It was Habib Jalib the poet of resistance who roared, “Tum Nahin Chara Gar” (you aren’t the healer). His defiance was unmatched. After Ayub Khan the first usurper abrogated 1956 unanimously agreed constitution to be replaced with his version in 1962, Jalib read his famous poem ‘Dastur‘ (Constitution) in a mushaira (poetic symposium) in Murree. Fearing the wrath of the evil empire, his friends tried to intervene and stop him but he kept going ” Main Nahin Manta” (I don’t accept). ” Tum Nahin Chara Gar” his voice reverberated across the country when out of fear silence prevailed. The entire opposition had been silenced by the use of brute force. Fearing for his life Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy the Ex-Prime Minister (PM) went into self-exile in Beirut.
Ayub Khan (PA 10), the first Desi Sipah-e-Salar, was promoted against merit by PM Liaquat Ali Khan. It is widely believed that this appointment was made under extreme external pressure as Ayub neither met the criteria of seniority nor prior performance nor professional excellence. Both the PM and the country had to pay a heavy price for this out-of-turn promotion. In 1951 the PM was assassinated, and Khawaja Nazimuddin was replaced as Governor General by Baboo Ghulam Muhammad (Gamma). The establishment players (Gamma, Ayub, Iskander) had hatched a conspiracy against the nascent democratic order and freedom. Finally, on 7 October 1958, the Sipah-e-Salar imposed Martial Law, and decided to be the ‘Chara Gar‘. ‘Civilian supremacy’ was seriously compromised. A new phrase was coined; ‘Bloody Civilian’.
Instead of the much-needed human development the ‘Chara Ga ‘ decided on ‘Elite Capture’. Jalib highlighted the plight of the common man for which he was kept in jail,l but he refused to be silenced. While the ground realities remained grim for the masses, the wealth of the nation came under the control of the few selected folks. The common good was rendered uncommon. As Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan refused to be a pawn in the Soviet-US Cold war. He refused to sign on the dotted lines. The ‘Chara Gar‘ promised subservience and loyalty to the West in return for power in the land of the pure.
No country in the world ever surrendered its rights of river waters that flow to the sea. In violation of the international Lower-Riparian laws, the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) was signed by the ‘Chara Gar‘ under which three rivers were surrendered to India (Ravi, Sutlej, Beas).
As the World Bank had brokered the deal, loans were provided to build dams to store water. While Mangla Dam was completed, work started on Tarbela Dam.
The goblets remained empty for the needy. After over 75 years of its existence not much has changed in the land of the pure. ‘Chara Gars‘ have ensured continuity of the dreaded status quo while the nation sinks in poverty and stagnation. Change is inevitable and unstoppable.
In the propaganda campaign, the acquisition of Gwadar and the building of Warsak Dam were also credited to the ‘Chara Gar‘ against the factual position. Warsak was built on River Kabul by Qayyum Khan with Canadian assistance while Gwadar was acquired by Feroze Khan Noon. Till October 1958, the republic was in debt free, today it is mired in loans. While India under constitutional civilian rule decided on the utilization of its own resources for industrialization, Pakistan under the ‘Chara Gar‘ pursued a different course which led to corruption and concentration of wealth in a few hands (22 Groups).
In over a decade of his misrule (October 1958 to March 1969) not a single university was established. Punjab University, the oldest seat of higher education, was shifted from the city centre to the outskirts with the purpose of isolating the student protests. A similar strategy was adopted by the third usurper in the 1970s when the Polytechnic on Peshawar Road in Rawalpindi was shut down and converted into the College of Signals under the control of the armed forces.
The first ‘Chara Gar‘ was replaced by the second who then presided over the break-up of the country. The third decided to go after the civilian institutions painfully built by the founding fathers. Pakistan Railway (PR), one of the largest public sector entities, came under attack. The professional leadership of PR resisted the onslaught. Chairman Engr Abul Kalam and secretary Shehzad Ahmed Khan both resigned in protest. WAPDA was also not spared. While the lucrative freight business of PR was handed over to an NLC (National Logistics Cell), Mechanized Construction of Pakistan (MCP) was shut down and its machinery transferred to FWO (Frontier Works Organization), both under the control of the ‘Chara Gar‘.
While the 1956 Constitution was abrogated by the first ‘ Chara Gar ‘ the 1973 version came under attack by the ‘Chara Gars‘ that followed. The disfigured document has been restored to some extent but infringements remain.
The change of government in April 2022 is another act of ‘Chara Gar‘. This time it has been the hidden hand. The current struggle is for the restoration of ‘Civilian Supremacy’ through a free and fair election before the situation gets out of hand.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Jalib could not see the blossoming of flowers under the ‘Chara Gar‘. ‘Rind‘ (thirsty) can no longer wait for their goblets to be filled, “Main Nahin Manta“. Your promises are all futile while my thirst is overwhelming and wrenching. “Tum Nahin Chara Gar”.