Every nation takes pride in its independence, progress, prosperity, peace, freedom and liberty. On August 14, the people of Pakistan also celebrate independence with great zeal and national zest. After getting independence, many nations have actualised the dreams of their founding fathers by working hard. Tragically, the Pakistani nation could not act upon the teachings of the Quaid-e-Azam. Due to it, the state of Pakistan is still struggling to achieve its objectives. Unfortunately, the ruling elite has not learnt any lesson from the tragic dismemberment of East Pakistan.
Pakistan faces huge problems, like weak institutions, political instability, poor law and order, lack of accountability, corruption, feudalism, cartels, mafias, criminal and unpatriotic political and religious leaders, illiteracy and poor economy, which are militating against the stability of Pakistan. After the demise of the Quaid-e-Azam and assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, political instability was created deliberately. From the very beginning, the civil and military bureaucracy started to take part in the country’s politics. At the time, the civil bureaucracy was more powerful than others. Malik Ghulam Muhammad, the first finance minister in the Liaquat administration, was an officer of the Indian Civil Service. After the assassination of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan in 1951, Khawaja Nazimuddin appointed him as the Governor-General of Pakistan. Ghulam Muhammad dismissed Nazimuddin’s administration after a language movement in Dacca and religious riots in Lahore. He also dismissed Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Bogra on the pretext of restoring law and order in the country in 1954. In 1955, Ghulam Muhammad was forcefully removed from the office by Interior Minister Iskander Ali Mirza on poor health conditions.
Ghulam Muhammad, a former bureaucrat, was the person who fomented political intrigue in Pakistan. Without any regret, he sacked the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan and authorised martial law in the name of law and order. By committing the blunders, he derailed the democratic process in the country. Tragically, the judiciary also helped Ghulam Muhammad and played a negative role in destabilising the democratic system in the country. The Apex Court’s former Chief Justice Muhammad Munir coined “the doctrine of necessity” to protect Ghulam Muhammad’s actions. The doctrine has played a very important but negative role in the politics of Pakistan. By using the doctrine, many political governments were sent packing without any fear or hesitation.
Interestingly, Iskander Ali Mirza, a military officer who was transferred to the civil service, also played a bad role in destabilising the democratic system in Pakistan. After removing Malik Ghulam, he became the first President of Pakistan in 1956. He dismissed four prime ministers in two years. He removed Prime Minister Feroze Khan and imposed martial law on October 7, 1958. He enforced martial law through his Army Commander, General Ayub Khan. After twenty days, General Ayub Khan took over the presidency from Mirza.
Keeping aside all the progress in foreign relations, like the alliances with America, China, Tashkent Declaration and the policy of privatisation and industrialisation in the country, Ayub Khan played a very significant role in destabilising democracy in the country. He started using intelligence agencies in national politics. He created hatred in Pakistani politics by using hard language against Fatima Jinnah to win elections. He supported the corrupt wealthy class, which concentrated wealth in a few hands. Many historians believe that Ayub Khan’s bad policies led to the creation of Bangladesh. He was forced to resign to avoid protests across the country in 1969. But, before quitting his office, he invited Army Chief Yahya Khan to impose martial law for the second time in the country.
After the separation of East Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took over power in Pakistan. He managed the release of thousands of prisoners of war and reclaimed 5,000 sq mile territory from India after signing the Simla Agreement. In his government, the parliament passed the 1973 Constitution. Relations with China and Saudi Arabia improved and Bangladesh was recognised. He also hosted the Islamic Conference in Lahore in 1974.
After appointing Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry the President, he became the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He initiated the country’s nuclear programme. However, Bhutto’s nationalisation created economic stagnation. His antidemocratic and feudal attitude forced him to commit many blunders. He crushed his opponents ruthlessly. In 1973, he ordered an army operation in Balochistan, causing deaths of thousands of civilians. He won the elections in 1977. However, the opposition blamed him for vote rigging. Religious parties and leaders also started protests against him. Zia-ul-Haq, the Army Chief, imposed martial law in the country in 1977. Bhutto was tried and executed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1979 for abetting the murder of a political opponent. Here, the judiciary again played its controversial role in hanging a political leader and supporting martial law.
Zia-ul- Haq’s era is regarded as the worst anti-democratic period in the history of Pakistan. To weaken the PPP in Sindh, Zia supported Altaf Hussain for making the MQM. The MQM introduced politics of violence in Pakistan. It killed thousands of innocent people in Karachi. After the invasion of the USSR in Afghanistan, Zia became a supporter of Islamic Jihad. To protect his interests, he introduced Islamisation to the country. He deliberately discouraged scientific and progressive education. He encouraged extremism by opening up new madrassas. After the defeat of the USSR, the extremists started killing innocent people of Pakistan. They killed more than 70,000 innocent people, including children and women. Although the army has crushed their power in the war against terror, they are not yet fully defeated. Zia also supported Nawaz Sharif to create the PML-N against the PPP. He got success in holding non-party based elections. After the death of Zia, the establishment supported Nawaz Sharif against Benazir Bhutto. The Apex Court’s decision in the Asghar Khan case fully endorses the fact.
Economically, Pakistan is also not a free country as it is a client state of the IMF and the World Bank. No country can make independent economic policy if it is entangled in a debt trap. Pakistan has taken 22 IMF programmes since 1958. It means Pakistan has taken one programme after every three years. In spite of taking the programmes, Pakistan has not made any economic progress. Rather, its loans are increasing year by year. Right now, Pakistan’s debt-to-GDP ratio stands at 93%. According to the Economic Freedom Index, created by the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal, Pakistan stands at 135 amongst 180 countries in 2020. Pakistan’s performance on government integrity, judicial effectiveness, fiscal health, property rights, financial and labour freedom is extremely poor.
The reason for the poor economic condition is simple. Pakistan cannot make its own economic policy based on national needs and goals. Rather, it is forced to chase targets set by the IMF, World Bank and other lenders. The lenders make policies for the country just to protect their loans and interest. They don’t allow the country to break their debt trap. People, like Hafeez Sheikh, are in the country to protect the interests of the IMF and the World Bank. No power in the country can remove them from their posts. It clearly shows that after 74 years, Pakistan is still not fully independent.