Pakistan Polls: Imran is the new player in military democracy
Mohammad Ali Sattar, Columnist and Biographer: Pakistan, the unique political landscape in this world, is in turmoil once again. History of Pakistan is interesting in that it has witnessed political and feudal lords engaged in unending internecine strife ever since its independence.
The provinces, with its varied culture and practices always remained far from each other, making the political administration difficult, if not impossible. The continuous internal wrangling and backward looking mindset have kept the nation’s social fabric ever fragile and vulnerable.
The triangular conflict of over enthusiastic religious leaders, politically ambitious feudal lords and power hungry military dominance has become the democracy of that country. I call it ‘Military democracy.’
People of Pakistan had a tolerably stable system until 1958. Unfortunately for the civilian race, military in Pakistan has taken a permanent shape in the form of a powerful state within itself.
This state , run by the army chief and handful of powerful individuals and institutions, make and break the system outside, which we call the civilian government, political institutions, election commission, care taker government etc.
So we have a different system working in that country for many years now. Only through test and troubles did the situation have come thus far. Now the ‘military democracy’ in Pakistan has come to stay. It is the system of the country. Interestingly the people are happily getting wedded to this neo military democracy.
Military got ambitious from the very beginning of the country’s birth. History of the last six decade is a mix of struggle between the mostly corrupt civil feudal lords and the ever ambitious armed forces.
Amidst this gradual settlement with the military rule the political parties also adopted a new strategy- the military support.
However the Muslim league (N), the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and other old parties has tried in vain to stand up against military intervention. In the post ‘70 period things took a turn for worse. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto the founder of the PPP and the Prime Minister of Pakistan was hanged by his handpicked general. General Parvez Musharaf took over from Nawaz Sharif who was also exiled for nearly 10 years.
Benazir was killed by a shooter, allegedly fixed by Musharraf. Nawaz made a comeback and became the PM once more.
Meanwhile the judiciary also grew in strength. However, there are sayings that judiciary also acts on the wishes of the military. So the modus operandi is something like this: Military plans and asks the concerned ministries to frame up charges against the listed individuals, cases are instituted, then the law enforcers get involved in the act of arresting the targets and produce them before the courts, the courts then take up the issues and give verdicts as desired by the military.
This has been going for years now. By now the world knows the events that are going to happen in Pakistan tomorrow or the day after.
The perception that Pakistan is a corrupt system has been well established. The country has been devastated by sectarian violence. The Border States are also a bane for any government in the centre.
Wars in Afghanistan have not only spilled over into Pakistan – the war is actually in Pakistan. Taliban are so strongly footed in the North and West that they will soon become a part of greater Pakistan politics.
The latest entry into the power race is Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan. He floated PTI some twenty years back with the catchphrase of eradicating corruption. People trusted him. Younger generation found a glimmer of hope in the future of Pakistan politics and dreamed of economic emancipation along with social development.
He worked hard to lure people in his fold. He worked harder to create a negative perception about the parties that ruled Pakistan for years. He was especially aggressive (still is) against Nawaz Sharif.
There is now doubt that Benazir Bhutto’s husband Asif Ali Zardari had a tainted image and the Sharif family too has been plagued with corruption scandals. However, their political roots and following never really dwindled.
Moreover, the two heavy weights from Punjab and Sindh did dominate the politics of Pakistan for a long time.
Corruption, political turmoil, terror acts all tore through the positives veins of the nation. The talents of the individuals, strong armed forces, bounty of the nature, the buoyant economy and resources of the country have been diminished over the years.
The land of Pakistan has become a safe sanctuary for the outlaws. Devastation and destructive schemes can be drawn from here – in the caves or woods of this lawless terrain.
Imran, the great opportunist and ambitious individual, had been raising his voice against corruption and agitating in the streets, holding public meets and rallies to highlight the dishonesty of the Sharif family.
In due process Sharif was disqualified from politics and now behind bars. Judiciary did it for him and the army.
There’s been strong allegation by the civil society in Pakistan that army is favoring Imran in this election race and Imran himself told the press that he is only a few days away from the PM ship. That’s a bit too quick to express his intentions. His links with Taliban and the military is a dangerous sign. Imran will find it difficult to manage these two groups.
Imran Khan has his own tainted history of personal vices. Not to speak of his several marriages, add to it the latest claim by his third wife in a book that Imran has fathered five illegitimate children. One is as old as 34 years.
So the search for a clean leader in Pakistan is still on. Imran is controversial. A person who is immoral in his personal life cannot be expected to be a moral leader let alone a good administrator.
Experts say army may go all out to get PTI the needed majority to form the next government. But they fear the circumstances. There could be a big back lash by the other two big parties. On another count, PTI just may not be able to win a majority, or this could see a hung parliament. If that is so, then PPP and PML (N) might put their hands together to form a government, keeping PTI out of power. Imran would then get more desperate and may come out against the army accusing it of NOT favoring him. He will have to admit that none is out of the gambit of military democracy.