Pakistan At The Cross Roads
By Lt. General (Retd) Tariq Khan
‘An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law’. SOCRATES.
There are nations in this world that are different from one another because of the progress they have made and the reputation that their people enjoy. Some are better than others. What makes them such are the people that live in that country and who define its character, nature and appeal. The measure of where one’s country stands is by fielding the question, ‘who wants to migrate to my country’?
In there lies the answer to ones standing and not the rhetoric that people like to throw about – ethnicity, lineage, religion, ideology, history, martial traditions or custom. These are all ‘slogans without substance’ where nations wallow in the filth of their own creation while these catchphrases are loudly broadcasted only to silence the multitudes who question the leadership as to what road are they are being taken down. But nations also recover and rise from the ashes of the phoenix as well, for which extra-ordinary measures have to be undertaken by its own people and nobody else but its own people.
A child carries a message of support for ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan: u are not alone.
There comes a time in the affairs of nations when people have to decide if they must continue to live as they are or then bring about a change where the nation stands to prosper and flourish. History is replete with instances where faulty decisions were undertaken leading to consequences where even large empires came crashing down to earth. Let it be remembered that no civilization: Greek, Roman, Chinese, Egyptian or Muslim ever fell or were conquered by external forces, invasions or huge armies. These empires succumbed to the devices of their very own, by the choices they made and the decisions they imposed.
As fallen empires stand testimony to the treason that lived within them and the treachery that preyed upon them, similarly, history bears witness to traitors who strike down their very own at the behest of outsiders. The arguments are always based on manufactured high moral grounds, artificial rational and twisted sense of honesty. The people listen to these false narratives and choose to believe what suits them, others allow themselves to be convinced of the logic thereby exonerating themselves of any guilt while there are others still who promote these dishonest fabrications because in doing so there is something in it for themselves.
Mir Jaffer is synonymous with traitor-ism in the sub-continent and stands out as an illustration of how we do things here. In Pakistan, today, 13 political parties joined together in an unholy alliance with the false manifesto of protecting the people from inflation, energy crisis and instability. Having managed to oust a legitimate government through technicalities that were artificially justified, they now hoot into the wind like jackals celebrating a victory but in fact where there was nothing but surrender. Justifying their treacherous disloyalty to the state that the poor needed relief, here is what they have done:
Raised the price of flour by Rs.230/-, Cooking oil by Rs 30/-, Electricity by Rs5/unit, all medicines by 20% and price hike in petrol is on the horizon. Load shedding in the rural areas is now up to 10 hours a day. The Dollar increased by 7 Rs in 4 days. Ordinarily one would not blame this government for this, since there is an international fiscal dilemma in the wake of the oil crisis and food crisis created by the Russo-Ukraine war. Nevertheless, these parties had knowingly made this their political rallying call – a promise that they knew they could not keep – something no one else could.
It is thus amply demonstrated and confirmed, that all this slithering and sliding was not done for the people or the country; nor are the people prepared to believe such false commitments. Nor was it the people that brought in this motley crowd, not even the constitution or even the law did that – in fact they all marched in, in violation of these regulatory systems that are in place and now it’s time that someone needs stand up and be counted, be held responsible and answerable to the people of Pakistan for these violations – who has let this country down?
- Pakistan’s justice system and the Courts languish somewhere at a ranking of 130 out of 139 countries (The World Justice Report). Our Courts have left no stone unturned in an effort to live up to the expectations expected from the ranking they hold. Will the honourable Courts tell the people of Pakistan as to why is there such a low opinion about them and is there any concern they suffer related to it or any measures being adopted to improve – and improvement here would obviously imply, rising up in the ranking?
- The Courts are empowered to do as they please but that power must never be exercised selectively. If the courts can be opened on a Suo moto initiative at mid-night because of concern related to the violation of the Constitution, then why is the same concern and courtesy not extended to the President of the Country when his petition was returned in the matter of floor crossing and violation of article 63 A? ‘There is no greater tyranny than that by which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the times of justice’, Cambridge University Press, September, 29th 1989.
- One fails to understand as to which part of the Article 69 is not understood by the powers that be. Under what jurisdiction can the Court interfere in the matter of the parliament when it is clearly stated as in 69 (1), (the validity of any proceedings in the parliament shall not be called in question on the ground of irregularity or procedure). This brings us to the ancient thought penned by Plato centuries ago, ‘The worst form of justice is pretended justice’. What is the recourse to right this aberration done by the Court? Will ‘might is right’ be the basis of jurisprudence now? If so, should then ‘might’ be the instrument to overwhelm an illegal decision, by the power of the street, since there is no other recourse and are we looking at total anarchy only because the justice system failed us?
- Given that the quoted cable was not authentic, yet can a judgment setting it aside be made without holding a proper judicial commission to ascertain the facts? As was famously said by Mark Twain, ‘First get your facts straight. Then distort them at your leisure’. It appears he was lecturing our justice system.
- The opposition in the Punjab decided to hold a session outside the Punjab Assembly Building, in a Hotel. This is in violation of the Constitution and is ultra vires, that is: not within the rules. The election of Shahbaz Sharif as the chief minister becomes illegal. Why are the courts insisting that the Governor administer the Oath to this Chief Minister when the whole process was undertaken in violation of the rules and procedure of the house? On the other hand, if the authority is in chair, how can the courts insist that someone else be deputed to administer the Oath. In the case of President Alvi, he was taken ill and indisposed, as such it was proper for the speaker of the Senate to administer the Oath to the Cabinet but here the Governor remains in Chair – how can someone else administer the Oath, circumventing the Governor while the Governor is present in office? Is this not a blatant interference in the affairs of the Punjab Assembly and the Constitution?
- Whereas the ECP has a right to investigate any impropriety against any political party if it deems so, why is it selective in its approach? The PTI is being accused of obtaining funds through improper foreign sources but what about the rest? On the other hand, how can the courts say that PTI and the Chairman would have to ’face the music’ and clearly establish a bias even before any trial? Improper funds can be confiscated – nothing more. Yet the question arises, why the bias?
This Coalition keeps bleating that the changeover was justified that they have been voted in – no, this government was never voted in. No single party represents more than a fraction of the populace. Yet an artificial coalition of declared enemies is now celebrating their marriage of convenience. An unprecedented 36-man cabinet has been announced with 24 members who are out on bail for corruption. This includes the current Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Chief Minister of Punjab – Father and son. The battle-cry of this motley crowd to remove the PTI government was inflation, Rupee devaluation and energy crisis. Today all three have deteriorated immediately on their arrival.
It’s clear as day, regardless of the ridiculous claims made by the ‘Coalition of false promises’ that it was neither the country nor the people that motivated them and in fact it was only getting to power, by hook or by crook, by deceit or by treason. This obsession of coming to power is a product of the cases against most of the leadership where they are involved in theft, pilferage, money laundering and misappropriation of national assets and wealth at the cost of the people, their well-being and the future of the country.
Having come into power, the Coalition has immediately done what was expected: attacked NAB, influenced the courts, ensured that the bails given to them are extended and the convict in London comes home. Soon these cases will open in the kangaroo courts they are famous for establishing and subsequently each and every charge would be quashed giving them all a clean bill of health.
Furthermore, the Coalition is busy distributing ministries and it’s not on merit but more on the basis of rewards. Most of the ministers are not qualified to hold such positions and those left out of the ministries have already been awarded with posts that they would not even be able to spell if asked to write them down.
Nevertheless, it is pertinent to note, what exactly did the PTI achieve or fail in while in power for the three and half years that they spent in Government.
- Loans repaid by PTI Government in 22 months: RS 5000 Billion
- Amount borrowed from State Bank in 22 months: NIL
- Panagahs established by PTI Government in 22 months: 200+
- Effective diplomacy saved Pakistan from paying $1.2bn penalty in Karkey case. Revival of Rikodik.
- Kartarpur corridor constructed and made operational within months.
- Modi exposed across the globe, Kashmir issue raised at international forums.
- Successfully moved the case against Islamophobia in the United Nations
- 10 billion tree Tsunami project praised across the globe and being replicated by other developed counties.
- Sehat Sahoolat card being provided to every family in KPK. Providing Insurance coverage worth 1 million per family annually.
- Rs 150 Billion+ distributed among the needy through the Ehsas Emergency Cash program.
- Funding provided for a number of DAM projects. Work on most has commenced and would be completed after PTI’s tenure finishes. Because a leader thinks of the next generation. Not the next election.
- Government paying utility bills for small business in an attempt to shoulder some of their expenses in times of Covid19.
- Current account deficit reduced to $3 Billion from $20 Billion within 22 months.
- State Bank’s reserves have increased from $9.7 Billion to $12.3 Billion in 22 months.
- Tax collection was increasing at a rate of 17% before Covid19 arrived. Hundreds of thousands of new filers had registered with the FBR.
- Covid19: Cases per million around the world: 1,275 Cases per million in Pakistan: 901 Deaths per million around the world: 68.3 Deaths per million in Pakistan: 18
- Discussed Kashmir’s issue every time he met President Donald Trump leading to the US president repeatedly offering to act as a mediator between India & Pakistan in an attempt to solve the Kashmir crisis. Previous PM wouldn’t even mention Kashmir.
- Thousands of poor Pakistanis locked up in prisons abroad were brought back to Pakistan thanks to PM Imran Khan’s impressive diplomacy.
- Pakistan secured Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of $2.1 Billion in the first 9 months of the financial year 2019-2020. Highest in the last 11 years.
- Ease of doing Business: Pakistan was ranked 147th in the world in 2018. Pakistan has jumped 39 places to 108 under Imran Khan’s leadership in less than two years.
- In 22 months, PM Imran Khan’s government has brought Trade Deficit down to $21 billion from $37 billion.
- Unprecedented increase in remittances from abroad to $14.5 bn, a 25% increase over 2019.
Legitimate criticism of the Imran Regime relates not fulfilling the dream of Southern Punjab and despite the promise of a smaller cabinet, structuring a 54-member cabinet which included 28 Federal ministers, 4 ministers of State, 4 Advisors and 18 special assistants and included 21 unelected personal. Not being able to curtail corruption or punish those that had been involved in the past.
Other politicized accusations are about inflation and rupee devaluation. Both must be seen in the context of the COVID Pandemic crisis and international fiscal difficulties. Pakistan did not do as badly as compared to other countries of the globe. Other complaints against PTI are that its leader, Imran Khan is arrogant and inflexible.
In Pakistan’s case, where the country is at rock bottom, a reasonable man would never achieve anything and it’s only the unreasonable person who can affect change and mould the future. We, in fact, need an inflexible leader – one who is not afraid to implement hard decisions, who can uphold the law equally for all and who can relate to the woes of the lowest rung of society.
PTI is accused of alienating international friends and partners by their conduct that does lend itself to diplomatic norms. What are diplomatic norms – servility, slavery and sycophancy? Who can forget the famous Churchill speech, ‘We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender’.
And this was said by the Prime Minister of a country that is about the size of the Province of Punjab, who then went on to say, ‘I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this Government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.’ – and here in Pakistan we are subjected to pretended indignity, embarrassment and mortification by an unscrupulous Coalition that hides behind the façade of patriotism even while they grovel and surrender to the first benefactor. They have truly given new meaning to the term ‘Mir Jaffer’.
So, while this aberration sits upon the chair and governs Pakistan – Pakistan bombed Afghanistan – war has not been declared but the bombing took place. Keeping cross border violence in mind and the indifference shown by the Taliban Administration towards containing TTP, the attack appears to be justified. Yet, who ordered it? Was it a government decision or was it imposed from elsewhere by international demands? Do the people have a right to know? Why was the press silent about it? Do the people have the right to know?
In fact, we have a new form of governance now imposed upon the people of Pakistan – of the quislings, by the quislings for the quislings. Are international forces using our airspace? Will we be facilitating US attacks on Afghanistan in the future, courtesy of our quisling government that the people never voted in to power? Both, may even be in the interest of Pakistan but the people must be taken on board and be part of such a decision – not treated as bystanders. We the people have questions and they need to be answered: will the CPEC be under threat of closure, will India consolidate itself in Kashmir and will our nuclear assets remain safe?
So where lies the resolution to this charade and mockery of a government? It lies in early elections and just that, early elections. The contradictions are so great, travesty of justice so high, duplicity so wanton, hypocrisy so blatant that there is no institution in the country that has the power to right the wrong that has been done to this country other than the peoples of this country, themselves. It is the right of the people to now side with what they think is right and reject what they know to be wrong. Let the power of the vote be the final arbitrator in what is otherwise a never-ending argument that only goes around in circles but never concludes.
It ought to be remembered, ‘There is no calamity which a great nation can invite which equals that which follows a supine submission to wrong and injustice and the consequent loss of national self-respect and honour, beneath which are shielded and defended a people’s safety and greatness’ Eldridge Cleaver.
This article is written by Lt General (r) Tariq Khan, the man who fought the war against militancy in most critical time of Pakistan’s history. He led active military operations as Brigadier, IGFC and as Lt General of Pakistan Army. As Commander Central Command and Corps Commander Lt General (retd) Tariq Khan was part of important decision making relating to Pakistan’s security.