CIVIL SOCIETY PAKISTAN

August 18, 2007

IGNORANCE OF AN ILLITERATE GENERAL-MINISTER

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 6:56 am

Minister of education, government of Pakistan, General(r) Javed Ashraf Qazi was head of ISI (a spy agency of Pakistan). He was later made incharge of the railway ministry. His corruption scandals are widespread in Pakistan, where he made millions of rupees as bribes and kickbacks. But being a military officer and head of the most powerful military sect of the army, he was appointed incharge of the Education ministry. He is just a high School graduate but the question arises than why was he appointed as head of a ministry, of which he has no clue? An easy answer is that after 9/11, there has been a huge flow of foreign finances for the promotion of education in Pakistan. That is why we see so many army generals in Education and Institutes of administrative training. Known for their corrupt practices the army generals are having a nice time by enjoying the privileges and perks that goes with their jobs. True to their reputation they are getting richer and richer, while the nation goes down in poverty.

The minister cannot utter a single sentence in correct English but has spoken against the National Language of Pakistan, Urdu. Urdu, with strong literature and vocabulary is one of the most popular languages in the world. In U.S. alone, Urdu is being taught at 350 places, as a foreign language. With the passage of history Udu has become a lingua franca of the people of Pakistan. It is a language which has united various ethnic groups into one nation. To undermine Urdu is to harm the federal structure of Pakistan and thus its unity. The army generals should have mercy on Pakistan. Have they not done enough in 1970 to damage Pakistan?

General Ashraf Qazi is true to the traditions of his British colonial masters. Army is the only institution in Pakistan which in its appearance, habits and social culture is a faithful representative of the colonial era – of course minus honesty, dedication and professionalism.

English, no doubt is international language and must be learned by the students as a second language. This does not and should not compromise the position of Pakistan’s national language, Urdu.

But anyhow, who is this retired army general to give expert comments on such issues!!!!He is a true representative of “ignorant (Jahil) army generals of Pakistan.

CLICK ON THE BELOW TO READ ABOUT THIS ILLITERATE GENERAL

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August 16, 2007

When will the nonsense end?

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 1:36 am

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Kamran Shafi

India celebrates its Independence Day by holding a joint session of parliament; we spend ours debating whether a failed dictator should be given another five years in the Presidency. How direr, if I may coin a word, can straits get?

Reading stories and comment in the newspapers, both foreign and those coming out of the Fatherland, one very quickly comes to the conclusion that the nonsense that the junta’s reign has been for the past six years is as nothing compared to the complete nonsense it is today. The statements coming out of the many mouths belonging to the “leaders” of the junta truly amaze even I, as used as I am to silly nonsense coming out of the government of Pakistan as anyone on God’s earth.

No lessons have been learnt: let alone being humbled, no one is even a little bit chastised; or ashamed, or embarrassed, or humiliated. None of the foregoing has ‘adhered’ to anyone at all, not even to those who till very recently indeed, talked so loudly and so self assuredly and so proudly about how right was on their side in the matter of My Lord the Chief Justice. The senses boggle at what is going on….

The Chief of Staff to the Commando actually has the gall to call on the Chief Justice to assure him that the Commando ‘had wholeheartedly accepted the restoration of the chief justice’; and to revive “family relations” that the Commando, according to none else but the Commando himself, had with the CJ prior to the foolish and ill-intentioned reference against him? Why? Why indeed was the news leaked to the press?

Nor is this all. Shiekh Rashid has the gall to say that ‘the executive’s “cordiality” might not be there for every future ruling of the Supreme Court’? And the Presidency, instead of disciplining him most strictly has the gall to merely announce that what he said ‘does not reflect the feelings of the Presidency’? Meaning what? That any future ruling against the government will not be taken in a spirit of “cordiality”? Have ‘sharam’ (shame) and ‘haya’ (rectitude) so completely deserted these people who make up the top echelons of the teetering (but for the lifeline thrown to it by Benazir it would have been dead in the water by now) junta that they are now stooping to using the very worst tactic of obsequiousness coupled with threats?

This is not all. The Commando has said that Dubya ‘called him over the phone and assured him of respect for Pakistan’s sovereignty’. The Commando is then quoted verbatim: “I am fully confident and very sure (200%!) that there will be no action across the border. If there is an action it will be conducted by the Pakistani forces and we will do it ourselves.” I ask you!

How many times must American and NATO forces cross our borders and raid villages within Pakistan’s territory and kill and kidnap people; how many times must American and NATO fighter aircraft and drones fire missiles on Pakistani targets killing Pakistani nationals (and foreigners, of course, but within Pakistani territory) before we acknowledge that, sadly, America is Amreeka Bahadur and we are we? That NATO is NATO and we are we? And that we can bloody well do nothing about it!

This is the Commando talking please note, who, when the Americans air-raided Damadola, killing women and children but no ‘asset’ (or whatever they call Al Qaeda operatives these days) of any note, that it was the Pakistan Army that conducted the raid. (I ask you!).

The above three bright lights of the junta are not alone in talking nonsense: in order of importance for she does more important work, the FO spokeswoman and the Private Banker have also waxed lyrical. The spokesperson said words to the effect that ‘Pakistan on Monday dismissed as “speculative” reports that the United States has information about the location of its nuclear assets’. And that Condoleezza Rice’s ‘recent telephone call to President Pervez Musharraf amid rumours of emergency rule was not a direct call but routed through Pakistan’s embassy in Washington’.

I see. Suzuki wagons and buses take off for Kahuta from Rawalpindi’s filthy and clogged streets to shouts of “Bum factory” “Bum factory” and the Americans don’t know where our nuclear assets are held, even at other locations? And Ambassador Durrani runs a telephone exchange in the Pakistan Embassy in Washington D.C., in Army parlance ‘putting through’ calls from US officials to his boss, the Commando? Why make silly statements when even Charlie and his aunt know perfectly well that not only Rice but even Dubya spoke to their ‘tight’ buddy and warned him that imposing emergency rule will spell the end of him?

And last and least, the Personal Banker to Princes and varied Potentates (PBPP), our own so-called ‘Prime Minister’ has said that while ‘the government does not want to impose a state of emergency right now, it has not ruled out the measure for the future’. He says this after all the backtracking he and his boss, the Commando, had to do under pressure of not only their bosses in DC, but the Pakistani people too, who by word and mood made it quite clear that no such adventurism would be tolerated any longer.

PBPP also said the ongoing political crisis and surge in militancy have stained the country’s image abroad, resulting in a slowdown of economic growth over the past few months. Well, who started the political crisis please if not himself and the junta of which he is some little part?

It is with heavy heart that I conclude this piece from the ancient German town of Regensburg, famous for its beautiful churches and cathedral, the Dom, and for the Danube that flows through it. But my thoughts, as always are for home. Sixty years have gone by and what do we have to show for it? Let alone all the other beauties quoted above, PBPP, who could not win a local councillors seat without help from the State/the use of money is our ‘Prime Minister’!!

And Benazir Bhutto, the leader of Pakistan’s only party not sullied by charges of being hand-maiden to the venal Establishment is making a deal with its nemesis. India celebrates its Independence Day by holding a joint session of parliament; we spend ours debating whether a failed dictator should be given another five years in the Presidency. How direr, if I may coin a word, can straits get?

August 11, 2007

Hypocrisy of Pakistan’s ruling elite

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 4:32 am

BBC

Friday, 10 August 2007, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK

Hypocrisy of Pakistan’s ruling elite

 

The BBC Urdu service’s Masud Alam says a contempt for the law has always permeated throughout Pakistan’s ruling class.

 
Senior government functionaries in Pakistan are fond of complaining, in private, that the nation they are serving is averse to following the dictates of law.

Pakistani parliament

The laws are broken by those who made them

That if something does not work in this country it is because the common man does not follow the system.

Lack of education, lack of discipline and lack of respect for the law are just some of the misdemeanours on the part of a populace that hampers the pace of progress.

A section of Pakistanis – the so-called educated and those living abroad – also subscribe to this preposterous notion.

But in truth, things could not be more different.

‘A few drops’

It is the incompetence of the bureaucracy, the ignorance of lawmakers, the greed of the military for power and riches – combined with a glaring contempt for the law on the part of all three groups – that has created and then compounded the social anarchy that everyone is now forced to live in.

 

[Nawaz Sharif] was eager to please the Americans at any cost – in this case the cost was trashing the judicial system of his own country

There is no law in this country that cannot be or has not been broken by the very people who made them, and those whose job it is to implement them.

Take the law banning alcohol, for instance. It was introduced by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the first elected prime minister and the modern, liberal and democratic face of Pakistan in the 70s.

Bhutto is also the man who publicly admitted that he did not mind downing a few drops after a hard day’s work.

Another prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, took the oath of office that emphasises the protection of life and property of every citizen.

He then proceeded to allow a team of American security men to raid a hotel in a Pakistani city, kidnap a Pakistani national, drive him to Islamabad, put him in a plane and fly off to the US.

Auto-rickshaw in Pakistan

Law-abiding Pakistanis see the law catching up with its breakers

The suspect, Aimal Kasi, was wanted by the Americans on charges of killing two CIA officials. The US wanted to bring him to justice at any cost. And the Pakistani PM was eager to please the Americans at any cost – in this case the cost was trashing the judicial system of his own country.

The same prime minister sent a team of party officials, including sitting parliamentarians, to storm the Supreme Court building and break into the court room where a petition against the PM was being heard.

The so-called National Accountability Bureau has in the past few years apprehended several high ranking politicians on charges of corruption, but if they agreed to join the military government – and almost all of them did – they were not only conveniently forgotten, some were made federal ministers.

Passing the baton

Three times in the history of this young country, the army chief has led a coup against a civilian government. The constitution was on each occasion trampled under military boots, even though it defines such actions as acts of “high treason”.

Each military dictator seeks to pass on the baton to another, much like handing family treasures to the next generation.

 

President Musharraf yielded on the chief justice issue

The message that reaches the masses is: there is no law of the land and we have no rights, except what we can grab for ourselves.

The rulers, their coterie and functionaries, are the law. They will apply the writ when they see fit and they will overlook when it is wise to do so.

The people of this country have learnt to live in a system heavily skewed against them. They look for short cuts, they bribe their way, they use friends’ and family’s influence, they lie through their teeth, they plead and they threaten because there is no straightforward way to get things done.

To label these people “law breakers” is then adding insult to injury if the labeller is from the ruling class. Because in this country, laws are not made “for the people”, more often than not they are made to be used “against” them.

It’s the ruling class that routinely breaks the law and considers it a privilege

It is therefore only natural for people to break these laws whenever they can get away with it.

Conversely, if you provide an environment where the regulations aim to provide comfort and protection to the users, and the laws they produce are clearly communicated and fairly and firmly applied, the people of Pakistan will be as law abiding as any other people in the world.

This is the background that explains the relief and joy of the common man at the reinstatement of Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry as the chief justice of Pakistan.

Protesting lawyers in Pakistan

People power forced the reinstatement of Mr Chaudhry

For the first time the law has not sided with the law makers. For the first time, a powerful government headed by a serving general has failed to subvert the judiciary. And for the first time, people have come out on the street, in their hundreds of thousands, in support of the rule of law.

These masses were not motivated by some charismatic political leader. It was the unity of lawyers all over the country, and their objective of upholding the law, that got the attention of the people.

The Supreme Court’s landmark decision, striking down the presidential charge sheet against the chief justice, is indeed a watershed in the history of Pakistan.

It has proved conclusively that the people of this country want justice. They believe in the need for laws, and they are capable of respecting them.

 

It is the ruling class that routinely breaks the law and considers it a privilege. These are the people who, for a change, are now fearful of the application of law under an independent judiciary.

The people of Pakistan do not expect an overnight sea change in their circumstances at the hands of a born-again judiciary. It is the prospect of law finally catching up with the real law breakers, that they find so irresistibly sweet.

Emergency: an escape route?

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 1:01 am

DAWN - the Internet Edition

AUGUST 10, 2007

EDITORIAL

OFFICIAL quarters have denied that a state of emergency is on the cards, though reports in some TV channels on the night between Wednesday and Thursday were scary. One channel, quoting “official sources”, even reported that President Pervez Musharraf had signed the instrument of emergency. Whether the rumours turn out to be true or false, the question remains: does the declaration of a state of emergency serve the interest of Pakistan? Whether it also advances the interests of the military rulers is of secondary importance, though a relationship between the two does exist. The implications of such a move are profound and could shape the future of politics for a long time to come. In some ways, the emergency could prove dangerous for the state and strengthen those very forces and political elements the government is afraid of. In the case of the political elements, the judiciary’s newly found independence could help them re-enter the political arena with confidence and that is bound to upset the generals’ apple cart. Also of vital importance is the petition challenging President Musharraf’s re-election bid while in uniform.

A declaration of emergency will have profound constitutional and political implications and throw the nation back on the freedom scale more than a decade back. The emergency’s approval by parliament within 30 days of a presidential declaration, as required under Article 232, is a formality that should pose no problem for the ruling coalition. However, once armed with the powers flowing from Article 232, the government could resort to options that are frightful and could cripple democracy and stifle basic freedoms. The biggest casualty could be press freedom, which has been the most precious and laudable feature of the present political set-up. Also to be affected adversely will be political activity, especially the right to assembly. The emergency cannot be extended beyond a year, and the relevant Article authorises the government to extend the life of parliament and thus delay the general election to which the nation has been looking forward with a great deal of interest. The emergency will also curtail the powers of the provincial governments and enable the centre to dictate to them.

Several reasons are being cited for the government’s possible use of the emergency option, and these include the political implications of the independence of the higher judiciary, the rising wave of extremist violence, especially suicide bombings, the kidnapping of, and attacks on, Chinese nationals in Pakistan, and the American threats to invade the tribal area. It is not clear in what way the emergency will enhance the military-led government’s ability to meet these challenges more effectively. Already, the powers at its disposal are enormous because the generals control both the military and the civilian apparatus of the state. If the combination of these powers has not helped the government meet these challenges, in what precise and practical way can the imposition of emergency come to the rescue of a regime perceived to be beleaguered? A postponement of elections will only add to the prevailing feeling of confusion and uncertainty and make it more difficult for the nation to pick up the thread of democracy yet again and make a success of it. The threats facing the nation are grave, and only a government armed with a mandate from the people — a mandate secured through a fair and free election — can stem the tide of extremism and meet the threats to Pakistan’s sovereignty from many quarters.

MUSHARRAF’S EMERGENCY – AUGUST 10, 2007

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 12:56 am

Cartoon

EMERGENCY – A STORM IN A TEA CUP

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 12:54 am

AUGUST 10, 2007

JASARAT

EDITORIAL

EMERGENCY DONE AWAY AFTER AMERICAN PROTEST

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 12:51 am

JASARAT

AUGUST 10, 2007

 

 

A policy review

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 12:46 am

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August 11, 2007

Editorial

A policy review

AFTER dropping the emergency plan, Gen. Musharraf needs to review his controversial policies regarding the uniform and election from the current assemblies which continue to be a source of possible confrontation. The government has to recognise that the situation at home and abroad has undergone significant changes and it is no more possible to undertake the type of political engineering that was possible in 2002.
The countrywide movement in support of the judiciary’s independence which started after March 9 action against the CJ has effected the domestic balance of forces. The civil society is politically much more aware and responsive than it has ever been. The media is highly vigilant. Above all the judiciary is keen to assert its independence and enjoys the unstinted support of over 90,000 lawyers. The ruling alliance on the other hand suffers from the negative effects of incumbency while it is also badly divided. Under advice from a coterie of bad advisers the President has taken actions that have put him on the defensive. What is more he can no more depend on foreign allies who extended full and unquestioning support to him after 9/11. Tony Blair has left 10 Downing Street. A weakened President Bush is on he way out while the Democrats who are highly critical of the way he pursued his anti-terrorism agenda hold majority in the Congress. President Bush has now urged Gen Musharraf to hold transparent and free elections and Secretary Condoleezza Rice has strongly urged him not to impose emergency.
Gen Musharraf can ill afford to continue to depend on advisers who are out of touch with the social reality and had earlier advised him to file the reference against the CJ. They are apparently asking him now to remain firm on the issue of uniform, seek elections from the present assemblies and not allow the return of the exiled leaders. It would be highly unwise on his part to create another crisis by remaining inflexible on the controversial issues. The SC has already taken up the petition of the exiled leaders of the PML-N. The other two matters are also likely to come up before it. It would be unwise to wait for the court’s decision as was done in the CJ’s case. Under pressure from domestic public opinion, Washington and its European allies may also decide to call on Gen Musharraf to revise his stand. Instead of waiting for these developments to take place, he should urgently revise his position in line with the public sentiment. The way out of the crisis is for him to announce that he is doffing the uniform and would not obstruct the return of the exiled leaders. This would create grounds for a dialogue with the opposition on the remaining issues including the holding of free and fair elections. This would be good for Gen Musharraf as well as for the country.

Media relief at Musharraf move

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 12:41 am

 

BBC

August 10, 2007

Pakistani press

Papers in Pakistan express relief at official denials that the government is planning to impose a state of emergency.

Most are suspicious of the motives that could have prompted President Pervez Musharraf to consider such a move, with one paper saying it would have been “a recipe for disaster”.

Several Indian papers express concern at recent political developments in Pakistan, pointing out that any further destabilisation is likely to have an adverse effect on the country’s neighbours.

Pakistan’s The News

Even a lay observer can tell that the real motive behind imposing the emergency would be to give the president some breathing space and to fend off any legal challenge to his plans for re-electing himself… The decision to impose an emergency in the country cannot be justified on any ground – moral, legal or constitutional – and would only serve to destabilise the country.

Pakistan’s Daily Times

The timing of the move is wrong… It suggests that Gen Musharraf is putting his own mundane personal interest above the national interest… The way out is not an emergency but free and fair general elections that return the mandate to the people to whom it belongs.

Pakistan’s Dawn

The threats facing the nation are grave, and only a government armed with a mandate from the people – a mandate secured through a fair and free election – can stem the tide of extremism and meet the threats to Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Pakistan’s The Nation

Better sense prevailed… [A state of emergency] would not only have met with resistance but also proved to be a recipe for disaster.

Pakistan’s Nawa-i-Waqt

It is a good thing that the country remains safe from the curse of emergency rule. One positive aspect of this is that the country will also be spared a new confrontation between the government and the judiciary and its possible repercussions. This will also pave the way for the restoration of democracy.

Pakistan’s Ausaf

If the president imposes a state of emergency in the country, the political confrontation will intensify… President Musharraf needs to avoid taking such a decision, or his image both inside the country and abroad will be damaged.

Pakistan’s Jang

If there is any need to impose emergency rule for some particular purpose, it should be confined to those reasons so that the process of stabilising democratic institutions… is not impeded.

Pakistan’s Islam

The imposition of a state of emergency would prove to be a final blunder on the part of the government… It is better for the government to take the nation into its confidence through parliament before going ahead with any such step. If it exacerbates the situation even further, the government itself will be the main loser.

DREAMS GONE AMISS

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 12:35 am

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August 11, 2007

Shamshad Ahmad
Our 60th independence anniversary is indeed an occasion for painful reflections. Our dreams of a Pakistan imbued with real Islamic ideals and democratic values have gone amiss.
Those of us who belong to the first generation that saw and experienced the formative phase of Pakistan and its creation as a dream of its founding fathers are agonising at the thought of what Quaid-e-Azam had envisioned this country to be and where we actually stand today as a nation and as a state.
Quaid-i-Azam did not live long to personally steer Pakistan to be what he thought and aspired will be “one of the greatest nations of the world.” But during the last year of his life, he addressed almost every segment of our society providing guidelines on every aspect of national life for “building up Pakistan into a modern and democratic state based on the concept of equality, fraternity and the principles of Islamic social justice.”
With Quaid-e-Azam’s early demise, Pakistan was orphaned in its very infancy and lost the promise of a healthy youth with acute systemic deficiencies and normative perversities restricting its orderly natural growth. After the Quaid, it was left without any sense of direction and in a state of political bankruptcy and moral aridity.
Our history as a nation is replete with a series of political crises and socio-economic challenges that perhaps no other country in the world has experienced. We have fought costly wars and suffered humiliating defeats. No doubt, Pakistan has survived these crises and challenges but at what cost?
It started cutting itself into pieces, losing within less than quarter of a century not only its own half but also its very rationale that had inspired its founding fathers to struggle for a separate homeland for the muslims of the sub-continent. The real Pakistan disappeared with its tragic dismemberment in 1971, and whatever was left has been converted into the “spoils of power” and a battleground for “military operations” against its own people.
We are still not decided on some of the vital questions related to our statehood. Pakistan came into being in the name of Islam and democracy but it has lived without practicing the essence of both. A country, which was considered “twentieth century miracle” of a state and which was fought and won entirely through democratic and constitutional struggle now itself struggles haplessly for democracy and constitutional primacy. For most part of its life, it has remained “strapped” under military rule.
Even at sixty, our Pakistan has yet to figure out whether it came into being for the sake of its people or for the self-aggrandisement of its military rulers. It is unsure of what its own original rationale was and what it stands for today. Pakistan has been suffering an ideological “schizophrenia” with a total disconnect between the vision that inspired its creation and its actual vacillating behaviour.
Pakistan has seen a constant struggle between power and polity since the very beginning of its independence. In this process, we have lost half the country and also our “raison d’etat.” Political regimes have been overthrown in military coups and elected leaders were either executed or banished in exile. The country has been stripped of its democratic ethos and institutional integrity.
Our people have been exploited in the name of ideology and external threats while the real challenges facing the country remained unaddressed. Military intervention in state’s political system in the 1950s dealt severe blow to the democratic process in the country. Since then, we have been experiencing a continuing cycle of constitutional crises, engineered political breakdowns and long spells of military rule. Machiavelli’s political philosophy based on the “doctrine of necessity” is now our political creed.
Among his known qualities of intellect and character, Quaid-e-Azam also had a unique ability to see far ahead of his times. Addressing the army officers at the Quetta Staff College on June 14, 1948, he reminded the armed forces of their constitutional responsibilities, urging them “to understand the true constitutional and legal implications of their oath of allegiance” to the country’s Constitution. He warned them not to meddle in country’s politics. But ours is a sordid tale of broken oaths and military take-overs.
In his August 11, 1947 address to the Constituent Assembly, the Quaid gave us a road map of what he believed were the biggest challenges for the country’s government and lawmakers. He also gave us three principles, unity, faith and discipline. We ignored his advice.
Alas! Quaid-e-Azam did not get to know us well. By nature, we are a nation of lawbreakers. We don’t believe in the rule of law. Crime and corruption are rampant and galore in our country. Poor governance is our national hallmark. There is constant erosion of law and order in the country. We as a nation have not only failed to grapple with these challenges but are in fact living remorselessly with these problems as an “integral” part of our society.
The Quaid believed in religious freedom and communal harmony. He urged the nation to shun sectarianism. We, however, had a different approach. Intolerance and fanaticism led us to violence with no parallel anywhere in the world. Pakistan is today seen as the hotbed of religious extremism and obscurantism. Sectarian violence has ripped our society apart. How painful it would have been for the Quaid to see his Pakistan burning from within.
Quaid-i-Azam had a special place in his heart for Balochistan. He not only chose to spend the last days of his life in this province but was also mindful of the injustices of the colonial period that the people of Balochistan had suffered and inherited. He pledged to them equal position and political status within the polity of Pakistan. Our leaders had different priorities. They made Balochistan a military battleground.
Despite its abundance in the wealth of natural resources, Balochistan remains the most backward province of the country. A deep-rooted sense of deprivation and frustration has made its people highly suspicious of the policy-makers in Islamabad. There is a strong underlying resentment in Balochistan (and in other provinces also) against inequitable distribution of power and resources, exploitation of the province’s natural wealth and unabashed use of military force.
Terrorism-related problems afflicting our country have placed us on the global radar screen, giving Pakistan the unenviable distinction of being one of the epochal “frontlines of the war on terror.” It is now seen as the “ground zero” of this war and also as world’s unrivalled “breeding ground” of violence and militancy. Since 9/11, our involvement in the US-led war on terror has only complicated things for us both at home and at regional and global levels, circumscribing our sovereignty and freedom of action.
Woefully, by now we have a full generation’s lifetime behind us with very little to be proud of. Had the Quaid lived longer, he would have only been embarrassed to see how miserably our successive leaders have failed to live up to his vision of Pakistan, and to protect and preserve our national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Alas, on our part, we are not even ashamed of what we have done to his Pakistan.
As we observe yet another anniversary of Pakistan’s independence, we as an independent nation stand on critical crossroads. Last six months have seen a new popular mood. For the first time in our history, the people have come out on the streets with a fresh impulse to change the course of their destiny. For the first time in our history, the Judiciary too has shown a red card to a serving military ruler and as the “guardian” of the Constitution is now ready to repay some of its old debts to the nation.
It is time for all of us as a nation, including the handful of army generals in power, to rise above vested individual and factional interests and to help the country return to a real and robust democratic order. Our Quaid showed us our future; we missed it. Let us now go back to our future.
A nation’s strength always lies in its people and institutions. In Pakistan, both have been denied their role or relevance. Our problems have been aggravated by decades of military rule and resultant breakdown of system and values. To be strong and stable, Pakistan must have independent and functional institutions and the rule of law. To recover from its chronic ailments, the country must return to a genuine people-based democracy free of military interference.
It is never too late to come together and collectively heal our wounds. Recovery from sixty years of national malaise may take time but the “emergency” treatment must begin today, and it is in the hands of President General Musharraf. His one step could change the course of our history.
He could breathe new life in our nation by announcing in his Independence Day address his voluntary decision to quit both as president and army chief on completion of his current tenure and to let the country return to a democratically elected civilian rule.
Instead of seeking to hold on to power through political duels or deals, Musharraf should listen to the people and find an honourable exit. Leave the politics and civil governance to the elected representatives of the people.

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