the pieces"
and re-galvanise them into a proud nation.
with a General fully dressed in Army Chief's uniform as the President
backed to the hilt by "summer soldiers and sunshine patriots"
taking the country onto the road to disaster, there is no one
within Pakistan who could save the country as Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
did when the defeated generals handed him a truncated Pakistan.
There is no doubt that Pakistan today is at a cross-road. There
is a big question mark on its future and its very survival as
a federal state is in doubt especially when its Generals and their
cronies seem determined in pushing Quaid's Pakistan it into the
dustbin of history.
we are facing a situation worse than 1971, we have got to go back
to the leadership that could emulate Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's foot
steps to bring the country back to safety from the edge of the
writer is a former Pakistan High Commissioner to UK