Perfectly imperfect elections

The bureaucracy rules no matter who wins the elections

We all know that democracy is the only key to providing ease for the people of Pakistan. Our leaders want to participate in elections and also try to engage the public in this electoral process, but they forget one thing: the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was not a democracy at its initial time.

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was not elected; neither was Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan elected by the people of the newly formed state. Our foundation was established on bureaucracy because the bureaucrats of Pakistan were more experienced than politicians.

They were equipped with the art of handling people at that time because they were part of the British Raj. They created hurdles for politicians. Many writers mentioned that there was bureaucracy behind the delay of elections at the initial time of Pakistan.

Both military and civil bureaucracy delayed the process of the election to hold power in their hands. They tasted the joy of power during the time of the British Raj; they were all to all of United India, so they wanted to maintain the monopoly over power. They delayed the process of the election, appointing many government officials as Governor-General and prime ministers. If you look into our past, you will find many names like Ghulam Muhammad, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Muhammad Ali Bogra, Iskander Mirza—all bureaucrats. They made all policies; they made ‘One Unit’ and declared Urdu as the national language only to rule over the state. United Pakistan was governed by bureaucrats; then, Pakistan divided into two parts after the first general elections because of the policies made by the former.

Bhutto came into power; he did the same thing. He started an operation against the military and civil bureaucracy as they had done against the politicians. Bhutto became so popular that no one could retaliate against him. He brought many changes; he ran the government with the elected members of the public.

So, the heart and face must rebuild their connection. A government like that of the PDM is a thousand times better than the government of technocrats or this interim government. Why? Because the power will be in the hands of the public through their elected or partially selected members.

However, after some time, the cartels and even the politicians became his opponents. They started lobbying against him, especially the PNA and its leadership, who despite helping their fraternity members, became his opponents. Then civil-military bureaucrats and the judiciary brought him into jail, and again, a military bureaucrat became the ruler of Pakistan.

The same tactics were applied by the new government to postpone the elections. The opposition made an alliance called MRD against Zia’s government. Initially, it was weak, but after some struggle, it became a sound voice of politicians and was popular in public.

Zia agreed to conduct the elections because he had to keep his power in his hand. After the elections, a new batch emerged in Pakistani politics, belonging to the rural elite and urban businessmen. They were initially pawns of Zia against the old and seasoned politicians. But when the Prime Minister Junejo got the point that they were being used for the oppression of the former, he raised his voice, and clashes arose between the President and the Prime Minister.

Again, a voice was raised in front of the bureaucrats. After the death of Zia, the long dictatorship ended, and our country faced a new setup called a hybrid regime for a long time, where the face was politicians, and the heart was bureaucrats. Then an era came when the face (politicians) turned its back on the heart, and it’s called Khan’s era.

It was for the first time after Zia’s death that the politicians went against the formula. Nawaz Sharif also showed some retaliation against the establishment, but he settled his matter. However, the face (Khan) showed a rigid attitude initially. The heart (bureaucrats) consulted the face, stating that it was supplying the blood (power), so should consider its importance.

But the face forgot its value after being recognized by many others. So, it showed arrogance, and finally, the heart stopped its work and became neutral. You know what happens when the heart stops its function. A similar thing happened to Khan; he was removed from the government and sent home. Again, our country was in political crisis and faced many issues like inflation, terrorism, and border attacks.

The process of elections was delayed after the resignation of Pakistan Tehreek Insaf in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. The constitution was violated after the tenure of PDM. Again, the elections were delayed, and only recently was a date for elections given.

The interim government is not focusing on issues of the public. Again, the bureaucracy is trying to play their tactics and spreading news like a government of technocrats will be formed or this interim government will work for the next one year, to keep the power in their hands.

So, the heart and face must rebuild their connection. A government like that of the PDM is a thousand times better than the government of technocrats or this interim government. Why? Because the power will be in the hands of the public through their elected or partially selected members.”

Khaleeq Zaib
Khaleeq Zaib
The writer is a freelance columnnist

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