Dy­nas­ties seem to be the rule in Pak­istan, ex­cept in the ma­nip­u­lated world of reli­gious par­ties

India Today - - SIGNATURE - Khaled Ahmed The au­thor is the di­rec­tor of South Asian Me­dia School, in Lahore

Pak­istan con­forms to the South Asian trend of fam­i­lies dom­i­nat­ing cer­tain po­lit­i­cal par­ties. Of­ten the charis­matic pa­tri­arch with mass fol­low­ing be­comes the dy­nasty’s icon, and if he is mar­tyred, he en­ables the scions to sat­isfy the pop­u­lar in­stinct for ‘ re­venge through lin­eal rep­e­ti­tion’. It be­gan with Jin­nah, the founder, and lives on in na­tional pol­i­tics to­day in the shape of chil­dren and grand­chil­dren of the clan em­u­lat­ing the legacy of the orig­i­nal ruler.

Two Gu­jarati ‘ founders’ of In­dia and Pak­istan, Gandhi and Jin­nah, ap­par­ently died with­out a dy­nas­tic be­quest. Both were mar­tyred. Jin­nah, some say, died while be­ing trans­ported back from his health re­sort in Balochis­tan to Karachi in a ram­shackle army Red Cross ve­hi­cle that broke down on the way and “let him die by the road­side”. Ac­cu­sa­tions were lev­elled at Li­aquat Ali Khan, his trusted prime min­is­ter.

Un­like Gandhi, whose fam­ily did not re­spond to the lin­ear­ity of charisma, Jin­nah’s sis­ter, Fa­tima, stepped into pol­i­tics, but was sup­pressed by the mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor Gen­eral

Ayub Khan. There is sig­nif­i­cant tes­ti­mony that even she was killed. Shar­i­fud­din Pirzada, for­mer at­tor­ney gen­eral of Pak­istan and ‘ hon­orary’ sec­re­tary of Jin­nah from 1941 to 1944, re­vealed that Fa­tima Jin­nah had not died a nat­u­ral death in 1967 but was mur­dered by a ser­vant of hers. The late would- be begum of Bhopal and mother of Pak­istan’s for­eign sec­re­tary, Shahryar Khan, wrote in her mem­oir Abida Sul­taan: Mem­oirs of a Rebel Princess [ OUP 2003]: “I found Miss Jin­nah ly­ing sur­rounded with blocks of ice. There were blue patches on her face, mainly the left eye. There was some blood on the cov­er­ing sheet, but I could not de­tect whether it had come out from the ear, nose or mouth.”

Is mar­tyr­dom then a pre­con­di­tion? Jin­nah’s blood­line ended be­cause his daugh­ter Dina de­cided to marry in In­dia and find com­fort in the Parsi re­li­gion. Non- Mus­lims don’t qual­ify in Pak­istan’s sys­tem of dy­nas­ties. But the next charis­matic leader, Zul­fikar Ali Bhutto, did leave be­hind a ‘ trans­fer­able’ dy­nas­tic glory through mar­tyr­dom in 1979, which the na­tion re­mem­bers to­day as ‘ ju­di­cial murder’. The Supreme Court of Pak­istan be- came ‘ ac­tivist’ against him un­der a mil­i­tary tyrant.

Who can bet­ter de­scribe charisma than Machi­avelli, who ad­vised his prince that the best pre­scrip­tion for at­tain­ing the throne con­tained three rules: First: Be pos­sessed of ‘ for­tune’, which means, be present at the op­por­tune mo­ment; Sec­ond: Have the gift of ‘ virtue’, which means ex­er­cise op­por­tunism; Third: Em­brace the cause of the com­mon man. The most pow­er­ful dy­nas­ties of Re­nais­sance Europe, the Medici and the Bor­gias, fol­lowed Machi­avelli’s pre­scrip­tion.

Like the Nehru dy­nasty in In­dia, there were two mar­tyr­doms in the Bhutto clan which shook Pak­istan. Be­nazir Bhutto, ac­cord­ing to her son Bi­lawal Bhutto, was killed in 2007 by al- Qaeda work­ing in tan­dem with the of­fi­cers of Pak­istan’s pow­er­ful in­tel­li­gence agency, the ISI.

To be fair, pri­mo­gen­i­ture be­stowed the crown of Bhutto on his elder son Mir Mur­taza Bhutto, who was gunned down in Karachi in 1996. Anti- Bhutto cir­cles in Pun­jab say Be­nazir as prime min­is­ter got him “bumped off”. To­day, his widow Ghinwa runs the Sha­heed ( mar­tyr) Bhutto Party in Karachi with­out mak­ing any

vis­i­ble dent in the abid­ing dy­nas­tic halo en­velop­ing Be­nazir’s son Bi­lawal, whose author­ity is ex­er­cised by his fa­ther Asif Ali Zar­dari, as co- chair­man of the Pak­istan Peo­ples Party ( PPP). He has been ap­pro­pri­ately named Bi­lawal Bhutto- Zar­dari. Ghinwa could be rul­ing one day from be­hind the scenes like the Ital­ian- born So­nia Gandhi of In­dia. She is of Syr­ian- Le­banese ori­gin, and is the sec­ond wife of Mur­taza Bhutto and the step­mother of Fa­tima Bhutto, who is bright enough to be­come a fu­ture leader of Pak­istan.

Dy­nasty is a char­ac­ter­is­tic of democ­racy and arouses two neg­a­tive patholo­gies. One is prin­ci­pled— ha­tred, stem­ming from vi­o­la­tion of the spirit of tran­si­tion of power un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion; the other vis­ceral— nursed by po­lit­i­cal ri­vals de­feated by lin­eal mag­netism.

Dy­nasty in evolved democ­ra­cies is ‘ ac­ci­den­tal’. In evolv­ing democ­ra­cies, they ride on many fac­tors: Un­tu­tored vot­ing pub­lic, poverty- stricken masses at­tracted by the hid­den Machi­avel­lian edict of ‘ sid­ing with the com­mon man’, the ‘ groom­ing’ fac­tor in the dy­nas­tic fam­i­lies, their ca­pac­ity to suf­fer as mar­tyrs, to fi­nance po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns, and make per­sonal sac­ri­fices when in op­po­si­tion. If the soil of ran­cour is fer­tile, a dy­nasty may pro­duce a counter- dy­nasty.

Nawaz Sharif is the ‘ pa­tri­arch’ of Pak­istan Mus­lim League ( Nawaz) be­stow­ing dy­nas­tic legacy down­wards to scions be­ing ‘ groomed’ to per­pet­u­ate the Sharif dy­nasty. Un­for­tu­nately, Nawaz Sharif’s sons have opted to stay out of Pak­istan’s po­lit­i­cal fray by domi­cil­ing them­selves in Lon­don. His wife Kul­soom tried car­ry­ing the dy­nasty’s po­lit­i­cal torch when he was in prison, but faded soon enough. The ben­e­fi­ciary of the tran­si­tion of the Sharif charisma will be his brother’s son, Hamza Shah­baz Sharif, who cul­ti­vates the style of his un­cle.

An ef­fort on the part of Nawaz Sharif to move away from the soli­tary foun­da­tion of Bhutto- ha­tred pol­i­tics has not been suc­cess­ful. The hawks in his party have per­suaded him to re­turn to the pol­i­tics of vengeance that pre­vailed be­fore 2006, when he signed a Char­ter of Democ­racy with Be­nazir, af­ter for­swear­ing ha­tred as pol­i­tics. As if to guide him back to vis­ceral con­test, an ac­tivist ju­di­ciary has re­turned to its ear­lier anti- PPP pos­ture.

Pak­istan Mus­lim League, the founders’ party, has a his­tory of splin­ter­ing, each splin­ter des­per­ately try­ing to go dy­nas­tic. Two fam­i­lies con­tested lead­er­ship un­der Gen­eral Zia’s dic­ta­tor­ship: The Shar­ifs and the Chaudhrys. Zia chose the Shar­ifs. But when Gen­eral Mushar­raf took over in 1999, he plumped for the Chaudhrys, anoint­ing two re­lated politi­cians, Shu­jaat Hus­sain and Pervaiz Elahi, who stick to­gether like dy­nasty. The Shar­ifs are supreme in Pun­jab, with the Chaudhrys per­sist­ing as the resid­ual dy­nas­tic thorn in their side.

The dy­nasty of Ab­dul Ghaf­far Khan in the Fron­tier Prov­ince of yore and to­day’s Khy­berPakhtunkhwa has traced a dif­fer­ent graph. The Awami Na­tional Party ( ANP) be­gan as a pro- Congress re­gional party be­fore Par­ti­tion. Its po­lit­i­cal un­der­tow af­ter 1947 en­cour­aged Pash­tun na­tion­al­ism— threat­en­ing to link up with the Pash­tun of Afghanistan, and thus en­dan­ger­ing Pak­istan as a ter­ri­to­rial state. ANP first re­stricted it­self inside the prov­ince, but has been forced to go ‘ na­tional’ af­ter the emer­gence of Karachi in the south as the largest Pash­tun city in the world. The dy­nasty here is in­of­fen­sive by rea­son of the Pash­tun re­luc­tance to op­er­ate on the ba­sis of fam­ily ab­so­lutism. ANP leader Is­fand­yar Wali is be­nign and dis­tant, but con­fi­dent in the abid­ing resid­ual ‘ dig­ni­tas’ of his grand­fa­ther Ghaf­far Khan and fa­ther Wali Khan.

Dy­nas­ties seem to be the rule in Pak­istan, ex­cept in the ma­nip­u­lated world of reli­gious par­ties where lead­ers may be cho­sen by the ‘ deep state’ in­tent on us­ing them in de­ni­able ji­had. But Jamiat Ulema- e- Is­lam ( JUI) is led by Maulana Fa­zlur Rehman, fol­low­ing his highly re­spected Pash­tun cleric fa­ther. Rehman’s broth­ers are ungifted and his prog­eny un­known to pub­lic life. Af­ter him, the tribal Deoban­dis may have to live with­out dy­nasty.

In Sindh, the ‘ na­tion­al­ist’ cause of an ail­ing but charis­matic Ra­sul Baksh Pal­ijo’s Na­tion­al­ist Party is be­ing car­ried for­ward by his more or­a­tor­i­cally gifted son Ayaz Latif Pal­ijo, just like the son of Sar­dar Ab­dul Qayyum of Mus­lim Con­fer­ence in Pak­istan- ad­min­is­tered Kash­mir, Sar­dar Atique Ah­mad Khan, de­cid­edly an im­prove­ment on the gifts of ‘ re­al­ism’ of his fa­ther.

Democ­racy fi­nally kills dy­nasty by de­stroy­ing the bi­par­ti­san sys­tem which al­ter­nates two par­ties in power in the Third World. The Gandhi dy­nasty may never rule In­dia again with a clear Congress ma­jor­ity in the Lok Sabha. In Pak­istan also, Im­ran Khan may find that he too can­not at­tain the elec­toral ma­jor­ity that he says he needs to change Pak­istan. And Jemima Khan may sen­si­bly de­cide that Im­ran’s sons Suleiman and Kasim will not im­mo­late them­selves at the altar of dy­nasty.

DY­NASTY SUR­VIVES ON ITS IN­HER­ENT CHARM among the un­tu­tored vot­ing pub­lic and pover­tys­tricken masses at­tracted by the hid­den Machi­avel­lian edict of ‘ sid­ing with the com­mon man’.




LIKE THE NEHRU DY­NASTY IN IN­DIA, THERE WERE TWO mar­tyr­doms in the Bhutto clan which shook Pak­istan. Be­nazir Bhutto, ac­cord­ing to her son Bi­lawal Bhutto, was killed in 2007 by al- Qaeda work­ing in tan­dem with of­fi­cers of Pak­istan’s ISI.

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