Saturday, October 2

Rising above petty politics

Zia cautiously and slowly eroded institutions and his ‘son’ Nawaz Sharif tried to bulldoze the remaining remnants in one go. So this is what we do with the ‘right to rule’.

by Aamer Waqas Ghaus Chaudhry

A lot has been said about the dictatorship-democracy equation and the military rule – marking the military as ‘the main culprit’ for democratic fiascos. This is the easiest possible thing to do in our country and Pakistani mindset. We put the onus of our failures on others. The same is done by the politicians, who miserably failed when they were given opportunity and later they cry over spilt milk. We have reached a stage where one cannot support an absolute dictatorship and ‘pure’ democracy because military rule of General Zia and ‘heavy mandate’ of Nawaz Sharif were no different from each other. They say: ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ The same is applicable here as well. Zia cautiously and slowly eroded institutions and his ‘son’ Nawaz Sharif tried to bulldoze the remaining remnants in one go. So this is what we do with the ‘right to rule’.
Now again, we are involving ourselves in the same kind of a debate – either military to remain as a watchman (power-sharing) or it should go to barracks and let the whole businesses run by the politicians. The results of the second option are already clear to us. The first alternative is the direct consequence of politicians-doing-the-whole-show. Then under the present circumstances, there is nothing wrong in trying the first preference and keeping other choices open for the future.
Especially looking at the recent track record, since October 1999, of the military involvement in the governance, it is evident how good we have done as nation.
One of the most important areas, which is usually adversely affected by the military rule, is the foreign policy. But since the under-compulsion take-over, we have not done badly at this front though allegations of divergent natures have been levied by some of the political adversaries, who do so without looking at the ground reality and trying to remain alive in the media just for the sake of criticism. Has this government sold the Kashmir cause? How far India has prevailed upon us to fulfil its nefarious plans? Has the West been able to put curbs of devastating nature on Pakistan? Have we lost our cause in the comity of nations? Has the international community stopped listening to us? So on and so forth! NO is the answer to all these questions. On the other hand, we have gained respect and made positive impact on the world arena. The world is more serious about resolving conflict between India and Pakistan. Now Kashmir is seen as a potential source of war and consequently, the world is gearing up efforts for an acceptable-to-both-countries solution of the issue. Interestingly, despite pressures of various natures on the Musharraf regime, it has not indulged itself in any kind of dubious diplomacy like that of ‘Indian PM coming to Lahore on bus and us winning.’ The Agra Summit was such a focal point of attention, which could have made the General a hero for the world, but he chose to remain loyal to his country and never ‘sold Kashmir’ as proclaimed by a few politicians. We did not fail there either.
Since 9/11, we were faced with one of the most gigantic tasks – How to re-align ourselves when the whole world was in anger against those who were supported by them and we were cajoling (as they say) them even at that time. The Taliban were taking care of al-Qaeda interests and surely heading for troubled-time; they had it ultimately. Under those tense circumstances, Pakistani government made the right choice of aligning themselves with a anti-terrorist regime and become part of the campaign. We emerged as anti-terrorist supporters and gained popularity in the world. It was a narrow escape for us otherwise we were on the verge of being attacked especially when India were offering ‘all-out support’ to America. The latest episode of suspension of our Commonwealth member is not a big issue for the time being and we will be re-again our position there too.
On the economic front, we have not done badly either. Despite constant recessions and setbacks to the world economy and persistent terrorist threats and happenings, we have not gone bankrupt ever during the last three-and-a-half-years despite the propaganda of the opposition. Our economy has gained strength and we are no more a volatile financial entity. Our foreign exchange reserves have reached the $ 10 billion mark and for the first time in our history, our stock exchange index has crossed the mythical figure of 3,000 points. Remember! A country’s economic strength is also gauged by the functioning of its stock exchange. Moreover, rupee is steadily gaining its ground and it has not become a ‘rolling coin’ any more.
There is a lot of hue and cry about law and order situation in the country. We had had a few terrorist incidents scattered through the breadth and width of the country. But one thing should be clear to us: there is no defence against a determined killer. And these killers are product of an international injustice meted out to various countries and declining of genuine rights to freedom fighters. Till all the outstanding issues endangering the world peace are resolved amicably, such incidents will occur even in the most secure pockets of all the countries. What to talk of Pakistan which is an amalgam of divergent communities and multi-cultural ethnicities! Such a scenario makes it difficult for the law enforcing agencies to curb crime. Otherwise, the law and order situation is pretty good as compared to the previous regimes.
Lastly, the present ‘row’ between the government and the opposition parties has been dragged to the maximum possible extent. There is a saying: ‘If a woman says ‘yes’, she is no woman and if a politician says ‘no’ he is no politician.’ It is difficult to understand why our present lot of politicians is so stubborn that they are not leaving any room for discussion. If they cannot resolve the current imbroglio, how can they come up to bigger tasks of governance especially when a stalemate occurs. They should rise above petty politics and get themselves involved in nation-building.

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