Pakistan’s Strange Democracy: Where Thugs and Criminals are Above the Law

The Supreme Court Judge Dr. Javed Iqbal (DAWN, 03/14/2010) wanted the Chief of the NAB to explain why the charges against Mr. Zardari’s Swiss case of $60 million money laundering have not been followed through? There is no logical explanation offered by the current PPP Government under Mr. Zardari’s presidency. It is strange that Mr. Zardari having been indicted by the Swiss court should be holding the office of political governance in Pakistan. Earlier, the former head of the NAB referred to legal immunity as the excuse for not taking up the case. There are numerous other cases against Zaradri and some of his political accomplices holding offices. Do Pakistani laws and justice offer legal immunity to known thugs, thieves and criminals? If history has its own meaning and logic defies the truth, then almost all of the publicly viewed corrupt leaders in Pakistan have escaped the accountability. This week, four British MP’s accused of making the false financial expenses have appeared before a magistrate to answer the charges. As MP, they could have claimed legal immunity.

Look at General Pervez Musharaf, the former self styled president and military dictator, once striving to hold the politicians accountable for their crimes against the nation, ultimately joined the club of the most corrupt in governance. Now, after forced eviction from the president house, he is living in $1.4 million worth of specious apartment in London, protected by the British security forces. Seemingly, the West rewards the Pakistani leaders with lot of goodies. The former Bush administration claimed to have invested $10 billion in General Musharaf to promote the so called democracy and wage war on their behalf across the southwestern Asia. General Musharaf did all that to create new conflicts and sabotage the future of Pakistan as a free nation. Under the US pressure and the IMF dictates, he even promoted the most secular Generals to sensitive positions and appointed senior civil service members (CSP officers) to World Banks’ conveniently approved list of positions and orientations. Musharaf was a committed friend of the Bush administration and he is not identified by the US media as “traitor” who traded-in all the nuclear secrets of his homeland for personal gains. Musharaf was depicted by the Washington Post as “dog” –” a faithful friend of the US Commander Bush –” now a candidate for war crimes. You may recall that in 1975, The Time magazine portrayed Saddam Hussein as the moderate Arab leader working to promote the American sponsored democracy in Iraq. What was not disclosed at the time that Saddam Hussein was listed in the CIA payroll?

If the facts of human life have meanings and honesty must take its place, all of General Musharaf’s hasty actions and priorities seem to have been the outcome of ignorance and arrogance. With political oppression as the agenda and terrorism as the means to dislodge all those who could raise voices of reason to question his self-engineered emergency in 2007 and subsequently continued military domination over all domains of civilian lives. Pakistanis have serious reservations about the orientation of the current military leadership too. While Pakistan is in great political turmoil and extremism is growing at a rapid speed against the self-styled rulers, it is hard to imagine if the ruling elite have any sense of direction and alternatives how to cope with the military and political mess evolved by them. In one nutshell, military presence is everywhere in public life except the army discipline to defend the national sovereignty and integrity.

In the Western media, since out of the office, General Musharaf poses himself as a savior, but his actions made people to believe, he is a habitual liar and an egoistic person who imposed individual interest and greed over the national interests. In 2007, out of nowhere, just to prolong his military dictatorship, he introduced emergency rule while threatened by the Supreme Court of Pakistan that his longing for Presidential re-election will not come true. Ironically, to give credence to his ambitions, the issue was taken up by the Supreme Court judges, whether the General is a legitimate candidate for the office or not? When General Musharraf sensed, it was going to be against his aims of the self-made presidency, quite advertently, he dismissed the most credible judges of the country, amongst them the Chief Justice of Pakistan Chaudhry Iftikhar. The General imposed an emergency rule, suspended the constitution, removed and put the Chief Justice under house arrest and imprisoned all his outspoken opponents? Was it a democracy at work? Or another phase of the Martial Law –” “Law of the Jungle” to destabilize the country? Obviously, Musharaf and the Pakistani nation were far apart in their perceptions and priorities and lived in different time zones, being unable to see each other in their rational perspectives and real world role play.

General Musharaf used to say that “my first concern is Pakistan not democracy.” Supposedly, if Pakistan was his first concern, the national interest of the Pakistani people should have been his first concern too? Not so, facts speak alarmingly a different language of the facts of human life. Once Dr. Ali Shariati, the real pioneer of Islamic revolution in Iran wrote: “when people live in darkness, they lose sense of direction.” For too long, Pakistani nation has suffered under the military dictatorships and the corrupt rule of Bhuttos and Zardaris and Sharifs and countless others – all escaped the accountability at the discretion of the military rulers who used them as scapegoats to prolong their own greed for power. American President Bush used to describe General Musharaf as “trusted ally in the war against terrorism.” Truly so, General Musharaaf have committed crimes against his own people to stay in power and to please his Master and “trusted ally” Commander Bush. Otherwise, General Musharaf could well have been identified as a perpetual instigator of terrorism in his own country. The Generals and political thugs like Zardari and Sharif are allergic to educated Pakistanis who envision planned change and reformation of the corrupted governance. Facing internal political activism, most ruling elite will blame India for the mishaps. Naïve Pakistani politicians have no sense to face the reality but try to escape the political challenges of mismanagement and exploitation of the masses by blaming others. This trend has continued in the dirty politics of Pakistan.

Over the decades under the continued military dictatorships, Pakistan lost what it cannot regain, time and opportunities for change and development, its economic and political growth, its global image as an independent nation, its political institutions, and the wealth of original thinking of the common citizens. The Generals have systematically deprived the intelligentsia not to THINK rationally except bread, butter and immediate survivability under the laws of jungle. If there was one institution to be pinpointed for all the intellectual deprivation, political sickness, killings and failures of the nation, the military Generals must be held accountable for their crimes in a court of law. But there is no law and no justice system to deliver justice under the current political affairs. Even though the Chief Justice Iftikhar was restored under public pressure, the legal verdicts are stalled by the current PPP government. It is one of the serious crises of this century that Pakistanis must address and find workable options. The US replaced General Musharaf with Bhutto’s family redundant Asif Zardari, another well known bootlicker of the Western political dictates. Ms. Bhutto and Zaradri had enjoyed rich profile in national thefts, bribery scandals and money laundering – a profile that would be of special interest to the Western leaders in support of their crusade against Islam and the on-going bogus wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The American orchestrated myth of “Islamic terrorism” is the weapon being used to undo Pakistan and its future. Pakistani Generals are the hired agents to achieve this vital goal as reported by the New York Times in July 2007. They appear to have made considerable headways. Ms Bhutto was rehired and when returned to Pakistan after her self-exiled absence, she met her long awaited end. Many Pakistani news media outlets speculate even Zaradri may have had a hand in her killing to assume the PPP leadership and the presidency. Pakistani Generals were not educated or trained in Islamic thoughts and values, nor competent enough to think rationally about the global conspiracy against the Muslim nation that fed them too well for so long and now they are the reason for its growing instability and final destruction. The nation and its core thinking has been crippled with critical foreign problems that it cannot find a way out of the “extremism”, American terrorism, British neo-colonialism, War in Afghanistan and adjacent North-West Frontier Province of Pakhtoon speaking and increased civilian militancy against the army rule in all parts of the country. Once again, it is “divide and rule”. Who will gain out of this mess created by the Generals during the 40 years of military dictatorships? Musharaf has 24 hrs security protection in UK, Zardari owns many splendid properties in UK, France, Switzerland and Dubai and elsewhere. Could Pakistani law and justice system hold General Musharaf and his accomplices and Zaradri and many of his indicted colleagues for open court accountability?

The likelihood of such an accountability process does not appear too practical as the civil servants and the allied politicians appear to be part of the problem, not solution. The dismantled public institutions have no voices; the bogus assemblies are simply a rubber stamp for the political elite to deceive the masses as if “democracy is at work.” Despite the supreme courts ruling and various candid decisions, the Zardari administration will not phase-out on its own unless stormed by the public pressure or a tangible force. Could there be another form of neo-colonial arrangement in waiting for Pakistanis? There are no plausible answers to find any sense out of military run political nonsense. One wonders, what are the Pakistanis waiting for at this life-threatening juncture of their nationhood? When Romans wanted change out of the political corruption, they marched on roads, when Thai people got fed up with corruption, they are organized and standing on streets and roads demanding change. The current British parliamentarians had legal immunity but four of the MP’s charged with allegations of misuse of the official accounts appeared in a court of law to answer the charges. What is there that distinguished Zardari and military Generals not to be called in a Pakistani court of Law? Are they above the Law? What kind of legal immunity does Musharaf, Zaradri, Sharif and Gilani enjoy in the law of the land?

Foreigners are more like conflict observers and entertainment spectators for their interests and strategic priorities and could never be instrumental for constructive change and sustainable development. Do conscientious Pakistanis expect foreigners to solve their own problems? Was the so-called National Assembly and Senate or Provincial Assemblies of any worthwhile reference point to question the political atrocities against their own masses? Musharaf was a problem to Pakistanis, not to America or British imperialists. They viewed him as a “trusted ally” – a comrade in arms to promote freedom and democracy. After all for the same ideal America and Britain went to dismember Iraq and Afghanistan, and now trying to cut and paste the same formula against Iran, and using the same blueprint for Pakistan. Pakistan has been identified as “the most dangerous country in the world” because that was the plan to be implemented, and General Musharaf and Ms. Bhutto and Zardari have helped America and Britain to pursue this strategic goal. The US and British policy makers see Islamic Pakistan as a problem, whereas educated Pakistanis viewed General Musharaf, Ms. Bhutto, Zardari and Sharif and so many other fake politicians aligned with them, and America and Britain as the core of the problem. There cannot be any equilibrium in these divergent perspectives and no patchwork could articulate any workable political solutions. The wars of extremism that General Musharaf planned with the US $10 billion bribes called military aid package are showing the results in daily bloodbaths across Pakistan. In 2009 alone Pakistani civilians causalities are reported to be 12,900. Out of this approximately 1,000 or more civilian people have been killed by the US drone attacks in Waziristan tribal belts. Are the Americans Lord of the Ring to kill innocent Pakistanis? Is there any international law to hold them accountable for these heinous crimes? The global system of governance is in shackles and thinking people of the West are increasingly aware that any accidental revulsion could fail to foresee the future whether struggle for freedom and justice will flourish or neo-colonialism will dominate Pakistan for sometime to come. Nobody seems to learn from the living history. General Franco wanted to unite the Spaniards, but led to 36 years of civil war. General Pinochet wanted to protect Chile from extreme revolutionaries; his army and secret police gangs killed millions to keep the General in power. General Musharaaf promised to hold accountability trials of the corrupt politicians, ultimately in the process; he became part of the institutionalized corruption. He wanted to promote democracy but installed military commanders all over the civilian affairs. If he was honest, he could not have imposed emergency rule and suspended the civilian liberties and fire the Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Court. He holds no respectful standing for his role to be appraised by the informed Pakistanis. Change for any promising future will not grow out of military coups but the creative thoughts and innovative plans of the educated Pakistanis (more living overseas) to ensure safety of the country and its future viability. But under Zardari’s regime, there is no proactive plan or devised system of political change and to undo the institutionalized corruption. Zardari and Sharif are a problem, not the solution. The military rulers and few feudal families have exploited the resources of Pakistan. The masses rightfully are resentful and eager to look for change and reformation of the corrupted system of governance. But there are no public institutions to reason the unreason. All the wealth is accumulated in few hands. There is no Islam in Islamabad but treachery and cruelty against the deprived masses. The common citizens are helpless devoid of the sense of human security, have no services for health, education, and personal growth unless you they become corrupt and do the usual business of the thugs and indicted criminals as business as usual. No political institutions are available to represent the public and growing discontentment and resentment against the corrupt and arrogant foreign appointed leaders of Islamic Pakistan. America and British imperialists are buying and bribing the political thugs to continue with killings and political extremism and daily bloodbaths of the innocent citizens. The bogus assemblies and the PPP ruling elite must be checked for their political cruelty and misuse of the power. There is no functional democracy in Pakistan except few feudal lords running the show. Time and opportunities wasted will never be regained. The US and Britain never won any major conflicts in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. The colonialism ended as historical change but in disgrace for the British Empire without any choice. For their political aims and strategic hegemony, both would continue to control and manipulate Pakistan for their own strategic interests.

Pakistan desperately NEEDS a navigational Change but where would the change come from? Thugs and indicted criminals do not build the nation except the intellectuals and visionary leaders enriched with proactive vision for the future of the nation.