Thou are not the healer

POLITICS OF CHANGE , But change is inevitable and unstoppable

Thou are not the healer (Tum Nahin Chara Gar) are the words of Habib Jalib, the poet of resistance. After Ayub Khan the first usurper abrogated 1956 unanimously agreed constitution to be replaced with his version in 1962, Jalib read his famous poem ‘Dastur’ (Constitution) in a poetry recital in Murree. Fearing the wrath of the evil empire, his friends tried to intervene and stop him but he kept going, “Main Nahin Manta” (I don’t believe you). His voice reverberated across the country when out of fear, silence prevailed. The entire opposition had been silenced by the use of brute force. Fearing for his life, Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy the ex-Prime Minister (PM) went to Beirut in self-exile. Ayub Khan (PA 10) the first Desi Sipah-e-Salar was promoted against merit by PM Liaquat Ali Khan. It is widely believed that this appointment was made under extreme external pressure as Ayub neither met the criteria of seniority nor prior performance or professional excellence. Both the PM and the country had to pay a heavy price for this out-of-turn promotion. In 1951 the PM was assassinated, and Khawaja Nazimuddin was replaced as Governor General. Instead of the much-needed human development elite capture was prioritised. Jalib highlighted the plight of the common man for which he was kept in jail but he refused to be silenced. While the ground realities remained grim for the masses, the wealth of the nation came under the control of the few selected folks. The common good was rendered uncommon. As Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan refused to be a pawn in the Soviet-US Cold war. He refused to sign on the dotted lines. No country in the world ever surrendered its rights to river waters that flow to the sea. In violation of the international lower riparian laws, the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) was signed under which three rivers were surrendered to India (Ravi, Sutlej, Beas). As the World Bank brokered the deal, loans were provided to build dams to store water. While Mangla Dam was completed, work started on Tarbela Dam. Warsak was built on River Kabul by Qayyum Khan with Canadian assistance while Gwadar was acquired by Feroze Khan. Till October 1958, the republic was debt-free, today it is mired in loans. While India under constitutional civilian rule decided on the utilization of its resources for industrialization, Pakistan pursued a different course which led to corruption and concentration of wealth in a few hands. In over a decade of his misrule (October 1958 to March 1969) not a single university was established. Punjab University, the oldest seat of higher education, was shifted from the city centre to the outskirts of the city to isolate the student protests. A similar strategy was adopted by the third usurper in the decade of the seventies when the Polytechnic on Peshawar Road in Rawalpindi was shut down and converted into the College of Signals under the control of the Armed Forces. Pakistan Railway (PR) , one of the largest public sector entities, came under attack later. The professional leadership of PR resisted the onslaught. Chairman Engr Abul Kalam and secretary Shehzad Ahmed Khan both resigned in protest. WAPDA was also not spared. While the lucrative freight business of PR was handed over to the National Logistics Cell (NLC), Mechanized Construction of Pakistan (MCP) was shut down and its machinery was transferred to Frontier Works Organization (FWO). The current struggle is for the restoration of civilian supremacy through a free and fair election before the situation gets out of hand. After over 75 years of its existence, not much has changed in the land of the pure. But change is inevitable and unstoppable.

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email:

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