By Saeed Qureshi
Recently one of my email interlocutors Mr. Shuja-ur-Rahman Khan sent me an interesting and revealing email. This email recapitulates the democratic and constitutional setback of the past 71 years of Pakistan existence as an independent state.
In Pakistan, the political culture based upon universal democratic system has remained unfulfilled, wholly or partially. There has been emphasis and even efforts on making Pakistan a theocratic state by the religious right and religious parties and groups. That is why Pakistan nomenclature was changed from to Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Let us go through the time tunnel since 1947 until the present period. The former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam were arrested in Lahore on July 13 on their arrival from London after an accountability court found them guilty over his family's ownership of four luxury flats in London. The case is known as “Avenfield properties corruption reference”. Nawaz Sharif was first disqualified from holding the portfolio of the prime minister by a superior court. Later he was sentenced by the accountability Court 11 years jail term along with his daughter Mariam Nawaz who is punished with 8 years in jail. They are already lodged in Rawalpindi Adiala jail.
Since Pakistan’ birth as new state in 1947 until this year (2018), there have been a total of 10 governments and 15 prime ministers in Pakistan. Out of these ten governments there were three military regimes. It should sound unbelievable to many of my readers that all the prime ministers couldn’t complete their constitutional tenure of five years in office.
The first government was in place from 1958 to 1971, the second from 1977 to 1988, the third from 1999 to 2008. The last and the 10th government including both the civilian and military phase was in place from 2008 to 2018. During the last phase, the PPP remained in power from 2008 to 2013. It was followed by PMNL (Pakistan Muslim league Nawaz) government whose tenure continued from June 2013 – July 2017 with Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Minister. Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the supreme court and is now in jail along with his daughter. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi replaced Nawaz Sharif and was in office from 1 August 2017 – 31 May 2018. Abbasi was succeeded by Nasirul Mulk as caretaker prime minister to oversee the general elections to be held this year on July 25.
Out of a total period of Pakistan’s existence for 71 years the share of army rule was for 23 years. Field Marshall Ayub Khan from 1958 to 1969, General Yahya Khan from March 1969 to Dec 1971 and the third phase was of general Ziaul Haq that remained in vogue from Sept. 1978 to August 1988.
As a result of people’s agitation spearheaded by Zulfikar ali Bhutto, president Ayub Khan handed over the power to General Yahya Khan who remained in power saddle from March 1969 to December 1971. It was during his tenure that as a result of a civil war (March 1971-decmber 1971) the Eastern wing of Pakistan separated from West Pakistan. The third phase of military government was headed by general Ziaul Haq being both president and martial law administrator for 11 years (sept 1878 -August 1988).
Pakistan has been beset and rather afflicted by serious crises from toppling the civilian government, the palace intrigues for attainment of power through backdoors and unconstitutional shortcuts one of which was the establishment of military rule.
In comparison the kind of political anarchy has been almost non-existent or rare both in India and the formerly East Pakistan, separated from the Federation of Pakistan in March 1971 under the nomenclature pf Bangladesh.
The first prime minister of Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan (1947-1951) was assassinated in Rawalpindi on October 16, 1951.The second prime minister Khaja Nazimuddin (1951-1953) was removed, the third prime minister Chaudhry Muhammad Ali (1955-1956) resigned. Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy (1956-1957) resigned. He was followed by A. R. Chundrigar (1957-1957) who also resigned from his office. The came Firoz Khan Noon (1957-1958) whose government was toppled. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto remained the prime minister from 1973 to 1977. He was not only toppled but hanged by his military successor General Ziaul Haq. Muhammad Khan Junejo was the eighth prime minister (1985-1988). On 29 May 1988, Prime Minister Junejo was dismissed by President Zia.
The last two political phases are one by Benazir Bhutto who ruled from 1988 to 1990 and for the second time in 1993-1996. She was assassinated in Rawalpindi after addressing a public meeting. Prime minister Zafarullah Jamali was at the helm between 2000-2004 and was forced to resign. Yusuf Raza Gillani served as the prime minister from 2008 to 2012. He fell prey to a judicial disqualification.
Mian Nawaz Sharif had three stints as the prime minister of Pakistan. The first was from 1990-1993 during which period President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed Sharif on corruption charges in 1993. The second term was from 1997 to 1999 when he was ousted by the army and he went in self-deportation to Saudi Arabia.
His third phase as the prime minister of Pakistan began in 2013 and ended with his judicial disqualification in July 2017 because of the so called “Avenfield Properties Corruption Reference”.
After his and his daughter Mariam Nawaz’ return from England, the Accountability Court on July 6 announced the verdict in the Avenfield properties corruption reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to 11 years in jail. His daughter Maryam was given 7 years for abetment after she was found "instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father" Besides 1 year was added in her jail term for non-cooperation with the bureau.
In the meantime, jailed former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Mariam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain Muhammad Safdar today filed an appeal in the Islamabad High Court against the verdict in one of the corruption cases and seeking their release on bail,
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