Today is Pakistan’s Independence day. The country which was born out of the two nation theory propagated by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, has witnessed turbulent times in the past decades. After the sacking of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, it has further entered a phase of uncertainty. A report by R K Kaushik.
Pakistan was born out of the two nation theory propagated by Muslim league and its great leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah.The two nation concept was opposed by the congress but was discretely encouraged nay abetted by the Britishers. The demarcation of boundaries and the communal acrimony resulted in unprecedented violence in which about a million people died of violent death and 12 Million others crossed borders. As a result of this theory the new born Pakistan had two wings East Pakistan (Made up of East Bengal) and West Pakistan (Made up of 17 Districts of West Punjab, Sindh, The North West frontier province, Baluchistan and 10 Princely States). Mostly the areas with conspicuous presence of Muslims. Violence and migration were of such magnitude that this tragic episode can be regarded as the first example of ethnic cleansing in history. In fact, it was a surgery without anesthesia.Pakistan was born out of the two nation theory propagated by Muslim league and its great leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah.The two nation concept was opposed by the congress but was discretely encouraged nay abetted by the Britishers. The demarcation of boundaries and the communal acrimony resulted in unprecedented violence in which about a million people died of violent death and 12 Million others crossed borders. As a result of this theory the new born Pakistan had two wings East Pakistan (Made up of East Bengal) and West Pakistan (Made up of 17 Districts of West Punjab, Sindh, The North West frontier province, Baluchistan and 10 Princely States). Mostly the areas with conspicuous presence of Muslims. Violence and migration were of such magnitude that this tragic episode can be regarded as the first example of ethnic cleansing in history. In fact, it was a surgery without anesthesia.
During the first 6 months, the central government of Pakistan relied on the assets and the liabilities of the 1947-48 all-India budget, and on the whole, was insufficiently solvent. The budgetary deficit during the period from August 1947 to March 1948, reached Rs 234 Million. In all this the provisional and princely states governments accounted for a significant part of the public expenses.
In early 1948, the Nizam of Hyderabad extended a loan of Rs 200 Million to Pakistan. This, to a large extent, enabled the central government to finalize its first annual budget, whose defence component accounted for 70 per cent, while the comparative figure in India’s first budget was almost 40 per cent.
The founding father Quaid-i-Azam Jinnah was very perspicacious when he addressed 69 members of the constituent assembly on 11th August 1947 at Karachi.
He said “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed- that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”
But communal tensions- leading to riots were uncontrollable. Mr Jinnah died on 11th September 1948 in Karachi. After nine years of effort, Pakistan succeeded in framing a Constitution which became effective on 23 March 1956, proclaiming Pakistan as an Islamic Republic.
Khwaja Nazimuddin and Ghulam Mohammad were poor replacements of Jinnah. Whereas Bogra Mohammad Ali Suhrawardy, Chaudrigar and Feroz Khan Noon were no match for first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan (14th August 1947 to 16 October 1951).
It is said “No Constitution can be absolutely safe from Revolution or from a coup d’etat”. Ayub knew fully well that the constitution contained no provision for its own abrogation; that it contained no provision for declarations of martial law and appointment of a Chief Martial Law Administrator. That’s why he called his military take over on 8th October 1958 as revolution. On 08 October 1958 Field Marshal Ayub Khan became President of the Islamic Country.
Ayub introduced a range of reforms in the hope that the benefits flowing from these reforms would reach the people and they would come to recognize the merits of his system of government. Some of the reforms never got of the ground; others like the land reforms, lost their purpose in the course of implementation. Still, the introduction of the reforms created an atmosphere of re thinking which constituted a challenge to vested interests.
Ayub would also be remembered for the development of the atomic energy programme in Pakistan which received a shot in the arm when he converted the Pakistan atomic energy commission from a semi government body into a statutory body in 1965.
Ayub Khan fought a fiercely contested election with Fatima Jinnah as opponent. He defeated her and got elected as president in 1965. Thereafter in August/ September 1965 the operation Gibraltar failed and 1965 war started. The Tashkant agreement in January 1966 lead to the resignation of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as foreign minister and founding of Pakistan People’s Party in September 1968. The political dexterity of Bhutto lead to massive mobilization of students, labour, employees and people in general. Field Marshal Ayub Khan resigned on 25th March 1969 and handed over powers to General Yahya Khan. The 1970 elections lead to the majority going to Awami league of Sheikh Mujibhur Rehman. Yahya Khan refused to hand over power to him. The December 1971 war with India ended with fall of Dhaka and surrender of Pakistan army of 93,000 troops & para military forces. Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto took over as chief marshal law administrator on 20th December 1971.Like Churchill on the eve of acquiring power in the state, Bhutto felt as if he too was walking with destiny and, like Churchill, he felt as if all his life had been but a preparation for that hour and for the task that lay ahead. On 2nd January 1972 he nationalized 10 basic industries. On 11 March 1972 he introduced land reforms, in which a person could own 150 acres of irrigated and 300 acres of un-irrigated land. On 1st April 1972 he took over the management of private colleges and schools. On 10 March 1972 he dismissed more than 1300 civil servants. He took decisions with alacrity and was a leader in a hurry and signed Shimla agreement with India on 2nd July 1972.
In June 1972 he helped in organizing a discreet visit by Dr Henry Kissinger to China to meet Mao Tse Tung and Chou En Lai. Bhutto received credit nay appreciation and gratitude from the Chinese Communist Party
The 1973 constitution, which had the approval and support of all political parties in the country, was undoubtedly one of Bhutto’s greatest achievements. Bhutto violated its sanctity by a series of unilateral amendments in the teeth of opposition from his political opponents. In June 1974 Bhutto called all prominent scientists of Pakistan at Multan and directed them to start the process of building of nuclear device. He gave them carte blanche regarding budget and all sorts of help. Immediately thereafter, Bhutto himself visited China and decided to consolidate relations with the communist neigbourer. In March, 1976, General Tikka Khan, the Army Chief retired, Bhutto in his imperiousness ignored the first seven Generals and chose General Zia-Ul-Haq who was number eight in the seniority. All seven generals resigned. The conduct of 1977 elections by him were controversial with rigging allegations and On 5th July 1 977 Gen Zia-Ul-Haq conducted his army coup and took over power in the country. The operation of taking over the country by the armed forces was code-named “Operation Fairplay” He registered a murder case against Bhutto and executed him on 4th April, 1979. He declared that Pakistan could not survive without Islam and that the sole justification, the raison d’etre for the establishment of Pakistan was the introduction of the Islamic system.There had been military coups before, but now for the first time, a maulvi, a deeply religious person, was the head of state, the head of the government, and the Army Chief- a frightening combination- and he seemed determined to recreate the Islamic legal and social order which had originated in Tribal Arabia more than a thousand years earlier.
Gen Zia established federal Shariat Court with powers to declare invalid any law or provision of a law as repugnant to the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Zia held party less elections in May 1985 in which Mohammad Khan Junejo became Prime Minister. Zia dissolved the National Assembly on 29th May 1988 and dismissed Junejo government. Gen Zia died in plane crash on 17th Aug 1988.It is pertinent to mention Zia handled the situation created for Pakistan by the soviet intervention in Afghanistan, which had taken him and everybody else completely by surprise. Everyone had proceeded on the assumptions that the Soviets would never cross the Oxus and enter Afghanistan. Zia refused to accept that fait accompli. He sponsored mujahedeen groups to fight Soviet Union and fought an eight years long war as an American proxy.
The National assembly elections were held on November 1988. PPP emerged as the largest party and Benazir Bhutto became Prime Minister. The Bhutto government lasted till 6th August 1990 and was dismissed by the President Ghulam Ishaq Khan under article 58 (2) (b). In general elections held in October 1990 Mohammad Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister. His government was dismissed on 17th April 1993 by Ishaq Khan. On 19th October 1993 Benazir Bhutto came for the second term as Prime Minister. Her government was dismissed on 05th Nov 1996 by President Farooq Leghari. When Benazir came into power for the second time, it was hoped that she had learnt her lessons. But the performance of the government was, once again, very disappointing.
In general elections held on 3rd February 1997 Mohammd Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister for the second time. On 28th May, 1998 Pakistan carried out 5 nuclear tests. In September 1998 Nawaz Sharif met Atal Bihari Vajpayee in UNO. Vajpayee visited Lahore in February 1999. However the Bonhomie was short lived as Pakistan army created Kargil crises.
After India’s victory in Kargil Nawaz Sharif had to cut a sorry figure. On 12th October 1999 General Pravez Musharraf took over as Chief Martial Law Administrator. He also made efforts to normalize relations with India and visited Agra in August 2001 but the negotiations failed. On 10th October 2002 general elections were held in Pakistan. The overall voter turnout was 40.69 per cent and Mir Zafrullaha Khan Jamali became Prime Minister followed by Shaukat Aziz. On 27th December 2007 Benazir Bhutto was murdered and elections of Pakistan assembly held on 18th December 2008. Musharraf resigned on 16th August 2008 as president and Mr Asif Ali Zardari took over as president.
Meanwhile, there were massive terrorists acts in Pakistan leading to more than 2200 incidents of terrorists violence in a span of 6 years (in the years 2008 to 2013) The Pakistan Army conducted operation against some militant groups in Fata and north Waziristan called Zarb-e-Azb.
Nawaz came back to power on 5th June 2013 in his third term. He was initially soft on India and wanted close interactions and relations. Without caring for hiccups in his endeavor to mend fences with the neighbourer. Needless to say the GHQ was not pleased by his forays in friendship with India.
After Gen Kayani retired after November 29, 2013 he chose Gen Raheel Sharif as COAS where as Nawaz was attending Modi’s Oath taking ceremony in May, 2014. Raheel Sharif had ordered a crackdown on Karachi and Hyderabad Sindh. The Rangers were deployed and they killed 85 MQM fighters and arrested more than 900 of them. Thereafter there were reports of some surreptitious meaning between GHQ and Imran Khan leading to Dharna in Islamabad from August 14, 2014 till Dec, 2014 when Tehriq-i-Taliban Pakistan killed about 175 school children in an Army school in Peshawar. The year 2015 was full of bitterness between establishment and Nawaz who were trying to create their own space in the polity of Pakistan. The love hate relationship had his own highs and lows between Nawaz and Generals. Western observers had confirmed that Nawaz wanted soft line on Afghanistan and India which was pertinaciously apposed by the GHQ.
The Sindh Rangers arrested Dr. Asim the former Petroleum Minister and close aide of Asif Ali Zaradari much to the discomfort and chagrin of Nawaz. Misunderstandings with GHQ multiplied in hordes as Dr. Asim remains in Jail even now.
Nawaz also faced problems in his cabinet and party because the powerful interior minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan was not on speaking terms with the Defence Minister Khwaja Asif and petroleum minister .Shahid Khaqan Abbasi leading to difficulties in governing. The animosity could not be mellowed down. It was in these precarious circumstances, with terrorist hitting at will that the relationship started inching towards the worst and Nawaz started realizing the heat being put upon his government in the form of agitations and dharnas and serious charges of corruption especially in the purchase of power plants.
It was on April 4, 2016 that Panama paper showed the involvement of Sharif’s family in offshore companies, soon thereafter Sharif asked The Supreme Court to form a commission to investigate the panama leaks after staggering pressure from the opposition. Cricketer-Turned-Politician Imran Khan demanded an independent probe. It was on November 02, 2016 The Supreme Court agreed to set up a Judicial Commission to probe corruption allegations against Sharif and his family. The Commission consisting of three Judges of The Supreme Court (Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan) further forwarded to Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to investigate the charges of corruption against Sharif and His Family and gave its report to three judges bench on July 11, 2017 indicting Sharif and his family. The Supreme Court found him guilty for violation of People Representation Act 1976 of Pakistan that punishes for non-disclosure of assets and does not allow a prime Minister to hold an office of profit while he is the head of the Government. In Nawaz Sharif’s case, he had a work permit of a company registered in the UAE. The Supreme Court also ordered National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to conduct investigations against Sharif and his family within six months and in case found guilty under articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution of Pakistan it would be proved that he is neither Sadiq (Truthful) nor Ameen (Honest).
Sharif launched a number of development projects including the multi-billion China-Pakistan economic Corridor (CPEC). His another major achievement was the launch of military operation Zarb-e-Azb in 2014 to ameliorate the militants from North Waziristan and South Waziristan- a hub of terrorism.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has taken over as Prime Minister of Pakistan on 1st Aug 2017. It is worth mentioning that Kashmir Policy, India Policy, Nuclear Policy, China Policy, US Policy, Afganistan Policy and Defence Policy are very brashly controlled and dictated by the Army and the ISI. There seems no respite from this malignancy in the years to come. Nawaz may or may not lose his accumulated wealth but the GHQ is not likely to allow him a phoenix like reincarnation, rehabilitation and revival because as the famous commander of British forces in the second world war Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery once told Field Marshal Lord Wavell then Governor General and viceroy of India that one incorrect action and you lose the battle and your career. Perhaps Nawaz Sharif –with a Kashmiri Brahmin lineage committed the advertent lapse of annoying the Powerful Army and its inter-services intelligence-loosing thereby the battle and his career for life.
With these developments Pakistan enters a phase of uncertainty nay turbulence with demure nay pusillanimous politicians and a strong establishment.
R. K. Kaushik is a Punjab IAS officer.