Change without Martial Law
Koyee andaaza kar sakta hai is kay zoar-e-baazoo ka
Nigaah-e-mard-e-momin say badal jaatee hain taqdeerain!
One could not help but recite this verse of Allama Iqbal after listening to Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri’s historic and, Insha Allah, history-making speech on August 15, 2014. In a series of lectures he has expounded the rationale and details of his very well-thought-out and comprehensive plan to cure the nation’s ills and to restore power to the people for the first time in the history of Pakistan.
Unfortunately, the other forces of change do not seem to have given much thought to the root causes of the disease, nor have they suggested a permanent cure. Imran Khan has displayed the self-confessed impatience of a fast bowler, with a desire to quickly become Prime Minister. This was evident during his recent speech when he first claimed credit for the court order regarding the registration of cases against 21 persons in connection with the Model Town killings (“first wicket down!”) and then, in the same speech, invited Chaudhry Nisar to join him! So eager was he to become Prime Minister Imran Khan that he was inviting a person named in the FIRs for which he had claimed credit!
After being beaten by the system in three previous elections, prior to each of which he was full of confidence (“we’ll sweep the elections ji!”) Imran Khan still does not seem to have learnt his lesson. President Bill Clinton won two successive elections in the USA by correctly diagnosing the problems at that time in a phrase which he subsequently made famous: “It’s the economy, stupid!” Someone needs to tell the current aspirant to power in Pakistan: “It’s the system, stupid!”
Imran Khan’s latest display of vacillation, where he back-tracked on his declared objective of marching through the Red Zone to the Prime Minister’s house, and then gave the government a deadline of 7 days, then 3 days, and finally 2 days, in the same breath, does not reflect favorably on his leadership qualities.
Dr. Tahirul Qadri has shown the wisdom, the courage and determination of a great leader. His clear-thinking, logic and speech-making are reminiscent of the great Muslim leaders of the sub-continent in the past: Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Nawab Bahadur Yar Jang, the Quaid-e-Azam himself and Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan. He does not have any personal ambitions. His mission is noble and deserves the support of all Pakistanis who put their country first. The only un-answered question, in the words of an old English song is, “How’re we going to get there? That’s the rub!”
There is only one institution in the country which has the organization, discipline, honesty and meritocracy in its ranks to bring about a peaceful change: the Pakistan Army. It is the only institution in the country which the general public respects and trusts. It is the only institution where the officers have risen in the ranks on the basis of merit and merit alone. No military ruler of Pakistan has indulged in personal corruption. Dr. Qadri has clarified that he would leave the basic structure of the constitution intact, but would insist on the strict enforcement of all its original clauses pertaining to human rights, in particular the first forty articles. Amendments required for the system change can be put before the public in a general referendum. The only fair elections in Pakistan were held under the auspices of the Army in 1970. This should be repeated for the first elections after introduction of the system reforms.
In recent years, whenever the civil administration has been in trouble, it has taken the help of Armed Forces of Pakistan. The general public has as much right over the Armed Forces as the civil administration. Dr. Qadri has declared his opposition to Martial Law. That’s fine. Martial Law is not necessary. To former President Gen. (R) Parvez Musharraf goes the unique distinction of never having imposed Martial Law in the 7 years of his presidency, while giving Pakistan the best governance in recent years. In contrast, the late Z. A. Bhutto, the godfather of the so-called democracy in Pakistan, was quick to assume the title of Chief Martial Law Administrator, with designer-made uniforms, when he took office. It would be useful to study the peaceful manner in which the Army took power in 1999, to the relief of the general public.
The Pakistan Army has got its hands full on both the northern and the southern borders, and in taking care of the Taliban threat in the interior of the country. Its role can at best be that of a facilitator, presiding over a transitional, non-political government selected from the best brains in the country. Unfortunately, many people in Pakistan jump up whenever the Army is mentioned, as a result of vicious propaganda by politicians whose game of plunder-and-loot-by-turn gets interrupted, and by some lifafa journalists, because the lifafas stop coming. In the year 2014, there is no chance of an Army Chief trying to sit permanently (as was done by the late Gen. Ziaul Haq, mentor of many politicians currently in power), specially with a person like Gen. Raheel Shareef at the helm.
In my opinion, the Army needs to come in for a brief period, this time by public demand, with a given mandate of enforcing ruthless accountability and introducing system reforms. The eyes of the people are on the Pakistan Army, to deliver them from a ruling class the members of which are oppressors, and restore power to the people through a truly democratic system of government as defined by Dr. Tahirul Qadri.