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National

November 20, 2017

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PPP vs PML-N — II

Freelancer HH Zaidi in his effort to over rate PML-N as a democratic party has made Benazir Bhutto’s painful long struggle for the restoration of democracy as one of usual things that happen (Prisoner’s Dilemma, News Nov 11) and her election as Prime Minister in 1988 as not much too significant when internationally it was acknowledged historic landmark—first female Muslim Prime Minister ever in history. Most importantly, it overnight changed the image of Pakistan from beastly bearing of the ugly dictator to blossoming face of democratic Benazir Bhutto—bold, brave and beautiful.   
‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’ is reflective of Ziaist mindset. It shows no consideration for Benazir’s long incarcerations, torture and sacrifices in blood as well her father, mother and thousands of PPP workers and supporters who went through hell under General Zia’s overly oppressive regime. His public flogging of the political activists was to castrate their political will to fight back and resist his dictatorship. 
  Conveniently is forgotten the fact that General Zia—master of “engineering” had “engineered” Mian Nawaz Sharif as his civilian portage through General Jeelani when he appointed him Punjab’s Finance Minister. Three-years before his divine fall from the skies he had “engineered” Muslim League and party-less election as a vehicle to sustain his legacy. His successors— Acting President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Army Chief General Aslam Beg and ISI’s DG General Hameed Gul-were no lovers of democracy.
  Benazir’s return from exile in April 1986 to an unprecedented welcome in Lahore had established her massive strength and her popularity. It sent message, firm and clear, to Zia and his constituency that sooner than later, things shall not remain the same. GIK and the army chief could not play tricks since there was global wind for change in support of democracy. So they were back to the “engineering” table. ISI DG Hameed Gul

“engineered” IJI and propped MNS into a politician larger than his puny size. Through rigging in 1988 election, Benazir’s imminent landslide was reduced into simple majority and made MNS majority leader in Punjab. 
In his election campaign MNS stooped to the lowest and unethical gender-related methods, posters with fabricated pictures of Bhutto ladies were airdropped. When dirty-picture campaigns did not impact the voters in Punjab, he raised the provincial slogan—“Jaag Punjab Jag”. If any leader of smaller provinces had raised this secessionist slogan—he would have been debarred from elections and politics for life and even tried for treason. As chief minister he would not receive Prime Minister Benazir in Punjab, nor accept federal government’s appointees as Chief Secretary and IGP. On way to UDI he had established Punjab Bank and was about to set up Punjab TV & Broadcasting Corporation when GIK dismissed Benazir government after MNS had failed to topple her through vote of no-confidence. Incidentally, there have been reports that allege that he also received big money from OBL who was opposed to woman as prime minister of a Muslim country.  
Much more severe “engineering” was done in 1990 elections. Receiving intelligence reports that Benazir would be elected to power again with a bang if not stopped, the Establishment “engineered” the polls in favour of IJI. He out maneuvered its leader and became PM himself. Veteran leader Asghar Khan went to the Supreme Court against ISI’s “engineering” role in politics. Thank God, retired ISI DG General Asad Durrani gave an affidavit before the Supreme Court putting on record that COAS General Aslam Beg ordered him to fund Nawaz Sharif, Leader of IJI Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi and scores of others opposed to Benazir. Record of this case can be found in the Supreme Court collecting dust, without clouding the “engineering” that brought MNS in as Prime Minister for the first time.   
MNS wanted absolute power but GIK would not without his pound of flesh and the partnership collapsed. A tug of war ensued and GIK dismissed MNS on charges of corruption. However, the Supreme Court did not consider corruption as valid charge then and restored MNS. Judge from Sindh Justice Sajjad Ali Shah dissented with the majority judgment on ground that in an earlier judgment in Benazir’s appeal against her sacking in 1990, the Supreme Court had upheld similar corruption charges as valid ground for dismissal. As such it was not PPP that accused the court of a biased approach but a judge of the Supreme Court. 
Interim Prime Minister Dr Moen Qureshi held polls in October 1993 and once again Benazir staged a come back only to be sacked three years later on corruption charges by President Farooq Leghari—a beneficiary from PPP all through his political career. Her dismissal was once again upheld by the judiciary through an “engineered” judgment by the powers that be.
Leghari too as president and Supreme Commander of armed forces--misconceived himself to be a victor with an assured long innings in the Presidency. With powers under 58-2-B he had decided to play games with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif too. He did not realise that he was used by the Nawaz’s old “engineers”. FL wanted MNS to have simple majority, the “engineers” got him two/third. After browbeating CJP home, MNS removed 8th Amendment and forced FL to resign on threat of impeachment. Soon came Shariah Bill, Kargil misadventure and GPM’s sack that rebounded on MNS by yet another institutional decision, taking him lock and stock and barrel to comforts of Saroor Palace only to return him home, courtesy Benazir Bhutto. 
Last but not the least, while MNS was enjoying comforts of  Saroor Palace and doing big business, Benazir was fighting her cases instituted against her by MNS and his hatchet man Saifur Rehman continued by General Musharraf with her husband languishing in jail for years. Please remember her conviction by Justice Qayum on the orders of the prime minister and also dozens of Red Warrents threatening her. While being persecuted to her end, she had been running around Western capitals to force them to withdraw their support to the dictator.  
PPP had negotiated NRO for the return of democracy, free and fair elections and to enable return of all political leaders --mind you not PPP alone -- in exile with no restriction on them to contest elections. While thousands gained re-entry, its main beneficiary was MNS. One must recall when he tried to return without the cover of NRO, GPM had him handcuffed to aircraft’s seat and sent him back to Saudi Arabia since he had violated ten-year agreement with them not to return to Pakistan and participate in politics. Though MNS denied it, the then Saudi Interior Minister Prince Muqrin (now dead) flew into Islamabad and waved the agreement signed by MNS at a press conference. If there had been no NRO, GPM would not have been denuded of his uniform, no elections would have been held, democracy not restored and MNS would perhaps still be in Saudi Arabia making money.  
His existential drama pertains to himself only. He dug his own grave in 1999 and now too he is responsible for giving space to institutions other than parliament, especially those that have mastered “engineering” art. PPP saved him time and again-whether it were PTI’s dharnas “engineered” by the umpire’s finger. Zardari maintains his principled stand that he would support PML-N to complete five years, but he has refused to be part of his ‘make-or-break’ relationship either against the judiciary or the Establishment. Anyone who defends him must remember the factor of divine justice. I end with my favourite quote from Shakespeare – “Heaven is above all yet there sits a judge, that no king can corrupt.”
Author is the former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and a veteran journalist.

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