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Essay: Dissertation: Why has democracy failed between 1989 and 1999 in Pakistan?

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1. Back ground of the study
1.1 Benazir Bhutto Becomes Prime Minister
In the 1988 elections, Pakistan People’s Party won 94 seats in the National Assembly without forming any alliance. With the cooperation of 8 M. Q. M. members and 13 members of the Federally Administered tribal Area, the P. P. P. showed a clear majority. Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was sworn in as the Prime Minister, the first woman to govern an Islamic State.
Soon after taking oath, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto announced that the ban on Student Unions and Trade Unions would be lifted. The P. P. P. Government hosted the fourth S. A. A. R. C. Summit Conference in December 1988. As a result of the Conference, Pakistan and India finalized three peace agreements.
But soon, Benazir’s Government started facing problems on the political front. A. N. P. deserted the Pakistan People Party and on November 1, 1989, a no-confidence motion was moved against the Prime Minister by the opposition. Benazir was barely able to pull through with 12 votes to her advantage. M. Q. M., which had formed an alliance with the P. P. P. also broke away and started creating trouble in Sindh.
Serious conceptual differences arose between the P. P. P. Government and the Establishment. Less than two years later, on August 6, 1990, her Government was accused of corruption and dismissed by the President, GhulamIshaq Khan, who exercised his power through the controversial Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.
1.2 GhulamIshaq Khan becomes President
In 1988, President Zia-ul-Haq dissolved the Junejo Government and announced that fresh elections would be held in November 1988. But on August 17, 1988, he was killed in a C-130 plane crash in Bhawalpur, along with five senior Generals and the American Ambassador. The cause of the crash has never been ascertained and still remains a riddle.
After the death of General Zia, GhulamIshaq Khan, Chairman of the Senate, took over as acting President. Elections for the National and Provincial Assemblies were held on November 16 and 19, 1988, respectively. The Revival of the Constitutional Order had amended the Constitution, which empowered the President to appoint, at his discretion, any member of the National Assembly as Prime Minister. GhulamIshaq Khan appointed Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister of Pakistan on the condition that she would offer full support to him in the forthcoming presidential elections.
According to the deal between GhulamIshaq Khan and Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan Peoples Party voted for GhulamIshaqKhan.GhulamIshaq Khan was also the consensus candidate of IslamiJamuhriEtihad. Four candidates took part in the elections, with GhulamIshaq Khan winning and securing the highest 608 votes. Constitutional Amendments made by the R. C. O. and the Eighth Amendment, that had given the President a great deal of power, inevitably led the President and the Prime Minister into conflict. The conflict between the President and the Prime Minister arose in two areas; the appointment of the Military Chiefs and the Superior Court Judges.
The conflict between the President and the Prime Minister had its drop scene on August 6, 1990, when the President dissolved the National Assembly and Benazir Bhutto was dismissed from power. The dissolution of the National Assembly was soon followed by the dissolution of the Provincial Assemblies. Fresh elections were scheduled on October 24, 1990. President GhulamIshaq Khan appointed Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi as the caretaker Prime Minister.
Elections for the National and Provincial Assemblies were held on October 24 and 27, 1990, respectively. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was elected as Prime Minister on November 1, 1990. Nawaz Sharif’s Government remained in power till April 19, 1993. President GhulamIshaq Khan again dissolved the National Assembly, exercising his power once again through the Eighth Amendment, and appointed Mir BalakhSher Khan Mazari as the caretaker Prime Minister. General Elections were scheduled to be held on July 14, 1993, but were canceled when the Supreme Court quashed the Presidential Order and reinstated Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Minister.
Differences between Nawaz Sharif and GhulamIshaq Khan arose once again. This time they deepened to such an extent that they led to the resignation of both President GhulamIshaq Khan and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on July 18, 1993. The National and Provincial Assemblies were also dissolved. MoinQureshi was appointed as the caretaker Prime Minister, and GhulamIshaq Khan was appointed the caretaker President. Fresh elections for the National and Provincial Assemblies were held. Benazir Bhutto returned to power for the second time and Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari was elected as the new President of Pakistan.
This brought to an end the presidency of GhulamIshaq Khan, which brought about the dismissal of two elected governments. It followed the unhealthy tradition of removing elected governments through the use of the controversial Eighth Amendment. The next President followed the same tradition and created continuous instability in the country
1.3 Nawaz Sharif Becomes Prime Minister
After the ouster of Benazir’s Government, elections for the National and Provincial Assemblies were held on October 24 and 27, 1990. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the ex-Chief Minister of Punjab, was elected as the Prime Minister on November 1, 1990.
During his tenure as the Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif made efforts to strengthen the industrial sector with the help of the private sector. Projects like Ghazi Brotha and the Gawadar miniport were initiated. Land was distributed among landless peasants in Sindh.
A massive uplift of Murree and Kahuta was done during his term as Chief Minister of Punjab. Relations with the Central Asian Muslim republics were strengthened and E. C. O. was given a boost.
In an attempt to end the Afghan crisis, the “Islamabad Accord” was reached between various Afghan factions. His most important contribution was economic progress despite U. S. sanctions on Pakistan through the Pressler Amendment on sanctions. The stupendous Motorway project was initiated that was completed during his second tenure.
Nawaz Sharif’s Government remained in power till April 18 1993, when President GhulamIshaq Khan dissolved the National Assembly, once again exercising his power through the Eighth Amendment.
1.4 Benazir Bhutto becomes Prime Minister
Benazir Bhutto returned to power for the second time in 1993 after the resignation of both President GhulamIshaq Khan and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on July 18, 1993. The resignation led to the announcement of fresh elections for the National and Provincial Assemblies. The elections were held on October 6 and 9, 1993, respectively.
The elections were boycotted by the M. Q. M. No party emerged with an absolute majority in the elections. As a result the P. P. P. formed the new government with the help of alliances. Benazir Bhutto took oath as Prime Minister on October 19, 1993. The Presidential election was held on November 13. Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari, the P. P. P. candidate, won by 274 to 168 votes against the then acting President WasimSajjad.
During her second tenure, Benazir again faced trouble from the opposition. In the autumn of 1994, Nawaz Sharif led a “train march” from Karachi to Peshawar. This was followed by general strike on September 20. Two weeks later Nawaz Sharif called a “wheel jam” strike on October 11.
The second tenure of Benazir Bhutto was, however, highlighted by the visit of the U. S. first Lady Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea in 1995. Hillary’s visit considerably changed the world’s perceptions about Pakistan and highlighted Pakistan as a liberal, modern and forward-looking country. In April 1994, Benazir visited the U. S., and projected Pakistan’s stance on the F-16 fighter planes withheld by the U. S. despite payments. Her visit resulted in the passing of the Brown Amendment by the U. S. Senate on September 21, 1995, easing restrictions on Pakistan. It also helped in attracting foreign investors. On the domestic front she continued facing problems with M. Q. M. In spite of all her political endeavors, a smooth relationship could not be established between the Government and M. Q. M.
Benazir Bhutto’s brother, Mir Murtaza Bhutto, was assassinated under mysterious circumstances in a police ambush on September 20, 1996. The high-profile killing of her brother in her tenure damaged her political career.
Things were not going well between the President and Benazir’s Government. Differences soon appeared and the Government felt that there was interference in the political matters of the Government by the President. President FarooqLeghari dismissed Benazir Bhutto’s Government on charges of corruption and mismanagement on November 5, 1996, under the Article 58(2) b of the Eighth Amendment.
1.5 SardarFarooqLegahri Becomes President
As a result of the general elections in 1993, P. P. P. came to power by forming an alliance with P. M. L. (J), some independent members and some small parties. After the formation of the Governments at the Center and in the provinces, the next step was the election of the President. Initially, a number of candidates filed their nomination papers. However, as election day approached, there were only two candidates left in the field. These were the acting President WasimSajjad, a nominee of the P. M. L. (N), and SardarFarooqLeghari, a nominee of the P. P. P. As a result of voting, Leghari got 274 votes in his favor against 168 votes for WasimSajjad. On November 13, 1993, SardarFarooqLeghari was appointed as the President of Pakistan for a term of five years.
Leghari began his term with a clean reputation, but this was soon to change with the Mehran Bank scandal and inappropriate appointments in the judiciary. In his first speech, Leghari had said that the Eighth Amendment would be removed but during the term of Benazir, no bill was ever presented to do away with this Article of the Constitution.
Differences emerged between Benazir and Leghari, which eventually resulted in the President using the Eighth Amendment for the dissolution of the National Assembly, and the dismissal of Benazir. When Mian Nawaz Sharif was re-elected as the Prime Minister, differences arose between them. He supported the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Sajjad Ali Shah, who had also developed serious differences with the Nawaz Sharif Government. But Leghari could not overcome the heavy mandate that was bestowed upon Mian Nawaz Sharif by the public, with the result that he had to resign on December 2, 1997. FarooqLeghari’s resignation brought to an end the tragic drama of conflict and conspiracy between the Judiciary, the Executive, and the Legislature. His resignation cut short his term as the President for five years by nearly one year.
1.6 Nawaz Sharif becomes Prime Minister
As scheduled, elections were held on February 3, 1997. Pakistan Muslim League won with an overwhelming majority with absolutely light and slight opposition. The Muslim League was able to obtain a two-third majority in the National Assembly and Mian Nawaz Sharif was re-elected as Prime Minister. He obtained a vote of confidence from the National Assembly on February 18, 1997.
A number of very important Constitutional Amendments were introduced during Nawaz Sharif’s second term. These include the termination of the Eighth Amendment, passing of the Thirteenth Amendment and the Ehtesab Act, 1997. Nawaz Sharif faced a serious confrontation with the Judiciary and the Executive, which eventually led to the resignation of President Leghari on December 2, 1997.
It was during this term that Pakistan carried out its nuclear tests on May 28, 1998, in response to the Indian detonation of its five nuclear devices. The Nawaz Government had found it imperative for Pakistan to carry out these nuclear tests, in order to provide an effective defense, and to deter Indian adventurism.
The Nawaz Government proclaimed an emergency on May 28, 1998; the day these nuclear tests were conducted. All fundamental rights were suspended and all the foreign currency accounts in Pakistani banks were frozen. On August 28, 1998, Nawaz regime introduced the Fifteenth Amendment. The Bill generated heated debate throughout the country but was passed on October 9, 1998, by the members of the National Assembly.
The Bill, however, was not put before the Senate within 90 days as was required by the Constitution. The Bill was held back, as Nawaz Sharif did not had the required two-third majority in the Senate.
The Fifteenth Amendment was presumed to be an effort by Nawaz Sharif to acquire additional powers for himself. Soon a serious conflict and confrontation emerged on the scene between him and the Military Generals. This confrontation led to the resignation of General JehangirKaramat on October 7, 1998. General Karamat was replaced by General Pervez Musharraf.
The Kargil Operation in its aftermath again led to tense relations between Nawaz Sharif and the armed forces. This tension culminated into the removal of Nawaz Government by General Pervez Musharraf on October 12, 1999, thus bringing to an end the second term of Nawaz Sharif’s Government.
1.7 MuhammadRafiqTarar elected as President
Muhammad RafiqTarar, a former Judge of the Supreme Court and a Senator, was elected as the ninth President of Pakistan. He took oath to his office on January 1, 1998.
The office of the President had become vacant after the resignation of President Leghari on December 2, 1997. The Pakistan Muslim League had a two-third majority in the Parliament and some Provincial Assemblies and therefore was in a position to have its candidate elected as the head of State. The Nawaz Government nominated Muhammad RafiqTarar, a 68-year old former Judge of the Supreme Court and a Senator, as their presidential candidate.
The nomination of Muhammad RafiqTarar was, however, criticized by the opposition parties and newspapers because the nominated President was from Lahore, which was also the hometown of the Prime Minister. Many that felt that, since the Prime Minister was from Punjab, the President should be from a smaller province to prevent the possibility of a sense of deprivation among the smaller federating units, and to avoid the concentration of the main Government offices in one province.
The election of the President was held on December 31, 1997. The President was to be indirectly elected by the two houses of Parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate, and the four Provincial Assemblies. As the ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League dominated most of the six voting groups; Muhammad RafiqTarar was comfortably elected President by securing 374 out of 457 votes of the Electoral College. His rivals, Pakistan Peoples Party’s AftabShahbanMirani and Jamiyat-i-Ulema-i-Islam’s Maulana Muhammad Khan Shirani, ended up only with 31 and 22 votes, respectively. Never before had a President received such overwhelming support from the elected representatives of the people of Pakistan.
RafiqTarar seemed to be an unassuming and ceremonial President with a low profile, who kept away from the press. Immediately after taking over, he declared that from then onwards, the Presidency would not work in conspiring against the elected Government. He said that he would confine himself to powers available to him under the Constitution and would not aspire for anything more. He honored his word, and unlike the precedent set by his predecessors, he didn’t criticize any Government policy.
After overthrowing the Nawaz Government, the military authorities did not retain RafiqTarar as the President till his full term of five years. He was removed by the Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf on June 20, 2001, who himself took over the office of the President of Pakistan.
Being associated with the Judiciary, Muhammad RafiqTarar was not a politician of any standing but he was, however, noted for his honesty, loyalty, devotion to justice and a firm, religious faith in Islam.
2. Thirteenth Amendment is passed
The National Assembly unanimously adopted the Constitution Bill, the Thirteenth Amendment, in April 1997 by a two-third majority. The Thirteenth Amendment was put before the National Assembly on April 1, empowering the Prime Minister to repeal 58(2) b, and advise the President on the appointments of three forces’ chiefs, the J. C. S. C. Chairman and the Governors. Thus the discretionary power to appoint the chiefs of the armed forces was taken away from the President. In the proposed Amendment Bill, clauses to restore the women parliamentarian seats and to convert the Ordinance into an act of the Parliament were also incorporated. The power of the Governor to dissolve the Provincial Assemblies under Article 112(2) b was also done away with.
Through the Thirteenth Amendment the controversial Eighth Amendment was repealed and thereby the President was divested of many discretionary power in order to restore the supremacy of the Parliament.
The infamous Eight Amendment had been inserted in the Constitution in 1985, by the non-party based Parliament, when General Zia-ul-Haq was the Chief Martial Law Administrator and President of Pakistan. Its most notorious and troublesome provision, 58(2) b, had empowered the President to sack the Prime Minister and his Cabinet and dissolve the National Assembly. The provision had since been used by three successive Presidents since 1985, and four Prime Ministers, along with their Cabinets and the National Assemblies, had been dismissed.
Having announced the Thirteenth Amendment, Nawaz Sharif said that it had been introduced to revive the democratic concept, as envisaged by the Quaid-i-Azam and AllamaIqbal.
Although it seemed that a complicated and sensitive constitutional issue was solved in an amicable way through consensus, and it was anticipated that through the Thirteenth Amendment a new era of democratic freedom and political stability would start, all the hopes dashed to the ground when once again the democratic process was demolished all of a sudden. A military coup not only sacked Nawaz Sharif and his Cabinet, but also dissolved the National Assembly and the Provincial Assemblies.
3. Fourteenth Amendment is passed
Throughout Pakistan’s political history, horse-trading and defection within various parties had created problems for various governments. On coming to power, Nawaz Sharif’s Government took steps to do away with this ever-flourishing problem. It was under the Nawaz Government that the National Assembly unanimously adopted the Constitution Bill, the Fourteenth Amendment, on July 1, 1997.
The Anti-Defection Bill, earlier passed by the Senate and later by the National Assembly with a large majority, was a structural reform to end the practice of switching party loyalties and blackmailing party leadership for ministerial slots, bank loans and other concessions.
4. Statement of problem
A study probes the important causes of failure of democracy in Pakistan since 1989 to 1999, dismissals of four elected governments.
5. Objective of the Study
To find out the causes play key hurdles in the way of democracy in Pakistan during the period of 10 years 1989 to 1999. Why four electoral governments had been broken. What the role had been played beaurucracy either military or establishment. Discuss the problems to face democracy in the country and spread the political awareness in the people. Discuss and suggest equal distribution of power among the houses of main pillars of democracy.
6. Research questions
6.1 Main question
Q1: why democracy has been failed in 1989 to 1999?
6.2 Sub questions
Q1:Why has democracy failed as a system of governance in Pakistan?
Q2: Is Pakistan a security state? Why military always intervene in politics and been dominated?
Q3: Why always been miss use of power? Is it a reason of weaker political institutions and lack of constitution?
Q4: Islack of awareness of political thought because of illiteracy also a root problem?
7. Methodology
I would like to adopt the qualitative method because it would help to me in data collection and provide me an opportunity to a vast study through different resources like events, books, newspapers; online researches etc. the most important is that the authentic references by different authors and scholars will be the key of my research work.
8. Data collection
The data collection will be generating from secondary source of data collection.
Books,Newspaperarticles, Journalsreports.
2.1 Some Causes of Failure of Democracy
In the late 1980’s democracy was again at the crossroads in Pakistan after the demise of General Zia due to natural calamity. Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif also failed comprehensively. Four General elections in the 1990’s brought each of them twice to power. They did not seem interested in developing of the democratic norms in the country. Neither respected constraints on the use of power rather they trimmed and amended the constitution for their personal convenience. Their behavior brought ruin to the democracy. It also brought the military back to power.
Thus we see that the main causes of failure of democracy in Pakistan had been lack of regard for the country’s constitution and misuse of powers. The country’s constitution have been ignored and tampered with time and again. There has been plenty of the lip service paid to the constitution and to the constitutional practice in the country. Deviation from the constitution had been the main reason why the sapling of democracy could not flourish and thrive in the country.
Another reason for the breakup of the democratic rule had been the contending political ideologies propagated by the political parties. The political profession is much to be blamed for playing the game for political gains and for seeking power instead of serving the people and the country. The very purpose of creating Pakistan has been thrown into the background. The practice of political aggrandizement led to side spread administrative and social corruption. We have still to see real rule of law in the country. Democracy can never exist without rule of law, justice, civil liberties and equality of opportunities. Representative ruler ship could not uphold these values due to favoritism, nepotism and obstructing the curse of law.
Treasury benches and opposition are the essential constituents of democracy. The nascent institutions of democracy can be strengthened. They are essential for making the democratic set up work. In fact democracy was revived in Pakistan, these democratic conventions were shown poor respect. The rulers were too proud to listen and to bear criticism. Such limping democracy could not serve long.
A survey of democracy in Pakistan cannot be completed without assessing the electorate, the voters who are the makers and of leaders and mainstay of democracy. Right of franchise is the bedrock of democracy. Three elections on party basis in 1970, 1971 and 1998 indicated that the majority of the voters did not exercise their right. Again in three elections in 1990’s the average turnout was very dismal.
Unless the people are educated and use their votes intelligently, democracy can never prosper and run smoothly in the county. One of the reasons of constitution’s weakness in Pakistan is vast uneducated and uniformed electorate. Aristotle has rightly remarked: “To neglect the education of the young ones, is to weaken the constitution of the country”. Democracy is a function of education. It cannot be managed effectively and justly without sound education of the voters and their high level of information.
In conclusion, it can be analyzed that it is not democracy that has failed but the politicians who have failed to run the country on correct democratic principles of equality, justice and fraternity. Moreover, the electorate has been unable to check and control the professional politicians that have changed colour like a chameleon.
The remedy lies in the words of Lord Beveridge, “Power as a means of getting things done appeals to that men share with brutes; to fear and greed; power leads those who wield it to desire it for its own sake, not for service it am render, and to seek its continuance on their own hands. Influence as a means of getting things done appeals to that which distinguishes men from brutes. The way out of worlds troubles today is to treat men as men, to enthrone influence over power and to make power revocable”.
If we want to make Pakistan a really lasting democracy, we must act on the above advice. Thin only will enter in the reign of true democracy and the people will manage their own affairs instead of being dupes and pawns in the hands of dishonest men.
2.2 Governing a “Security State”: Prospects of Democracy in Pakistan
Pakistan’s overwhelming thrust on military security and India-centric defence policy have resulted in the military emerging as the most cohesive and powerful institution. Democratic institutions have remained weak due to self-serving politicians whose primary concerns have been to remain in power. They have manipulated various democratic institutions, including the Constitution, to perpetuate their rule. The military cooperated with these self-serving politicians to further their vested interests and the military as an institution got strengthened at the cost of democracy. The army-defined security parameters of Pakistan have led the country to enter into various multilateral military alliances and the country spending enormous amounts on defense at the cost of socio-economic development. The centralized character of Pakistan polity emanates from this insecurity syndrome. The absence of greater provincial autonomy and the growing dissatisfaction of various ethno-linguistic groups have made the state more vulnerable. In the security-centric state, the role of political Opposition has been subservient. Instead of emphasising change through democratic means, these parties have never hesitated to ask the army to intervene. The civil society has been marginalized and the Press is hesitant to criticize the government forcefully. The emergence of fundamentalist groups sustaining on the government’s Kashmir and Afghan policies has posed a new threat to an already insecure state. These articles examines the extent to which overemphasis on the security aspect of Pakistan has stunted the growth of democracy and analyses various factors responsible for the demise of democracy in Pakistan.
The political history of Pakistan is marked more by periods of military rule than of democracy. A country which inherited the British political system could not sustain it because of the various intrigues of self-serving politicians for whom their survival in politics was more important than anything else. A fundamental question that arises here is why has democracy failed as a system of governance in Pakistan? The question becomes more relevant in the present context, because there was hardly any opposition to the recent military takeover. Since democracy is always understood as the best system of governance that enables the participation of the masses, why have the Pakistanis been so reluctant to be critical of the military takeover? Rather, the military takeover has been construed as relief for the country from the democratic dictatorship and abuse of popular support by the governing elite.
Military rule is considered the panacea to Pakistan’s problem. Such a belief emanates from the fact that the military is considered as honest, efficient and patriotic compared to the civil administration. Moreover, the major political parties are not held in high esteem by the public. This is because governance during democratic regimes has been characterized by violence, ethnic conflict and maladministration.
The ambit of this paper would be limited to an analysis of the factors which have contributed to the failure of democracy in Pakistan. It would also examine the extent to which the emphasis on the security aspect of the state has strengthened the army’s role in politics and helped it to emerge as an important arbitrator in the governance of the country. Even the break-up of Pakistan under military rule has not eroded the confidence of the people in the army or in its ability to provide efficient administration. One needs to understand why the leaders have behaved as they did, and why the people have expressed relief whenever a military government has taken over. Does this suggest that Pakistan lacks a vibrant democratic political culture or it does have more to do with the feudal character of the society? The army has always been given a red carpet welcome, hence, the three military takeovers in 1958, 1977 and 1999 witnessed no bloodshed. To understand the prospects of democracy and the constraints in the evolution of such an order, it is important to analyses the concept of the security state and the culture of democracy.
2.3″Security State” Predominance over Democracy
The concept of security state envisages a state where overwhelming emphasis is given to the military aspect of security. After the creation of Pakistan, the perceived threat from India continued. War with India immediately after independence defined the insecurity parameter of the newly born state. Pakistan came into existence as a weak state characterized by internal fragmentation, confused identity (ethnic vs religious vs linguistic and tribal identities) marked by political opportunism and saddled with the enormous task of rehabilitation of the uprooted Muslim migrants from India. Institutional weaknesses provided space to a strong and cohesive institution like the army to exercise control over the state.
With the dominance of the army, defense became a priority area for Pakistan: the country had to be protected even at the cost of democracy. Pakistan perceived India as its most formidable enemy. Its foreign policy orientation and its defense policy are geared towards this single dominant factor. The acute insecurity syndrome may be envisaged from the fact that “in 1949, the expenditure on defense was nearly twice the total amount spent on development projects. Nearly two-thirds of central government revenue receipts were utilized by the military. Although the share of defense came down in subsequent years, this unfortunate pattern of resource allocation has persisted since partition.”1 In early 1953, the Government of Pakistan constituted the Economic Appraisal Committee to provide inputs regarding economic development. The committee suggested “minimum expenditure on defence consistent with security” and “maximum expenditure on development consistent with resources”.2 To avoid any problem with the military, the civil administration decided to substantially reduce provincial development projects, thus, contributing to the growing alienation and dissatisfaction of the provinces. The government not only depended on the US for aid but also advice about the disbursement of the aid. The Pakistan Army was willing to become a partner in the American sponsored alliance so as to get American military aid to modernise the armed forces. The maintenance cost of the American weapons burdened the volatile state of the economy. The situation came to such a pass that neither was it feasible to reduce the defence budget nor was it possible to cut down the meagre economic assistance provided to the provinces. The overwhelming external security concerns of Pakistan as envisioned by an ambitious chief of staff like Gen Ayub Khan were supported by the political leadership-not that they agreed completely with such a perception, but the military and the weak leadership perpetuated each other’s vested mutual interests through a method of cooptation. The myopic decision was evident from the fact that “in setting their sights on building a state structure geared to sustaining a political economy of defence they neglected to take account of the complex dynamics underlying the political process.”3 In the evolving military dominated political culture, the armed forces became sacrosanct in the politics of Pakistan. “Pakistan’s preoccupation with the security threat and the attendant priority for defence, partially led to the supremacy of the Defence Ministry and the General Head Quarters in the weakened parliamentary processes in the post-Jinnah years….Ayub Khan, Mirza, Ikramullah, Ghulam Mohammad and their cohorts made and pursued Pakistan’s defence policy entirely according to their own biases and ambitions, mostly over and above the political authorities4.” This is due to the fact that in the initial years after the creation of Pakistan, the political elite were egrossed in consolidating their power. There was no election, no parliament, thus no discussion on defence budget and policy. Discussing the inherent weakness of democracy in Pakistan, K.M.Arif wrote, “Under falsely exaggerated cover of national security, defence-related issues have usually escaped in-depth political scrutiny and debate within the government and on public platforms. ….Nor has the system of parliamentary committees been practised in the Parliament. Such a void has retarded the growth of the political system.”5 This also strengthened the army’s sense of exclusivity, of being above the law and parliamentary scrutiny.
The dominance of the military element in governance defined the role of the army. The first martial law was declared in Lahore after the anti-Ahmediya riots took place. The army assisted the government under the provision of “aid to civil power” and restored law and order. However, with this intervention, the army established its credibility as a coherent force committed to strengthening the newly created country, while at the same time, it exposed the incapabability of the civil administration and the weaknesses of the political leadership. While this emboldened the army and created a political space for them, it reduced the credibility of politicians further.
Emphasis on the security paradigm over socio-economic issues has resulted in Pakistan’s emergence as a “security state”. The overwhelming emphasis and obsession of the state with its “threat perception” has paralyzed the functioning of the state apparatus. As a Pakistani analyst has argued, “The issue is not that the defence forces were irrelevant to the threats that Pakistan confronted, but that such endeavours resulted in distortions of the balance of power between the state and civil society”6. Fear of India became a ruling passion in Pakistan’s foreign policy.7 Moreover, the military assumed importance due to unscrutinised budgetary allocations, without any debate in the Parliament. The Indo-Pakistan conflict over Jammu and Kashmir, justified the assertive role of the military in civilian affairs. In fact, the military exaggerated the threat perceptions from India in order to justify its role in politics and power.8 Moreover, an anti-India policy was largely responsible for the growth of the Pakistan Army and the privileges it enjoyed, with a lion’s share in the country’s budget.
The military-defined security parameters have remained one of the high priority areas for Pakistan, and, unfortunately, the internal dimension of security was paid scant attention. Grave economic inequality between the country’s two wings, lack of elections, dwindling credibility of the ruling elite, assertion of ethnic identity due to political alienation, and erosion of provincial autonomy led to the break up of Pakistan.
Constant haggling for power and scant regard for democratic norms by the politicians led the army to develop an adverse opinion about the civilian leadership. Ayub Khan was quoted to have said, “The Pakistan Army…(would) not allow the political leaders” or the people of Pakistan to “get out of hand”. Protecting the country from internal catastrophes and external threats was “a large responsibility” for the army.9 These security concerns and the army’s vested interests, made democracy its first victim. While negotiating with the US for American military aid, the praetorian elements did not want the Constitution to come into force. The military and bureaucratic elements were apprehensive that given equal representation, the Bengalis may veto the controversial Bill on defense and foreign policy.10 It is interesting to underline here that most Bengalis did not subscribe to the West Pakistani threat perception. The United Front Party which won the election in East Pakistan on April 3, 1954, criticized the US-Pakistan Military Pact. This incident suggested that if elections to the National Assembly were held, the possible electoral victory of the United Front would create problems for the military-bureaucratic elite and their concept of security. Thus, the United Front ministry was dismissed, though not the Provincial Assembly, and Mirza was sent as the governor of East Pakistan. Later, the Constituent Assembly, through an amendment to section 10 of the Government of India Act, 1935, prevented the governor general from dismissing the Cabinet of East Pakistan. This incident made the West Pakistani elite apprehensive that the centre of power was moving away from them; actively supported by the army, they dismissed the Constituent Assembly on October 24, 1954. The army, too, was afraid that the shifting of the power centre to the East Pakistanis, who did not share the army’s vision of defence and foreign policy, would create problems for the army. The evolution of a “security state” can be understood in the context of Pakistani society and the culture of democracy.
2.4 Culture of Democracy
The culture of democracy refers to the nature of society, socio-economic background of the political leadership, free Press, nature of political parties, and tradition of commitment to democratic political dissent. This can be understood in the context of the kind of state a country’s elite want to build and the priorities before them. In this regard, the role of a constructive political Opposition is of prime importance to sustain the tradition of democracy wherein constructive criticism is articulated openly, without fear or favour. In Pakistan, the evolution of a culture of democracy has been interrupted by frequent military takeovers. Its society has been characterized by feudalism, and land reforms have been half-hearted. Till now, the feudal elements have managed to get elected because of their traditional influence as a land owning class. According to Gen. MirzaAslam Beg, Pakistan has a historical tradition of militarism, especially in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Punjab. People take up arms for various reasons. In the absence of a democratic culture, a military culture has dominated. According to Gen Beg, the military has to be given a role in decision-making till such time a democratic culture takes roots. Thus, there is a need for a National Security Council (NSC) wherein the armed forces can be represented.11
Significant political developments that led to the creation of Pakistan are partly responsible for the absence of a democratic culture in Pakistan. Firstly, the movement for Pakistan was led by the leaders of Muslim minority provinces of India. The objective of the Muslim League initially was to strike a fair deal for the Muslims of British India against the Hindu majority and was later based on the idea that Hindus and Muslims constitute two separate nations, hence, the need for a separate state of Pakistan for Muslims of the subcontinent. Moreover, the movement against the British from the provinces which constitute present-day Pakistan was marginal; the demand for Pakistan was made towards the last phase of the freedom struggle. The idea of having a separate state of Pakistan was conceived without a well thought out plan about the nature of the state. Jinnah had said, “We shall have time to quarrel among ourselves and we shall have time when these differences will have to be settled, when wrongs and injuries will have to be remedied. We shall have time for domestic programmes and policies, but first get the Government. This is a nation without any territory or any government.”12 Finally, the people who constituted the political elite were all migrants from India who had no mass base in the region which constituted Pakistan. They were not popularly elected leaders. Jinnah was accepted as the supreme leader, commanding the respect of the country, because of his contribution to the creation of Pakistan. The commitment to democracy was lacking because it was not a movement against the British for freedom but was singularly oriented towards the creation of Pakistan as a separate entity for the Muslims. Thus, commitment, sacrifice and struggle for “popular political participation” were absent.
Mostly feudal, the Pakistani society nurtured and was willing to sustain a system wherein the interests of the feudal class would be protected. Since a limited “power elite” enjoyed the fruits of freedom, the masses had little stake in the political system in the absence of political participation. For them, there was hardly any difference between democracy and dictatorship. Thus, democracy in Pakistan became elitist, and largely a medium for self-aggrandizement of the feudal elements. “Lacking inherent vitality, civilian governments looked for crutches to sustain themselves in power and frequently used the coercive instruments of the state authority under their control to prolong their rules. The bureaucracy and the military waited in the wings to seize the chance for their own vested interests because they too had the same feudal background and upbringing.”13
According to Omar Norman, a political analyst, the political process in Pakistan after independence was shaped by four factors. First, the failure of the Muslim League to transform itself into a national party; second, the highly centralised form of government; three, the Punjabi and Mohajir elite virtually monopolised decision-making in Pakistan; and, finally, the growth of regional tension as the primary source of political conflict.14 Political development in Pakistan was closely linked with the marginalisation of the Bengalis of East Pakistan. To accommodate their interests, the West Pakistani elite not only argued for the one unit formula but the nature of political system was determined by their apprehensions about Bengali dominance in the politics of Pakistan.
The centralised character of the polity was evident in the initial years itself. The frequency with which the provincial governments were dismissed reflected the political expediency suiting the ruling class. Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah himself dismissed the provincial governments at will. Within a fortnight of the creation of Pakistan, the NWFP government was dismissed, followed by the dismissal of Sindh Chief Minister M.A.Khuro. The process of political instability had set in and manifested itself in an intense struggle for power. On January 25, 1949, the Provincial Legislative Assembly of Punjab was dissolved and the administration was handed over to the governor, in spite of the fact that the chief minister enjoyed a majority in the House. However, politics in East Pakistan was characterised by a certain amount of political stability in the initial years, unlike the Western part. In spite of this, the obsession to remain in power was one of the characteristic features of the political leaders in Pakistan. Ruling Muslim League, fearing its rout in the forthcoming election, extended the term of the Assembly by one year. Eventually, when the election took place, it delayed summoning the Assembly for two months and, finally, allowed the United Front leader to take over. The popularly elected government of A.K.FazlulHaq was dismissed within two months on charges of maladministration. These incidents not only eroded provincial autonomy but also established a strong central government. Flouting the norms of democratic rule resulted in the erosion of democratic traditions15.
The weak democratic tradition was demonstrated by the fact that Pakistan took seven years to frame a Constitution. The Constitution that finally came into existence was not an embodiment of democratic principles, rather, it was an amalgamation of vested interest, of the religious groups as well as the elite, especially the Punjabis and Mohajirs. “More dangerously, the state elites had a narrow vision of a secure and stable Pakistan that was rooted in their ideology of ‘controlled democracy’, strong central government, and preeminence of the executive. Trained and socialised in the colonial bureaucracy, they tended to see the clamorous political process through the lens of law and order. They were quick to accumulate the power of the central state apparatus mainly by expanding the infrastructural capacity of the coercive institutions while willfully stultifying the growth of a representative political institution.”16
Politics in the Formative Years: Defining the structure of Governance
It is important to analyse the politics of Pakistan in the formative years. Any semblance of a democratic tradition was laid to rest the day Ghulam Mohammad dismissed Prime Minister Mohmmad Ali Bogra since he had a Bill passed making it obligatory for the president to tolerate by the advice of the prime minister. The governor general was swift in securing his position by dismissing the Constituent Assembly on October 24, 1954. The dismissal of the Constituent Assembly was challenged in the Sindh High Court, which is known as the Tamizuddin case.17 With the support of the then chief justice of Pakistan who was sympathetic to the central government, the Federal Court overruled the Sindh High Court’s decision under Article 22-3a.18 The national elections were scheduled in 1959, but that would have ensured the East Pakistanis dominating the West. “To circumvent the transfer of power, the Civil Service asked the army to takeover”.19 It is important to note here that between the years 1953 to 1958, Pakistan had seven prime ministers and all of them were removed through palace intrigues. Finally, the 1956 Constitution was abrogated on September 7, 1958, after the military intervention. The bureaucracy, in connivance with the army, laid to rest the infant democracy, and needless to say the role of politicians facilitated such transformation with great ease. As an analyst has put it, “Intellectual vacuity, combined with the cult of leadership, infected the leaders at the top as well. The result was that particularly whenever they were called upon to assume office, not being united by any concrete programme or ideology, the League leaders soon fell prey to squabbling and petty intrigues.”20
Justifying the military intervention, Ayub Khan said the political conditions were such that “the army alone could act as a corrective force and restore normalcy”.21 After taking over, he was of the opinion that parliamentary democracy did not suit Pakistan with its high illiteracy rate and overwhelming rural population.22 The army wanted “controlled democracy” and to pursue its own security interest without any difficulties. Hence, it introduced basic democracy in October 1959. According to this formula, the country was divided into 80,000 geographical units; each constituency consisted of 1,000 voters who in turn elected a representative. These representatives constituted an electoral college that would elect a president. Ayub was elected through this system.23 The activities of the politicians were brought under heavy restraint by the Elective Bodies (Disqualification Order). This gave the politicians two options: of either being tried for misconduct or being disqualified from engaging in political activities for seven years. The 1962 Constitution banned political parties, and members of the National Assembly were chosen on the basis of personal merit. The Political Party Bill introduced in July 1962 allowed the formation of political parties, but many of the former leading politicians, prime ministers and ministers were not only barred from participating in the politics but also from making political statements. The civil servants looked after day-to-day administration and both the army and the civil service acted in great coordination not only in policy formulation but also in its implementation. Over-centralisation alienated various ethno-linguistic groups. The Bengalis nurtured a sense of political marginalisation and economic exploitation. Under growing pressure from various political parties, Ayub relinquished power, but handed over to his trusted lieutenant Gen Yahya Khan, who imposed martial rule.
Though the army was prepared to transfer power to a civilian government, it was reluctant to forgo its primacy in the political sphere of the country. The reason for this can be attributed to the military’s experience at the helm of the country and its reluctance to play a secondary role in defence and foreign policy matters.24 By proclaiming the Legal Framework Order in 1970, the army had insured itself against shifts in the balance of power. The Awami League victory surprised Gen Yahya Khan. A new kind of power struggled had evolved between Z.A. Bhutto and Mujib-ur-Rehman in which the army got willingly involved, to manipulate the situation in its favour. Bhutto, notwithstanding the fact that Mujib had a majority, said, “Majority alone does not count in national politics…No Constitution could be framed, nor could any government at the centre be run without my party’s cooperation”25 His intoxication with power can be gauged from the fact that he did not even hesitate to threaten the elected members of the National Assembly. He said he would break their legs and liquidate the members who dared to attend the session at Dhaka, and argued for the recognition of two majority parties and even two prime ministers of Pakistan26. The political stalemate gave rise to dissatisfaction in the Eastern Wing, leading to a civil war and finally the creation of the separate country of Bangladesh. This disaster left the army with no choice but to relinquish power to Bhutto. Bhutto’s role in the events leading to the separation of East Pakistan is controversial and questionable to the extent that he used the tragedy of the country for his political benefit, to emerge as the unquestioned leader, with the army “cut down to size”.
During Bhutto’s regime, steps were taken to ensure the longevity of democracy. According to a commentator, Pakistan needed a structure which met two objectives, “First, it had to integrate the minority ethnic groups into the framework of state power. Baluchis, Sindhis and Pathans had to be assimilated into the political system. Second, representative institutions had to be encouraged and developed at all levels of society… In both cases, the stakes were high…the price of failure was military intervention”27. The 1973 Constitution defined the role of the army to be limited to dealing with external threats, and in aid of civil power. The military personnel were required to take an oath of allegiance to the Constitution, and subverting the democratic order was made a capital offence. Not only was the military dominance curbed but the bureaucracy, which was an equal partner in the military regime, also had its wings clipped. The Civil Service of Pakistan was abolished on August 20, 1973, and it was replaced by the All Pakistan Unified Grades Structure.28 A lateral entry system was introduced to attract specialists from other professions. However, the system was manipulated to provide personal political patronage. Thus, instead of being depoliticised, the system benefitted politically inclined people, apart from the civil servants. Ironically, Bhutto, who wanted civil servants to be apolitical and tried to strengthen civil service institutions in Pakistan, used them in furthering his own interests. The members of the civil service actively participated in the rigging of the parliamentary election of 1977.29 It is interesting to note that Bhutto, in spite of taking various measures to clip the extra-constitutional interest of the army, increased the defence expenditure and took steps to reduce the dependence on the US.
2.4 Popular Leaders: Lack of Commitment to Democracy
Bhutto’s ascendance to power is related to circumstantial pressure rather than a movement for democracy. Bhutto, who formed his political party after resigning from Ayub’s cabinet, did so not because of his love for democracy. Being a shrewd politician aware of the popular mood, he realised that the opportunity was ripe to take the plunge of forming a political party. He used the Tashkent Declaration as a political tool in his campaign against Ayub. Being a great orator, it was not difficult for him to convince people. Moreover, his personal charisma can be attributed to his populist slogans, and coming from a feudal background, his political articulation made him out to be a benevolent person committed to serve the people. This is a typical syndrome of South Asian politics, where feudal leaders are revered more because their political mobilisation includes approaching people with folded hands which is regarded as the most benevolent expression of a rich feudal but humble leader. Bhutto who is considered a popularly elected leader, was hardly democratic in his approach towards Sheikh Mujib-urRehman. He was extremely reluctant to accept Mujib-urRehman as the leader of the majority party since the Awami League had won the maximum number of seats. At no stage was he prepared to accept anything other than the prime ministership of Pakistan. Bhutto’s interest coincided with the interest of the army and other West Pakistani leaders who were unwilling to accept anyone from East Pakistan as the ruler of the country. However, after the break up of Pakistan, Bhutto was sworn in as the first directly elected civilian president who interestingly ruled as a martial law administrator and was later sworn in as the prime minister of Pakistan, after the promulgation of the Constitution in 1973.
Bhutto, who provided some sort of provincial autonomy after coming to power, was also responsible for its demise. In the geographical sense, the provinces existed but their the governments were not free from the federal government’s interference. Out of four provinces of Pakistan, Balochistan and the NWFP were ruled by the National Awami Party and Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI). The coalition was allowed to function and it was agreed that the federal government would appoint governors in consultation with the major political parties of the province. However, the Balochistan government was dismissed in less than a year of the political understanding with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The PPP had got the support of all the parties for the 1973 Constitution which granted greater provincial autonomy and had a provision that the extent of provincial autonomy was to be reviewed within a decade. However, the dismissal of the Balochistan government and the subsequent army action in the province was a stark reminder of the reality of provincial autonomy, and Bhutto’s democratic credentials.30 Army’s intervention in Balochistan restored the military credentials after the break-up of Pakistan. Moreover, the political leaders of the province were accused of treason, giving the army further motivation, as the army “sees itself as a national force, which must intervene to cement and preserve a nation threatened by treacherous politicians. Bhutto, by operating within this matrix, provided further evidence to the army that these dangers existed”31. Thus, from the parameter of concerns with external threats only, the army graduated to the concept of national security, that included internal dimensions of security.
Bhutto used the Federal Security Force (FSF), created largely to help the government in “governance” without depending on the army. The FSF had its own intelligence cell, and a secret service fund was placed at its disposal.32 Bhutto used the FSF to intimidate the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) which had opposed the results of the election of 1977.
Bhutto’s undemocratic character was further reflected in the 1977 election which was rigged to perpetuate his rule. Though he had been endlessly articulating for democracy during Ayub’s rule, he was in reality not a democrat at all. He threatened the PNA that between ordering fresh elections and opting for martial rule, he would prefer the latter.33 The negotiation between the PNA and Bhutto failed due to mutual mistrust and suspicion. Such was the situation that the Opposition was willing to contest the election even under martial law.34 To control the situation, Bhutto amended the Constitution and promulgated martial law in a few cities; he continued to be indifferent towards the PNA and, finally, negotiated with them after three months. By this time, the army had sensed the Opposition’s lack of trust in Bhutto, who met the corp commanders frequently to evaluate the law and order situation, and appraised Gen Zia of the current talks between him and the Opposition. This suggested that Bhutto had realised the importance and centrality of the army and was apprehensive about its role, irrespective of the constitutional safeguards. This also suggests the institutional weakness of sustaining democracy in Pakistan. Intoxicated with power, Bhutto had become blind towards democratic norms. It was Bhutto who created conditions for the army to take over on July 5, 1977. He reportedly said to Zia, “Do not worry. I will give you justification”, for imposing martial law. “My brain is your power.”35
Instead of evolving a culture of tolerance which is a necessary ingredient of democracy, Bhutto emerged as a leader intolerant of opposition. The regional political parties which represent regional interests were hounded through various arbitrary measures. Bhutto’s approach was to crush all opposition. Using restrictive measures to perpetuate his rule, he throttled the culture of democracy. Bhutto not only banned political parties and organisations under the plea that the objectives of such organisations were against the “sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan”, but also limited the freedom of association as enshrined in Article 17 of the 1973 Constitution through the First Amendment to the Constitution. Bhutto blocked all the avenues that were necessary to develop a culture of dissent. Thus, it was not surprising that the Opposition political leaders urged the army to take over power. With the rigged election, there was no democratic alternative left. In 1975, Bhutto, through the Third Constitutional Amendment, curtailed the right of personal liberty through the provision of indefinite detention without trial, of people whose acts are perceived as a threat to national security. The Fourth Amendment debarred the High Court from granting bail to persons detained under the Preventive Detention Act. Bhutto gagged the Press through the National Press Trust, a body which the PPP in its election pledge had promised to abolish. Hence, even people who had been supportive of Bhutto, turned against him. “In the Sixties, the PPP had been the leader and symbol of a movement for extending civil liberties, for undertaking economic reforms to ensure better distribution of income, and for the introduction of representative government. In power, the PPP failed to achieve any of these goals. The shortcoming lay…in a lack of serious commitment to any of these objectives.”36 Bhutto used the tactics of land reforms to punish his political opponents belonging to the National Awami Party (NAP) because it had pursued these vigorously in the NWFP.37 However, the PPP itself was dominated by leaders with feudal backgrounds.38 The party, instead of being mass-centric, became personified with the charisma of Bhutto, who through the power of his oratory, was capable of influencing the voters.
The Opposition continued the stir against Bhutto with full vigour. The army too was in no mood to support him. The army’s involvement in Balochistan, on the pretext of national security and integrity, had restored some of its prestige which it had lost after the emergence of Bangladesh. In the light of Bhuttto’s obsession with power, former Air Marshall M.Asghar Khan, who was heading one of the Opposition parties, did not hesitate to call the army to take over power. It was believed that the army would conduct free and fair elections. Pakistan’s political leaders have always been comfortable with army’s intervention to generate political change in the country. Thus, the army before formally taking over always has the political support it needs.
2.5 Gen Zia’s Regime: Further Mutilation of Democratic Institution
Gen Zia, after assuming power and successfully eliminating Bhutto, was able to rule without any threat to his regime. Zia understood Pakistan’s politics very well, including the nature of the politicians through his close association with the government during Bhutto’s regime. The unity of the PNA was exposed when Gen Zia formed his Cabinet. The characteristic political opportunism was evident as the Jamaat-i-Islami and the Muslim League expressed their desire to join the government. In August 1978, many of the parties which constituted the PNA, joined Zia’s government, thus, burying their so-called commitment to democracy for the sake of political expediency and opportunism.
After taking over power, Zia postponed the election and started his Islamisationprogramme to garner legitimacy. The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan provided Pakistan the much needed American aid. By focussing on security concerns that arose from the Soviet intervention, Zia was able to control the domestic political situation. Moreover, political parties were banned, and this was justified under his Islamisation bid. In 1983, Zia started his limited civilian rule by incorporating civilians into the administration through an electoral process that was largely restricted. The local municipal election, as a prelude to his national election, took place on a non-party basis in 1984. The Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD), an amalgamation of various political parties, boycotted the election. Since political parties were banned, the election campaign remained devoid of debates on socio-economic issues. In spite of this, the military was able to garner the support of the feudals and other elites like the business class because these groups had developed a vested interest in the military regime which had given them uninterrupted patronage extended to them in return for their support to the regime. By roping in civilians to give the regime a semblance of civilian rule, Zia aimed at sidelining the elements who were against the regime. The domestic political situation made it imperative to announce the elections on a non-party basis. Zia held elections to the National Assembly and amended the Constitution to enable the president to nominate a member of the National Assembly as the prime minister, subject to his winning the confidence of the National Assembly. Later, martial law was lifted, after Zia secured the political legitimacy to rule on being elected as the president of Pakistan, though he retained his position as chief of army staff (COAS). Gen Zia introduced the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution which gave enormous power to the president under Article 58-2b. Most interestingly, this subservient role for the civilian government was acceptable to most of the members of the National Assembly-188 out of 217-who supported it, with no vote cast against it.
During Gen. Zia’s regime, the last pillar of democracy, an independent and impartial judiciary, was done away with. The military courts were given extensive powers and the judiciary had no control over their functioning. The judges of the Supreme Court and High Court were required to take a fresh oath under the military regime. The regime had the power to remove judges directly, without regard to their tenure. The government was empowered to detain without trial any person who was accused of speaking or acting against the regime. It deprived the judiciary of the power to intervene to protect civil liberties. The judiciary’s power of judicial review, which empowered the court to examine the legality and constitutionality of executive decisions, was removed. The judiciary, however, endorsed the legality of the martial law regime under the “doctrine of necessity”, reducing the concept of democracy and popularly elected government to a secondary place, to be booted out on a perceived threat to national security, a concept defined by the armed forces. However, interestingly, the regime declared all court decisions on the legality of martial law void. The right of habeas corpus was also removed.
After dealing with the judiciary, restricting the Fourth Estate became a doctrine of necessity for the survival of the military regime. In 1978, pre-censorship of newspapers was introduced. The government floated concepts like “responsible journalism” that necessitates self-imposed restrictions on reporting. Any violation would entail heavy penalties; in certain cases, newspapers not conforming to the guidelines were banned and closed down.39 It was further declared that newspapers should not publish articles that are “repugnant to the ideology of Pakistan”. This, consequently, meant that Zia who projected himself as champion of Islamisation, ensured his continuation by depriving the Press of its right to criticise. The muzzling of the Press served the purpose of the military government.
2.6 Political Parties: Lack of Democratic Culture
The failure of democracy in Pakistan can be attributed to the country’s political parties. An overwhelming majority of the elected leaders have behaved in the most arbitrary and dictatorial manner. Thus, the army’s contention that political leaders are not qualified to rule is justified to that extent.
According to a noted analyst, just after the creation of Pakistan, “The class interests of those who came to power militated against the establishment of a truly democratic state. They had campaigned for self-government, not to bring about social change, but to escape the consequences of majority rule in an undivided India.”40 Moreover, “Since the League was the founder of the new state, any opposition to it was in the beginning considered tantamount to treason. Its leaders believed that only they had valid moral claim to political office and preferment….Jinnah’s prestige was immense, his control virtually absolute; as the first Governor General of Pakistan and the president of its Constituent Assembly and the Muslim League, he wielded more power than any British Viceroy had ever commanded”.41 The Muslim League (ML) failed to contribute to the strengthening of democracy. This may be attributed to numerous factors. Firstly, the ML in the pre-partition days had a weak organisational structure. In Sindh, the ML had just 48,500 members42. In Punjab, the League membership was 150,000.43 In NWFP, it did not have any influence. Secondly, most of the post-partition Muslim leaders who dominated Pakistani politics in the initial years were Mohajirs who had no mass base in Pakistan. An election would have inevitably sidelined them. Thus, they preferred a strong centre. Lastly, lack of electoral politics inhibited the growth of political parties. For instance, in October 1950, Liaquat Ali Khan said, “The formation of a new political party in opposition to the Muslim League is against the interest of Pakistan.”44 The parallel between a party and a state reflects the insecurity of the governing elite. SardarAbdurRab Khan, a former leader of the Frontier Congress, explained that “if the League exists, Islam exists, Mussalmans exist.”45 The ML was fragmented in East Pakistan. Lack of clear-cut socio-political objectives caused the ML to crumbl under self-servient politicians. Ayub Khan, after taking over, was able to get some support from the ML which was known as the Muslim League (Ayub).
The creation of the PPP by Z.A.Bhutto in 1967 gave rise to an era of a strong Opposition. He built the PPP as a symbol of democracy and depended on populist slogans like roti, kaparaaurmakan. However, Bhutto remained the supreme leader. The PPP never had any organisational elections. All decisions were taken by Bhutto alone, who did not tolerate any opposition to his policies, and preferred undiluted political loyalty. Bhutto’s popularity was based on his opposition to the Tashkent Declaration and his anti-Indian tirades. Knowing the importance of Kashmir in Pakistan’s domestic politics, he talked of Ayub’s failure in the 1965 War. The insecurity syndrome about India which is used by the military rulers to take over political power was similarly used by Bhutto against Ayub’s regime. But this articulation remained limited to capturing power.
The regional parties of Pakistan have mostly regional interests. The NAP of the NWFP and the Balochi National Party are mostly dominated by the feudal elements. Parties like MQM (MohajirQuamiMahaz) have limited influence and have aligned with parties that are able to protect their political interests. In Pakistan’s political history, whether it is the PNA movement against Bhutto or the MRD against Zia, such political organisations have remained weak. Zia was able to manipulate the Opposition to get support for his government. The ML, which was non-existent, was revived by the establishment, which supported Mohammad Ali Junejo as the ML’s candidate for prime ministership. The Muslim League was further divided into the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Nawaz) and PML (Junejo). The MQM has been divided into the Haqqiqi and Altaf groups. The success of the army in dividing various political parties can be attributed to the inherent weaknesses of these organisations and the personality rather than issue based politics. Most political parties do not have organisational elections, and are used by their leaders as a personal fiefdom, thus, damaging the process of democracy and the role of a healthy Opposition.
The army played a significant role in shaping the evolution of political parties in Pakistan. Lt Gen Assad Durrani, the former director of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had revealed through an affidavit that money was passed by former COAS Gen MirzaAslam Beg for distribution among the politicians to ensure the defeat of Benazir Bhutto. It was alleged that money to the tune of Rs. 60 million was disbursed.46 Gen Hamid Gul openly confessed to creating the IslamiJamhooriIttehad (IJI) to effectively oppose the PPP. Recently, PML has been divided, reportedly at the behest of the army. A faction led by EjazulHaq, Begum AbidaHussain, MianAzhar and ChaudhuryShujaatHussain, who are opposed to Nawaz Sharif and object to the dominance of Kulsoom Nawaz in the party, have started cooperating with the government. Commenting on military takeovers, AsmaJehangir has written, “Traditionally, military takeovers have been received well by those who have little or no stake in the process of democracy. They hedge their bets on individuals rather than creating and sustaining democratic forces”47 Recently MQM chief AltafHussain acquired a British passport. This suggests lack of commitment on part of the leadership towards to the future of Pakistan
2.7 1989-1999: Era of Guided Democracy
The period 1989-99 can be described as the period of guided democracy for the simple reason that the military remained behind the scene in decision-making in foreign and defence policy matters instead of letting the elected government rule the country. This severely undermined the value of democracy. Benezir Bhutto, after being elected, could not be sworn in till she agreed not to interfere in the domain of the military-defined security interests. The army, along with the intelligence agencies, has played an important role in making and breaking governments. A troika system evolved wherein the president became an easy tool to be manipulated by the military. The president, remained powerful under the infamous Eighth Amendment Act which was incorporated during Zia’s introduction of a sham democracy in 1985. The president in collaboration with the army, had twice dismissed both the PPP and PML governments. Nawaz Sharif was successful in amending Article 58-2b, to strengthen the democratic institutions, but his tussle with the judiciary in which the COAS had to intervene, reflected that the army still had a role. The amendment of Article 58- 2b emboldened the elected prime minister rather than strengthening democracy. Added to this, the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment Bill, relating to anti-defection, strengthened his position. The Press was muzzled by various measures adopted by the government to control it. Instead of strengthening democracy and establishing a strong civilian institution, the abolition of article 58-2b made Nawaz Sharif a virtual dictator waiting to emerge as an unchallenged leader of Pakistan with the passage of 15th Amendment related to Shariat. Some Pakistani analysts argue that Sharif was waiting for the opportune moment for the PML to gain majority in the Senate to enable a smooth passage of Shariat Law.
3.1 Future of Democracy: Challenges Ahead
Absence of provincial autonomy has remained one of the greatest challenges to democracy in Pakistan. This has to be understood in the context of Pakistan’s “security parameter”. Provincial autonomy is considered a threat to the centralised character of the polity. Assertion of ethno-linguistic identity, coupled with the demand for autonomy, is considered a threat to Pakistan’s unity. AltafHussain, BaluchSardarAtaullahMengal and Pakhtun leader MehmoodAchakzai in a recent statement from London have called for a new constitutional arrangement, with equal rights to the federating units. These leaders have formed the Pakistan Oppressed Nationality Movement (PONM). This group constitutes most of the political parties from the provinces who feel that they are being sidelined. The admission of the MQM to this group has created some disagreement among the various leaders.48 The PPP wants appropriate changes made in the 1973 Constitution to restore provincial autonomy, whereas the PML is opposed to any changes to the Constitution since it feels that it is difficult to achieve consensus on the Constitution in the present political scenario.Awami National Party (ANP) demands empowering of the provinces on the lines of a confederation. According to the ANP, the concurrent list should be abolished, and the centre should have jurisdiction on only four subjects-foreign affairs, defence, currency and communications. However, the party is not a part of the PONM; it is a partner of the PPP in the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) fighting for the restoration of democracy. Most of the political parties are highly dissatisfied regarding the degree of provincial autonomy. The federal government has always been identified as a government synonymous with Punjabi domination. Recently, AltafHussain in a statement, said that the partition was the greatest blunder in the context of the treatment meted out to Mohajirs. He defended his statement by saying that it is based on an objective assessment of the situation. He demanded reframing of the Constitution of Pakistan in the light of the 1940 Pakistan resolution which called for the creation of autonomous independent states in the northwest and northeast.49 The PONM has endorsed the MQM’s call.
Absence of a strong Opposition has contributed to the failure of democracy in Pakistan. The feudal character of the politicians, coupled with political opportunism, has led them to cooperate with the military dictatorship. According to K.M.Arif, “Out of power, Pakistan’s political leaders vociferously preach the enforcement of unadulterated democracy, but in power, they practise it selectively, not hesitating to disrupt the democratic process for self-perpetuation. As a result, personality-dominated institutions have remained weak and the politicians have failed to promote the smooth and uninterrupted growth of democracy in the country”.50 Pakistan is the only country where the Opposition parties, instead of waiting to fight an election to bring about democratic change, are always willing to play second fiddle to the military. If any government functions in an arbitrary manner, instead of criticising and dealing with the issue inside the Parliament, the Opposition parties have always taken the issue to the streets. Rather than functioning as an essential part of political development, they have been forces of disruption. In the eventuality of their failure to remove a government democratically, the army is invited openly. This has given the necessary political legitimacy to the army to intervene. The army has become a force to initiate political change in Pakistan. There is no system of parliamentary committees wherein the government and Opposition can work together.
The dominance of feudal elements in politics has hampered the growth of political parties. “Feudal politicians have an independent power base in their constituency that no political party has ever succeeded in penetrating deeply…. They owed nothing or little to the political parties for their electoral victories. Regardless of party affiliations, or even by running independently, many of them can win by mobilising caste, tribe, and other relevant social networks…. Military rulers have effectively used state patronage to wean away feudal politicians from political parties.”51
Personality cult based politics has hampered the growth of democracy. Political opportunism and lack of an inter-party democratic culture has hindered the emergence of second rung leadership. The recent break-up of the PML, allegedly by the military, reflects the fragile party structure and the democratic credentials of the politicians. The dynastic organisational structure of both the PPP and PML, without grassroots support, has attracted the feudals, who have vested interests. The Opposition was weakened especially with the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment which makes it mandatory for the legislators to follow the party whip while voting in the Parliament. A legislator can disobey only at the cost of his seat in the National Assembly.
The method of mass mobilisation in Pakistan has been populist, as elsewhere in democracies. But the gap between the elite and the poor is immense. Pakistan lacks a middle class because of its feudal societal structure. Moreover, successive military governments have stunted the growth of civil society. The culture of violence perpetuated by the state earlier and later by various ethnic and religious groups, has made civil society merely a mute spectator. The elite is hesitant to voice its criticism openly. Earlier the Press and Publications Ordinance of 1960 was used to influence the Press in favour of the regime in power. The recent burning and ransacking of the Frontier Post office over the publication of the blasphemy letter is an indication of a malaise afflicting the state, as the police stood by as mute spectators to the incident. This happened after the Frontier Post had already tendered an apology and an enquiry into the whole episode was in progress. As an editor of a leading Pakistani journal has said, “There is a well-defined self-restriction adopted by the Press. If we are critical of some of the activities of the religious parties, would the government give us protection when the office would be attacked by the groups who are intolerant of criticism?”52
The civil society has been sidelined by growing fundamentalism. Spread of small arms as a result of the Afghan conflict, and continuation of violence supported by Pakistan in Kashmir, have resulted in the emergence of pressure groups. With this, the influence of religious fundamentalists has increased. Frequent sectarian conflicts have damaged Pakistan’s growth as a nation state. The military rule has inhibited the growth of the civil society. Lack of freedom of expression has restricted the growth of intellectuals, and social and political institutions in Pakistan. The feudal social structure and its industrial class being in the hands of a few has obstructed the growth of the middle class. Students played an important role in the movement for the restoration of democracy against the Zia regime. However, the student unions have been banned after reported violence and clashes between various groups supported by different political parties in Karachi University during Zia’s regime. The growth of debate and protest on issues concerning the students and affecting the society at large is lacking. The spread of small arms even to the universities has prevented the development of a culture of debate, thus, hampering political socialisation. The attitude of the students now is one of total apathy towards the state of affairs.
According to a commentator, even when Pakistan was under democratic rule, “the crucial elements of internal political cohesion and stability, economic strength and of rational and restrained external policies were not recognised…as the primordial requirements for the nation’s progress. Looking first at the internal political scene, the process of elections came to be seen as the sole requirement of democracy and did not lead, as it should, to responsible government or institutionalised decision-making: in broad areas of consensus on basic issues, to checks and balances or to the individual freedoms that one associates with true democracy. Internal politics showed no signs of mutual respect or accommodation between opposing parties”53
The role played by the intelligence agencies has contributed to the weakening of democracy. Though the ISI functions under the civilian government, it is used by both the military and the civilian government to serve their own interests. The military have used it to watch the government’s activities, whereas the civilian government has used it to find out whether the military is planning a coup or not. It was reported that in 1989, the establishment used the ISI to subvert the loyalties of PPP members of the National Assembly to vote against Benazir.
The judiciary has been the victim of the whims and fancies of military dictators and has also had to face interference from democratically elected leaders. Martial law itself had inflicted several constraints on the functioning of the judiciary. The 1958 martial law was defended by the federal court. The Supreme Court justified Gen Zia’s takeover under the “doctrine of necessity”. After his military takeover, Gen Musharraf, like his predecessor, asked the judges of the superior courts to take a fresh oath of office under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO).54 The chief justice of the Supreme Court, along with five colleagues, resigned. In order to prevent him from influencing others, his house was cordoned off and nobody from his house was allowed to go out till the oath taking ceremony. According to SharifuddinPirzada, the main legal advisor to the chief executive, “The choice was between the imposition of martial law or asking the judges of the superior courts to take oath under the PCO….”55 Recently, the tapping of the phones of judges and the executive intervenening in the functioning of the judiciary has further undermined the independence of the judiciary, in the process stifling the growth of democracy in Pakistan.56 The executive’s interference and politically motivated judicial pronouncement recently have undermined the credibility of the judiciary as an essential pillar of a functioning democracy.
Justifying the coup and, at the same time, acknowledging that military rule has not provided solutions but has added to problems, a well known Pakistani commentator writes, “The October coup was different from previous military interventions….the coup was an act of self-defence to maintain the institutional integrity of the military and to prevent civil war among the generals. Moreover, because Sharif had concentrated all power in himself-in the process disposing of all democratic checks and balances, undermining state institutions, abusing and amending the Constitution repeatedly, and destabilising the economy-the public had widely demanded that the army act.”57
According to another analyst “The concept of democracy in Pakistan, often more ideal than real, has idiosyncratically combined process and content. The accumulated experience of self-government has reinforced a feudal economic system and a restricted political system, and, thus, strengthened the interests of the few against those of the many. These interests have come to be considered as both entitlements and rights, complicating jurisprudence and altering the dimensions of political change. Civil society has been held hostage to the manipulation of state institutions by vice-regal, martial law and mixed civil-military governments alike. Elected governments have created obstacles to accountable rule, using purportedly democratic institutions for purposes that are not wholly democratic”.58
3.2 Shrinking Responsibility of the Civilian Government
An analysis of the performance of the civilian government after the restoration of democracy reflects the inefficiency in administration, and corruption, characterised by political opportunism. The army has been called in to manage the violence in Karachi arising out of political alienation, to help the government in the census operation, to manage the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA)59, to recover dues from electricity bills, to fix the sewerage, etc. Serving army officers were deputed to the Karachi Electricity Supply Union as well as Karachi Water and Sewerage Board. All these tasks are certainly in the domain of civilian government, for the provision of good governance. However, the efficiency and success of the army reflected badly on the governance. And such activities certainly legitimised the army’s intervention which was already reflected in its ability to deliver efficiently. Recently, the government of Balochistan has decided to employ the services of the army in order to improve the health sector. According to Provincial Minister of Health Sardar Ali Hazara, the step aims to improve the situation in government hospitals, ensure regular attendance of doctors and improve other health services.60 In spite of Supreme Court directives against the creation of a parallel judicial system, Nawaz Sharif, during his tenure, had established military courts in Karachi and other parts of Sindh, in accordance with Article 245.
According to a Pakistani analyst “Politicians, generals, judges, bureaucrats and administrators-individually and collectively-share the blame for the harm done to democracy and to the prestige of the country. None can escape that responsibility. They were all parties to the crime; they all contributed to the rot. On the face of it, all of them deserve to be condemned in varying degree.”61 Long periods of martial law placed the defence services beyond the scrutiny of the Parliament, thus, providing them with autonomy, which does not have any parallel in democracy. According to another analyst “…the bankruptcy of politicians in Pakistan is apparent when politicians, particularly those out of office and in the Opposition, are keen to seek the crutches of the khaki to settle their score with the government….the abiding feature has been the ability of politicians to hurt each other more than the army ever can.”62 Pakistan has evolved into a society in which individuals overshadow institutions and a democratic political system is relentlessly preached but hardly practised, the fibre national unity has remained weak and functions under stress. Pakistan is yet to develop as a nation state to provide internal coherence to ensure democratic stability.
3.3 Concept of National Security Council: Panacea for Democracy in a “Security State”
There has been a lot of debate in the Pakistani media and intelligentsia regarding the modelling of an NSC on the lines of the Turkish Constitution. The 1961 Turkish Constitution has a provision under Article 111 for an NSC, consisting of the president, the main Cabinet ministers, the chief of the General Staff, and the serving force commanders, to advise the government on defence and security questions. Its function is to assist the Council of Ministers in reaching decisions pertaining to national security and coordination. However, after the coup in May 1962, the armed forces of Turkey extended the power of the NSC. Its role now was to provide “preparatory and advisory assistance” to the government, to secure “coordination of organisations working in the field of internal and external security”.63 This enabled the military to outline the debate in the Cabinet and control the government without intervening directly. The military also played an important role in the election of the president.64 The basic difference between the Turkish model and evolving Pakistani model of NSC is that the concern of the Turkish model of NSC is to maintain the secular character and pro-western orientation of Turkish foreign policy. The Pakistan model revolves around the protection of the ideological forntier of Pakistan and its anti-India and Kashmir oriented foreign policy.
The concept of an NSC is not new in the political vocabulary of Pakistan. During Ayub’s period there was a National Advisory Council to provide the civilian mask. Gen Yahya Khan had also formed an NSC, though the decision rested with the military. Zia incorporated Article 152-A in the Constitution for the establishment of an NSC, but abolished it later and preferred Article 58-2b. In 1997, during Mairaj Khalid’s caretaker government, a Council for Defence and National Security was formed. Later, this idea was abandoned by Nawaz Sharif. Though the civilian rulers of Pakistan realise the army’s potential to take over, they had been reluctant to formalise the army’s role in politics in the era of guided democracy, till Musharaff took over. The political reality in Pakistan is that the army has a say in national security affairs pertaining to defence, internal order and the economy. It was surprising that a suggestion over the NSC resulted in the resignation of Gen JehangirKaramat. However, the military takeover in October 1999 made him remark “The present situation (military rule) would not have been created had he talked to me about my proposal and accepted it (may be) with some amendments. Its basic purpose was to keep democratic dispensation intact”65. After Gen Musharaff took over, he established the NSC to look into various issues related to both security and economic issues.
Arguing for a set-up where the matters of national security interest can be discussed, Gen. Karamat in a recent interview said that in the past, forums like the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) were generally perceived by the civilians to be meant to take decisions on matters pertaining to defence only. However, he said that this was the only forum where the civil and military elements of the government used to interact, but during Sharif’s regime, these meeting were rarely held. He said that the DCC can be an adequate forum functioning under the prime minister to oversee and monitor everything66. This implies that the military wants to broaden its purview not only to military security but also to the non-military aspect of national security. Explaining the military’s ability to intervene, Gen Karamat was of the opinion that “ours has been an assertive military. It has been an inteventionist military” because of the circumstances, but the military should not be dragged into resolving problems between various institutions of the state. While arguing for well defined civil-military relations to reduce the chances of a military takeover, Gen Karamat suggested a system like Article 58-2b.67 According to a report, the military government is considering the restoration of Article 58-2b. It is being contemplated to empower the president with several powers, which would be executed in consultation with the proposed seven-member NSC.68 However, there are reports that Gen Musharaff would bring in some constitutional changes in order to become the president of Pakistan, empowered with Article 58-2b. Recently both PPP and PML(N) have stated that they would not hesitate to support Musharaff as the president but the rider to their support is, he should restore the National Assembly. He has recently extended his term as the COAS. The future of democracy, it seems, is inching forward to Zia’s version of democracy introduced in 1985.
The political decline of Nawaz Sharif and Z.A.Bhutto had a striking similarity. Both used their majority to accumulate more power, with no respect for other institutions. Both met with the inevitable end. Hunger for more power by these two popularly elected leaders led to the demise of democracy. The fall of Nawaz Sharif was inevitable due to the clash of institutional interests after the Kargil conflict. The revelation about emissaries having bilateral parleys over the Kashmir issue at the height of the conflict made the army suspicious that the government may surrender traditional Pakistani interests to India on an unequal basis.69
The security parameter again undermined democracy with Musharaff’s takeover. Generals like Ayub Khan and Zia did not intervene simply to restore order, “They had a larger mission before them: structuring the Pakistani state in their image of national security… The free play of democratic forces was considered counter-productive to the objectives of a stable and, in economic terms, modern Pakistan”70.
Each time the military has taken over, it has harmed the growth of democracy. Though the present regime has not imposed martial law, it has enormous power to amend the Constitution. The PCO No 1 of 2000 reads, “Whereas Pakistan is to be governed, as nearly as may be, in accordance with the Constitution, the Chief Executive has and shall be deemed always to have had, the power to amend the Constitution.”71 Recently, Pakistan had its local elections on a non-party basis and the process is expected to be completed by the end of August. It is surprising that Sharif kept on postponing local elections, which the army conducted recently. The deadline for reverting to democracy by October 2002 is nearing. How the army will conduct the provincial and national elections remains to be seen.
Pakistan has to make a constitutional arrangement for the army’s role in governance. Unless Pakistan’s security parameter changes, the army will not allow itself to be marginalised. Apart from external threats, the ambit of the army’s security parameter has extended to internal threats also. In this context, a commitment to good governance is necessary if the civilian leaders want the army to limit its concern to external security. Are the political parties committed to good governance? Can an epitaph on military intervention be written? If the past is any indicator, the parties have not learnt from their past mistakes, and it is doubtful whether they are willing to learn this time.

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