Emergency – collateral damage


In war and politics, in victory and defeat — trouble with military solutions, anywhere in the world, is that there is colossal collateral damage.


Our beloved Pakistan is at war with itself for the last 60 years. It has been conquered many times and each time the collateral damage was not worth the victory of our praetorians.  


First conquest: General Ayub Khan marched in at war against “corrupt and shifty politicians.” Collateral damage: Country’s constitution, which after seven years of toil, was thrown in the dustbin of history. Same politicians were later allies of the General.


Second conquest: General Yahya Khan elbowed Ayub out promising democracy and preserving its ideological and geographical border. Collateral damage: Half the country was lost; hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis killed; and 90,000 armed forces became prisoners of war.


Third conquest: General Zia-ul-Haq deposed his benefactor taking advantage of a mass movement against election rigging. He promised free and fair elections in 90 days, which were stretched to 11 years and ended dramatically when he died in a mysterious plane crash. Collateral damage: Country is left with heroine smuggling, dangerously armed extremists, who are pitched against civilized Pakistanis; is better known for the exports of terrorism than any other product; and constitution was mutilated.

Fifth: sixth and seventh conquests: Were the covert operations with political leaders’ and civilian Presidents connivance to curb Bhutto, Nawaz and then again Bhutto governments’ corruption. Collateral damage: Assemblies were dissolved; one set of allegedly “corrupt politicians” were replaced with another set of similar credentials; and constitution mutilated.


(Dear reader, pardon me for indulging in history. I wanted to present eighth and ninth conquests in perspective, so that you are more charitable in understanding the historical compulsions of our indispensable leader).


Eighth conquest: In comes General Pervez Musharraf because his boss tried to remove him, fearing that on his return from Sri Lanka the General will depose his government. Again this “so-called unwilling coup” was in the name of weeding out corruption and mismanagement. Another set of allegedly corrupt politicians were adopted. Collateral damage: Elected assemblies were dissolved; judiciary was injured; Jihadis were first allowed to flourish and when under international pressure they were asked to wind up their business, their wrath turned towards Pakistanis; and constitution mutilated.


Ninth conquest: General Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency (some jilted journalist friends call it another martial law) because he feared a judgment against his elections. (Dear judges, you forgot recent history: he isn’t General Karamat who would resign, if he had the courage to remove the government; a few judges don’t matter). He was upset with judicial activism against the executive and “the support lent by judiciary to Lal Masjid terrorists. He was dismayed with some journalists who were extravagant with the “freedom bestowed upon media by him.” (Dear journalists, you should remember that freedom of expression is not a fundamental right of the people, it’s the divine right of the king gifted temporarily to the nation). Collateral damage: Judiciary is critically wounded and may take ages to recover – till then may God help the people of Pakistan; freedom of entire media usurped; the Jihadis are still killing their own countrymen; free and fair elections are now an elusive dream; and constitution is further mutilated beyond recognition.


So where do we go from here? History of these conquests, whether we like it or not, shows that we should be patient and once again move forward  toward our cherished objective of a truly democratic Pakistan cautiously: Lest, we pave the way for the tenth conquest of Pakistan. Otherwise we would not be wise. (ayazbabar@gmail.com)

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