Thursday, November 17, 2011

More than Youth, Imran Khan Needs Young Turks

Note: I was motivated to write this article by a perceptive email sent to me by one of my esteemed readers. The email sent by Mr. Wequar Azeem is reproduced at the end.

Saeed Qureshi

November 12, 2001

By Saeed Qureshi

Metaphorically, Young Turks signify a group of young soldiers and societal activists who replace a moribund status quo and stifling autocracy with democracy and civil society through a revolution.

To bring about an all encompassing transformation in Pakistan and to break the abominable system, a revolutionary and patriotic group of young military officers is needed. Such young middle order cadres changed the complexion of Turkey under the command of inimitable Mustafa Kamal Ata Turk during the first three decades of 20th century catapulting Turkey from the stigma of the ‘sick man of Europe’ to a modern democratic state.

Ideologically, the obscurantist and the reactionary forces foster on past fables and spurious promises of a golden era. They oppose the kind of amazing change that Young Turks under the epic command of Kamal Atta Turk brought about. They had preferred caliphate that was draped in cronyism for the west and which let loose a reign of ghastly oppression on its own people and had surrendered the Turkish lands to the foreign invaders.

Mustafa Kamal Ataturk the architect of modern Turkey led that epoch making and astounding revolt and laid the foundations of a new modern state and society of Turkey. That was a unique moment for Turkey saying good bye to the old obsolete order and embracing the one resplendent with the hallmarks of a great newborn modern nation.

They overthrew a moribund, decadent, fraudulent and repressive rule and replaced it with the one that infused a new life and spirit of nationalism and dignity. The Young Turks’ movement liberalized the Turkish society, ended the religious absolutism, created a new constituent assembly, framed a new democratic constitution and abolished the caliphate. The religion got separated from the state affairs. All these phenomenal changes were completed by March 1924.

The Young Turks’ movement started secretly under the name of “Committee of Union and Progress” (CUP). It was conceived in the military college of Istanbul by the dissident young soldiers and gradually spread among other sections of Turkish society such as college students, writers, journalists, and artists.

In 1908, the group succeeded in forcing Sultan Abdul Hamid II to restore the parliament, which he had suspended in 1878. The restoration of legislature is called the second constitutional era and is symbolized as the Young Turks’ Revolution that continued from 1908 until 1919.

For a purely political crusade, the Turkey’s illustrious incumbent prime minister comes to mind. Can Imran Khan be another Rajab Tayyab Urdegan, a matchless genius, a remarkable revolutionary and a valiant leader? But in the backdrop of traditional sleazy politicking in Pakistan, even angles cannot outpace the veteran political tricksters.

Pakistan definitely needs a break from the sordid and manipulative political format that hinders free and fair franchise and ensures the stay of privileged classes in power and misuses it for self-enrichment. Imran Khan the clean-handed chief of PTI cannot achieve a landslide victory. I wish he could. With the kind of impediments with which the political landscape of Pakistan is strewn, despite his best intentions he may not be able to bring about the change that he aims at.

Predictably, all the political parties would win their share of national assembly seats. Unless Imran Khan can sweep the elections and attain clear-cut majority, he will have to bend over backward for a coalition with another party which presumably could be either PMLN or the PPP.

With the PPP, he might not find an easy bed fellow. With PMLN, he cannot sail along smoothly because of the overbearing demeanor of Mian Nawaz Sharif. In his company, he cannot take independent decisions that he direly needs for a much needed promised change in Pakistan.

In a coalition, he cannot exercise a free will to enforce his agenda for change. The loathsome culture of horse trading and favoritism would again step in. Imran Khan can contest elections but cannot force fair and transparent electoral process.

Imran Khan would be in lurch and thus fall into the traditional paradigm of quid pro quo which in simple jargon means you scratch my back and I shall do yours. Imran Khan would be hamstrung in launching and implementing his agenda in letter and spirit.

So the public euphoria would start melting into despondency. The inability to make country awash with his thrilling and spectacular manifesto for changing the morbid status quo, Imran Khan would gnash his teeth but would find himself utterly helpless to move forward.

The country would continue to decay and the people would remain victim of a rapacious system that brooks no mercy for the downtrodden and common crushed citizenry of Pakistan. Even if he is propped up by the powerful ‘make and break’ forces notably the ISI, his capacity would remain limited and his cherished dreams to serve the people with a difference would remain unrealized. That would be a situation defined literarily as “back to square one”.

In was perhaps with this historical precedent of Turkey and the prevailing dismal situation in Pakistan in view that a visionary reader of my articles forcefully advocated the change in Pakistan through a revolution by the young soldiers in the armed forces of Pakistan. His depiction and articulations is hugely impressive and unassailable, let me produce his narrative here.

Mr. Wequar Azeem from New Jersey writes,
Janab Qureshi Saheb,
“Your article under the above caption contains couple of drastic suggestions similar to the Arab Spring in Egypt and the French Revolution. Wouldn't it be better if the mid-level commissioned officers like the Colonels and Brigadiers staged a military coup and interned all the Senior Generals, all the Politicians, Religious Leaders including heads of Madressas, the Sajjada Nashins and infrastructure of militant organizations like L Te, Jhangvis, and such others. Have them investigated for any wrong-doing and sorted out with exemplary punishments. Declare Martial Law for six months; arrange elections on non-party basis with each contestant for public office undergoing scrutiny of military's selected committee to determine each candidate's suitability in respect of education and reputation. The elected representatives to reframe a Secular Constitution as envisaged by Jinnah repeal Zamindari, Sajjada-Nashineen, Beradari system, Sardari System. Make friends with India and sign Peace-Agreement and transform the Indo-Pak border into a friendly US-Canada type of border. Decide Kashmir as divided territory between Pakistan and India according to LoC. Reduce the army to 50,000 soldiers as border-guards and peace-keepers. Disband the Income Tax department and hire outside contractors for collecting taxes and Customs' & Excise tariff levies, and taxes on agricultural incomes. Appoint an Inspector General in all Govt. offices on permanent basis to check the daily functions against corruption and guard against bribery and nepotism.
To my mind, this is do-able if you motivate the mid-level military officers who are sincere in serving the country, to make it happen.

Wequar Azeem,

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