Still enemy property

It’s time the country became free

In connivance with the first Desi Sipah-e-Salar, on 7 October 1958, Iskander Mirza, the first President of Pakistan, abrogated the 1956 Constitution and clamped Martial Law on the country. His ambition was shortl-ived. On 27 October Gen Ayub Khan deposed Mirza and took control.

Khan ran the country with an iron fist, using the coercive state apparatus against those who opposed his misrule. On 25 March 1969 the dictator had to step down due to countrywide street protests, mostly by student and labour unions. Going against his own constitution, he handed over power to Agha Mohammad Yayha Khan, the Army Chief.

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Yahya abrogated the 1962 Constitution. To run the country a Legal Framework Order (LFO) was enacted.  Free and fair elections were held on the basis of adult franchise in 1970 to elect a Constituent Assembly. When he failed to call the Assembly session, civil war broke out in the Eastern Wing and Jinnah’s Pakistan was dismembered. Finally, under pressure Yahya stepped down on 20 December 1971. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) the popularly elected leader of what remained took oath of office as President and Chief Martial Law Administrator.

Asma Jehangir, the famous Civil Rights lawyer of her times. had filed a petition against the detention of her father under Martial Law regulations. Hamood Rehman, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, was close to declaring the two Martial Laws illegal (October 1958, March 1969). In order to keep order, ZAB moved fast to lift the Military Rule. He took oath of office as President under the 1972 Interim Constitution, thus ending the siege of the country by its own armed forces after over 13 years of military dictatorship.

When an Army moves it targets its enemy. Once it takes over it identifies its friends and foes in the captured arena. Those who resist are dealt with firmly and kept at bay. Under dictatorship, dissent and defiance carries a heavy toll which ordinary folks cannot bear. The dungeons of the Lahore Fort where torture was carried bear witness to the struggle of the few brave souls against tyranny. Finally Muhammad Khan Junejo, as Zia’s handpicked Prime Minister decided to shut down these torture cells. When Junejo Sahib tried to investigate the Ojhri Camp disaster, which turned out to be an attack against the people of Rawalpindi, he had gone too far and was shown the door to be replaced by the eve obedient Mian Nawaz Sharif of Gawalmandi. Since then the 1973 consensual document has been repeatedly by-passed and abused.

As a Muslim League child I had the opportunity of meeting the stalwarts of the freedom movement. They were able and honest individuals totally committed to their cause who desired to serve, not rule.

Ayub Khan the first and Qamar Bajwa the 16th Sipah-e-Salar have left a poor legacy; the 17th has an opportunity to make a difference by moving in the direction of the barracks instead of the roadways of power where they have operated without the mandatory driving licence.

When I first met the front men of the first usurper the comparison was shocking. Ch Zahoor Elahi, a dismissed Police Constable of Gujrat, was launched in Lahore. He was handed over the National Press Trust which published the leading newspapers like The Pakistan Times and Imroze. It did not end here. He got a plot to build a house across the road from FC College, road is now named after him as the family now owns several mansions there.

A semi-literate person, Chaudhry Muhammad Hussain, was appointed Mayor of Lahore. During my days in Government College, I had the chance of observing both the best and the worst of the lot. Nawaz Sharif was seen around with the likes of Arshad Paidal and the Malik Brothers (Sons of Malik Mubarak) who came to the college to spend time at Malik Sahib’s Fruit Shop with no interest in academics.

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As a pre-engineering student, I then moved to the Punjab University for my engineering degree followed by higher education in USA. On my return I found that Nawaz had managed to become the PM by impressing the men in uniform with his talents that he had picked up by spending time outside the classrooms. On the first opportunity I got to meet Lt Gen (retd) Ghulam Jillani Khan (Jill) I inquired about the basis of his selection. The answer was straight, “Interpersonal Skills ‘ in other words ‘Muk Muka’. The worst political leadership that the nation has to endure today is a direct result of these uncalled-for military interventions into the civilian arena for which they were neither trained nor qualified.

Eleven years of Zia (5 July 1977 to 17 August 1988) followed by nine years of Musharraf (12 October 1999 to 18 August 2008) carries the total siege years to 33. After the first Martial Law in October 1958, a term, ‘Bloody Civilians’ was introduced to draw clear lines between the friends and foes of the men in uniform. Except for small pockets of resistance (1947 to 1958, followed by the ZAB years of 1971 to 1977 and the Imran Khan regime of August 2018 to April 2022) the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has been enemy territory under the boots.

Today total lack of ownership prevails in all civilian institutions. There is a clear cut approach of ‘Lutto they Phutto‘ (Loot and Move on; don’t come in the way). There is a famous saying; “When exposing crime is treated as committing a crime, you are being ruled by criminals”.

Unfortunately, Pakistan has been ruled by the unscrupulous who otherwise had no chance to emerge on merit. The siege that started on 5 July 1977, under which the republic was declared an ‘Enemy Property’, has to end for normalcy to return. Imran Khan has decided to fight till the end. It is a do-or-die situation, now or never. A new Sipah-e-Salar has assumed the mantle on November 29.

Hopefully the negative process that Ayub Khan had started on October 27, 1958 will meet its logical end for all times to come with the return of the men in uniform back to the barracks where they rightfully belong and are vitally needed for the security of our borders.  Pakistan and its people have to be liberated to grow and advance. The siege must end. Nation building can no longer be delayed or denied. Free and fair elections is the way forward to be held ASAP.

Ayub Khan the first and Qamar Bajwa the 16th Sipah-e-Salar have left a poor legacy; the 17th has an opportunity to make a difference by moving in the direction of the barracks instead of the roadways of power where they have operated without the mandatory driving licence.

Dr Farid A Malik
Dr Farid A Malik
The writer is ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be contacted at: [email protected]


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