No lessons learnt

To prevent military interventions, the politicians have to change their attitude and practice democracy in their parties, which have essentially become family enterprises

Addressing the lawyers at Punjab House, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif stated, “Former Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Mujibur Rehman was not a rebel, but was made into one due to the tragic consequences of the state’s refusal to allow a popularly elected leader to hold the prime minister’s office… What has been done to me, and to all the elected prime ministers in this country’s history, is not correct.”

He accused the judiciary of complicity in weakening the democratic process, adding that they had “legitimised dictatorships by inventing the doctrine of necessity.” Regarding the current Chief Justice of Pakistan’s suo moto notices of conditions at public hospitals, Sharif said: “Feel free to go to these hospitals, but also look at what is happening in your own courts. Hundreds of thousands of cases are pending in courts and people are awaiting their decision.”

It appears that despite the exiles and jail terms our politicians have suffered in the past, no lessons have been learnt. Instead of doing a bit of introspection and identifying the causes of military intervention,means to stop military intervention are being discussed.

During his speeches in public meetings and press conferences Nawaz and other leaders of the PML-N continued to harp on the tune that military dictators have caused enormous damage to the polity and economy of the country. But the people of Pakistan remember the alliances formed in the past to get rid of the elected governments that did not deliver. The shenanigans, gimmicks, corruption and internecine conflicts between the political parties that provided opportunity to military dictators are also remembered by the people.

Unfortunately,Nawaz is on a collision course with the establishment and judiciary; and half a dozen PML-N leaders continue to accuse them of a conspiracy against him.He should remember that a clash between institutions is fraught with dangers. Anyhow, if any neutral observer or analyst is to examine the governance of both civilian leaders and military dictators, he or she will conclude that they have failed to govern well.

The majority of the political leaders and their parties remained absorbed in politics of power and pelf, and never tried to establish a paradigm of good governance. In his speeches, Nawaz says that none of the prime ministers could complete their term due to the alliance between the establishment and judiciary, conveniently forgetting that he was once a tool of this very alliance.

In his speeches, Nawaz says that none of the prime ministers could complete their term due to the alliance between the establishment and judiciary, conveniently forgetting that he was once a tool of this very alliance

He has been at loggerheads with the military and judiciary, and he is trying to convince the people that he has been wronged by the judiciary and establishment. He continues asking questions as to why he had been disqualified. The court had listened to his litany that he was disqualified only for the iqama and not on corruption charges.

The court in its detailed judgment stated: “He (Nawaz Sharif) tried to fool the people inside and outside Parliament. He even tried to fool the court without realising that ‘you can fool all the people for some of the time, some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time’, said the 23-page judgment. There is a perception that the problems were of his creation, as he had refused to form a commission under special legislation suggested by the opposition; and he also failed to agree over the terms of reference.

Immediately after the release of the Panama Papers, Nawaz Sharif had offered himself for accountability and promised to provide all evidence about the sources of his assets.

But his sons and his daughters issued statements that contradicted each other and caused more confusion and mistrust. According to the prosecution, he neither gave satisfactory answers to the Supreme Court nor to the JIT, nor utilised the opportunities provided to him by the accountability court. Reportedly, PML-N is considering clipping the powers of the judiciary through another piece of legislation, but it is not possible, as most political parties are poised to launch a movement against the PML-N government.

The politicians on the political divide with their senseless brinkmanship continue pushing the country to a dangerous precipice, which is potentially disastrous.Of course, civil and military bureaucracy and politicians are responsible in equal measure for having brought the country to the present pass.

It is not the intention here to degrade the politicians and prove that military dispensation is any better, but to highlight the point that there is hardly any difference between them so far as governance is concerned. Anyhow, two major political parties have had opportunities to show to the people the difference between dictatorship and democracy but they failed to establish democratic institutions, promote democratic traditions and implement peoples’ welfare policies.

Nawaz Sharif did not mind the military’s interference so long as the military was on the ‘right side’, as it happened on 16th March 2009 at the time of the long march vis-à-vis restoration of deposed judges. Having said that, to prevent military intervention, the politicians have to change their attitude and practice democracy in their parties, which have essentially become family enterprises. They should create a climate conducive to investment, strive to put the economy on an even keel and to provide the basic necessities of life and utilities to the people at affordable prices.

 

The writer can be reached at mjamil1938@hotmail.com

Published in Daily Times, January 11th 2018.