Good Cop, Bad Cop

Pakistan badly needs a Magna Carta of its own, which guarantees the rule of law and dispensation of timely justice to all and sundry.

By Brig. (R) Saleem Qamar Butt | November 2023

In Pakistan, if the country’s three main political parties, namely the PPP, the PML-N, and the PTI, have each failed to govern well, the question arises: why? Is there a problem with the stated three political parties or with the three main organs of the state, i.e., Legislature, Judiciary, and the Executives, attempting to function out of their respective constitutional orbits? Is it because of the application of the colonial mindset, strategy, and tactics by the three pillars of the state on the hapless masses, who are to be served but not to be misruled? Is there a problem with our stars or with us? Is there a problem with the governance system or the unfair men? Is it due to a lack of competence or the frail character of lustful power grabbers? Is it a case of “like people, like rulers,” or vice versa? Or is it a backlash of failure to learn from the experience of others and even from our own major national strategic blunders, e.g., October 1958, December 1970/71, July 1977, April 1979, October 1999, September 2001, and April 2022?

A democracy is a society where citizens are sovereign and control the government. But did it ever happen in Pakistan? Had the political magnanimity been our national culture, there would have been no four military takeovers or frequent dismissal of civilian governments.

The current political acrimony and mayhem in Pakistan smacks of 1970/71 and 1977/79 distressing environments and must be avoided. Since the PTI had a chance to rule for only 3.5 years against decades of repeated rule by PPP and the PML-N, their comparison cannot be accurate. Nevertheless, this writer has addressed the above queries in a series of articles published earlier, and for any honest, aware, and keen reader, finding answers to the foregoing questions won’t be a challenge.

In February 1956, the Constituent Assembly decided that the country shall be a Federal Republic known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan with a parliamentary political system. Pakistan has had 31 prime ministers (from Liaqat Ali Khan to Imran Khan and Shahbaz Sharif). There have been thirteen presidents since the post’s introduction in 1956. Six presidents have been members of a political party, and four were active party members of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP). The first president was a retired military officer; four others were incumbent military officers, of which three gained power through successful military coups in Pakistan’s history – FM Ayub Khan (27 October 1958 to 31 March 1969, left Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and PPP as a legacy), General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (16 September 1978 to 17 August 1988, left Nawaz Sharif and PML-N as his legacy) and General Pervez Musharraf (20 June 2001 to 18 August 2008, left behind PML-Q and MQM).

In its 75-year history, Pakistan has seen democratic governments with a tinge of socialism, communism, and a hue of dynastic monarchy and, conversely, autocracy under military rule with shades of democracy. Nevertheless, with only a few changes of faces necessitated due to natural fade away. However, in all experiments, the ruling elite with new generations onboard remained a constant, besides the domestic and foreign movers and shakers.

The other common factors in all types of tried governments, which had remained the main reasons for perpetual failure, included no induction and further grooming criterion for the politicians/Legislature as in the case of the Judiciary and the Executives; consequent unending lousy governance, rampant corruption, political victimization, wasteful and shameless extravagance on public funds, lack of accountability, weak writ of the law, desperately slow judicial system, suffocating unbridled inflation, addiction to foreign loans by accepting some compromises on national sovereignty and decision making, adjusting to foreign influence or even interference, unstoppable slide down of the economy and pitiable decline in the value of Pakistani rupee. No nation can survive politically free but economically enslaved.

Consequently, irrespective of the type of government, the public has mostly remained deprived, ignored, and barely surviving in a humiliating environment. Since the people of Pakistan have repeatedly seen the change of governments overnight, murder, rape, arson, kidnapping, drugs, narcotics smuggling, and NAB cases involving billions of rupee fraud written off in hours, and yesterday’s villain becoming today’s rulers and vice versa; therefore, Pakistan badly needs a Magna Carta of its own, which guarantees the rule of law and dispensation of timely justice to all and sundry.

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