Sunday, August 31, 2014

Five toppled Governments and this may be the sixth!

By Saeed Qureshi

Five governments in Pakistan were changed either by street agitations or through military intervention. The first was headed by Ayub Khan, the second by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the third was the first PMLN government (1993-1996), the fourth was the second PMNL government (1997-1999) and the fifth that of Pervez Musharraf.  The incumbent PMLN government may be the sixth one but the chances of its unceremonious send off seem to be slim.

The reasons for such an assessment are that Imran Khan is not a Bhutto and his appeal is limited to a section of the population, second the ground realities are different now, and third that PMLN is a duly elected government and supported by second largest party PPP. However, the perpetual chaos and continual turmoil may prompt army to step in.   

Ayub Khan captured power through a military coup. As a result of the popular uprising launched by ZAB, Field Marshall Ayub Khan bowed out of power in March 1969 after a decade’s autocratic governance. But he bequeathed a legacy of economic vibrancy for Pakistan. The Tashkent pact signed with India after 1965 war turned out to be his bĂȘte noir and the nation accused Ayub Khan of watering down the boons of war that the army and the nation fought in unison.

One could recall in the hindsight the intensity of emotions and the fervor and a bubbling spirit of patriotism and sacrifice in those days of war with India in September1965. The Tashkent agreement was profitably and deftly exploited by ZAB who was his foreign minister but had parted company with him to launch a countywide vilification campaign for his ouster. ZAB was a charismatic figure and knew the art of rhetorical outbursts and soon he became a darling and most lovable revolutionary leader of the entire nation.

He knew the art of mobilizing a subdued nation and truly that was the ripest moment for a phenomenal change that the Pakistani nation was yearning for long. The Tashkent declaration worked like fuel on the fire. On December 18, 1971, Bhutto was taken to the President House in Rawalpindi where he took over two highest positions from Yahya Khan: one as the President and the other as the Chief Martial Law Administrator. Thus he was the first civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator of the dismembered Pakistan. That was the most glorious moment for ZAB.

But unfortunately he became obsessive and so much power drunk that he started sacrificing his secular, liberal, socialist and democratic credentials at the altar of power. After the PNA movements in 1976 against the alleged rigged elections, he abandoned all his cosmopolitan principles and accepted all the conditions of the PNA. Pakistan from that moment turned into a conservative and orthodox Islamic state with curbs of religious freedom of the minorities, ban on production and use of liquor that amounted to the curtailment of civil liberties.

But his volte face did not rescue him from the inevitable fate of a betrayer of his conscience, creed and principles. The PNA after getting all their demands accepted and made part of the constitution, still kept him on the tenterhooks that culminated in the proclamation of Martial law by Ziaul Haq and the rest is history. He was sent to gallows for a controversial murder case.

Pakistan came under a brutal dictatorship of General Ziaul Haq who ruled Pakistan with an iron hand. He suppressed all dissent, curbed calls for democracy and human rights with full might of the state. He was the one in whose time even journalists were lashed. General Zia’s one plus point is that he spearheaded a crusade against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and succeeded in throwing them out of that perennially bedeviled country. But he too was killed in the mysterious helicopter crash. It is still not known who was behind that plot.

The political parties that ruled the roost in Pakistan have been showing scant interest in the welfare of Pakistan and its consolidation. The four governments (two each) of PPP and PMLN were kind of family-centric and thus Pakistan remained a country to be fleeced and bankrupted by the vested interest by these ruling cabals.

In the first PMNL government that lasted for barely three years, Nawaz Sharif had to resign under military pressure. The Nawaz Sharif’s second government (1997-1999) remained locked in a confrontation with judiciary and army.  Nawaz Sharif was deposed through a military coup  by General Musharraf On October 13, 1999.

However since his return to Pakistan in December 2007 from long exile, Nawaz Sharif has been supporting democracy and kept extending cooperation to PPP to complete its five years constitutional tenure.

Of late, Imran Khan has emerged as a formidable political contender of Nawaz Sharif and the ongoing standoff between the PMLN and PTI led has been swelling beyond conjectures. Imran Khan has portrayed himself to be an obdurate and inflexible rival who doesn’t seem to be in a mind frame to patch up with Sharif. His demand is the ouster and trial of Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif.

This irreconcilable attitude from Imran Khan and his mobilization of the country’s youth and disgruntled sections had created an unprecedented prolonged rally in the federal capital. But overall Imran Khan doesn’t enjoy the support of the majority of the people of Pakistan. He can keep demonstrating in Islamabad and other cities of Pakistan indefinitely but there should be an end to this French style revolution call. 

Imran is trying to knock down the political edifice by forcing Sharif and PMLN out of power. The insistence on this demand through violence and show of street force may finally impel the armed forces to step in to disengage both the sides and take the country back to another prolonged and indefinite martial law. If that happens, it would be the fourth time in Pakistan of the ouster of a government through military take-over.

 Even if Imran Khan succeeds in forcible ouster of the PMNL from power then what next? Will he like the traditional revolutionaries walk into the prime minister or president house and start issuing orders? Still he will have to gain power through the votes of the people.

Will he without any constitutional authority force his dictations? Would the other political parties keep watching him doing all these things with folded hands? Would there not be a political vacuum of governance? It is not difficult to fathom which power will fill that vacuum. It would be then fourth military rule in Pakistan. As for interim government to hold midterm elections, it is doubtful that the other parties would agree to this demand.  

The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat. This and other articles by the writer can also be read at his blog

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Mayhem in Islamabad--Who is Responsible.

It is
By Saeed Malik
For a little over a fortnight almost all the "intellectuals one hears on TV  have been making the point that a few thousand agitators holding Islamabad hostage should not be allowed to bring down the government. 
This is absolutely correct and no one can argue with this position.
But equally, there is another position, in two parts, against which no argument can stand viz:
a. If a government closes down all avenues to legal remedies against a charge of rigged elections from which such government draws its legitimacy, such legitimacy MUST be considered spurious, and therefore non-existent.
b. If a government kills 14 of its citizens who are unarmed and wounds and hospitalises another 80, and then consistently bars every legal remedial door to the aggrieved, such government loses its legitimacy, and must leave [and be tried].
When a government is guilty of the above crimes and attempts to gain immunity through deployment of state power, it leaves no door open to its its citizens to get justice but to overthrow such power.
The present government of Pakistan, by denying the legal right of a plaintiff to have an electoral audit of four constituencies, and when such plaintiff has exhausted every legal avenue of redress, is guilty of leaving such plaintiff with no other option but to take law into his own hands to get justice. The very aim of law is to have an ordered society. Implementation of law MUST ensure justice and redress so that there is no recourse to violence. When a government subverts the law to serve its own narrow interests, it invites violence from those whose rights it usurps.
The Punjab government, has also followed suit to deny justice to the families of those innocents it killed out of hand, and those it hospitalised. But it went further. It charged the victims with the crime it perpetrated itself!
After that this government chose to hide behind the convenient cover of a sham democracy, and a subverted constitution which facilitates rigging by the party in power, and thus its perpetuity.
There was a chance that the current situation could be stopped short to reaching the present pass. and the PM took the correct decision in this regard when he requested the Army Chief to defuse this situation, because he was the only one whom the aggrieved parties thought they could trust. After invoking the good offices of Gen Raheel Sharif for this purpose, and after the Chief had held his first round of meetings with Imran and Qadri, the very next morning the PM declared that he had given no such mandate to the General. 
Though the ISPR contradicted this assertion by the PM, this was really not needed, because in this case the circumstantial evidence giving a lie to the PM's statement was sufficient in and of itself--for a good 15 hours EVERY TV channel of Pakistan kept repeating at intervals, that the government had requested the Army Chief to act as a mediator and guarantor vis a vis the aggrieved parties and the government to defuse the situation. Surely the PM and EVERY one of his ministers must have heard these broadcasts. If these broadcasts were indeed incorrect why did NONE of them find it convenient to issue an immediate contradiction to these news outlets??
The  PM, by his flippancy, did indeed let the army down, but by the same token he confirmed to the Chief that both Imran and Qadri were entirely correct in not putting their faith in the word of the man ruling Pakistan.
Nawaz Sharif and his cohorts have now left the army with only two options. It must either move to save the country, or save a constitution the only purpose of which seems to be, to afford a place behind which a criminal gang can hide and despoil Pakistan.
I hope, the army chooses to save Pakistan. And while doing so, I hope it eschews any impulse to rule the country. The army has done this four times earlier and made a mess of it each time it tried. If the army culls the rotten eggs from the system and fattens them for trial for gouging out the country of its wealth, and gives to Pakistan a totally free and fair elections, the generals will have immortalised themselves.
I started this piece with a reference to our "intellectuals" who have sought to educate us on what has gone wrong, and where. Sadly, and most unforgivably,not ONE of them thought it worthwhile to bring to the attention of the people of Pakistan a fact that should have been obvious to ALL of them i.e it is not for thieves to run a family, much less a democracy. The motivation of a thief is only to fatten his bank accounts,and this has nothing to do with the welfare of the people whose wealth he is dedicated to steal.
And now I leave the readers with just one question which they must answer honestly to themselves I.e which one among Nawaz Sharif, Zardari, Altaf hussain, Mulla Fazal, Asfandyar Wali Khan, Aftab sherpao, and Achakzai is NOT a dedicated thief?
A truthful answer to this question will be an answer to a myriad others.
Saeed A Malik

Nawaz Shariff should respectfully resign for the sake of orderly democratic Pakistan

Nawaz Shariff should respectfully resign for the sake of orderly democratic Pakistan.

By Mike Ghouse
The Ghouse

Shariff was elected by the people and the same people are asking him to step down - and that is indeed a genuine democratic thing to do. He should remember that peaceful demonstrations earn respectable name for Pakistan in the world, and if he honors the peaceful people, he will have a place in history.

Pakistan turmoil, courtesy Rueters
On the other hand if Nawaz Shariff goes berserk, he will cause Pakistan to go violent and endanger his own existence.
What does he think of himself, a Netanyahu or Al-Baghdadi that he can silence the people by brutal force?

If he were any smart, he would go on the national TV and appreciate the people and welcome them for peacefully exercising their democratic right to protest, and do what the people ask; to recount the ballot or resign. Is that a problem?   More than likely, the demonstrations would have been called off and he would have remained respectable and would have won another landslide victory, but the he did not have the brains to do that. 

Every peace loving person should be outraged at this dude for deploying 10,000 Special Forces to disperse the peaceful non-violent crowds seeking political solutions. On the top of it, he ordered firing at nearly 200 injured women, which reminds me of Jalianwala Bagh incident where British forces did the same thing and women jumped into the wells and died. I am proud of these women who stood and took the bullets. But, this is outrageous and unacceptable, he ain’t no Baghdadi. 

When the bad guys were killing fellow Pakistanis be it Shia, Christians, Ahmadies and others, Shariff let it happen, and now when his days are numbered, he deploys 10,000 forces to squelch the peaceful demonstrators. It does not work that way.

What kind of non-sense is he talking about when he says he wants to protect democracy? If he steps down respectfully, he will have a chance to continue in some form of governance, if not, he knows her kuttay ke din hotay hain, he has seen every dog had his day, and he will be one too if he goes against the will of the people.

Its time for Obama to ask Shariff to step down, it is in our (American) interest and the interests of the people of Pakistan to have stability in the region, we cannot have more than one Afghanistan.  I hope Obama will not wait until it becomes messy to ask Shariff to step down; as he did the right thing with Mubarak in asking him to step down by siding with the people of Egypt. Obama made the same mistake with that Idiot Maliki in Iraq, had Maliki formed an inclusive government, we would not have seen this mess. Of course, all these problems stem from Bush's criminal adventure in Iraq. Obama is a good guy, but he needs to be a bully to deal with the bullies.

It’s time for Obama to be on the side of the Pakistani people and not with the guys who are desperate to remain in power. Be smart and be with the people and not with the transients.  All Obama has to do is ask Nawaz Shariff to announce recounting, or announce a date for re-election. It will restore calmness. The people of Pakistan deserve that.

Nazia Khan, Aqeel Qureshi and a few others are out there witnessing the mayhem first hand, and I hope to incorporate their quotes in the piece, I am writing on our goofy foreign policy about nurturing democracies.

Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. All about him is listed in several links at and his writings are at and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Happy independence day to Pakistan

67 Years ago today, Pakistan was born. Indeed it was created out of the British India on August 14, 1947 and then the next day, August 15, 1947 India got her independence.  

As a Pluralist, I have always worked on the concept that we all belong to the same family of Nations.  Back in 1993, I started a Newspaper called Asian News, with a page each dedicated to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. 

In 1996, I started Asian News Radio, which continues today as Fun Asia Radio. A few years later when Rehan Siddiqi took over the radio to 24/7 programming,  I continued to do different programs, and one of them was during the month of August, from the 1st through 15th  I  shared a different aspect of the subcontinent from the cultural, geographic, ethnic, cuisine, clothing, singing to politics to national heroes of the nations.

What remains nostalgic to me was August 14th and 15th – on that day I took live calls asking Indians to sing the Pakistani national songs, and it was amazing so many Indians had learned the songs, and vice versa happened on the 15th, our Pakistani friends sang Indian national songs.

The Partition was difficult and intense - with people moving from one land to the other and vice versa, perhaps it was the greatest human migration in a single week ever. Of course it came with massive suffering - people killing and butchering each other on both sides. Unless we both people learn to acknowledge that the suffering and infliction of misery was mutual, we will continue to harbor ill-will and inject that in our kids. Some people live with hate and ill-will until they die and never receive the true freedom.  I hope we all grow up and not carry this forward or run the sewer of hate in our kid’s veins.
I wish a very happy independence day to both the Pakistani and Indian friends. As an Indian, I will do my own celebrations, reflecting on what I can do to contribute towards the wellbeing of my motherland: India.
Pakistan Paindabad !

Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. All about him is listed in several links at and his writings are at and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.