In October 1999, after having tossed Nawaz Sharif (who was planning to become the Amir-ul-Momineen through rapidfire constitutional amendments) from out of office, General Musharraf solemnly pledged on TV that Pakistan will not revert to sham democracies of the past but would instead be put on the path of true democracy.
After five and half years of unbridled power, has Musharraf kept his solemn word to the nation? Can we assume now that we have a ‘true democracy’ or are on a path to one?
(Need a pause here to refrain from laughing out too loudly)
Even if one overlooks the following facts -
* The 2002 Elections were rigged by the agencies
* Opposition MNAs/MPAs were later ‘NABed’ into submission to form PPP (Patriots), etc
. * Press freedoms were and still are being regularly curtailed by threats from the ‘agencies’
* Prime Minister and the Cabinet are totally powerless when it comes to important issues.
* The National Assembly has been rendered toothless and irrelevant
* Our senior Judiciary is still ‘out to lunch’ (This list can go on and on, so I’ll stop it here)
- remarkable ‘democratic’ events of the past two days suddenly speak loudly for themselves.
While the MMA was given a free hand to hold their Million March only a fortnight ago, the regime has gone completely ballistic when faced with a PPP rally at Lahore for Asif Zardari. Only time will tell whether the regime decided to harden its stance as it continues negotiating with the PPP under Uncle Sam’s pressure or was it a reflex reaction caused by panic.
The declaration of that old bugbear Section 144 in Lahore, the pre-emptive detention of thousands of PPP supporters, red alert at two major international airports, cancellation of several train services, nationwide blockage of buses and other vehicles heading for the Lahore rally, and Police beating up newsmen as well as snatching their cameras and mobile phones, all provide a grand testimonial to our Commando-General’s vision of ‘true democracy’.
If that is democracy according to General sahib, then one can only wonder what his definition of dictatorship might be? Pol Pot? Halagu Khan?
For once the obnoxious windbag from Pindi’s Red Haveli was on the ball. Asif Zardari is no angel by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. He was, however, incarcerated for eight years without a being convicted of a single offence. But the recent attempt to portray him as a local ‘Mandela’ strained all the bounds of credulity. Hence Sheikh Rashid’s witty jibe about a ‘Marcos’ trying to pass himself off as a ‘Mandela’ hit this load of bull right between the eyes.