There is a lot of hue and cry in the press over referendum being staged by President General Pervez Musharraf, some interpret the present referendum as a violation of article 48(6) While the others express their doubt over the intention of the General to perpetuate his own rule. This has been the normal facet of the power game in Pakistan, whether it is the presidential form of government or the parliamentary form of government. In the sad history of this unfortunate country, politics of power has been the name of the game of the rulers howsoever democratic they may be.
In order to put a stumbling block in the way of these ambitious players in the political arena, they frame a constitution, since democracy is the rule of the game, the constitution is amended from time to time by the rulers of the time and finally the democratic institutions become a hand made of the ruler. In the parliamentary system, the Prime Minister rules while in the presidential system the head of the state is the Chief Executive and there is no Prime Minister. Will of the people is always supreme in any system of government whether it be parliamentary, presidential or monarchical. So much so that the will of the people tantamount to the will of Allah Almighty. The recent example of the power of the will of people is Iran, where the will of the people toppled the strongest ally of the world super power, the Shah of Iran, and replaced it by a democratic government, which was not provided in the constitution of Iran, where monarchical system was in force, so it happened in Libya, Iraq, Egypt, France and Russia. No constitution can afford to have a provision of revolution but the will of the people prevails and revolution takes place and history is full of such revolutions and travesty of the constitution. Every revolution is considered to be lawful and in accordance with the will of the people. If the revolution is peaceful, they call it coup d’etat. If the change in the government and the system is through blood bath, it is called a revolution, as it happened in Russia, France, Spain and Iran etc.
In recent history East Timor was a part of Indonesia, the people thereof elected to be independent. The United Nation Organisation bowed to their will. Although the people of Kashmir time and again have made it clear that they do not want to remain as a part of India, yet United Nation in spite of its commitment under their own resolutions are not able to enforce it because Pakistan is a Muslim country and majority of Kashmiris are Musalmans and the majority of the members of the United Nations Security Council are not interested to enforce their own decision because of politico-religious expediency. This is how international diplomacy runs.
In any country, anywhere in the world, the government of the day gets full support of the people, who rally behind him at the time of crises, this has been evident on September 11 In United States of America, where the entire nation is behind President George W. Bush in his war against an imaginary enemy, where as our so-called politicians are dividing the nation for their own pelf and power and no one has any programme whatsoever for the welfare and progress of the country and the nation.
Referendum is yet another way of assessing the will of the people through peaceful means, by and large the people are in favour of this idea yet there are others who hold the opinion that this is ultra virus of the constitution, yet others doubt the intention of the General to perpetuate his personal rule for another term of five years. Had the General held this referendum right in the beginning on assumption of office of Chief Executive in 1999, complete silence on this issue would have reigned. Referendum is not even ultra virus, it has been held in NWFP in the West and in Sylhet in the East to assess the will of the people whether or not they elect to form a part of Pakistan before partition of India.
I remember the days when Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) was in full force against Mr. Bhutto, their slogan was Nizam-e-Mustafa, they were fortunately most unfortunate to have popular will of the people with them. But they had no alternate; they had no programme of Nizam-e-Mustafa themselves and therefore surreptitiously invited the army. Air Marshal (Retd.) M. Asgher Khan’s famous letter is a piece of evidence, they had sworn in Nishter Park public meeting to remain united till the transformation of laws according to Nizam-e-Mustafa. But they were divided on the interpretation of Nizam-e-Mustafa themselves; vested interest amongst the politicians is the death knell for the country. General Ziaul Haq dished out a few ministries to the so-called lovers of Nizam-e-Mustafa and they rallied behind him. In every country and every system of government there is an invisible and unwritten clause that the will of the people is supreme. They can change the government before the expiry of their term and they can even throw out the monarch before he dies.
I would advise the politicians to inculcate honesty and truthfulness in their own rank and file and then come out before the nation to lead them, the nation will follow, it is a fact of history that since the birth of Pakistan the politicians have ditched Pakistan and not the army. So let General Pervez Musharraf win the referendum as he will and then wait and see, everything said and done, the Presidential form of government and Proportional Representation system of election is most suited to the genesis of Pakistan. Wherever there is parliamentary form of government, the President is not as impotent as in India and the two Presidents in Pakistan.