There is always a difference between realpolitick and an ideal politics. Like there is a difference between what it ought to be and what it actually is. In no country the aspiration level of its people and what their country supplies to them economically, politically and socially matches. More so in the developing countries. This does not mean we should stop aspiring for the best and dreaming. The moment a person gets despondent and stops aspiring for the best, progress stops. Same is true with nations.
Thus the last few days should be seen realistically. Let’s hope that at least one uncertainty that has consumed so much energy and time of the nation is over the President has been unofficially elected by around 57% of his electoral college.
Many friends may challenge this statement as they feel that the legal battle would continue. My view is that as long as General Musharraf’s own constituency (army) and Washington are supporting him the politicians cannot dislodge the General through legal battles. Let’s be realistic and not burden our judiciary with the ominous political responsibility of stopping the military from meddling in Pakistan’s politics. A judicial coup is desired by many, but can it be enforced without the support of the army? So it brings us back to square one.
Independent judiciary is not built in one day. The lawyers’ movement has indeed done a commendable job of giving judiciary some strength, but they should remember, as their leader Munir Malik says, that this is just the beginning. Civil society should help judiciary to walk step by step, as they would take time to walk without fear, pressures and resistance.
Now that the new Vice Chief of Staff has been appointed national Reconciliation Ordinance has been promulgated and General Musharraf has been unofficially elected for the second term, the focus of the political debate is expected to shift to the formation of the interim set up after the final judgment of the Supreme Court. And then to the general election, which all camps agree would be the mother of all elections.
The opposition and the civil society’s cases challenging President Musharraf’s election would loose their sting in the coming days. If at all the courts would decide that President Musharraf was not eligible to contest the elections and declare the process null and void, the country would be back in the lurch.
Thus bemused Pakistanis agonized search for what would happen in the coming quarter would unfortunately become unending. In most developed democracies people are more or less sure that one of the main political parties would be elected. In Pakistan the problem is that extra-constitutional measures are taken by the establishment, which makes it difficult for the people to forecast the near future. Leave alone long term forecasting. The constitution is not followed. It has been mutilated by each government to legitimise itself. Even today the book says that the chief executive of the country is the prime minister and the president’s powers are limited. But everybody knows who calls the shots in Pakistan.
(It is sad that one of the most qualified prime ministers, who could have made the difference in governance, had no say on crucial national issues. Once I had wished him to be a chapter in this history of Pakistan. Now I feel that he would only be a chapter in the economic history of Pakistan and not in political history).
So far the only positive development has been the promulgation of the National Reconciliation Ordinance. It was needed because the country is almost in a state of civil war. Hundreds of civilians and law enforcing agencies personnel have died in terrorist attacks. This war against terrorism needs national consensus. Many contemporary analysts tend to forget this most urgent problem, while mulling over legal niceties.
Action for taming the shrew in FATA should be taken with national consensus and with full support of the parliament. In democratic polity, civil government makes such policies and the law enforcing agencies aided by the military, if needed, enforce the writ of the state. This is an ideal position. But in Pakistan we know the military has never allowed the civil government to decide internal and external policies. More so when it comes to matters of security.
So pragmatically speaking what a country needs is an alliance of liberal democrats and the army to fight the war against terrorism and Talibanisation. Yesterday it was FATA; today it is in Swat and Islamabad. And still spreading. Thus the task is urgent before this fire engulfs the entire country. Without the full backing of the army we cannot win this war. And then this mess has been created by them in the last sixty years, its time they should sweep it. No doubt it is not an ideal situation, but this has been thrust on the nation by global politics and years of dictatorship.
What the critics of reconciliation have to realize is that war against terrorism or Talibanisation is Pakistan’s war and we cannot afford to spurn it away as an American war. Rationale: Talibanisation will push the country politically, socially, culturally and more importantly economically in isolation and to destruction. Already it is affecting the investment climate. People are afraid to come to Pakistan even for business leave alone tourism. Who is and would be affected most by this? Indeed the poor of the poorest. Aren’t all politicians and civil society leaders championing the cause of these very people? (firstname.lastname@example.org)