Why We Need Pervez Musharraf for the Transition
“Kashmir and the rest of the issues should be sorted out by mutual talk but if India wants to talk in an aggressive way, then it should have no misconceptions. If anyone tries to challenge (Pakistan’s) power, they will learn a lesson that they will remember.”
Former President Gen. (R) Pervez Musharraf, in a rallying speech to the nation on Pakistan Day, March 23, 2002.
This speech was made at the height of the stand-off in Kashmir (13 December 2001 – 10 June 2002) when a belligerent India had amassed an army of close to a million men at the border with Pakistan. President Pervez Musharraf’s tough stance, at a time when a nuclear confrontation appeared imminent, was a major factor in forcing India to back off. Earlier in the crisis, he had boosted up the country’s morale on January 12, 2002 in another historic speech, which ended with the following inspiring words:
“We have to make Pakistan into a powerful and strong country. We have resources and potential. We are capable of meeting external danger. We have to safeguard ourselves against internal dangers. I have always been saying that internal strife is eating us like termite. Don’t forget that Pakistan is the citadel of Islam and if we want to serve Islam well we will first have to make Pakistan strong and powerful.
“There is a race for progress among all nations.
“We cannot achieve progress through a policy of confrontation and feuds. We can achieve progress through human resource development, mental enlightenment, high moral character and technological development. I appeal to all my countrymen to rise to the occasion. We should get rid of intolerance and hatred and instead promote tolerance and harmony.
“May God guide us to act upon the true teachings of Islam. May He help us to follow the Quaid-e-Azam’s motto: “Unity, Faith and Discipline”. This should always be remembered. We will be a non-entity without unity.
“And I would again like to recite a couplet from Allama Iqbal.
“Fard Qaim Rabte Millat Say Hai, Tanha Kuch Naheen.
Mauj Hai Darya Main Aur Bairoon-e-Darya Kuch Naheen”.
(The individual survives because of its cohesion with the community,
The life of the drop is in the river, and outside the river it is nothing!)
This was in line with the same ‘Sab sey pahlay Pakistan’ (Pakistan First) theme which this great leader has been harping upon for the past several years.
At a time when India has adopted the same belligerent attitude, indulging in unprovoked firing on our civilians on Eid day and the days following, a pincer- like situation is developing with an equally hostile Afghanistan to the north, the VIP culture of those in power is showing its ugly face on a daily basis, and Pakistan is faced with humiliation abroad, with its Prime Minister cold-shouldered by the high and mighty while on a trip to New York which cost our beleaguered country one crore rupees per day, one cannot help but recall the Musharraf years, which was a time when Pakistan had a voice in the comity of nations, when its leader took the nation into confidence and instilled confidence in the populace at each event of national importance, when things were under control, and good governance could be seen and felt all across the country.
Currently, in addition to the problems referred to in the preceding paragraph, there is a political crisis in the country. The official opposition in parliament is playing its agreed-upon role of a “friendly opposition” in the spirit of the plunder-and-loot- by-turn agreement, the mother of all mukmukas, mislabeled as the London Charter of Democracy. Scandals, cases of blatant corruption and misuse of power are brought to light every day by the electronic media, without any effect on the powers that be. The leaders of both the major political parties have proven themselves true to the prediction made by the late noted columnist, Ardeshir Cowasji, quoting a Gujrati saying which can be translated as “Jab raja bhaya beopari, parja bhayi bhikari” (when a businessman becomes the king, the people become paupers).
In a truly democratic country, questions would be asked on the floor of parliament, ministers would resign, and governments would topple. Not so in Pakistan’s feudalocracy. The real opposition is out on the streets, in the D-Chowk and the Shahraah-e-Dastuur of Islamabad. The leaders of this opposition, Dr. Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan, deserve credit for having aroused the conscience of the nation, and letting loose the winds of change. The writing is on the wall. In the words of an Urdu poet,
Jar ham nay pakar lee hai, Shaakhein nayee phootain gee
Shoalay bharak utthein gey, jhoankay jo hawa dein gey
(We have taken roots; new branches will blossom out –
Flames of fire will burst out, if adverse winds try to still us!)
These leaders differ in the solutions they are proposing, but are united on two important points in their demands:
- the resignation of the prime minister, and
- the setting up of an interim government.
Imran Khan’s core demand is the checking of election results followed by fresh elections (which he is confident of winning) if the rigging charges are proven. Dr. Tahirul Qadri’s demands are more far-reaching and far-sighted, seeking a system change which would provide a durable solution to the illness in our body politic. To meet Imran Khan’s demands, the task of the interim government would be to investigate and adjudicate on the alleged rigging in the last general elections. If Dr. Qadri’s demands are to be implemented, the interim government will need to be tasked with working out the details of the new system, and getting them approved through a public referendum, prior to the elections.
However, with either approach, the formation of a tooth-less, weak, interim government would be disastrous and leave the country vulnerable, which is just what Pakistan’s hostile neighbours to the north and south would want.
We are fortunate that, in Pervez Musharraf, we have an honest, patriotic leader with a proven track record of always having put Pakistan first, of putting Pakistan on track for unprecedented economic growth, of introducing and implementing democracy at the grass-roots level – the cradle of democracy in all truly democratic countries – through the Nazim system, and of freeing up the electronic media, which has made the dawning of a new dawn in Pakistan possible, Insha Allah. Musharraf has never minced words in dealing with Pakistan’s scheming neighbours who have taken advantage of the dormancy of his so-called ‘democratic’ successors to foment increased insurgencies and terrorism in Pakistan. He knows the exterior and interior problems of Pakistan like the palm of his hand. Members of his team are still around, and many of them have aligned themselves with Imran Khan or with Tahirul Qadri.
I feel that, for the betterment of Pakistan, it is imperative that the interim set up be headed by Pervez Musharraf. This change will need to have the backing of the army, which has always supported the country whenever its political leaders have brought it close to economic bankruptcy, and which the same political leaders are now trying to discredit and defame, cheer-led by Pakistan’s enemies abroad. This backing is also required because a first step would be the withdrawal of the ridiculous, baseless charges against Musharraf, which were started at the behest of a controversial, now widely-discredited, Chief Justice and his appointees.
When France had similarly become a laughing stock of the world, with parliamentary governments toppling every now and then, General Charles de Gaulle had come to its rescue in 1958 and introduced a stable, presidential form of government, approved by 79.2% votes in a public referendum, which led to France’s emergence as a world power. Incidentally, Quaid-e-Azam himself, in a hand-written note on his vision for the future constitution of Pakistan dated 10th July 1947 (available in the National Archives of Pakistan, Cabinet Division, Govt. of Pakistan, Islamabad) had stated that the presidential form of government is more suited for Pakistan. Under a heading of “Dangers of Parliamentary form of Govt.” he wrote that “It has worked satisfactorily so far in England, nowhere else.”
In my opinion, the interim government should not be a care-taker government, which would leave the controversial, feudalism-based system intact and, as in the past, would make it very difficult for honest outsiders to come into power, once the forces of the status quo unleash their dirty-tricks brigade.The care-taker government for conducting elections should come after system reforms, to be validated by a nation-wide referendum. The most important part of the change would be a presidential system of government, with complete separation of the executive and legislative arms of government, where contenders to the highest office will need to stand before the public in face to face TV debates, anchored by respected media persons. With such a system, the false, patwari-based leaders would melt away like ice cream, and a truly democratic, progressive Pakistan would emerge, in accordance with the dreams of its founding father.