Rawalpindi

It’s Never Too Late

The army, as well as the judiciary must realize that there exists no margin to commit follies and people would now not abandon their ideas and convictions on flimsy criticism.

By Arslan Qadeer | January 2023


To stumble twice against the same stone is a proverbial disgrace. A desultory glance over the chequered history of Pakistan would point out that we, even after seven decades of existence are not tired of hitting and stumbling against the same stone. Sometimes it is felt that we, as a nation, have developed a propensity to stumble, without attempting to learn anything from the past. It would rather not be out-rightly incorrect to say that we now actually enjoy the entire process. Contrary to the African proverb, “don’t look where you fall, but where you slipped” we defiantly seem unperturbed to identify the latter. No amount of hue and cry from the print, electronic or social media could ever bring about the requisite awakening that could change things for good. Our politics seems to have hit a plateau which neither descends nor ascends– just sailing like an old ship carrying the age-old stock and barrel. However, under the self delusion that we happen to be in, we fail to see that it is not sailing ahead, but slowly and unnoticeably spiraling down only to hit the proverbial rock-bottom from where there is no point of return.

There is a very close nexus between political stability and economic recovery. Though the pillars of our state all seem to agree on the fundamentals of political and economic policy, however, they seem to be doing so only to the point of lip service and pious platitudes. Their ambition to seek self-guarded interests has dispossessed the country of its economic and social vitality. We are gridlocked in a kind of political dysfunction that has its history as long as the country itself. There could be ample of justifications, explanations and excuses, but nothing could better condense the ordeal in an all-encompassing descriptor, ‘unfortunate’. Yes, looking back with the advantage of hindsight we were too unfortunate to lose the two of our Founding Fathers; the great Quaid and Liaquat Ali Khan in quick succession, in comparison to our twin India, whose reins remained in the mature and well experienced hands of a leader and as seasoned a politician as Jawaharlal Nehru for an elongated period of 17 years. We were unfortunate to find the subsequent rulers, including both civil and military: men of straw, parochial, ambitiously self-serving, and slaves of their own inflated egos.

The advent of military, not only as a player, but a driving force evolved as a convoluted and twisted system. The vacuum created by the early demise of the genuine leadership that created the very country, quickly gave way to military and mafia clans masquerading as leaders, who were quick to understand as to where their personal interests lied. Soon enough, a vicious game of power and wealth began; power to make way to wealth, and wealth, making way to more power, while the masses were left to live in the squalor of misery and downright deprivation.

Owing to the cacophony emanating from the print, electronic and social media, it seems easy today to point fingers in one direction. Though there is no denial that from Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to Imran Khan, the making and breaking of all political setups bears the same fingerprints. Perhaps, we need to pause and do a little soul-searching as to whether it would be fair to make the military alone responsible for all the evil. There could be no panacea, or remedy as long as we do not identify the place where we first slipped. The genesis of this lies hidden in the promotions of two personalities in two institutions when seniority and merit was cast aside. What followed later was an intertwining relationship of the two institutions that persists till date. One, in 1951, to replace the first Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Gracey, a relatively junior man (General Ayub Kan whose name was not in the original nomination list) with too many strings attached, was cherry-picked, in the process superseding four seniors by the then civilian setup headed by PM Liaquat Ali Khan. The second, in 1954, at the time of retirement of Justice Abdul Rasid as Chief justice of the Federal Court (then the highest Court). He was to be succeeded by ASM Akram, a Bangali and the senior-most judge. But the West Pakistani establishment was too prejudiced against him owing to his Bangali ethnicity. The then Governor General Ghulam Muhammad appointed Muhammad Munir as Chief Justice vaulting him over the other four sitting judges of the Federal Court. The dye had been cast.

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