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MILITARY COUP AND DEMOCRACY IN PAK

By Hasrat Mahroof Khan

The political system of Pakistan has gone through a lot of tempestuousness since its creation in 1947. If we see the complete political courses of events, country has been ruled under four martial laws and remaining periods of frail corrupt democracy.
Undoubtedly, democratic system is always indulgent because people in such society have right to share their opinion and larger number of people in Pakistan thumbs up for a democratic system.
Islamabad is familiar to military rule or stratocracy, the military has actually ruled for more than 30 years of Pakistan’s history. Pakistan has carved out in despair urgency. Came to existence on 14 August 1947, with awful loss of life and property. Millions of stunned, perplexed and impecunious men, women and children migrated to start a brimming life. But it glistened in those early years only. Unfortunately, hitherto country has been struggling from one major catastrophe to another, to fend off the multiple problems and vexations. And herethe time is going on when people are afraid to visit even the sacred places of worshiping, as they are scared of suicide bombing by terrorists even in the holy places including Mosques.
Soon after creation of Pakistan, started coup d, e, tat and dictatorship era begins. It was in October 1958, first military coup happened, when General Ayub Khan seized powers. Ayub Khan was opposed to democracy and thought like a dictator. Ayub Khan became president in 1960. Ayub’s wording on 27 October 1958;
“Major General Iskander Mirza, lately president of Pakistan, has relinquished his office of president and handed over powers to me. Therefore, I have this night assumed the office of president and have taken upon myself the exercise of the said powers and all other powers appearing thereto.”
Due to criticism of corruption, nepotism and cronyism he failed and hence General Ayub Khan resigned in 1969, handed over responsibilities to General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan. When Yahya Khan became president and Chief Martial law administrator, East Pakistan became independent in 1971 as Bangladesh, Yahya resigned and handed over powers to Bhutto.
In 1977, General Zia-ul-Haq launches military action against PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, overthrew his government and became the State’s third ruler to impose martial law. Initially, he ruled as Chief Martial law Administrator and later assumed the post of President in 1978. Very next year Bhutto was hanged. Restoration of democracy movement started against Zia-ul-Haq. So he announced that election for the National and Provincial Assemblies would be held in Feb 1985 on non-party basis.
In 1986, Bhutto’s daughter Benazir Bhutto back from exile to lead PPP (Pakistan People Party) in fresh elections, one year after ban of political parties was lifted. Benazir was dismissed as PM on charges of corruption and incompetence and here enter Mian Nawaz Sharif to take over.
In 1993 presidentIshaq Khan and Sharif was forced to resign, forcing power was none-else but military. Again general elections were held which brought Benazir back to power. In 1996 Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari became president and soon dismissed Benazir’s government. Sharif returned back as PM after PML (Pakistan Muslim League) won election in 1997. In this era Benazir and hubby Asif Ali Zardari sentenced jailed over corruption charges in 1998, which forced them to stay out of country.
Soon after that in 1998, Military once again ousted the democracy and the General now was Pervaz Musharraf. The coup immediately followed the primary attempt to replace the Army Chief when Musharraf was on a tour to Sri Lanka. After two days of precariousness, General Musharraf avoided the term “Martial law” and assumed the title of Chief Executive. According to Musharraf he was a forced step to save country from turmoil and uncertainty. Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to life imprisonment over the charges of his action to prevent the 1999 coup. Charges included hijacking, kidnaping and attempt to murder in the “plane conspiracy” case. But Sharif got mercy and exiled to Saudi Arab on a condition that he has to pay fine of rupees 500 million in property and have to stay away from politics for the next 21 years. The Supreme Court also directed Musharraf to hold election within 3 years.
Musharraf in 2002 won another five years term in a referendum and named himself president, granting himself sweeping new powers, including the right to dismiss an elected president.
In 2007 Benazir returned from exile, Musharraf’s win in presidential election was challenged in Supreme Court. As a result Musharraf declared emergency rule, he dismissed chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhary and appointed new Supreme Court which confirmed re-election. Here Sharif returned from exile. Benazir assassinated. In 2008 Yousaf Raza Gilani nominee of PPP became PM in coalition with Sharif’s PML. SC disqualified Gilani in 2012 from holding the office after government denied to reopen corruption cases against Zardari. PervazAsharaf was approved by Parliament. SC ordered to arrest Asharaf over old corruption allegations. He refused for such allegations, so a nationwide march demanding the removal of government started by Tahir-ul-Qadari. In 2013 elections PML got majority and still managing to rule though Sharif is disqualified by SC for another time.
Majority of Pakistanis think that Musharraf’s era was the best in 70 years with respect to progress and prosperity in probably every field. But one blunder made by him allowing entry of Bhutto and Sharif back into Pak politics, they brought bad name of him. There was a famous quote in Pakistani media at the end of Musharraf’s dictatorship “Severe democracy is better than good dictatorship.”In the end some call it military furtive, while other prefer to call it as the General’s and Politician’s work amicably in the national interest. But there’s no denying that Pakistan army’s political power is growing and has larger influences.Let me tell you what I have learnt from history, said Pakistan’s most famous Human Right lawyer, Asma Jahangir in an interview to BBC.
“Our army doesn’t want power. It wants absolute power.”
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