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Safar 5, 1440

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Don't sacrifice national interest

The Nation - July 24, 2007

Dark clouds are gathering on the horizon of our beloved country and every Pakistani appears to be alarmed by the intermittent bursts of lightning. A sense of never-ending suffocation prevails and the people are gasping for breath. Oppression holds sway wherever one may turn. Lost in this Stygian darkness of the night, brother is unable to recognise brother and parents their children. In these mercenary and self-centred times, a band of oligarchs is riding roughshod, trampling on the sentiments of the people, and engaged in titanic loot and plunder unmatched by any free Muslim society. Life was never so cheap and ugly. Every Pakistani is rending the air with cries of "God protect us" and "God defend us". He is imploring the Lord of the Universe to forgive his trespasses and have mercy on him. In the words of Allama Iqbal, the distinguished thinker of Islam, "the followers of the Messenger (PBUH) from the House of Hashim are a race apart. "If that were true, why are the Muslims then so despondent and heartbroken and plagued, left right and centre, by the onslaught of foes and the flaring indifference of friends.

It is imperative to discover why the Quaid's dream lies in pieces today - a dream that was hallowed by the blood of the martyrs of Muslim India. It will not do to merely dig into the past. In fact, only a cool-headed, objective analysis of current events is likely to bear fruit. I firmly believe that the foundations of Pakistan were laid on the Two-Nation Theory and its future too is wedded to this theory. Any political estimate that does not take stock of this theory would be a lopsided one. Unless everyone - citizens, parties, and the establishment - believes in the two-nation theory as an article of faith, no real progress is possible in the political, economic or social arena.

The points to ponder are: Why is Pakistan becoming politically weaker with every passing day? Why does an adventurist pop up every few years to establish a new party and push it into the political mainstream? The reason is that those in the saddle have no faith in the political maturity of the people. But they also stand in fear of the people. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) states "The majority of the Ummah would never be wrong". Ninety seven percent of the Pakistanis are Muslims who are ready to do and die for every word of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). On the one hand, they lack the courage to consult the people while, on the other hand, they foist a political system that is totally at odds with the people's hopes and aspirations. The British conducted elections in 1946 on the basis of separate electorates because they were all set to leave India. What did the Indian Muslims vote for? Did they choose to live under the Hindus and the Congress in a United India or did they embrace the objectives of the Muslim League and demand a separate independent state? The verdict is there for all to see. Ninety five percent Muslims exercised their choice and opted for Pakistan and are today leading their lives in a free state.

All the other elections that followed the 1946 one fell prey to coercion, double-dealing, corruption, misconduct and bureaucratic interference. The 1950 elections in West Pakistan and the 1954 elections in East Pakistan were also unfair. The nation-wide elections held in 1962 and 1964 were rigged and unjust. Then came the year 1970. Some people are of the opinion that the 1970 elections under President Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan were the most transparent. But many like us, who observed the elections from close quarters and were privy to the key political figures of the time, can state with authority that these were the most tainted and engineered elections of all time.

The 1977 election of Z.A. Bhutto, the non-party 1985 elections under General Ziaul Haq, the elections held during the tenure of President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and the subsequent ones held in 1990, 1993 and 1997 were riddled with the same "ills" as those mentioned above. As far the results of the 2002 elections under President Pervez Musharraf, the less said the better because they became the laughing stock of the whole nation. Since, I belong to a well-known political clan, I know all about these elections like the back of my hand.

The state machinery was blatantly used to crush the will of the majority and every ruse was employed to ensure the victory of the blue-eyed boys. No wonder the percentage of votes cast steadily dwindled from one election to another. The election results moreover did not fulfil the expectations of the people. Ostensibly, all these elections were held to elicit the choice of the people but in reality they were used to stifle their voice and perpetuate on outdated fraud of feudal politics. Today, we are reaping the bitter harvest of hypocrisy repeatedly practiced on the Pakistani nation.

The time has come when someone must stand up and own up to his sins; see the light and have the courage to face the consequences of his misdeeds. There must also be someone who could check these misguided souls from playing havoc with the nation. The gang of usurpers that had foisted itself on the nation has grown so despotic that it is just not prepared to share its power and authority with the people. If this gang smells the slightest threat to its supremacy, it breaks all canons of law and morality to safeguard its interest. In fact, it sees no shame in fraternising even with Bharat, the sworn enemy of Pakistan. The fact is that this junta does not care a hoot for the country or the nation. It cannot see beyond its nose and looks only to its own interest and power. The nation, to them, is nothing more than a worm which they could crush any time, anywhere beneath their jackboot.

The Quaid-e-Azam, the father of the nation, had always exhorted the nation, to foster unity in its ranks and keep a vigilant eye on fifth columnists. This very junta is the fifth column. It is bearing hard on the nation and busy amassing wealth without let or hindrance. The present government is no different from its predecessors in trying to please India. Our flexibility-ridden government is persevering in its vain efforts to win over India in the matter of Kashmir. But India is adamant and is in no mood to grant concessions. The Hindu leadership harps as usual on Kashmir being an atoot ang of India. It wants Pakistan to put the Kashmir issue on the back burner and discuss other issues. Perceptive analysts and scholars have, time and again, reminded the establishment not to sacrifice national interest for the sake of an illusory friendship with India and to convey to her in clear terms that without a just solution of Kashmir there can just be no progress on the commercial or any other front. But the functionaries of the government have always turned a deaf ear to these exhortations. Not only that, they have even branded such ideas as old-fashioned with the demands of 21st century internationalism. In the final analysis, what do we have to show for over five or six years of efforts? Nothing to all!

The president and the prime minister now admit that despite our confidence-building measures, no headway has been made in any sphere. We have been emphasising all along that you can never please Bharat and that Pak-Bharat relations can never improve without the just settlement of the Kashmir dispute. What have we gained by riding roughshod over the sentiments of the people and bending over backwards to accommodate the White House or Rashtriya Bhawan? Zero, zero and zero! For God's sake think again. Instead of currying favour with American and Indian leaders, we should focus our minds on internal issues confronting the country. Elections are round the corner. Hold free and fair elections and transfer power to the representatives of the people. If the rulers, however, plan to "elect" the same plunderers who are entrenched in seats of powers since the demise of the Quaid then it would be better not to hold any election at all. We have been through many such dubious elections and are still reaping the biter harvest.

We cannot afford any worse experimentation. What we should do is to thoroughly examine the credentials of all those who have been in power and allow only those with a clear slate to contest the elections. Moreover, we should create an environment whereby persons from the lower and middle strata could also feel encouraged to contest elections. Unless such individuals reach the assemblies, the Quaid's dream of a democratic, Islamic welfare state will never come true. Despite the tall claims of the government and its parties, I have my doubts whether the president and the prime minister would be in a position to hold elections because their friends and associates are busy cutting down the very branch on which these personages are sitting. I am here reminded of a couplet that best encapsulates the current scenario:

Yeh raaz ab koi raaz nahin,
sab ahley gulistan jaan gae,
Har shakh pe ullu baitha hai,
Anjam-e-gulistan kya hoga?

The secret is no more a secret,
For all the denizens of the gender know,
An owl is perched on every bough,
What will be the fate of the gender now?

DISCLAIMER: The public material presented here is taken from various sources as it becomes available. It is presented without any bias to, or interpretation of, the contents whatsoever. We would be grateful for any help anyone can provide in obtaining other such public material of national importance to Pakistan in order to aid intellectual discourse and debate.

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Not even his political enemies ever accused Jinnah of corruption or self-seeking. He could be bought by no one, and for no price. Nor was he in the least degree a weathercock swinging in the wind of popularity or changing his politics to suit the chances of the times. He was steadfast idealist as well as a man of scrupulous honour. The fact to be explained is that in the middle of life he supplanted one ideal by another and having embraced it clung to it with fanatic's grasp to the end of his life.

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