Lest the Pakistanis forget
The legacy of national reconciliation bequeathed by martyred Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto to the people of Pakistan nourished by her blood has finally become the order of the day. The government of national reconciliation has shown the way for establishing democracy and a culture of tolerance.
Notwithstanding the challenging circumstances President Zardari was entrusted by history to lead the nation following Benazir Bhutto's elimination by the anti-democratic forces, only a man of his calibre could translate great leader's vision in politics. His selection of a cool headed and suave Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani as Prime Minister bears testimony to the series of positive political developments in the country including the landmark constitutional reforms that gave a new lease of life to Pakistan's federal existence that had been threatened by long standing and abused constitutional distortions in the 1973 Constitution fracturing its original shape beyond recognition.
Not many doomsayers would currently recognise the importance of making Parliament sovereign and federating units surfeit with autonomy - once a fatal issue that had led to the break up of Quaid's federation. Only history will tell how these developments have saved the country from falling apart.
As we draw nearer to the next election date after the completion of five-year tenure-first ever-totalitarian heirs as new democrats-are trying to upset the applecart of democracy. Prime Minister Gilani holding the fort steadfastly despite hostile opposition has been right in responding to his opponents by recalling history. Indeed, some of the new democrats forget that how one of their leaders twice elected Prime Minister got to the position where he stands today. Twice he owed it to the agencies that rigged the elections, funded opposition to Benazir Bhutto to subvert her landslide victory especially to deny her party power in the majority province.
No doubt public memory is short but not with the people who live by history. First Sheikh Mujib-like revolt against Islamabad was staged in post-1988 election when provincial government in Punjab almost resorted to UDI (Universal Declaration of Independence) against Benazir's federal government. It refused to accept appointments of federal officers under the constitution to take up assignments in the province. It set up its own bank and was on the verge of establishing its own television network among various other steps to undermine the authority of federal government.
The job started in Punjab was completed by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan at the behest of the agencies and Bhutto government was dismissed in August 1990. The Prime Minister who was made to succeed her proudly claimed in a speech that his ascendancy to power lay in his politics of confrontation that he pursued.
Indeed what one saw recently in the budget session in the National Assembly was much more of the same confrontationalist politics as opposed to Prime Minister Gilani's reconciliation as pursued by his party in the Punjab Assembly during the presentation of Punjab budget.
Some of those in the opposition are masquerading these days as the sole champions of independence of judiciary. It seems that guilty mind has stopped pricking their conscience. They have conveniently forgotten that it were the goons of the then party in power that had ransacked the Supreme Court and forced the Chief Justice to resign to make room for the favourite of the government.
One would refrain here in mentioning how much 'chamak' was used and who were the key members of the then party in power who were involved in the operation to oust Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah. As compared to that horrendous track record, much deserved kudos must go to Prime Minister Gilani for restoring the present Chief Justice and others sacked by General Musharraf through a prime ministerial executive order.
The judicial restoration by the Prime Minister does not undermine the lawyers movement participated among others by PPP lawyers led by PPP stalwart Ch Etezaz Ahsan and PPP workers many of whom were killed. Such an executive decision was a logical follow up of martyred Benazir Bhutto's commitment that she wanted the Chief Justice restored.
Had it not been for Benazir Bhutto's brave decision to return to Pakistan in defiance of Musharraf's sinister threats of elimination and had she not decided in favour of participation in elections, PML (N) leader Mian Nawaz Sharif would have remained in exile under his contractual agreement not to return to Pakistan for ten years brokered through Saudi government for his release and for Presidential pardon quashing his life sentence. It was once again as PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari who convinced Mian Sahib to participate in elections when he had decided otherwise following Mohtarma's assassination.
Mirror also needs to be shown to them as well they need to be reminded of the style of politics they have been pursuing all along. One would like to recall the treatment meted out by the PML goons (similar to ransacking of Supreme Court in 1997) to their PML President Muhammad Khan Junejo in a party convention in Islamabad following his dismissal as Prime Minister by General Zia in mid 1988. To please their whip master these PML leaders and workers manhandled Junejo and forced him out to convert the party into PML (N).
Last but not the least, the proponents of the politics that was staged in the National Assembly's budget session must not forget that those who do not learn lessons from past mistakes in history are condemned to repeat them and pursuance of such detrimental politics could lead to disastrous consequences for the country already faced with internal and external problems of grave consequences.
The author is the High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK.
More about Wajid Shamsul Hasan
Wajid Shamsul Hasan
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