So What Should
By Hafizur Rahman
One marvels at the
brazen audacity with which our twice-deposed prime
ministers, or their representatives in the country,
set afloat reports of their impending return to
Pakistan. Reading such statements it seems as if
their return is now a matter of days, and then Pakistan’s
fate will turn a fresh new leaf.
While Mian Nawaz Sharif is himself “wordless
in Gaza” and allows his associates to say
what they like on the subject, Ms Benazir Bhutto
loves to talk about it from wherever she is and
also argues about her husband’s innocence.
Both the former PMs are said to be intensely eager
to get back home.
Of course the possibility is remote, and the common
man does not seem to miss them. In the case of Mian
Sahib even if the government of Saudi Arabia has
a change of heart and does no more want to be his
host, the military regime is not likely to accept
him, and will probably say, “Goods once lifted
will not be taken back” or words to that effect.
On the other hand, the poor BB has no Arab ruler
to plead her safe return and she can only come back
to stay in prison. She has already been found guilty
of corruption in a few cases, and I doubt if her
appeals to higher courts will yield a favorable
verdict. So what is this “See you soon”
But their partymen continue to campaign about their
return in a manner similar to the advertising of
home appliances. Their persistence sounds so full
of confidence that even Syed Jamil Shah gets worried
sometimes. He is an old friend who was once man-about-town
in Karachi and is now a reclusive project consultant
in Islamabad. I am mentioning about him in this
context because he has made a solemn vow. He says
that as soon as either BB or Nawaz Sharif lands
in Pakistan he will leave this country.
His argument is that
this is all that a self-respecting citizen can do
when overwhelmed with the dire straits to which
these two leaders reduced Pakistan, one in his obsessive
lust for personal power (apart from other things)
and the other in her blatantly immodest defense
of her ill-reputed life partner (apart from other
things). In Jamil Shah’s opinion there is
no other way out, for it is not possible for decent
people to fight, or even effectively protest against,
all-encompassing political evil.
Jamil Shah has a dear friend in the United States,
a well-known Pakistani painter. Apparently the man
is terribly bored among the denizens of that country
and is yearning to let Jamil Shah amuse him and
entertain him in Punjabi, something that my friend
does extremely well when he is in the mood. Since
Jamil Shah determinedly refuses to veer from the
pledge that he has made to himself, I can hardly
say anything in the matter, except to hope and pray
that I don’t have to give you the news of
his departure for self-exile in near future.
But what a misfortune that sensitive, highly educated
and enlightened people have to think in terms of
leaving the country rather than wait and see what
happens after the return of the political leaders.
A greater misfortune is that these leaders are elected
by the people, and by all canons of democracy they
have the right to do to it what they like. I have
never been able to understand our people. They will
reject certain leaders but when election time comes,
they vote them into power again.
What a great pity that both the former PMs were
twice removed by extracurricular methods; military
or quasi-military. One shudders to think what would
have happened if they had been allowed to complete
their constitutional tenure. Both have their defenders
but, as it is, you can’t form a good opinion
of such people.
During the last fifteen years the only prime minister
who was able to earn the respect of the people of
Pakistan was Muhammad Khan Junejo but he held the
office in the days of General Ziaul Haq who played
dirty with him because he refused to believe that
the general had been ordained by the Almighty to
convert Pakistan into a fortress of Islam. Had Mr
Junejo been allowed to stay on he might have set
good traditions for others to follow, but that was
not to be. This was another misfortune.
The only clean periods that the country has seen
were when the three interim (caretaker) prime ministers
ruled over its destiny. They were Meraj Khalid,
Moeen Qureshi and Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi. You can
point out many faults in their administration but
you can’t accuse them of having treated Pakistan
as their personal fief.
Though I must tell you (if you do not know it already)
that Mr Jatoi, intimidated at first by the grim
presence of President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, let himself
go in the end, and in the last two or three days
of his rule, allotted more than a hundred prime
plots in Islamabad and Karachi to his favorites,
most of whom, incidentally, were ladies.
Then we had a military government in Pakistan, another
comparatively clean period. We all wanted the soldiers
to go back to their barracks but our bane is the
basic trauma that besets us whenever we start thinking
of alternatives. The regime that has followed is
not too bad, though it is not properly democratic.
Being democrats at heart, though still struggling
to find our feet, we genuinely want democratic ways
to prevail among us, but the thought of elected
leaders coming in to rule gives us the creeps. So
what should we do? (Courtesy Dawn)