Musical chairs

31 Jul 2020


I RECENTLY read an interesting book Between Dreams and Realities: Some Milestones in Pakistan’s History authored by ex-federal minister Sartaj Aziz.

The book provides an in-depth ‘insider’ account of the chaotic political and administrative history of Pakistan. For three or four decades, Mr Aziz has been on-and-off privy to the power corridors, hence, this is a must read for political analysts, historians and journalists, who wish to hone their intellectual skills about Pakistan.

Mr Aziz conveys the fact that four important lessons need to be learnt; one, we can survive as a dynamic and vibrant political entity-cum-nation state only through a genuine democratic framework.

Two, a self-sustaining democratic framework can be built on strong institutions and the rule of law ‘under civilian supremacy’. Three, all three pillars of state – parliament, judiciary and the executive – must function within the constitutional parameters. And, four, the vitality of this nation does not stem only from its economic gains or its military might, but also from its shared values, cultural heritage and social vision.

In other words, diversity, harnessed through democratic principles and forces, can increase the vitality of Pakistan, just like that of the US (being a great ‘melting pot’ of diverse people, races, cultures, and regions).

Our coming iconic landmarks are the (the coming) 75th birth anniversary of Pakistan and the 50th anniversary of our 1973 Constitution.

Much time has been lost but there is still time to develop a new or revised democratic constitutional order so that the above four lessons or recommendations are fully enforced to realise the dream of Quaid-i-Azam’s Pakistan.

Otherwise, the game of musical chairs will continue between inept civilian governments, on the one hand, and military-led or supported hybrid regimes, on the other hand.

A. R. S.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2020