Sunday, November 4, 2007

A tale of Generals hijacking democracy

A tale of Generals hijacking democracy
Source: Zee News

Ayub Khan (1958 -1969)

He became Pakistan`s first native Commander in Chief in 1951, and was the youngest full-rank general and self-appointed field marshal in Pakistan`s military history. On October 7, 1958, President Iskander Mirza abrogated the Constitution and declared Martial Law in the country.

The turning point in his rule was the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, which despite a military fiasco and larger Indian area captured, resulted in higher personnel losses for Pakistan than India. The war also adversely affected Pakistan`s then rapidly developing economy and it ended in a settlement reached by Ayub at Tashkent with the Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, called the Tashkent Declaration. The settlement was perceived by many Pakistanis as a failure and forced to hand over power to General Muhammad Yahya Khan, on March 25,1969.

Yahya Khan (1969 - 1971)

Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan took over following the resignation of Ayub Khan.

Pakistan was now under the grip of another Martial Law.The political history of Pakistan from 1947 to 1970 witnessed no general elections. Thus, when Yahya`s regime decided to hold the first hustings on the basis of adult franchise at national level, they were not only required to make a new mechanism but were also required to set up a permanent election machinery. After the elections of 1970, differences arose between the Government and Awami League of East Pakistan and saw increasing political polarization between the eastern and western wings.Yahya Khan could not salvage the situation and instead launched a massive campaign of genocide in East Pakistan. All this led to a civil war within Pakistan resulting in the Bangladesh liberation war of 1971 where India fought on Bangladesh’s behalf. Pakistan had to bite the dust and Bangladesh was established as an independent republic, which led Yahya to step down. President Yahya anointed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as his successor, Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party that had won the majority votes in the 1970 elections in West Pakistan.

Zia-ul-Haq (1977 -1988)

General Zia-ul-Haq came to power after he overthrew ruling Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in a bloodless military coup d`état on July 5, 1977 . Prime Minister Bhutto began facing considerable criticism and increasing unpopularity as his term progressed. On January 8, 1977 a large number of opposition political parties grouped to form the Pakistan National Alliance. Bhutto announced fresh elections, and PNA participated in the polls in full force.PNA faced defeat but did not accept the results, alleging that the election was rigged and declared the newly-elected Bhutto government as illegitimate.Political and civil unrest intensified. On July 5, 1977, Bhutto and members of his cabinet were arrested by troops under the order of General Zia. Martial Law was imposed in the country Bhutto was sent behind the bars and subsequently executed.

Under General Zia`s Martial Law, there was steady economic growth favoring the private sector, and efforts were made to Islamize the political, legal and economic structures. Pakistan gained the status of Most Favored Nation from the United States following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. Vast amounts of military equipment and aid were donated to Pakistan to help the four million Afghan refugees who crossed into Baluchistan and North West Frontier Province. Zia suddenly died in an aircraft crash on August 17, 1988 under unknown circumstances. His death ended his nine-year military dictatorship over Pakistan.

Pervez Musharraf (1999 – present)

On October 12, 1999, the Pakistan Army once again ousted the Civilian Government. At that time Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif headed the Government. The coup immediately followed the premier`s attempt to replace the Army Chief while he was on a tour to Sri Lanka. After two days of chilling uncertainty, Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf assumed the title of Chief Executive. Although the use of the term "Martial Law" was avoided, Pakistan once again came under military rule. Sharif was under house arrest and later exiled. He and other leaders have subsequently been prevented from entering Pakistan The Supreme Court, in a ruling on May 12, 2000, accepted that a constitutional deviation had taken place and directed General Musharraf to hold general elections within three years.

General elections were held in October 2002 and a plurality of the seats in the Parliament was won by the PML-Q, a pro-Musharraf party. However, parties opposed to Musharraf effectively paralysed the National Assembly for over a year.The deadlock ended in December 2003, when Musharraf made a deal with the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal party, a six-member coalition of Islamic parties, agreeing to leave the army by December 31, 2004. He subsequently refused to keep his promise. With that party`s support, pro-Musharraf legislators were able to muster the two-thirds supermajority required to pass the Seventeenth Amendment of the Constitution that legalized Musharraf`s 1999 coup and many of his decrees.

The real test of Musharraf’s Presidency was when his help was sought by Washington for the antiterrorism campaign and to crush the Taliban in Afghanistan following the Al-Qaeda attacks in New York. Pakistan had previously been one of the countries to recognise the Taleban diplomatically and had been accused of playing a pivotal role in its early development. The president has often been described as walking a tightrope as he has sought to balance demands from the US to crack down on extremism in Pakistan and the demands from an increasingly vocal, and anti-American, Islamist constituency joining hands with US post 9/11 to join its war on terror.This includes helping US and using Pak Army to eliminate extremists who have taken shelter in Pak.He has however managed to do so without ruffling fulltime hardcore extremists.Osama is also believed to be hiding in Pakistan or close to its border

The Delhi-born son of an Urdu-speaking family that migrated to Pakistan after the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947 he has survived numerous assassination attempts and plots.

General Musharraf did his best to highlight the core issue of Kashmir at every international forum. In July 2001,he held his first summit meeting with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in Agra but couldn`t make much headway in solving the Kashmir problem. Since his takeover Indo-Pakistan relations have had its respective highs and lows but regular diplomacy and talks have been initiated by both sides to resolve long-standing disputes including Kashmir.

Pervez Musharraf is in the run for re-election in the October 6 Presidential polls. He has decided to doff his uniform if he wins the polls and Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has been nominated by Gen Musharraf to be his replacement as army chief.

No comments: