Why is Pakistan facing political instability?
Aday before Eid-ul-Fitr, a suicide bomber blasted into the courtyard of a mosque in Quetta, where several police officers had congregated to offer funeral prayers for a slain colleague. At least 35 personnel were killed in the ensuing bombing incident. This was not something new in Quetta or Balochistan or elsewhere in Pakistan as suicide bomb attacks on military installations, security personnel and the general public have become a daily routine. Target killing on sectarian grounds is another such menace.
There are a number of reasons for the situation which the people have been facing for some time. The major cause is political instability which has plunged the country into a deep pit.
The creation of Pakistan was a great achievement of the Muslims. The Quaid-e-Azam had set the tone for governance for the country just three days before the official announcement of independence, in his famous speech in the Constituent Assembly in Karachi on August 11, 1947.
Unfortunately, the founder of Pakistan survived for only 13 months and died on Sept 11, 1948. His blueprint for Pakistan hardly saw the light of day. The other important founding father Liaquat Ali Khan was subsequently assassinated on Oct. 16, 1951. The death of the Quaid and the killing of Liaquat Ali Khan were irreparable losses for the nascent state. The ruling elite forgot the sacrifices of these and other great leaders. They adopted the path of opportunism and negated all norms of democracy, as a result of which, the federal structure on which the state was to be based was replaced by the issues that the people face today.
With the celebration of 66 years of independence, the people should also have celebrated their freedom of expression, which should have included free practice of religion, faith and speech. But unfortunately these values were trammeled through all these years under the stranglehold of the civil and military bureaucracy and the politicians proved themselves to be wholly incapable and inefficient in this respect. Another tragedy that Pakistan faced was that it could not eliminate feudalism from its midst. Politicians with feudal backgrounds became strong and took control of power. With four martial laws and an unending string of weak governments, how could political stability come to a volatile environment?
India also achieved independence at the same time as Pakistan but it started its journey with great enthusiasm because it had politicians of great vision. Though Mahatma Gandhi was also assassinated in 1948 but leaders like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Sardar Vallabhai Patel put India on the path to progress and prosperity. Under the mature leadership of Nehru, India took decisions which strengthened democratic institutions and set the direction for economic progress. These decisions encompassed the drafting of the constitution and its implementation, elimination of feudalism and initiation of a nonaligned policy in a bi-polar world.
The country got a proper constitution as late as in 1973, which was still a late date as Pakistan achieved independence in1947. It is for this reason, primarily, that political stability could not come to Pakistan. The country’s first constitution was actually formulated and implemented on March 23, 1956 and General Elections were scheduled in February 1959 but Martial Law was imposed on October 7, 1958. The creation
of One Unit was also a negation of the concept of federalism. It reduced the voting status of the people of East Pakistan and created misunderstandings between the two wings of the country.
For nearly a century before independence, different political leaderships had developed a political consciousness among the people of India, which had driven them to fight for their independence. Pakistan could not develop such democratic institutions and went under the hold of the military which destroyed whatever political stability the country moving towards. The first martial law came in 1958 and military interventions continued till 1999. The military always seemed to be hungry for power and crossed its jurisdiction in taking over the democratic political process.
The feudal system has also been a major problem. The country’s feudal elite moved into politics much earlier in the day. The disastrous system has come to immensely affect national progress and there is no means in sight as to its elimination. The country has also failed to remove the differences between the rich and the poor. Pakistan’s weak electoral system is a further debilitating factor. Repeated rigged elections have eroded public confidence in the electoral institutions and have fuelled alienation and violence at the public level.
The Pakistani leadership has also been spoilt through the strong influence of the armed forces. International conspiracies have always been a part of any change in Pakistan as every leader comes through international interference and influence. In such circumstances, how would it be possible for such individuals to work independently and in the interest of the people of Pakistan?
If a proper local government system could be implemented, it would initiate decentralization of power, which could facilitate and stimulate sustainable development in all parts of the country. Local areas could be rebuilt and public issues could be solved though public funding and the decentralization would subsequently facilitate the tailoring of solutions to local problems and local conditions.
Political stability could come to Pakistan through "revolutionary forces" and the youth could be this ‘force’. It is interesting that whereas youth are the backbone of every country, Pakistan is fortunate to have a demographic makeup of 54 percent young people, which can be turned into quite an asset provided the politicians understand the significance of this statistic.
A miraculous change is required to bring the country out of its crises, whether financial, economic or energy-related. If the corrupt political elite are allowed to continue in their ways, and there is no end to the feudal system as well as the no-holds-barred acceptance of the corrupt, incapable and incompetent leadership and Army interference, then no change can be expected.
In the final analysis, it must be said that the Pakistani society needs to be democratized. This would only be possible if the political process were to be liberated from the clutches of the ruling elite and the feudal aristocracy. For a genuine federal system to take root, power must be devolved to the grass-root level. All decisions must be made on merit and transparency and involvement of the people must be increased.