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Qurbani se pehle Qurbani – Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

After 2013 general elections some of my journalist friends asked what should Nawaz Sharif do. My response was that I would advise him to become a President and let someone else from his party become Prime Minister while his brother is already controlling Punjab. I foresaw what would happen eventually because our democracy is not strong enough to enable a Prime Minister to exercise his constitutional powers. So I am not really surprised what is happening to an elected Prime Minister these days. I hope you won’t jump to the conclusion quickly and blame me for being an agent of PML N as Imran Khan usually does whenever someone mentions my name.

If we want to fix our politics we have to publicly acknowledge the reality that military is a political party and participates in it. It has money through the support of oligarchs; it has the support of the educated middle class, and it has control of the coercive power of the gun. The military may have decided to change its method by not imposing martial law but it still does want to retain control of levers of power. Another attitude military has is that all politicians are corrupt hence they have to be checked and control. This attitude is not just in Pakistan but in many other countries too. The Stanley McChrystal episode brought to light American military distrust of civilians and in Trump, administration military has taken direct control of foreign and security policy. These days a lot of references are made that a PM should go home because he is corrupt but then Junejo and Benazir (herself) was not a corrupt PM still they were sent packing. So we have to be realistic and understand that the struggle is between power stakeholders and military by and larger has still not accepted the fact that a Prime Minister can be independent in exercising his constitutional power. Rejection tweet was a public manifestation of that. Before JIT was announced Imran Khan met with Gen Bajwa but no one knows what was discussed. Was he told that a JIT with MI and ISI should be acceptable to him? From the later events, it seems that is a real possibility. The military should release minutes of the meeting to clear this doubt and if no notes are kept then it is not appropriate as COAS did not meet in a personal capacity.

Judiciary in modern democracy has been assigned the role of a neutral arbiter whenever there is a conflict between government and opposition parties over legislation or executive power. But there are many flaws in this model. Even in USA, the judiciary is divided between conservative and liberal judges which mean they are not really neutral but driven by their own ideological motives. So expecting that Judiciary will really be neutral and independent in Pakistan is a pipe dream and far from reality. When Imran Khan petition was called frivolous and rejected by Supreme Court the script would have ended right there. But then Supreme Court intervened and accepted the petition. Supreme Court as an institution was asked to deal with a political petition because the prosecution is not their mandate. They did not want to bear the burden alone and wanted to send a symbolic message of the pressure on them hence the inclusion of ISI and MI. This inclusion exposed military’s continued involvement in the political process. The military had an option to walk out of JIT and refuse to be part of it but since they believe they are the sole savior of the nation from the corrupt politicians they did bite the bait.

Do we really have a crisis that hysterical electronic media is projecting? Our courts are open; our markets are functioning; our factories are running; there is no serious crisis of law and order, and there is no breakdown of government bureaucracy. But yes we do have a crisis of politics. But is this something new. Since the emergence of PPP rule in 2009 we have been in a constant political crisis of one kind or the other. The only apparent times of calm and serenity are the rules of military dictators. Why do we have this constant crisis of politics? Because oligarchs and educated middle class are impatient and like military believe all politicians are corrupt. They feel left out of the political process and want their old ally military to fix the things for them. Many of our intellectuals despise politicians and present them as worst kind of a creature there by discouraging talented people from participating in it. They forget that philosophers and Prophets both considered politics an inseparable part of community development and mentored politicians for it.

What is the solution to the crisis? My suggestion to the nation would be to exhibit patience but continue putting pressure on the system to reform. Without good politics, a better nation can’t be built. Just removing corrupt politicians is not the complete solution rather encouraging better politicians to emerge is also important. Removing an elected Prime Minister through pressure has been our tradition. We have to change that tradition. PPP that is demanding the resignation of an elected Prime Minister should recall that Yousuf Raza Gillani did not resign but was thrown out of office by the Supreme Court. Same thing should happen now through a fair trial of Nawaz Sharif. The opposition should stop playing games with the nation. If they have the numbers and support of a dissident group in PML N then they should move a no-confidence motion and prove it. Civic organizations and Democratic NGOs should demand an immediate debate on electoral reforms. Article 62 and 63 should be amended to reflect more tangible requirements of honesty from politicians rather than ask them to be Sadiq aur Amin. And if this criterion is so important than COAS, Chief Justice, and other top officials should also be subjected to the same criteria.

Nation building is a long term project and we must not pursue it in a haste. Corruption of all should be subject to accountability rather than just politicians. A nation does not get the title of most corrupt just because of politicians all others are equal partners in it.

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