Mahboob A. Khawaja, PhD.[P]akistan’s Freedom Movement was carried out by the people under the visionary leadership of Mohammad Ali Jinnah- Quaid-e-Azam. The 14 August, should have been a day to rejoice and value the imperatives of the 68th Independence Day across Pakistan. Not so, the same masses are barbed wired, dehumanized and deprived of the rightful opportunity to celebrate their freedom with human dignity, honor and peaceful activism. Panicky and buried under pillage of corruption allegations, PM Nawaz Sharif never knew the essence of national freedom to acquire the reality. Conscientious Pakistanis never embraced him as a political leader of any worthy attention. While competent and mature leaders know how to cope with change and unusual emergencies, the regime in likelihood is afraid of being ousted as the people are moving to march on to Islamabad. Why is Sharif acting like a monkey to run away from the loud voices of reason and change? Sharif has no vision or credibility to inspire people or to lead the people towards peaceful future-making. If few single-minded Generals help him to escape the wrath of the masses, Sharif has no accomplishments to claim during the year long governance for the future to face public. Fearful of his own criminal past and misdeeds, the regime has barricaded all the adjacent routes to Islamabad – the roads to freedom of movement for the people. If done logically, it should have strengthened the fabric of democracy and freedom of expressions for political change in Pakistan.
All the monsters of history are to be found among the absolute leaders exercising absolute power in disregard of the interests of people. The milestones appear clear and the message well articulated by the masses that Sharif must go. He is not a leader with any rational political imagination to envisage any plan for political change and nation-building. His failure is noticeable at the last minute announcement as he has set up a commission of three judges a day before the Peoples Freedom March to investigate his 2013 election’s alleged ballot box frauds.
Nawaz Sharif is an outgrowth of the military rule of General Zia ul Haq and groomed by an overwhelmed culture of political nuisance, not responsive to the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. A sadistic culture that deprived the people of their rights, thinking of the rationality of national freedom and human dignity for almost half of a century. The Thinking People view the Bhuttos, Zardari and Sharif all in one slot – the most corrupt, crime riddled monsters who will never come to terms with reason and honesty to reflect on their own wrongdoings. None have contributed anything positive to enhance the aims and priorities of the Pakistan Freedom Movement that led to the establishment of an independent nation on August 14, 1947. Where would the high power jolt come to hit them to realize their own follies and phase them out of the naïve politics? This is what the majority of the people – The Freedom March wanted to express on this occasion to assemble peacefully at Islamabad but the ruling elite has closed all the entry points to the capital, stopped communications and blocked highways and incoming traffic. Once again, security forces are on stand by action with weapons and the military is on roads displaying tanks, guns and bullets – the displaying of power – a draconian strategy to dispel the notion of freedom. It is shameful for a functional democracy if any and as harmful in short terms as deadly and anti-freedom in long terms for the sustainability of a free nation. The ruling elite and the people live in a conflicting time zone being unable to understand the meaning and essence of the Pakistan Freedom Movement.
In a global community of people’s communications, politics is seen as a game of pretension and always remains problematic. Politicians need problems to get public attention and to argue being the deliverers. Most politicians are self-centered, often naïve about the real world except of their own, they are nothing except being treacherous, cynical and deceitful to their ideas and ideals and to the public interests they claim to serve. Nawaz Sharif was twice dismissed as PM on corruption allegations. Did Sharif learn anything from the past to change anything because of the knowledge, history and facts of life to know his weaknesses and strengths and to change and reform his mind and behavior when facts warrant a change, be it in policy making or public interactive behavior? After all listening and learning are critical factors for the changing role of the 21st century political leadership and so is the flexibility mechanism to be built-in for effective public leadership. But there are no intelligent and proactive leaders in Pakistani politics with a vision of the future to see the imperatives of realistic power except naïve and self-geared egomaniac full of the sensation of power using sadistic viciousness to torture and kill the people and destroy the passion for continuing fulfillment of the ideals of the original Freedom Movement. Pakistani politicians who grab the power through intrigues, political conspiracies, military coups, sectarian killings and large social-economic disruptions, would never cease to act or see an end to their hegemonic power control. Change and human development are critical facts in the political pursuit of making a progressive nation.
The 21st century knowledge-based politics and leadership accountability warrants change, and Pakistani politics urgently NEEDS a Navigational Change. Logically, any intelligent leader would do his best to change and conform to the requisites of futuristic adaptability when facts of life warrant a change. Responsible and conscientious leaders build their moral strength and intellectual integrity – the real force for accountable democratic governance by discarding shortcoming, overcoming failures and political blunders. Sharif and the few Pakistani Generals need not to repeat what went wrong with Bhuttos, Zardari and General Musharaf and so many others most commonly hated and feared across the Pakistani household. Those who victimize the masses to deliberate torture and murder to entertain their favorite perversion from the prevalent reality of human affairs cannot be leader of the present or the future. Leaders should lead, not mislead. Although egoistic and corrupt Pakistani politicians and few Generals could be traded-in and sold at the global market according to the US specialist Bruce Riedel, One of President Obama’s advisors on Pakistan and the War on Terrorism (“Battle for the Soul of Pakistan” 1/4/2013, Brookings Institute and Centre for Middle East Policy), but the Pakistani people wanted to move forward to build a new future extending new opportunities previously denied to the new and educated generations of intelligent Pakistanis. The nation needs new visionary and educated leaders, new system of governance and freedom of opportunities for business, economic development and democratically sustainable future.
Moral and intellectual corruption and gangsterism is the order of Pakistani politics operated by the few families. Sharif and his associates have stolen millions to buy real estates in UK and elsewhere. So did Asif ali Zardari, Benazir Bhutto and Musharaf too. All enjoy records of dismissal on corruption allegations and charges. The Prophet of Islam is reported to have said that: “a khabis (wicked) person never harms another khabis (wicked) person. To undo the khabasat (wickedness), the society must produce people of righteousness to eradicate the evils.” Pakistani politicians have no known success story to tell. Do the politicians with small wisdom but big mouth and no knowledge can determine the future of the nation? If history is relevant and is seen as a source of learning and warning, undeniably all the contemporary politicians of Pakistan have failed to learn from the catastrophic past. The NEED is urgent for a peaceful political solution to replace the corrupt regime of Sharif and to have a Government of National Unity under some educated and intelligent non-partisan leadership. Again, the National Assembly has turned out to be a rubber stamp, not a force for people-oriented political change and future-making. The political change can only be imagined by raising voices of REASON to challenge the wickedness of the few egoistic monsters irrelevant to the present or the future of Pakistan. Bruce Riedel (“Battle for the Soul of Pakistan” 1/4/2013) warns: “The changes in Pakistan are unlikely to come peacefully and will have major implications for India and America. The stakes are huge in the most dangerous country in the world.”
There was no need to turn Islamabad into a military camp and institutionalize anti-freedom legal steps to stop the Freedom March on August 14. Only the thugs and criminals could fear the loud and passionate voices of the people’s concerns and aspirations. The anti-democratic actions will destabilize the country and demoralize the populace. Pakistan is being governed by the wrong people, with wrong thinking and doing the wrong things. Enlightened and educated Pakistani observers foresee the need for a Navigational Change – a necessity in time and space, away from the corrupt politics of the few egomaniacs and criminals called politicians. The priorities are to be focused on developing a new system of economic and political governance by disconnecting the interdependence on foreign aid, debts and dictates. The nation seems to be at its critical and painful juncture of very survival. Under the circumstances, what is there to celebrate? The symbolic Pakistan Independence Day celebrations and flag raising will remain devoid of much needed change and reformation aim of the institutionalized corrupt system of governance. The core message is that Pakistan is in desperate need of a New Political System, New Constitution and Political institutions, New Educated and Intelligent leadership befitting to the changing needs and aspirations of the people and Islamic values to ensure a viable future.
Corruption, dishonesty and indifference to the national interest are not new to the neo-colonial Pakistani political culture. All is propagated as normal in public conscience and perceptions. The ordinary folks are still looking for recognition of basic human needs, rights, education, equality, security and legal justice. There are full time high life privileges for the affluent class but nothing for the ordinary citizens except shouting matches in demonstrations, social and intellectual deprivation and lost sense of political identity.More than 30 years earlier while a student in America, this author wrote to military President – General Zia ul-Haq: “what would our history say, why the succeeding generations of Muslims failed to produce leaders like Salahuddin, Allama Iqbal, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Qutb, Al-Mushraqi, and Mowdoodi? Only the martial law administrators who kept the nation together by law and order and nothing else.” Gen Zia ul Haq replied without attempting to answer the focal question. There is nothing to celebrate on the Independence Day except a time for soul searching:How to reconnect the Nation to the forgotten purpose and meaning of the Lahore Resolution of March 1940 for an independent State of Pakistan? How would the succeeding generations imagine what challenges prompted to plan and organize the Pakistan’s freedom movement out of the British imperialism?
Unless the THINKING PEOPLE of the Pakistani Freedom Movement and Foundational Values reactivate their thoughts and energies for a Navigational Change, the Nation is at critical crossroads for its own fragmentation and by its own so called monstrous political leaders. How to change the political cruelty and tyranny of the few unto anew value-based political system of public institutions, accountable honest leadership and people’s-centered governance?
One wonders, what is the tangible cure to the cruel mindset of the few egoistic authoritarian politicians in Pakistan? Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Quaid-e-Azam was a proactive rational thinker, a visionary and a political leader to lead the people to freedom in 1947. Few single minded Generals appear to be accomplice to support Sharif to purge the public consciousness of true freedom and incapacitate the nation for political change and development. If Sharif claims legitimacy through the ballot box, his absolute political power cannot be justified as simple favorable perversion to torture, kill the innocent mankind and destroy the societal harmony and natural habitats by imposing legal barricades and the colonial imposition of rule 144 to restrict people’s entry into the capital. The Generals and Sharif were not the source of the freedom of Pakistan and they cannot be viewed as encompassing relevant factors to preserve the freedom in any rational context. Nuclear arsenals do not ensure the national freedom but peoples do. They have proven to be incompetent and devoid of reason to allow the legitimate expressions of freedom in the 21st century new age of rights and obligations. History has a defined role and the present and future generations must give credence to these developments and learn to be aware of the future in waiting, and how best to make a navigational change to ensure independence and integrity of a democratic Pakistan. The ideals of the Pakistan Freedom Movement must be revisited and incorporated into the making of the future. To undo the darkened past and reshape the turbulent present, Pakistan desperately needs educated people of new generation and ideas, equipped with visionary and proactive ideals to rebuild public institutions and essential political capacity to safeguard the national integrity, survival and future as a Muslim Nation moving forward to pursue progressive political change and social and economic development infrastructures for the deprived people. The nation is boxed in by most cruel, incompetent and unproductive politicians. Its agriculture heartlands are increasingly becoming barren, business is destroyed, trades, commerce and social lifelines are ruined by the bogus War on Terrorism, public trust is crippled and creativity for change is crushed by ruthless authoritarian rulers. The masses are fed up with daily sectarian killings and political bloodbaths. None of the politicians seem to have standing to regain societal trust and restore normalcy to public law and order. Pakistan urgently needs a savior, not Sharif or the few Generals. The solution must come from the thinking people of the new educated generation – the intelligent Pakistanis to facilitate hope and optimism for a sustainable future of the beleaguered nation. This should be the framework of the message and active agenda for change and reformation as the core of the celebration of the Pakistan’s 68th Independence Day. At the top of the political agenda, there should be a comprehensive sense of peace and security of the nation and its culture and protection of life and human dignity of all the citizens of Pakistan. Rejecting cynicism, indifference and political perversion, YOU (the people) have the capacity – YOU can do it.
Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Publishing Germany, May 2012.