Pakistan's tryst with democracy THE ARTICLE BELOW APPEARED IN FREE PRESS JOURNAL ON 19 APRIL, 2013.
A complete fall from grace for Parvez Musharraf. The former military dictator and president of Pakistan is absconding from the judiciary and police authorities to avoid arrest for his crimes committed against the civil society and judiciary.
Musharraf’s second coming to Pakistan to seek democratic legitimacy has proved to be fatal. He faces treason charges, court proceedings over the killing former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, killing of Baloch leader Akbar Bugti, imprisoning 62 judges including Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and now disqualification from contesting national elections.
While, from Musharraf’s arrest both Imran Khan of Tehrik-i-Insaf and Sharif brothers of PML (N) stand to gain the most as it will be termed as ‘justice delivered’, it will be the army who would have ditched its loyal soldier who served the force for over 40 years. But in recent times, the judicial populist – Iftikhar Chaudhry has put Pakistan’s politicians, civil bureaucracy and military on the back foot.
Pakistan’s military has preferred to remain within its barracks paving the way for stronger judiciary and longer lasting democracy. In the past, numerous attempts have been made to suffocate democracy in Pakistan, but it has refused to die.
For the first time in the country’s history, the democratically elected government is about to finish its full term and elections are about to be held on time.
With Musharraf’s elimination, the Pakistani society is left with three main options i.e. Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples’ Party.
The young, the educated and anti-American-Pakistani nationals have sided with Imran Khan who has declared to sever ties with Washington and wage war against illiteracy.
The country badly needs to educate the masses for the intellectual development of Pakistani society, while the former could have regional implication and India’s role in Afghanistan.
The country is surely missing its charismatic Pakistan People’s Party leader Benazir Bhutto.
Her husband and President Asif Ali Zardari has managed to hold on to his chair and run the government, but he has no hopes to offer any new politics from his politically fledgling son – Bilawal Bhutto.
Bilawal’s recent tiff with father Zardari, running away to Dubai and reluctant efforts lead PPP’s election campaign are surely hurting party and his political future.
He may speak and offer the blood shed by his ancestors, but he still is learning major languages spoken by his countrymen. He can’t even speak his mother tong – Sindhi – the language of PPP’s political base.
In 1999 Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan Muslim League (N) was the most hated man in the country and in 2000 stood behind bars – later to be sent in luxurious exile in Saudi Arabia.
But after returning to Pakistan five years ago, Sharif is emerging to be the dark horse to lead the country once again.
As the Diplomat reports, the Sharif brothers will have to contain Imran Khan’s PTI. The latter has given the Sharif brothers run for their money in urban Punjab.
The silence of the Pakistan army raises many questions about its intentions and future course of action.
However, General Parvez Ashfaq Kiyani in post-Musharraf era and under Chaudhry’s judicial activism has appeared to have prefer to play the security guard. He has not shown any political designs and has not stopped Musharraf’s political fall.
This can be interpreted in two ways. First, the military wants Musharraf to serve the jail term or die at the hands of Pakistan Taliban and second, quietly arrange for his safe exit from Pakistan to Dubai or London.
Fortunately, this time around, the Pakistan Army has stayed away from the political heat.
However, there is no gurantee of how and when the army will stage a coup and throw Pakistan into chaos. Anything more than a whisper and democracy evaporates in Pakistan.