Sovereignty is essential for a country and its people. No nation can survive or advance in its absence. On August 14, 1947, the All India Muslim League (AIML) under the able leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah succeeded in carving out a new country in the Indian Subcontinent. While Jinnah took oath as the first Governor General (GG), he selected Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan as the Prime Minister (PM) of the nascent republic. Jinnah was consumed by the struggle and perished a year later. He was replaced by another stalwart of the movement Khawaja Nazimuddin who hailed from the Eastern Wing where AIML was launched in the year 1906. Together the two founding fathers of Pakistan were weathering the teething problems when a conspiracy was hatched to eliminate the PM.

The political struggle continued till October 1958 despite palace intrigues. When Pakistan became a republic, Mirza took oath as the first President. The fear of losing power prompted Mirza to clamp martial law and call off the elections under the 1956 constitution. Khan decided to strike back and deposed Mirza to assume direct control of the country. Mirza sought help from the US Embassy but it never came. For years I have been probing the rise of Khan as Commander-in-Chief despite a very poor service record. Better options existed at that time. It is widely believed that the PM was pressurised in this appointment. Elected leaders who pick up army chiefs against seniority/merit are made to suffer. Bhutto admitted that the appointment of Zia was his biggest blunder and so did Nawaz for promoting Musharraf. In the words of Lt. Gen (R) Tariq Khan, “Every country needs an Army, it is better to have one’s own”.

While Mao Tse Tung was the undisputed leader of the Chinese revolution, Chou-en-Lai was its manager. During his visit to Pakistan, a very warm welcome was accorded to him, while going around he saw a small printed Chinese flag on the floor, instead of stepping on it he picked it up, folded and put it in his pocket. Flag bearers have the responsibility to keep it high and safe. Every time the command changes in the Pakistan Army, a baton is exchanged between the incoming and the outgoing Commander. It is an impressive and solemn ceremony which should continue but the exchange should be of the national flag which the commander has to protect and preserve for posterity. In the words of the national poet, “Taza Khuduain Me Sab Say Bara Watan Hai” (After God comes the country). All individuals and institutions should have secondary status when it comes to the interests of the nation. Unfortunately in the land of the pure, the sovereignty of the country has been repeatedly compromised for narrow vested interests. Bhutto admired the Chinese leaders but was cornered and eliminated when he stood up for his country.

The constitution plays an important role in the defence of a nation’s sovereignty. Perhaps Pakistan is the only country in the world that had to formulate four documents (1956, 1962, 1972, 1973). The 1973 version has been repeatedly violated. So far only General Pervez Musharraf has been tried and convicted under Article 6 which has blocked future adventurism. Today Imran Khan (IK) is leading a movement. Pakistan is at a crossroads again. What was started in 1951 by the gang of three must come to an end. Today the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a constitutional democracy that has the capacity and capability to stand on its own feet and defend/preserve its sovereignty.

Dr Farid A Malik

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