The maker and the shakers

May 20, 2007


MOHAMMAD Ali Jinnah: Achieved his ambition, founded a country, which, he hoped (vainly, as it turned out), would be modern and democratic, a homeland in which they could live and prosper.

He enunciated his creed while addressing the first session of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947, in which he clearly set forth the direction he intended his country to take. Law and order was to be the first duty of any government, and religion was not to be the business of the state. He later decreed that Pakistan would not be a theocracy to be ruled by priests with a divine mission.

He did good, he was fair, just and equitable, free of bigotry or hypocrisy, and scrupulously honest both morally and materially.

Jinnah was the first governor-general of the Dominion of Pakistan and died as such on September 11, 1948. He once told a friend that each successive government of Pakistan would be worse than its predecessor — a prediction which has sadly come to pass.

Now, to list just a few of the incompetent shakers who followed, mediocre at best, all shallow.

Khwaja Nazimuddin: Governor-general from September 14, 1948, to October 17, 1951, and prime minister from the latter date to April 17, 1953, when dismissed by Governor-General Ghulam Mohammed. A gentleman sportsman, he was never in tune with the politicians with whom he worked.

Malik Ghulam Mohammed: Jinnah chose him as his finance minister in which position he remained until intrigue and convenience made him the third governor-general ( October 19, 1951, to October 15, 1955). He set the trend by dissolving the first Constituent Assembly in October 1954.

Speaker Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan approached the Sindh High Court and his petition against the dissolution was upheld by Chief Justice Sir George Constantine. Ghulam Mohammad appealed against this decision to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mohammed Munir, who, in his infinite wisdom, accepted the appeal in March 1955.

From that moment onwards, the nation has looked upon the judiciary with suspicion and distrust. It became an accepted fact that the law can be read and interpreted as the men in power desire. Ghulam Mohammed fell ill, and was deposed.

Major General Iskander Mirza: Born November 13, 1899, died November 13, 1969. After partition he served, inter alia, as our defence secretary, minister of the interior, and governor of East Pakistan. When Ghulam Mohammad was deposed, the politicians in power appointed him as their fourth governor-general in which post he remained from October 16, 1955, to March 22, 1956, on which date he became the first president of Pakistan.

On October 27, 1958, he was deposed by his defence minister, army commander-in-chief General Mohammad Ayub Khan. Mirza was exiled and sent to London, where he worked for his living and died an honourable man. He is remembered with muted respect as a man to whom injustice was done.

Mohammad Ayub Khan: The first martial law administrator of the Republic of Pakistan which he declared himself to be on October 7, 1958, adding to it the title of president on October 27 of that year. He was the man under whom this country, for his first few years in power, was seen to be a country developing in the right direction, with the economy and industry booming.

He is remembered for his innovative system of Basic Democracy — a flop — for his ‘decade of development’ — a misnomer — and for his disastrous 1965 war with India. His decline thereafter was speedy, and sick and tired, protecting himself, he handed over power to his army chief on March 25 1969.

Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan: General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan, Rangila Raja, a good soldier but a bad martial law administrator and head of state (March 25, 1969 — December 19, 1971). He is remembered for having saved the library at the Staff College, Quetta, when an instructor at that institution. He held the only relatively free and fair elections in the country. But he allowed himself to be manipulated by cunning politician Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and is blamed for having thrown away half the country. He died, as he had lived, within his meagre means — fiscally honest, but an exceedingly foolish man.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto: The first ever civilian martial law administrator holding conjointly the post of president of the republic, which dual post he held from December 20, 1971, to August 14, 1973, on which date he promulgated a constitution at noon, which he effectively distorted some four hours later, and declared himself prime minister. He is remembered for all the wrong things, for the evil he did, and for being hanged. His younger son died in mysterious circumstances during the presidency of his successor and executor, his elder son was murdered during the prime ministership of his daughter Benazir.

Mohammad Ziaul Haq: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, always afraid of the army, to replace the retiring army chief Tikka Khan in February 1976 chose a junior general, sixth down the line, Ziaul Haq. Zia was selected for the subservience he had exhibited while a corps commander. The fact that his confidential report declared him to be ambitious and not to be trusted was ignored.

In 1977, much to the delight of the people, he deposed Bhutto and took over the country as its third martial law administrator (July 5, 1977, to December 31, 1985) announcing immediately that he would march back to his barracks in 90 days’ time. In September 1978, he took over the presidency, remaining president of the Republic until blown up in the skies on August 17, 1988. He, likewise, is remembered for much wrong, most importantly for the misuse and abuse of religion to keep himself in power. His legacy haunts us, 19 years down the line.

Benazir Bhutto: Prime minister, twice elected, twice dismissed for corruption and misuse of power — December 2, 1988, to August 6, 1990, and October 19, 1993, to November 5, 1996. She is now desperately trying to get off the hook.

Nawaz Sharif: Prime minister, twice elected, twice dismissed for the same reasons, alternating with Benazir — November 6, 1990, to July 17, 1993, (with a short break between the dismissal of his government on April 18, 1993, and its restoration on May 26, 1993) and from February 17, 1997, to October 12, 1999. The only ‘democratic’ prime minister to have organised a storming of his Supreme Court by his partymen.

Ghulam Ishaq Khan: He took over the presidency on August 17, 1998. He manoeuvred and manipulated elections and the goings and comings of prime ministers until July 19, 1993, when he was forced by his chief of army staff, General Waheed Kakar, to resign, taking with him his prime minister Nawaz Sharif, largely responsible for his downfall. A man of strict financial probity, he allowed his sons-in-law to run riot in the corruption field.

He was intellectually dishonest, he bargained with and bowed to politicians he himself had booted out and discredited — Benazir and husband Asif Zardari — so that he could win himself a second presidential term. He finally went home, a tired old man.

Sardar Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari: Elected president on November 14, 1993, by his party chief Benazir and her men. He, as do all, succumbed to the heat from the seat of power and his good deeds as a civil servant and minister faded into oblivion. He bargained with Nawaz Sharif, a man he disliked and distrusted, so that he could gain a second term as president. He resigned his office on December 2, 1997, after the storming of the Supreme Court and the removal of the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

Pervez Musharraf: General of the army, Chief of Army Staff. He had no alternative on October 12, 1999, but to take over the country from a most foolish prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. He operated under the title ‘chief executive’ until June 20, 2001, when he declared himself president of the republic before setting off on a much heralded trip to India. On November 16, 2002, following the general elections, he took his second oath as president of the republic.

Under the circumstances, many of us considered him to be the best of the worst available to lead the country. He has failed to deliver on all his promises. Whatever good he has done will be ‘interred with his bones’.

He was in a position to avoid the killings and mayhem which engulfed Karachi on May 12 and the responsibility for death and injury must ultimately rest on him, the buck stopping where it stops.

The advertisement inserted by his InfoMin in the press on May 16, portraying him and his prime minister, subject ‘Karachi belongs to all of us’, mocks the people of this city.

His interview with Aaj TV, broadcast on the night of May 18, clearly conveyed that he considers himself the best man to head Pakistan, come hell or high water.

There is little to look forward to. Blighted?