What Next? By Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

I think it is about time we conclude the debate I initiated some weeks ago as we heard the final word from the Supreme Court. At the start of the debate, I had proposed that military and their ladlas both have been incapable to govern this country. There are three arguments presented to justify the involvement of the military in politics. First, that military rulers provided good governance. Second that politicians are corrupt and incapable to run the country as evident from their infighting. Third that elections of the recent ladla Imran Khan defeated the status quo and we have embarked on a new beginning. I will start with the last argument first.

The status quo in Pakistan is that military or their installed puppets rule the nation. Let us not count the first 9 years since independence because we were busy developing the constitution. The rest of 60 years, the military directly ruled the country for over 30 years. They relinquished power intermittently because there was too much anger against their direct rule. And even when there was a civilian rule some key areas of governance, for instance, foreign policy, defense, and economy were never fully allowed to be controlled by them. The harsh reality of our existence is that after the departure of British Raj we are now colonized by our own institutions that are supposed to serve the people rather than their own interests. Installation of the newest ladla is not tabdeeli rather a continuation of the status quo.

The second argument that politicians are corrupt and incapable is invalid for many reasons. Most of the current cadre of politicians were installed on us by the military themselves. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, and Imran Khan have been ladlas of the military at various times. Junejo, Shaukat Aziz, Shahbaz Sharif, and Pervaiz Elahi also reached top tiers of government because the military promoted and approved them. So if we have been governed by corrupt and incapable politicians then who is responsible for that condition. This is another truth of our existence that in the last 70 years we have never had a truly representative government that can be considered as elected by the people. I don’t consider Bhutto rule in the 1970s as truly peoples government. We have a quasi-democracy where the military decides who is good or bad for the country and then we are allowed to choose from among these selected few. As current ladla fails to deliver there seems to be efforts underway to find the next ladla so the cycle remains unbroken.

Now let’s talk about the most important argument that military governments are good in governance. There is no such evidence that confirms it. All our wars were initiated during the tenure of military rulers including the 1965 Indo-Pak war, the first Afghan war against the Soviet Union, and the latest War on terror. These wars have cost the nation a lot in terms of economy, lives, and social weakness. Everyone in the power circles agrees that the latest war on terror has cost us over $100 billion and General Musharraf is responsible for it. We also lost East Pakistan during the tenure of a General. Tensions between smaller provinces and center were always high during military rulers. Foreign policy was directed in seeking bounty for being partners in wars rather than develop trade and attract foreign investment. Key decisions that helped the nation were made during civilian rulers like start and test of the nuclear program, first Islamic summit in Lahore, construction of the motorway, and CPEC just to name few. Corruption was introduced in the nation because military rulers developed a cadre of cronies and loyalists that now control politics and business. To sum it up military Generals relied on war while civilians preferred peace. It does not require rocket science to understand which one is better for us.

What next? The current ladla is incapable and failing to deliver. This is causing a lot of anxiety and nervousness in the establishment. But we should give some more time to this government to deliver. Gen Bajwa must be getting advice from many to intervene. There are already WhatsApp messages doing the rounds suggesting that the military is good and politicians are bad. It would be better for Gen Bajwa to complete his tenure and go home. Although is not his mandate to interfere in politics but he has already done a lot of it. Judiciary is trying to issue judgments, for example, the recent Faizabad Dharna verdict, with an aim to regain balance among the constitutional institutions. But it is too little too late.

The latest ladla was our last effort to see if the current republic can be reformed. As they fail to deliver it is a confirmation that the current republic cannot deliver because it is built on a colonial constitution. As I argued in my last public statement the way forward is to create a second republic that meets the needs of a free nation.

Thanks & regards

Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

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