A raging discourse is currently going on in the media and among the political elites, which is misinformed and dishonest. On group editor of a media group, in his article published on Monday quoting a retired General stated: “Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri is playing President Zardari’s game so that elections could be postponed to prolong and strength his presidency… According to the retired General it suits General Kayani, as there is deep understanding between President and General Kayani, and they will not ditch each other”. It appears that the author has expressed his own opinion using the name of a fictitious general, adding that to him this opinion is not understandable. But at the same time, he stated that “since the General has recently retired, he cannot dismiss his opinion altogether”. He seems to be using the conjectures to mislead the public. He lauded Tahir-ul-Qadri and tried to prove that he is a force to reckon with. In fact, people frustrated from the present rulers attend the rallies and public meetings of Imran Khan and Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, who have not been tried in the past.
The domestic scene, however, is perplexed and confounded with uncertainty and hopelessness. The armed forces do feel the pain and anxiety as they helplessly watch their own country falling into political instability, economic crisis and social degeneration with stunning incidents of rampant inflation, corruption, deteriorating law and order situation, executive-judiciary standoff and power shortages. Present military leadership has avoided intervention and understands that it is the responsibility of the elected government to solve the problems faced by the people. Despite their sufferings, people have not lost the hope in the system engineered in the name of democracy to remain in power, yet there is whispering campaign suggesting to the armed forces to come forward and provide relief to the people. If one has to believe the COAS, it is the prerogative of the elected government to run the affairs of the state; hence there is no chance of stalling the democratic process.
Since the elections are a few months away, political parties have started their hunt for electable. Compulsive renegades and turncoats are weighing their prospects carefully, walking out from one fold over to the other to brighten their electoral prospects. Meanwhile, political parties, including the ones promising change, have opened up their gates wide open for the entrance of these opportunistic politicos. In many countries, when people changed their political party there was a long process of gradual realization that previous conceptions were wrong and a new direction was needed.
In entrenched democracies, people in general and politicos in particular join a political party on the basis of its agenda, and if they feel that the party fails to uphold the principles they stand for, they leave the party. However, in Pakistan, switching loyalties is more of a norm, as most politicians are opportunists and master political strategists, who ride the tide and turn the surge to their advantage.
When they feel that prospects for a particular party to come into power are bright, they desert their party to join that party. After Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf held a huge public meeting in Iqbal Park where people came in droves, some politicians left their parties to join the PTI. The other day, Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri has been able to mobilize the people and put up an impressive show at Iqbal Park. One would agree with him that the country does stand in dire need of drastic electoral reforms and its political system too must change for an honest, sincere and real leadership to emerge. For electing such a leadership, the electorate must be the master of its own will and vote. But the bulk of it is practically a disenfranchised citizenry, living in the thralldom of landed aristocrats and feudal lords, with no right even to their life, what to speak of dignity and freedom of choice. This citizenry is literally a captive constituency, and a captive voter, driven like animals to the polling stations to vote as desired by the jagirdars and feudal lords. For real and sincere leadership to come up, this must change.
One should not hold brief for military dictators who abrogated the constitution in the past. But the present military leadership does not deserve scathing criticism because of the steps General Kayani took after his elevation as COAS vis-à-vis withdrawal of military personnel from the civil departments, and his instructions that military should not take sides during February 2008 elections. Of course, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry by challenging the military dictator earned laurels from the people that helped expedite the pace of transition to democracy. But the fact also remains that had General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani not intervened, Chief Justice perhaps would never have been reinstated. General Kayani was also criticized for protesting against the insults heaped on Pakistan and its military by the US in Kerry-Lugar Bill and expected of him not annoy the ‘ally’, and take the insult lying down. But that was not to be because of the present military leadership.
During the last six decades, heads of all civil and military governments or top brass have been compliant and obeyed the orders of the super power. It is indeed first time in the history of Pakistan that army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and former ISI Chief Lt. General Ahmed Shuja Pasha had told America that enough is enough. No one in his right sense would like to have civil or military dictatorship; however, in Pakistan whenever the people were disillusioned from the leadership that failed to deliver, they started looking towards the military for solution of their problems. Though people fully understand that as per the constitution of Pakistan the armed forces have no role to play in country’s politics, yet under the prevalent situation many people whisper around while political leaders like Sheikh Rashid criticize military for not acting against the present government. Such people should not harbor such desires, as illegal disposal of the government is fraught with dangers.