Creating monsters

Nations must learn from history to correct their future course of action.

Perhaps the United States of America (USA) leads the world in creating recent internation al monsters. The Islamic Republic of Pakistanhas also suffered from this menace. The first Desi Sipah-e-Salar General Ayub Khan crossed the line. Starting with the assassination of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan to the imposition of Martial Law in October 1958 and the abrogation of the 1956 constitution was a major blow against our freedom struggle. His misrule continued for over a decade before he had to resign in March 1969. Lacking the courage to follow his own constitution, handed over power to the Army Chief instead of the Speaker of the National Assembly. General Agha Muhammad Yayha Khan presided over the dismemberment of Jinnah’s Pakistan. Bangladesh emerged on the world map after the surrender of the Armed Forces in December 1971.

The unanimously agreed 1973 constitution was a major effort in ensuring civilian authority. Beaten and bruised, the balance between civil-military relationship was redefined. The army was confined to the barracks where they rightfully belonged. The focus shifted to nation-building. Elected representatives of the people were in control of the republic. The dismissal of the two provincial governments (NWFP/KP, Balochistan) followed by military action in Balochistan in 1975 brought the army back into the mainstream of power. A tribunal was set up in Hyderabad to try the dissident political leadership. In early 1977, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) surprised everyone by dissolving the assemblies ahead of their term to seek a fresh mandate. Within hours an alliance of the nine opposition parties (Pakistan National Alliance) emerged. A trap had been laid to corner the most popular leader of his times. On July 05, 1977, General Zia-ul-Haq clamped the third martial law. In October 1958, General Ayub Khan sent home the entire civilian leadership of the country. Zia went after ZAB with the active support of the alliance that the establishment had carved. Popular founding fathers like Khan Qayyum Khan and Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy survived the onslaught while ZAB was eliminated through the judicial process in April 1979.

When in the same year Zia decided to indulge in the Afghan War I, ZAB warned against the consequences of his death cell. Though the Soviet Union was made to bite the dust the republic had to pay a heavy price. While the Islamic Republic of Iran remained neutral in the conflict and confined the influx of refugees to the border camps only, they were allowed to operate all over the land of the pure where they spread their impurities like wildfire. Then there was a u-turn after the threat from the USA post 9/11 bombing in New York. With sleeper cells all over the country, Pakistan had to suffer blatant acts of terrorism. It was never our war, yet we were made to suffer due to the misadventure of the dictators. With the loss of human life of close to 50,000 and collateral damage of over $100 billion, the republic has still not recovered.

Nations must learn from history to correct their future course of action. Unfortunately in the republic those who created monsters just walked away free of any consequences. General Pervez Musharraf the fourth usurper got away once in 1999, but was tried for treason when he crossed the line the second time in the year 2007. He was tried for treason under Article 6 of the constitution, fearing for his life he first reported sick to a military hospital from where he was smuggled out. Now he resides in the safety of Dubai. In the US, Robert McNamara was the Secretary of Defence who went to war in Vietnam. It was an aimless war in which 50,000 Americans lost their lives. After it was all over, he tendered a written remorse in his autobiography titled ‘My Apology’. He admitted his fault and sought forgiveness from his countrymen. Perhaps he wanted to die in peace.

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

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