Bribe, threats, blackmailing has been a culture of Pakistan’s politics but it always burgeons under army generals in the name of democracy. General Musharraf overthrew the civilian government on 12 October 1999 under the pretext that the then Prime Minister tried to hijack the plane in which he was coming back from Colombo, Sri Lanka. In contrast, other sources tell that it was the army that had already planned to make a coup therefore they did not let the aircraft to land until the coup was over. It is completely false accusation that the plane could not land in Karachi; if the army wanted it could land at the airport belonged to the Air Force.

After occupying the government, he made tall claims of establishing sound democracy and set an example of good governance. Analysis of his rule depicts that he miserably failed in delivering what he had promised. Following the footsteps of his predecessors, he only strengthened his authority. The constitution is revamped from parliament to presidential form of government for all practical reasons. The parliament, Prime Minister and cabinet ministers have become subservient to the president. Although elections were held in 2002, actual rule is still with army generals. There are no sign that General Musharraf and his colleague are interested in changing corrupt political culture of the past. In contrast, new methods of political corruption have been instituted since elections 2002. The agencies on his behest are actively participating in making and breaking coalitions. General Musharraf deliberately has amassed corrupt people around him so he could blackmail them easily.

Analyzing the period from October 2002 till today shows that he dumped all ethics of democracy. Whether it is election of PM, clearance of the Legal Framework Order (LFO) or the appointment of Opposition leader, he preferred to make all deals behind the closed door. General Musharraf did not call the session of the National Assembly until he managed to break members of other parties to make PM of his choice from his supportive political party, Pakistan Muslim League (Q). The constitutional clause has yet to be restored which restricts the elected members to change the political party from whose ticket they were elected. The current situation is that the Party which had hardly managed one vote majority to get elected PM of Musharraf’s choice has become a large political party in the parliament. It is on the record that he has personally asked (more appropriately ordered for) smaller political groups to leave their independent identity and join the PML – Q. President house has become a house of conspiracies. The current widespread media reports are that the Super-Man wishes to change PM, who was his cherished choice, for unknown reasons. Similarly, Provinces are not free from continuous interference of General Musharraf. Benazir Bhutto’s party had a clear majority in Sind Province but the government did not invite majority party leaders to form the government.

The fact remains intact even after elections that the Prime Minister and Parliament has no power. He bypasses the PM and imposes a decision on the civil government to execute. To invigorate him, they do what is dictated by the president’s house. Recently, the speaker of the assembly passed a ruling in which it was said that the president could not be discussed on the floor. The speaker is custodian of the house and unbiased but the writer does not recall any event when the speaker gave ruling in favor of the opposition. Before inducting LFO in the constitution as 17th amendment, his ruling was that it was an integral part of the constitution even without following the standard constitutional procedure of making amendment. LFO was brought only in the assembly when the government stroked out deal with the religious political parties that they would support to get it through from the national assembly. According to the collated media reports, his regime threatened religious political alliance that their provincial government in NWFP would be destabilized and their membership would be challenged on the grounds of education if they did not support LFO in the parliament. This amendment gives all major powers to the president including the appointment of judges, chief of the armed forces, dissolving the government etc.

So far transparency is concerned, it is scarcely found under the command of General Musharraf. If the regime had believed in transparency they would have brought LFO as a bill on the floor instead of making deal with oppositions outside of the parliament, ex-PM Nawaz Sharif and his family was not mischievously disposed to Saudi Arabia under a deal whose contents are still unknown, elections would have not been rigged, leaders of the majority party would have been invited to form the government and leader of the opposition would have been invited according to the convention of the national assembly.

Musharraf announced on television when government benches had signed the agreement with religious parties’ alliance that he would put off his uniform by December 2004. As the time is approaching, he and his aids are giving the hints that it might not happen. It is the extraction of his own imagination that people like to see him in the uniform and he is a popular figure among people. The results of presidential referendum are not secret to anyone when the government machinery had to fill the ballot box to show high turn out of people, whereas the fact is that all the voting booths were jam packed with ghosts. This is the reason that the election commission had burnt the referendum record soon after declaring the results of the referendum.

President Musharraf is serving the interests of the army and not the nation. He has established a National Security Council to purvey permanent role to army generals. Army generals are allotted residential plots and agricultural lands. Retired and serving army personals are willfully appointed everywhere in key and senior most positions in civil bureaucracy. Ironically, army retired personnel are not drawing pension but also salaries. The judiciary is subdued to him and army generals. A corruption case against army officers and Generals is yet to be heard in the Lahore High court – might never heard. Since he took power, the judiciary has not taken a single decision against the government except in the case of Shahbaz Sharif, which was not honored. The Supreme Court in its verdict said that no citizen of Pakistan could be sent into exile. However, Shahbaz Sharif was immediately deported when he landed at the Lahore airport. The government action is contempt of court but the judiciary has to bear this embarrassment.

Freedom of speech is crushed. Muslim League (N) President Javaid Hashmi was arrested and imprisoned for 23 years for reading a letter, apparently written by anonymous army personal, in which it was asked that Kargil adventure, which was taken under his command, should be investigated. In the present political situation, whosoever does not support Gen. Musharraf, he rebukes them. All politicians are corrupt till the time they do not join his club; all journalists and analysts are pseudo-intellectuals if they criticize his actions.

There is no truth in it that corruption has decreased or economy is growing under this regime. Corruption has been rising since he took the charge of the office. It is naïve to think that corruption can be reduced when the same corrupt practices are followed and most of the same corrupt people are serving in his government. Increase in foreign reserves (12 billion US$) is not due to the fact that the economy is growing, rather major increase in foreign reserves is by virtue of rescheduling of loans, purchase of dollars from the open market and bowering of new loans and aids. The strident fact is, poor is getting poorer and affluent are getting richer in Musharraf’s era. Inflation has increased and prices of commodities are three fold higher than 1999. Only in the month of May, more than 100 people suicide due to poverty. In contrast, his regime doubled the salaries and privileges of the president, prime minister, ministers and parliamentarians. The privileged class is living like princes and princesses and have-nots are starving.

On the face of law and order, Musharraf’s regime has miserably failed in maintaining it. Bomb blasts are becoming a common feature in the country, especially in Karachi and Quetta. People of Gilgit are spending their day and nights under curfew. Wana is under fire by the Pakistani Army. Pakistan is once again in a similar situation as it was under Gen. Zia-UL-Haq. The history of Pakistan shows that the country suffered more under the army generals’ rule than civilian.

It is an international obligation of government of the Scandinavian countries to stress that he should honor his promise of removing uniform by December 2004 and restore real power of the parliament. He should be advised to respect the constitution and the laws of the land instead of fiddling with them. Moreover, if there is any move to give him a noble prize for normalizing relationship with India, it should be discouraged. If he gets this prestigious award it will certainly encourage other dictators to grab the power from backdoor.

Norwegian Version Published in the newspaper Bergens Tidende. See Demokrati på lavbluss

http://nyousaf.com/articles/diminutive-democracy/