Prof Dr. Khurshid Alam
The situation in Pakistan is becoming more chaotic with every passing day. Who is doing what, is a guessing game. One thing is for sure that no one is doing its job. The institutions though rudimentary in nature never hesitate to interfere in other’s jurisdiction. The house has lost its sovereign identity. The situation is so clouded that the country has lost its direction and the people are living in a “no tomorrow” state of mind.
The civilian government which was supported by people with a hope that it will be a transitional state to a full democratic set up has collapsed. Every dawn brings a new talk to the town. Corruption, the denial of sanctity of the vote or mandate, judicial activism or the latest slogan of judicial Martial Law. Every problem in its own right is lethal for the federation to exist. The strength of the country has shifted from the people to one million men in uniform and nukes as if it has done wonders in the past or for that matter in other countries where nukes were in abundance.
The Judicial military axis is a hanging sword on federal constitution. The eighteen amendment has strengthen the 6th clause, to the dismay of heavy weights. The amendments were never accepted by Punjab and its army. The note of concern were raised soon after its adoption. One of PML (N) member raised the question if different histories are taught in different provinces where the history of Pakistan would be accommodated. It shows the basic contradiction in the genesis of Pakistan. It needed statesmen to translate this diversity in to unity. Martial Ayub was the father of this misconceived concept that it is only the strong center which can keep the country together. Army took 18th amendment and its complementation of the 6th as a frontal attack and were never whole hearted supporter but were waiting for the failure of politician to axe the constitution. Mian provided the opportunity.
Practically, Pakistan has never been a federal state. Though the word has been used and abused a lot but the style of the rulers was always unitary one. It was the irony of the compulsions as the strong center suited more the designs of the establishment and vested interest of the Punjab. While, for the federalist it was the maximally compromised piece of document (the present constitution). The smaller provinces accepted it to provide chance for trust building and then build on it. The federalist argue that it is beyond comprehension for the strong center to realize the problems of the far flung areas. Secondarily the federal state is more broad based and satisfies the different nationalities to evolve their culture and economy. It is a bouquet rather than a single flower.
A full federal democratic Pakistan envisaged by the smaller provinces was the realization of All-Abad Khudba and resolution of Pakistan which is for union of nations with a right to secede if denied due rights. This was exactly what Bacha Khan and Wali Khan pleaded for. The later gave it expression,” provincial autonomy with historical sanctity”. Both invited the wrath of the nucleus of the power of Pakistani State. It was comprehensible. It is a lot easy for military to deal with one strong center instead of dealing with five political power center. The establishment was always against the crowded policy making center. Had there been 5 centers, there would have been no chance of the surrender of Dacca or bidding for Afghan war. The adult spine which was fitted in the new born country has played havoc with its normal development resulting in stunted growth of the country and its institutions. Another irony of the circumstances was that the foreign countries always favored strong center as it was easy for them to deal with. Pakistan was dealt as Parkistan by foreign powers.
The politicians needed time to learn federalism which was always denied to or refused to be practiced. It is never the federalism that has failed because it has never been put in to action but it will be the height of moral dishonesty not to accept that strong center has not only failed but has dismembered the country when it was in the so called strong hands. The talks of the town are the result of the failure of the system due to lack of time and subsequently experience in the art of federalism. Judicial activism has the support of the deep seated establishment. It is obscured to ignore the filth in lower courts and go to clean the hospital and water. It must be done but the jurists can draw the attention of the concerned departments. Yes, we all accept that corruption is wide spread but it should be dealt with across the board. Selective eradication never works, only the hands are changed but the disease stay in the body. Corruption is not only financial irregularities but moral and political corruption must also be taken into account and it should not be time limited.
Since the assumption of power by the establishment and jurists the country is dislocated internally and isolated externally. No one knows his job. Everything is done by everyone resulting in nothing is done properly.
The politicians are dubbed as corrupt they need a fair chance to clear themselves but the power lid should be lifted from the establishment too to know the hidden or un-accountable flaws and filth.
It should be very clear that only a true federation can hold the country where the peoples mandate enjoys respect and all the institution stay in their jurisdiction. If the system is failing we have to inject more federalism and democracy. Martial Law is Martial law, addition of any adjective cannot change its harmful effects and it is by no means an answer.
(The writer is a columnist with The Pashtun Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)