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Number of posts : 59
Age : 69
Registration date : 2007-12-16


Thursday, 12-27-07

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Citizenís duty
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Citizenís duty

By M.B. Naqvi

The political conditions are extremely confusing for many and it cannot be overemphasized that the country is in a bad shape: everyone realizes that a number of wars and polarizations describe Pakistan polity today what with Talibanís depredations and BLAís campaign in Balochistan. There is an intense polarization between the military-led social and economic elite and the Army are described as the establishment, operating mainly through Ďagenciesí. A reconciliation and honourable peace has to be achieved. A dictatorship with a democratic faÁade is that is holding an election which is controversial at home and suspected abroad.

This situation has largely been brought about by this very regime. The latter is not part of a solution; it is part of the problem. Attention has to be focused on the dangers from provincial disharmony or the crisis of federalism as also ideological polarizations between Islamic extremists and moderates. Law and order is breaking down and inflation is running high. There are other danger signals. The situation has to be corrected, if Pakistan is not to suffer another big tragedy. This means that the present regime must go. How can it go? The subject requires thought.

The regime is a powerful one. It enjoys the support of the only superpower and its allies in the Middle East and Nato members in Europe and most other US allies, including India. The regime in fact is their protege. It is also based on the solid support from social and economic elites of the country, as has been noted in this space earlier. Politically it is supported by PML (Q), the Kingís Party, MQM, PPP (S) and PPP (Patriots). The west has ensured that both PPP and PML (N) should also lend support to the Musharraf regime by participating in its election, despite their reservations and popular objections. This combination equals heavy odds against the people achieving what they need most.

The main task of the regime is to fight the wars of US-led west and to keep the people of Pakistan quiet and run the country the way the west wants. It is a joint endeavour of the conservative forces of this country and the international conservative forces, represented by the US and its various conservative allies around the globe. The task therefore comes to this: It ought to go peacefully and constitutionally; no violence should be introduced, otherwise there would be a free for all in this largely armed country where most institutions of state are crumbling. Local conditions are bad: law and order is deteriorating; crimes are rising; and several civil wars are going on. Economic trends are ringing alarm bells about an eventual meltdown in not too distant a future, if things continue going wrong.

It may be objected that one has not mentioned the real strength of the regime. Over 600,000, indeed over 800,000, rifles and bigger guns are behind the regime; opponents run the risk of suffering horrendous losses, if violence is permitted. The task is thus not easy. But it can be done. It has been done many times elsewhere. The secret of success is peopleís power. Should the people unite behind right or adequate leadership, they can achieve almost anything. When a united and determined people require a specific goal nothing can stop them achieving it. Peopleís power cannot be defeated by any big or small army, foreign or local.

It is for this reason that all non-democratic regimes want to keep the people divided and preferably in conflict among themselves. The first requirement therefore is uniting behind an enlightened leadership and insisting upon a rational and adequate programme of reforms that would guarantee all freedoms to the people plus an economic development that actually gives something to the impoverished. The promised economic betterment has now to be specific as to what precisely would the state start doing and how.

The overriding task is to bring back democratic freedoms for the people alongwith rule of law, separation of powers, independent judiciary and a responsive government that would run the economy for the benefit of the impoverished masses rather than serve the interests of the few rich. That has to be done. As an immediate first step, the requirement is that the regime must be made to retrace its steps and bring back Pakistan of pre-Nov 3 Pakistan as a first step only.

The next step is of course a free and fair election. After that there has to be a transfer of power from the tycoons and grandees of today to the common people of Pakistan through a freely elected parliament. The objective is to restore the 1973 constitution as it was originally written. In addition, the people must insist that it follows honourable, self-reliant and free policies of peace and goodwill for all others while the state must serve the people in hard specific ways in addition greater autonomy, backed by financial powers to tax, to provinces and local governments.

Now look as to what really is going on in the shape of political polarizations and warfare. The one war that the regime is fighting alongwith America and its allies is against Islamic terrorism and extremism, specifically the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda. The second is against local Taliban because of their rebellion inside Pakistan territories, both in tribal areas and in settled districts of NWFP, although their depredations are not confined only to the NWFP. Even Islamabad has had its taste. The third is the guerilla war of Balochistan Liberation Army against Pakistan Army. This is the second civil war within the country. But even more important from the long-term viewpoint is the polarization between the civil society being led by the lawyers, judges and human rights activists and now students are joining it against the US-and-Pakistan Army propped regime that has been failing to be either effective or enlightened government that favours freedoms of its citizens. Its economic policies have been questionable, yielding dangerously poor results.

Pakistan has to be rescued and peace restored. How precisely can the people go about this objective is to accept the new leadership of the civil society: the lawyers, pre-Nov 3 judges and the rest of the intelligentsia that is joining them. The first demand of the lawyers and many others was to boycott the election. Political parties did not agree to that. Only a few smaller parties are boycotting, including notably the well-organized Jamaate Islami. What people can do is to not to vote at all, or to vote in a manner that the pro-regime parties are defeated. The latter can be done either by the destruction of the vote or giving it to any party that promises to support judiciaryís restoration. But voting or not voting will not affect the outcome, since these elections are not likely to be quite free and fair; they are likely to be a Ďmanagedí one.

The master solution remains mass political action, with the caveat that it should remain non-violent and as constitutional as possible, though not totally restricted to what the government orders. The ultimate goals must be spelled even for the benefit of the new leadership. It has also to be educated on matters of foreign, economic and other policies. One can leave political policies to the lawyers and civil society leaders easily because they have necessarily to favour rule of law, independence of judiciary and political freedoms of the ordinary people. This is a good reason why they need to be supported and helped into becoming good economy managers and good foreign policy formulators. This can be done by the intelligentsia through a free intercourse of ideas in the country as reconstruction begins to take shape.

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