Thursday, July 15, 2010
Democracy in Uniform-----A Review on Pakistan political Scenario (2004)
Articles : Democracy in Uniform-----A Review on Pakistan political Scenario
by Iftikhar Chaudri on 29-Oct-2004 8:39pm
Democracy in Uniform
By Iftikhar Chaudri
In the backdrop of recent reshuffles within the top brass of Pakistan Army orchestrates a new debate on the continuity of General Musharaf 's rule in the country, with or without uniform. The mystery of constitutional provision to retain the top slot of the country in uniform still unresolved which gives birth to a speculation of a Proposed Referendum, as expected MMA at least, to contract direct opinion from the people of the country on this particular constitutional jig-saw-puzzle. The case of politico-military relations in Pakistan has to be viewed in the overall spectrum of the nations inheriting similar socio-economic constraints, failure of civilian leadership to deliver the democratic governance, which precipitate military intervention in domestic politics.
Threats of disobedience or obedience to civil authority at least in colonial system were a relative term. By tradition, the Armed Forces would submit to civilian supremacy and Pakistan Army had of course inherited a great tradition of loyalty, sense of duty, patriotism and complete subordination to civilian authority. But the tradition was flexible. When the Indian troops started the occupation of Kashmir, Quaid-e-Azam flew to Lahore in October 1947, and, as the supreme civil authority in Pakistan, ordered the Pakistan Army to enter Kashmir, these orders were disobeyed. Hector Bolitho maintains " Field Marshal Sir Claude Auckinleck flew to Lahore at one hour's notice and reasoned with Quaid-e-Azam, he explained to Quaid that the presence of Indian troops in Kashmir is justified, since Mahraja had acceded, any action by Pakistan Armed Forces would force him to withdraw all the British officers, including Commander-in-chiefs of both India and Pakistan. What infact had happened as that Quaid had ordered the acting Commander-in-chief General Sir Douglas Gracy, to send Pakistani troops to Kashmir. Gracy instead of obeying the civil authority, told Auckinleck, ho flew to Lahore from New Dehli and held a gun, in the form a threat to withdraw British officers, at Quaid. . Now Quaid realised that disobedience for British soldier under colonial system to supreme civil authority. , was a variable factor .
In the absence of democratic institutions, undue delay in framing the Federal Constitution and other related factors prompted the early bureaucrats-turned-politicians to look for extra-Constitutional Forces to give strength to extend their rules. After the dissolution of the first Constituent Assembly in 1954, the then Governor General Ghulam Muhammad invited General Ayub Khan to join the Federal Cabinet as Defence Minister under Muhammad Ali Bogra. This unholy marriage of mismatched spouses was proved to be short-lived, yet it introduced the Army to the annals of the power corridors.
The politicians found the generals too competent to accomplish the politico-military assignments admirably well and thus save them from political ruination. On every occasion approaching a crisis, the Armed Forces were freely involved and saddled with tasks outside their profession. Such an expectation and involvement had its own ramifications when 1951 the military was found involved in its first abortive coup d'etat. The coup leaders had singled out the civilian government's failure to find any political solution of highly emotive Kashmir problem, to justify their action. Burt only after two years, in March 1953, when in response to distress call of Punjab Government during Volcanic Eruption of sectarian riots, the Army imposed Martial Law in Lahore, which was welcomed by almost every segment of the society. Although limited in time and space, this happening in Lahore made a far-reaching impact on Pakistan's political history. The opportunities of this kind of civil requested interventions do not arise at random except for the ones occasioned by external circumstances. But opportunities occasioned by domestic conditions as in Punjab, significantly illustrated the reality that under weaker politicians, the political processes in Pakistan had not gained sufficient strength, simultaneously it demonstrated the ability of the Army to succeed physically where the civilian government had not been able to suppress a popular upsurge.
The coalition government of Muslim League and United Front, headed by Chaudhary Muhammad Ali, continued to be in power, when constitution was enforced. He pledged to conduct fair and free elections under the constitution but failed to fulfill its promise and resigned on 8 Sep 1958 because of political differences within the Muslim League. The new Awami League Cabinet under the premier-ship Mr Shurawardy also demonstrated its decreased role of the civil service in politics since the ascendancy of Governor General Ghulam Muhammad and his coterie. But Shurawardy Cabinet made no progress towards general election. There were many Charges of corruption and mal-practices against the Cabinet. Neither Mr Shurawardy nor his Cabinet showed any enthusiasm for implementing the Islamic provisions of the Constitution: the enhanced provincial autonomy was not utilized and the National Finance Commission, which was expected to recommend larger financial resources to the provinces, was not even constituted. On the issue of One Unit in West Pakistan, he developed differences with his political coalition partners and was forced to resign on 11 Oct 1957.
The next cabinet change constituted under the aegis of Mr I I Chundrigar, the leader of opposition, which did not last, however , more than a few weeks and Mr Chundrigar resigned as the Republican Party went back on their pledges and promises on the electoral issue. Mr Chundrigar was , however , commissioned again by the president to form a new cabinet. This evoked clearly a new question, as to how , if Mr Shurawardy's request was unacceptable because he had lost the confidence of the majority, could Mr I I Chundrigar be commissioned to form a new Cabinet when surely he had no majority. It might easily be interpreted as due to president's unwillingness to allow the Republicans to come to power. It was perhaps something, which a constitutional head of the State might hesitate to perform in a parliamentary system supposed to have been based on British system.
Mr Chundrigar was not successful and the Republican Party came to power under Malik Feroz Khan Noon . . The date of elections was postponed more than once; although tentatively fixed for Feb 1959, yet there were fears of a possible further postponement. The conflicts and tussles between indigenous landlords and refugee merchant industrialists determined the course of Pakistan Society.
Pakistan was in grip of severe economic crisis in 1958. The scarcity of consumer goods , the rising prices , the shortage of food . Large scale deficit financing by the government and financial in-discipline, were all unmistakable indications of declining economy. The impotence of political leadership and general corruption in the society, as compared with the well integrated and disciplined Armed Forces and their to maintain the law and order led to a perception amongst the higher military command that it was they who had to maintain law and order and keep the state intact. General Ayub Khan was under constant pressure from different circles of the Army to do something to check the political turmoil in the country The politicians were aware of the fact that the Armed Forces were the only institution free from the intrigues, which had characterized political system in Pakistan. They had started contacts with the officers and issuing statements to bring Armed Forces into political arena. The Government issued an ordinance to deal with the actions and statements tending to impair the discipline of the Armed Forces to check the attempts of the politicians to in the support in the Armed Forces.
From its birth , Pakistan has sought to reconcile an authoritarian political culture with a plural society . The superior courts have played a legitimising function, at times using the doctrine of state necessity to declare legal , and have often handed down decisions they later refused , for political reasons , to uphold., as Kamal Azfar observes.
A revolution that has succeeded is thus legalised illegality. Since no Constitution is known to contain a provision for its own overthrow by violence, a revolution in its inception and conception is an avowed illegality. The Army takeover in 1958 was never a spontaneous action, but the result of a cool-minded and patient analysis of the situation ever since 1947. General Ayub did not hesitate to acknowledge that his authority lay ultimately in the power of the Armed Forces. Even when the military was relegated to background and the background and other sources of legitimacy were established through the "Basic Democracies and Constitution". Ayub repeatedly used threat of a bloody Revolution to counter serious challenges to his rule. During the periods of crisis, military personnel were brought into key positions to demonstrate their continued support of the regime. Ayub on his part , continually shifted and balance his potential rivals in the military. Civilian Control over Armed Forces was abolished. But, the military was more of support base of the regime in the policy-making, which was left mainly to the civil bureaucracy.
General Ayub managed to introduce a new political system with the collaboration of civil- military bureaucracy. But the political stability given by this regime was personalised rather than institutionalised. The 1965 Indo-Pak war had ended in a stalemate with Pakistan failing to Liberate Kashmir and India failing to subdue Pakistan.. It was Tashkent Declaration without providing a solution of the Kashmir problem, came as a shock.
Ayub Khan tendered his resignation on 25 March 1969. General Yahya Khan, the C-in-C took over as the President of Pakistan He announced and promulgated Legal framework Order (LFO). And made the eventual transfer of power conditional on the ability of the elected representatives to frame a constitution within 120 days of the first meeting of National Assembly. He conducted elections in 1970. Awami League and Peoples Party were emerged as main political parties. Unfortunately, a debate about the sharing of power ensued between the leaders of Awami League and PPP. The politicians demonstrated a remarkable incapacity for mutual understanding and accommodation even in their common interest to eradicate martial law regime. Once again, the craving for power blurred their vision to larger interest of the nation to restore the democracy in the country. Both Mujib ur Rehman and Z A Bhutto starting compelling each other. Z A Bhutto announced a boycott of NA Session at Dacca on 3 March 1971.
General Yahya Khan postponed the National Assembly session, which proved to be counter productive. Mujib ur Rehman took off Civil Disobedience, which brought about complete closure of government departments and private sector. The image of a united country faded into an illusion. The de-facto government of Sheikh Mujib decided to defy the Generals and made a unilateral decision to withdraw martial law from the country on 25 March 1971. The Armed Forces were now left alone to face the volatile situation while the politicians went to background. No concerted efforts, from politicians were made to help Army to pull back from the path of impending disaster.
With better politicians and stronger political institutions, perhaps, the Armed Forces could be either deterred from crack down or stopped half way through it to seek a political solution. General Yahya blundered from one crisis into another. Consequently the eventful story of Pakistan's dismemberment darkens our history. Z A Bhutto became first civilian Martial Law administrator at time of worst crisis in the history of Pakistan. In order to consolidate its position, the PPP leadership condemned Army generals time and again. PPP sowed seeds of hatred among the military ranks from the very beginning of civilian rule. Z A Bhutto fixed the tenure of COAS at 3 years, the post of Chairman of JCSC was created, and the Constitution of Pakistan passed the National Assembly on 10 April 1973. The Armed Forces on their part had accepted the inevitability of the situation and had reverted to its previous professional role. Z A Bhutto's rule was marked by authoritarian civilian command on the Armed Forces. He called Army on April 1977 to suppress opposition's agitation against the rigging allegations. It was the beginning of the end, martial law was imposed in Karachi, Hyderabad and Lahore. Now the Armed Forces torn between their Constitutional duty to the government and their real duty to the nation and the people. Early in May 1977, Army had to open fire outside a mosque in Lahore, killing number of demonstrators and hundreds injured. There was lot of stress and strain on Armed Forces, re-think about their new role. Despite the complete chaos, Bhutto believed that he was still enjoying the support of Armed Forces.
General Zia ul Haq took over as Chief Martial Law administrator on 5 July 1977. The Martial Law was challenged in the Supreme Court. After a long arguments the court came to conclusion that the declaration of Martial Law was justified by "state necessity" and by the requirement s and welfare of the people. The Court once again exercised a legitimising function, but it overstepped the principle of state necessity by conferring power upon the Chief Martial Administrator to amend the constitution.
General Zia ul Haq had the sense to retain command over the Army throughout hid eleven years at the helm, realising where the source of his power lay. But he did not rule by force alone. In his philosophy of statecraft, guile occupied a prominent place. Moderate politicians were handled with kid gloves. An Iron Fist was reserved for the leadership of PPP, mortal enemies in Zia's eyes, and for assorted leftists for whom Zia felt an ideological anathema. He was also careful to build up a civilian constituency of his own . The constant outgoing of religious rhetoric from the founts of the regimes had its appeal for a sizeable segment of population. Just as there is a PPP vote bank, there is also a vote-bank of rightists, which looks upon the PPP with hatred that has not dimmed over the years.
Zia's most malignant legacy is the fundamentalism that seems to have taken firm roots in Pakistan. The virulent militancy in the name religion, which we see all around us today, is a virtual offspring of his religious rhetoric. The worst kind of intolerant behaviour started prevailing in the society, which incurred irreparable loss to fabric of our society.
Immediately after the death of General Zia ul Haq and members of his legacy in an air crash , the political scenario of Pakistan has changed its colours . The arch rival of General Zia, PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto became the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The introduction of democracy could not attract the powerful Establishment. The mal-governance , political victimisation , alleged corruption of her spouse and few ministers was the hall mark of her realm, which added negative marks to her performance report.. Civilian President Ghulam Ishaq was the principal protagonist in the melodrama who twisted the tug of war at the behest of Army , consequently she was removed from the premier-ship. The removal of Benazir attracted to main reasons; general apprehension about PPP's anti-Establishment stance; civilian supremacy was not acceptable to the Establishment, which developed robust roots in the mainstream politics of the country.
The brainchild of the Establishment, a business tycoon Mian Nawaz Sharif was the next choice of General Jillani the then DG ISI and later Governor of Punjab. A hung parliament came into being with thin majority of PML. From the very first day Mian Nawaz Sharif has to face acute hurdles of the opposition. His self style of the governance creates many questions. Ghulam Ishaq Khan always had his reservations about the government's competence , but the reports of attempts to curtail his powers , or to try and ease him out of office after repealing 58-2b of the Constitution, made G I K a revengeful personality . Benazir Bhutto picked up signals of the growing discord at the top and framed her strategy accordingly. Entering into alliance with some known loyalists of Ghulam Ishaq Khan, targeting Mian Nawaz Sharif and his government in a series of rallies and long marches.
Benazir, the two-time Prime Minister, undoubtedly gifted with charisma, but given to a compulsive proclivity for corruption and a well manifested incompetence, came out with regular pilgrimages to Washington get its Asheerbad . On one of her numerous visit to the State Department in Washington, she had asserted that she was "the only leader who could save Pakistan in the prevalent crisis." However she found very difficult to prove her worth better than Musharraf.
. More so, the financial bungling as orchestrated by Pakistani newspapers that they keep mentioning the $1 billion of public money , she had stolen during her inglorious two-term rules. She keeps claiming that Nawaz Sharif's hatchet men and spin doctors have pinned this false label on her, although she and her husband are innocent like newly born babies. Her conviction for corruption in a High Court was simply an aberration of justice, she contends, maneuvered by Nawaz Sharif.
The history is full of instances of rule of Armed Forces' intervention in civilian rule and acquired legitimacy either by blaming for previous regimes for inept and inefficient handling of national affairs, or through court verdicts. But in no case, Army rule was legitimised in the Constitution. Turkey is perhaps only country where Armed Forces enjoy a Constitutional backing to intervene under the circumstances. The National Security Council, joint civil-military body decides all-important issues. This body meets once a month under the aegis of the President, which ensures constant consultants and liaison between the political leadership and Armed Forces ranks. Pakistan and its allies can not wish in democracy with a magic wand when for the last 57 years it has pursued a path of Shariah , religious intolerance, authoritarian regimes and violence .The Constitution-1973 can not provide a solid ground for the true civil democracy , at least , the people witnessed for last 21 years. Islam as understood and practiced in most Muslim countries is incompatible with the concept of democracy as understood in the West and India . Even Turkey's democracy , after modernisation and reforms during the last Ottoman century and 70 years since Ataturk's sweeping reforms , with a secular constitution since 1923, gets wobbly from time to time. Its moderate Islamic parties have to be banned time and again. Its Armed Forces, a bastion of secularism , expel every year officers suspected of any Islamic proclivities. In stark contrast, Pakistan's Armed Forces and its establishment have been islamised.
Confronted with a much more difficult task than faced by either Ayub or Zia, Musharraf has not done too badly. He had inherited an economically collapsed state because of huge defence expenditure and civilian misrule hostage to partisan corruption , with rich refusing to pay taxes , power and other state dues . He is confronted with Wana extremist elements and resultant law and order situation in the country. It is Musharaf's success as political tycoon that a considerable segment of the intellectuals still believe that MMA is the brainchild of his legacy. Democracy in uniform can not be acceptable as far as true system of the government is concerned. Musharaf also realised that his uniform is the main hindrance in restoring the true Constitution-bound democracy in the country.
Despite all the criticism, anti-Musharraf elements failed to respond positively as he highlighted the corruption during Benazir -Nawaz rule as a reason to keep them out of politics. It also inhibited foreign investment in Pakistan .Of course the West and Pakistan's rich Gulf friends would not let Pakistan fail. China continues to support on missile technology and defence matters. Still, in spite of many infractions, Pakistan media enjoys fair amount of freedom. So far opposition has failed to unearth any major financial bungling of the government. The fast changing global scenario needs to consolidate the political institution in the country, but the state can not afford to hand over to typical corrupt political elements that endanger the very existence of the country. Two deputies; the economy expert Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and political manager Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain are running the country. It is witnessed that Pakistan Army has always retained certain reservations on the issue of handling nuclear assets, Kashmir policy and internal de-stablising factors including the issue of Kalabagh Dam & acute fanaticism. The two-timed civilian rulers , Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif apparently failed to cope up with the situation . The development of political institution and its consolidation, at the surface possible under a centralised command with support of the Establishment. The similar suggestion was made, when Nawaz Sharif was removed during his first tenure. The proposal highlighted that Pakistan Army must continue rule for few years to stabilise the economy and purge political ills from the country. The proposal could not take roots due to certain reasons and Moin Qureshi became the Caretaker PM. However, it is the greatest ever responsibility of the Establishment to nourish the political institution of the country.
The writer is extensive contributor for US Washington Post and New York Times and remained consultant for Continental arts and culture and young dynamic research fellow