By Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
has a long history and a strong tradition of dynastic
rulers. The rulers since independence have always
invoked those images, values and times. That we
do not have monarchy yet hasn't been for the lack
of efforts on their part. The Generals, on other
hand unable to invoke a dynasty have depended on
Nadir Shahism; the word Bonapartism doesn't quite
convey the real sub-continental flavour. These historical
hangovers and pantomimes have played an important
role in determining the way we have been governed.
A very distressing and anti-people method of governance
has been the end result of these attitudes; good
governance requires institutional policy making,
decision taking and policy implementation system.
It also demands unimpeachable integrity on part
of those who wield power; a culture of tolerance
and open-mindedness is equally indispensable. Without
these crucial elements we end up with the chaos,
confusion and corruption that have become the hallmarks
of governance in this Citadel of Islam.
The rulers here, both civilian and military, have
been autocrats answerable to no one. Heeding no
advice, governing the country like a fiefdom. Musharraf
has very cogently summed up the system of governance
here in two words 'No regrets'.
The General in his interview with NDTV bluntly stated
that he has no regrets regarding the killing of
the octogenarian Baloch nationalist leader Nawab
Akbar Khan Bugti. The reason: there could be "no
political understanding with a man with an army"
"Anyone who maintains military and tries to
challenge Pakistan, the government of Pakistan and
the military of Pakistan ... there is no doubt in
my mind ... there is no duplicity in this -- we
will crush him," Musharraf warned. To make
it more acceptable he further added that the military
had to "crush him ... as you are doing in India,"
in apparent reference to Kashmir!
Apparently he thinks that if India chooses to 'crush'
people then it is kosher for him too. Little does
he realize that with those words he forsook those
for whom he had ventured into a catastrophe named
Kargil. He provided implicit justification to the
Indian atrocities simply to justify the atrocities
To seek justification for ones mistakes in blunders
of others exposes the absolute shallowness of the
rules of governance employed to misgovern this country.
The oppression in Balochistan is being justified
by equating it with Kashmir. Next we may hear the
justification of disappearances of political activists
in the context of the Argentinean and Chilean experience.
What justification will be sought for the Bajaur
and Damadola drone attacks? Probably, in the bombing
of Qana by the Israelis. Such pathetic shallowness
This debilitating policy of 'no regrets' has stricken
this country from the very beginning. There was
'no regret' when in early 1948 Mohammad Ali Jinnah,
in his Curzon Hall speech categorically stated that
"Urdu and Urdu alone shall be state language
of Pakistan" without a thought for the 45 million
Bengalis and the 30 million multi-lingual and multi-cultural
people of this wing; because then only 3.3% of the
people were Urdu-speaking. Liaqat Ali Khan's constitutional
proposals of 1950 which relegated the Bengalis to
a secondary parity partner were a continuation of
that total indifference to the rights and wishes
of the majority.
Had wisdom prevailed, regrets expressed and amends
made, there would have been no tragedy of December
17th 1971 and the people of Bengal would not have
suffered the atrocities that they were subjected
In Balochistan the same disregard was shown for
the peoples' wishes. No regrets were shown for the
punishment meted out to Nawab Nauroz Khan and kin.
On the contrary massive military operations were
launched in 1973 to suppress the increasing dissent
against injustices. The injustice of all these actions
has increasingly and irreversibly alienated the
people and what we see there today is interwoven
with all those events of the past.
Army operations, indiscriminate arrests and forced
disappearances are the order of the day in Balochistan.
The Government has sought help from UN for 84,000
'internally displaced persons', a majority of them,
i.e. 59000, are women and children. It should be
noted that men are outnumbered by 3:1.This displacement
underlines the scale on which military operations,
despite denials, have been taking place there and
the sufferings they have entailed for the people.
The total figure according to an independent analyst
Nizamudeen Nizamani is 286,000. It is a humanitarian
catastrophe which indicts those responsible for
On 18th Dec. a columnist said, 'You could not have
blamed me or my fellow passengers for believing
for a second that we had entered a war zone'. This
comment speaks volumes about the consequences of
the present policy of 'no regrets' there.
The rulers have to be applauded for their consistency
in implementing the 'no regret' policy across the
board. They have been even handed in depriving and
alienating the minority provinces though the modus
operandi has differed. Force being the mainstay
in Balochistan and now in the NWFP as it was in
the end days in Bangladesh.
The rulers of all hues and skins have vied to outdo
each other in mis-governance. It would be difficult
to shortlist the best among their achievements but
here is a selection of some masterpieces.
No regrets for the Constituent Assembly dissolved
or Martial Laws imposed. No regrets for going back
on promises of taking off uniform or conducting
bogus referendums. No regrets for freezing of foreign
currency accounts or storming the Supreme Court.
No regrets for writing off billions for cronies
or buying Surrey Palace. No regrets for bounty hunting
for US or capitulating with one phone call. No regrets
for hundreds missing or for extra-judicial killings.
No regrets for selling nuclear secrets or exploding
N-bombs. No regrets for very selective accountability
or jumbo sized Cabinets.
Here are a few more. No regrets for plots allotted
to cronies or going for Umras on tax payers' money.
No regrets for baton charging women or roughing
up journalists. No regrets for comments that women
get raped for money and immigration or for launching
books at official expenses. No regrets for selling
the Steel Mill for a pittance or taking loans for
useless projects. No regrets for buying bullet-proof
Mercedes or AWACS while people go hungry. No regrets
for buying a Rs 5 billion machine for Pakistan
Security Printing Press without a tender or useless
rail engines worth Rs. 5 billion and then
exonerating uniformed buyers. No regrets that we
are among the top corrupt countries or we have imported
The list is ominously long and woeful. Alarmingly
there is a palpable sense of smugness, conceit and
complacency in the perpetrators of these injustices
and misdemeanours and this is a dangerous sign for
prognosis of the state's health and well being.
Certainly it is not for nothing that collective
human wisdom accepts, in principle, the adage that
"if one accepts ones mistake half the battle
is won", but here in the Land of Pure it is
a cardinal sin to accept mistakes. The only advice
heard in corridors of power is one which furthers
their goal of perpetuating their rule in or out
The country has been systematically looted and misgoverned
for eons now. The people have to fight for and regain
their sovereign right for an equitable governance
instead of this unjust 'no regrets' system. To achieve
that goal it is essential that every injustice be
opposed tooth and nail so that all the avenues of
unjust rule are forever closed.
Let the rulers be acquainted with the fact that
the people too will have 'no regrets' when they
will be free from the mis-governance that they are
made to suffer in the name of the 'writ of the State',
'national interest' and 'Pakistan first'.