I still remember the Urdu classes at Government College. Professor Musharraf Ansari got overwhelmed with the word Pur-Israr Banday (individuals of unbelievable hidden qualities). Those who believed and fought for an ideology they believed in, not for the bounties of war (Maal-e-Ghanimat) nor Kishwar Kusahi (personal glory). Only selfless warriors can bring change, not the old tainted players of the status-quo. Finally, Imran Khan has realised his mistake. of letting in the electables. While Kaptaan will come ahead in the end, the turncoats stand exposed. The next electoral contest will be decisive. Like the 1970 free and fair elections, a much-needed real parliament will emerge after a long time. 2022 is poised to be an election year. Hopefully, the 1977 scenario would not be repeated this time. There was clear foreign intervention then, which led to organised street protests against the alleged election rigging in a few constituencies. Comrades advised Bhutto to seek an immediate re-election, but the delay cost him his rule and life. Going to the people reignites the democratic order and is always the best way forward.

April 4, 1979 will always remain a black day in our history. Early morning on this day, an elected, popular leader was hanged in the Chaklala Jail and then quietly buried in his village, Ghari Khuda Buksh. It culminated a democratic era (1971 to 1977); since then, the parliament and the constitution have been rendered irrelevant. Not much has been written or revered about this era of democracy except marketing the slogan of “Bhutto Zinda Ha” (Bhutto is alive) which sounds odd when chanted by Asif Ali Zardari, who destroyed his genuine political entity which he named Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). In the chequered political history of Pakistan, only one election remains indisputable (1970). Critics blame that it dismembered Quaid’s Pakistan, hence very little is written about the democratic advances that followed, including the promulgation of the 1973 constitution, which is now repeatedly quoted and defended by the opposition despite despising its chief architect. The ‘Awami Hukamat’ as it was called, provided the much needed relief to the people. Comrades fought for change not bounties or glory. There may be policy differences, but honesty and the ability of legislators was never questioned. Professor Ghafoor Ahmed, a prominent leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, was always very vocal about the abilities of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB).

After eliminating ZAB, the third usurper then decided to disfigure the constitution and those who were required to defend and implement the sacred agreement between the rulers and the ruled. The partyless elections in 1985 buried ideological politics for times to come. Politics became the most lucrative business, even leaving showbiz behind. After a brief sojourn under Imran Khan (2018 to 2022), the country has once again been pushed to become a follower state as it has been since July 1977, when the elected government of ZAB was toppled. I remember the words of ZAB from his prison cell, urging the rulers to keep away from the crisis in Afghanistan created by the invasion of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, Pakistan has paid heavily by fighting someone else’s war.

The evil forces of the status-quo have always been underestimated. ZAB came into power with the help of fresh untainted ‘comrades of change’ but fell into the trap of the electables by 1977, when he decided to seek a fresh mandate, in between, he had time to serve the people who elected him. Imran Khan, the sitting PM, fell into the trap even before forming his government. His party was hijacked by the dreaded electables within 56 days to be exact (October 30, 2011 to December 25, 2011). While the comrades of change were left behind, he surrounded himself by the old players with a poor track record of delivery. Bounty hunters were back in the arena, riding on the popularity of an honest and upright leader. Imran Khan is a fighter; he has the capacity to fight back, but the odds have been stacked against him, mainly because of the poor performance of his team. Interesting times lie ahead for the republic. While the Parliament of Pakistan has been irrelevant for a long time, I am not too sure about the judiciary after this decision. Our activism will continue to thwart foreign intervention in our internal affairs but as always, it remains an uphill task. Like corruption, it is almost impossible to expose external involvement, which has reportedly taken place again after 1977, when the PM dared to say “absolutely not”. The OIC Conference of 1974 under ZAB is still revered by the people of Pakistan; another such event took place in March this year under the leadership of Imran Khan. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan finds itself once again at the crossroads of history.

 

Dr Farid A Malik

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email: fmaliks@hotmail.com