October 26, 2016Print : Opinion
The people of Pakistan – also whenever they become the electorate to choose a government – either have a serious crisis of cognition or an inherent wish not to remain sovereign as a nation. I say so because whoever they have popularly supported as their leader since the inception of the country is eventually found out to be somewhere on the spectrum from being an all-out traitor to a major security risk to an inherently untrustworthy individual working against the fundamental interests of Pakistanis.
One can understand that people have been betrayed by political leaders once or twice over the decades due to their innocence, inexperience and insufficient knowledge about politics and history. But there seems to be a pattern – of our people liking those leaders who are terribly disloyal and ready to compromise the national interest(s). So that either means that the whole nation is a nation of traitors and of those who pose a security risk to our collective interests or there is something else that we are unable to comprehend about ourselves.
Liaquat Ali Khan, the first prime minister of our country, was campaigning for the general elections that were scheduled for somewhere around March 1952. He was assassinated on October 16, 1951 in Rawalpindi when he was speaking at a public rally. We don’t know even now who plotted that assassination. The senior police officer who was investigating the case was killed when his plane crashed somewhere in Balochistan, if I recall correctly. Of course, he was carrying all the dossiers with him.
But before Khan was assassinated, the former-Unionist and now Muslim Leaguer politicians in Punjab had begun to propagate their disenchantment with Liaquat Ali Khan, saying he was working against the interests of ‘native’ Pakistanis vis-à-vis the ‘immigrants’ who had come from India. Meaning thereby that Khan was an outsider to Pakistan and therefore could be trusted as much. And all this was said with such conviction and repeated so many times that it is now established in public imagination that Liaquat Ali Khan belonged to the then United Provinces (UP) and hence was working against the interests of West Pakistan’s native population. This may well be correct and there are other reasons to believe that Khan wanted to create his constituency based on immigrants from India. However, the fact is that he belonged to Karnal, Punjab, and was given a seat to fight the elections from Meerut by the UP Muslim League.
Followed by the untrustworthy Liaquat Ali Khan was no other than Madar-e-Millat (Mother of the Nation) Fatima Jinnah who was the real traitor. She fought the presidential election against Gen Ayub Khan in 1964. As destined, she had to lose. However, during the campaign, she was accused of being a traitor by the general himself. He called her pro-India and pro-America. Incredible, isn’t it? Ayub made Pakistan an ally of the Americans like no other. Remember Seato, Cento, Sino-US diplomacy, the cold war, etc?
Ayub once said with spite that if people called her ‘The Mother’ she should behave like one. Meaning the frail 71-year-old shouldn’t have challenged the autocratic rule of the dictator in the first place. Most forget that Fatima Jinnah’s death also remains an unresolved criminal case in Pakistan. But she may well have been a traitor because her campaign in East Pakistan was run by no other than Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
No need to get into the details of why Sheikh Mujib was a traitor. But wasn’t he the most popular leader of united Pakistan in 1970? His party, the Awami League, had won more than half of the legislature while Bhutto’s PPP had won about a quarter of the seats in the national legislature. Forget about why power was not transferred to the most popular leader who had won the elections.
The logic is simple. If people had elected a traitor, how could power be transferred to a traitor? Therefore, when power was not transferred to the traitors who had been voted in they resigned the assemblies. Only then there were by-elections in East Pakistan in 1971 – some months before the fall of Dhaka – and the vote count was dismal. But it must have been a relief for powers that be then at least a few thousand patriots still lived among millions of traitors.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was very popular in Punjab and Sindh and had pockets of support in the other two provinces of remaining Pakistan in the 1970s. First he took charge from Gen Yahya Khan as president and then became the prime minister. He created a consensus among politicians to promulgate the new constitution of the reconfigured republic – West Pakistan which became Pakistan through a decree.
Bhutto also got heads of the states and governments of Muslim countries converge in Lahore for a summit conference, agitating global powers and trying to forge an economic and political alliance. He initiated a nuclear programme and invested in heavy industry in Pakistan. Lo and behold! Come 1977 and it was found out by political opponents and military generals alike that he was the biggest of all traitors.
Gen Ziaul Haq was left with no choice but to hang Bhutto. But the workers of left-wing and democratic parties including those of Bhutto’s PPP working against the national interest were also traitors who had to be taught a lesson as well. So they were taught a befitting lesson for eight long years between 1977 and 1985. On December 31, 1985, when the state of emergency was lifted by Gen Zia’s handpicked prime minister of the country, Muhammad Khan Junejo, there was some respite from state oppression. But Junejo was to be removed fairly quickly because his conduct was so unbecoming that Gen Zia wept on the television for the sorrows Junejo had brought upon the nation.
But as I maintain that they have a penchant for treacherous leaders, people again elected Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s daughter Benazir as their prime minister as soon as they had a chance to do so in 1988. She was ousted soon after it emerged that she was also a major security risk. Then she again came to power after her adversary Nawaz Sharif could not be seen to be patriotic enough to run the affairs of the state. But Benazir Bhutto remained a major security risk and couldn’t be trusted with matters of great national interest and public welfare until the time of her assassination. The people of Pakistan do not know for sure who plotted her murder.
We had Gen Pervez Musharraf – the only military ruler who was later indicted for abrogating the constitution and hence charged for sedition – ruling us from 1999 to 2008. He had removed Nawaz Sharif from premiership for conspiring against the national interest by appointing an army chief of his choice.
But Musharraf is seen by the affluent middle class – the class that believes in itself as the engine of progress and enlightenment in Pakistan – as the only person who has been wrongly accused by a set of politicians who are themselves seditionists. So he was let go by the powers that be and is enjoying his retirement at the moment. Given a chance, he will come back to lead the country as a civilian politician. However, since he is not seen as a traitor people may decide not to support him.
Finally, we are being continuously informed now that the incumbent Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, is the biggest security risk and a traitor at this moment. Imran Khan confirmed the other day that Sharif is appealing to India and Israel to save him from accountability. We were also told earlier that Sharif is isolating our military and is personal friends with Modi, the right-wing prime minister of India. Bizarre as it may sound, but since it comes from someone who is considered to be the most upright, sincere, honest and infallible person by his supporters which include some really good people, I am ready to believe what Imran Khan has said.
But I also hope and pray that if Khan himself becomes popular enough to get a majority in parliament and becomes prime minister, at some point he is not found out to be a security risk too.
The writer is a poet and author based in Islamabad.