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Shahid Lateef
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
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The blood-soaked mega-city of Pakistan has been crying for help, which was mercilessly denied. Over nearly one month, it witnessed the most dreadful slaughter of its ordinary and innocent citizens. The butchery was reminiscent of the tragedy that had shattered the peace of the city nearly two decades ago. Stories abound as individuals from different schools of thought propound an assortment of theories. The high and mighty of our ruling junta never tell us the truth. In fact, it is mostly the opposite, which then becomes the reference point for conjecture.

In any analysis of the Karachi crisis, there are two case studies on recent happenings in the contemporary world that need special mention. First, take the case of Turkey where the armed forces, backed by a constitutional provision, had a dominating role in state affairs. Although they caused interference in politics, their role had to be accepted by successive governments due to their lack of strength.

However, the present government turned out to be an exception. Determined to serve the nation honestly and sincerely, the leadership achieved rapid growth in all fields, enabling Turkey to become a leading country of the Muslim world. Its per-capita income jumped to a record high, from $2,500 to $10,000. Having achieved historical milestones and feeling strong due to public support, it was emboldened to establish its rightful control on public affairs. In a recent show of political power, all the services’ chiefs and the joint services chief were made to resign because they were resisting an investigation into a conspiracy by servicemen.

Moral of the story: if democratically elected governments deliver public service through good governance, they can rule with authority without fear of interventions, as they gain invincible power through public support.

The second example is that of the UK, which was recently rocked by riots and acts of looting and vandalism. As the law enforcing agencies sprung into action, the government stood firmly behind them with unflinching support for the entire state machinery at its disposal. All organs of the government were on the same page for the protection of public life and property, as part of their sacred duty.

Within days, the situation was brought under control. Speedy, unbiased and transparent investigations collected incriminating evidence to be submitted to courts. The courts, in turn, worked overtime and non-stop for days to administer justice expeditiously and handed down punishments, manifesting the true spirit of the dictum, “justice delayed is justice denied.” Moral of the story: when state institutions are conscious of their obligations towards the public and when they meet them conscientiously, it furthers their credibility and reinforces public trust in the political government.

It is in the backdrop of these glittering examples that we have to assess our own performance. In a mutually beneficial mechanism, where the public and its representatives work as one entity and are guided by the golden principles of honesty and truthfulness in their dealings with each other, neither side has to worry about betrayal by the other.

In our country, however, the situation is different. The leadership has always been considered as aliens that descend from another planet, work selfishly for their own interests, make fortunes at the cost of the common people and then disappear, leaving people in tatters. Due to the persistence of this unnatural, unfair, non-participative and exploitative arrangement, where the true representation of the common people of this country is absent and the interests of ordinary citizens are crushed by petty and partisan politics, there is a huge gulf between the rulers and the ruled.

The Karachi quagmire is a direct outcome of the myopic vision of our ruling political elite, in their efforts to secure their personal interests by adding more space to their respective fiefdoms through turf wars, without regard to the life, liberty and properties of the citizens. It is common knowledge that the leading political party in Karachi was patronised in the consolidation of its position by the last regime, and it holds sway over most of the city, exploiting it at will.

An attempted encroachment in this domain through a joint venture of the two other political parties is being resisted tooth and nail. Unfortunately, the antagonists are trying to establish their authority by use of force, rather than seeking a solution to political problem through a dialogue. Learning from the leading party’s secret to success, in using violence and extortion as instruments of its policy, the other two have raised their own militant wings, whose violence was on brute display in Karachi. Resultantly, hundreds of poor and innocent citizens have been massacred in pitched battles fought across the city for acquisition of more territory and protection of the existing turf.

Add to this explosive environment the revelations by the former senior minister of Sindh about those holding key positions in our setup. They have struck a mortal blow to the already weakening faith and confidence of the people of this country. Considering the sensitive and serious nature of these allegations, justice demands that they be expeditiously probed through a judicial council, and the curtain be lifted from the treacherous activities of those who hold the reigns of this country.

It is heartening to see the formerly dormant judiciary spring into action and taking suo motu notice of the killings of innocent citizens by the hundreds in Karachi. The people of this city had been clamouring for the higher judiciary to come to their rescue, by invoking Article 245 of the Constitution.

They want the army to bring durable peace by undertaking surgical operations against the barbarians who have been unleashed upon them. This should be followed in a natural progression, by the application of Article 190 for the execution of the Supreme Court’s pending judgments. As a third step, and based on the proven failures of the alternating civilian and military rules, a group of honest, honourable and competent professionals should be selected to run this country, till the time we can evolve a culture of sane and civilised politics and revert to “genuine” democracy.

It is expected that the judiciary, which is the only institution enjoying public trust, will rise to the occasion and take matters to the logical conclusion, in order to safeguard the security, sanctity and integrity of our beloved homeland that is being systematically ruined by the vested interests.

Pakistan enjoys an attractive geostrategic position. It lies in the middle of the world’s energy corridor, which regulates, and will continue to regulate, the global economy. The outside powers will, therefore, continue to hatch conspiracies that weaken this country, so that they can establish their foothold here with least resistance. Coupled with the crimes that are self-inflicted and in which the outsiders add fuel to the fire, this land becomes ripe for unrest and dissension, as we saw in the case of East Pakistan.

Let us therefore resolve that we will allow no room for further disintegration. This can be ensured if the patriotic citizens of Pakistan stand up and support the judiciary in its bold decisions, which will also provide us a chance to emulate the examples of Turkey, the UK, Malaysia, Singapore and other models of political and economic success.



The writer is former vice chief of air staff. Email: Shahidlateef57@ gmail.com