On November 29, the 17th Sipah-e-Salar assumed command of the Armed Forces. The big question is; ‘ Will the siege of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan continue? ‘. It was on 27 October 1958 that the first Desi Sipah-e-Salar decided to take control of the republic after abrogating the 1956 constitution.
For an Army to move it has to mark its enemy which in this case was ‘ Civilian Authority ‘. Those who came in the way were crushed. To stay in power the ‘Friends and Foes’ have to be determined by the invaders. Unfortunately, the friends were the most unscrupulous elements of the society of the likes of the Chaudhrys of Gujrat, the Sharifs of Lahore, the Zardaris of Nawabshah, and so on, and later the Hussains of Karachi.
After ten years of misrule, Ayub Khan, the first usurper, decided to celebrate his decade of progress. Those who were left out decided to voice their protest. Students in Karachi took to the streets. From the very beginning the city of the Quaid, the first capital of the new land, was uneasy with the dictator and his faulty approach. After assuming control of the republic, the General lacked courage to enter the city. He landed in Malir Cantonment and under the protective cover of the men in uniform he entered the Presidential Mansion to assume charge as Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA). He then decided to move the capital in the vicinity of his Military Headquarters ( GHQ ) in Rawalpindi which was also in close proximity to his village in Hazara.
General Bajwa, the 16th Sipah-e-Salar, deserves the same disgraced exit as did the first who crossed the line. The 17th is urged to take his troops back to the barracks where they rightfully belong, thereby letting democracy, the constitution and the will of the people to prevail again, thus ending the unholy siege started on 5 July 1977. Another credible free and fair election is the only way forward
The protests continued in Karachi. Finally bangles were sent to the student leadership in Lahore. Islamia College was the first to respond, followed by MAO, and finally Government College joined the movement. As late entrants, a novel approach was adopted by the Lahoris; a stray dog was intoxicated and ‘ Ayub ‘ was painted on him. With loud chants of ‘Ayub Kutta‘ (Ayub Dog ) the students came on the Mall Road on the way to the Governor’s House, the symbol of ‘colonial power’. To stop the march, a heavy contigent of police was sent to baton-charge them. After a pitched battle outside the historic GPO ( General Post Office ) the marchers dispersed but the chants of ‘Ayub Kutta‘ spread like a wild forest fire.
Voices of protest were heard all over the country. The dictator, who had surrounded himself with sycophants, was assured of his continued popularity. A public gathering was arranged for the Field Marshal in Peshawar, which was considered his home constituency. During his address an attempt was made on his life. Bewildered, he returned to Rawalpindi but finally it dawned on him that his days were now numbered. The protests gained steam, Labour Unions also joined the protesting students.
Finally on 25 March 1969 the dicatator had to step down. He lacked the courage to follow his own constitution and handed over power to the Army Chief, Gen Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan, instead of the speaker of the National Assembly, who then presided over the break-up of the Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan.
With the surrender in East Pakistan in December 1971, the siege of the republic ended but at a heavy cost of dismemberment. Civilian authority was restored in what was left of the country. The elected legislators worked hard to formulate the unanimous 1973 Constitution. In August that year Pakistan emerged as a constitutional democracy.
Unfortunately the period of freedom was short lived. On 5 July 1977, Gen Ziaul Haq crossed the line and the republic came under siege again which has continued unabated since then. In October 1999 when Gen Parvez Musharraf took control, he promised to fight the prevalent corruption. While Nawaz Sharif was allowed to go to Saudi Arabia after an agreement with the usurper, Benazir Bhutto decided to live in self-exile in London. 2007 under presuure from the Lawyers Movement, the iron-fisted dictator caved in and issued a National Reconciliation Ordinance ( NRO ) to grant clemency to the corrupt.
With the return of the unscrupulous to the corridors of power corruption was back with a bang. The loot and plunder continued unabated. As Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appointed Qamar Javed Bajwa as the 16th Sipah-e-Salar. His appointment was conditional to a certain hidden relief to escape conviction from corrupt practiscs. After the trial of the fourth usurper under Article 6 of the Constitution, General Bajwa knew he could not cross the line so he decided to operate behind the scenes.
Under pressure from the rank and file of his institution, he went along with the operation clean-up. Instead of supporting their corrupt friends in the political arena, the khakis decided to throw their weight behind Imran Khan and his party. In the 2013 electoral contest. The PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) was robbed of victory. The scrutiny of the four test constituencies proved that rigging had taken place. Three stalwarts of the ruling PML(N) were disqualified while the fourth one (Khawaja Asif) survived on a technical flaw. In the 2018 contest, the establishment decided to blunt the influence of the corrupt which resulted in IK’s favour. As Prime Minister, IK could not be blackmailed as there were no files of his corruption.
When the PM decided to be his own man, Bajwa connived with our external foes to topple the elected government of IK. He helped his old unscrupulous friends to team up to take control of the country. Through NRO-2, the corrupt were given a new lease of life.
Bajwa has gone but his coattailers remain who have to be pushed out of the arena. Instead of Gumnami ( Isolation ) there has to be Badnami (Bad name) to block all such adventurism in the future. In order to end the siege for all times to come, and the youth of the republic have an important role to play.
General Bajwa, the 16th Sipah-e-Salar, deserves the same disgraced exit as did the first who crossed the line. The 17th is urged to take his troops back to the barracks where they rightfully belong, thereby letting democracy, the constitution and the will of the people to prevail again, thus ending the unholy siege started on 5 July 1977. Another credible free and fair election is the only way forward.