What the Independence Day Demands?
By Sajjad Shaukat
On 14th August 1947, Pakistan Emerged as the biggest Islamic Sovereign Country on globe. In wake of emergence of Pakistan, Hindu majority conspired to convert this entity into a nightmare. Thousands of Muslims were massacred, women were raped and abducted and there was unprecedented exodus of Muslims towards Pakistan. Pakistan proved her resilience against all odds and after 71 years of its emergence as independent country, Pakistan has become one the most important countries of the region/world and the only nuclear power of the Islamic Ummah.
Although the 14th August is celebrated every year as the Independence Day, but, this time, it has come at a time when Pakistan is facing multiple threats of grave nature internally and externally, which are worrying all the citizens.
In this regard, on July 6, this year, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) awarded 10 year rigorous imprisonment (RI) along with 8 million pounds fine to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Avenfield graft reference. The court awarded 7 year imprisonment to his daughter Maryam Nawaz along with two million pound fine. The court also sentenced Maryam to one year in prison for submitting false documents in court. It awarded one year RI to her husband Captain (retd) Safdar. Afterwards, they were arrested and sent to Adiala Jail.
Following the verdict, Maryam and Safdar stand disqualified from contesting the July 25 general elections 2018.
In this respect, on July 28, 2017, five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan had announced its verdict in connection with the Panama Papers case and disqualified the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in relation to the charges of corruption. It said that Nawaz Sharif is not honest as he failed to disclose un-withdrawn salary as chairman of Capital FZE Jebel Ali, the UAE, London flats etc., while filing nomination papers in the 2013 general elections.
Supreme Court had also issued directives to the NAB to file references against the Sharif family on the basis of material collected and referred to by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in its report and other such material as may be available with the Federal Investigation Agency.
On the other side, deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and head of the Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) who started a procession from Rawalpindi to Lahore via GT road on August 9, last year, said that the huge rally had proved that the people of Pakistan have rejected his disqualification. Nawaz Sharif, while forgetting Supreme Court’s various decisions of the past, which went in their favour, declared the verdict of the apex court—conspiracy against his family and government.
While, leaders of the mainstream political parties such as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamaat-e-Islami had emphasized the former Prime Minister Sharif to accept the verdict of the Supreme Court. PTI Chairman Imran Khan remarked that by criticizing the decision of the apex court and Pakistan Army in this respect and through rallies of the PML-N, the disqualified P.M. Nawaz Sharif wanted to create rift between his party workers and the key institutes of the country. Some other political leaders, renowned persons and analysts have also expressed similar thought by opining that Nawaz Sharif seems determined to create anarchy in the country.
It is mentionable that in the recent past, in his various press releases and press conferences, the Director General of the Inter Services Publication Directorate (ISPR), Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said: “We have a role to play constitutionally, and we did. We obeyed whatever the Supreme Court had ordered us to do. Whoever’s domain anything falls in, they will solve it…The top court had appointed two members from the ISI and Military Intelligence to the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that investigated the Sharifs, which was questioned widely by critics…Whatever order the army receives within the law and the Constitution, we are required to follow it…In that process, there was nothing that the army produced or gave.”
Replying to a question, he dismissed the possibility of a martial law as a result of the friction between army and civilian authorities, saying “it should not even be talked about…We are busy in doing our duty as stated in the Constitution.”
Earlier, referring to the meeting of corps commanders held at the GHQ in Rawalpindi on August 7, 2017, ISPR DG stated that Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that Pakistan Army will uphold “supremacy of Constitution and rule of law.”
Meanwhile, while appreciating the verdict of the Supreme Court, Dr. Muhammad Tahirul Qadri Chairman of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) who returned Pakistan on August 8, last year, stated that he had come back to seek justice for the victims of the 2014 Model Town incident and their families. Notably, in June 2014, fourteen people, including several members of the PAT were killed by the policemen in Lahore.
Addressing a huge public gathering at the Nasir Bagh in Lahore, Dr. Tahirul Qadri said that a dishonest and disqualified person asks as to what is his fault—his question to this man is that what crime had the fourteen innocent people committed who were killed in cold-blood on June 17, 2014 in broad day-light—it is Allah’s way of holding the former premier accountable for shedding blood of innocent people in Model Town.” He stated that the “workers have authorized him to stage a sit-in—set to take place now will be the last and final one.”
Notably, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led by former cricket star got victory in Pakistan’s general elections, held on July 25, 2018. It was due to the personals of the Pakistan Army who were deputed inside and outside the polling booths that free and fair elections became possible in a peaceful atmosphere.
The Chief Observer, Michael Gahler of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Pakistan expressed satisfaction on overall conduct of the general elections, saying “efforts of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) were impressive and appreciable…EU observers noted the presence of security personnel inside and outside the polling stations did not interfere in electoral process…voting was assessed as well-conducted and transparent.”
On the same day, in a statement, the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, also congratulated the people of Pakistan for free and fair elections. Besides many Western and Muslim countries such as France, Germany, Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. including other Gulf countries congratulated Islamabad for conducting free and fair elections.
But, it is regrettable that the All Parties Conference (APC) which included the PML-N and the PPP, smaller political groups, including the Awami National Party (ANP), the MMA, the National Party, Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) in its second meeting, held on August 2, 2018 has denounced the parliamentary elections as sham and unfair.
Raising allegations of rigging in the elections, PPP leader Senator Sherry Rehman stated, “We have agreed to stages protests in the assembly and outside”.
APC formed a 16-member committee to come up with a future course of action in the next 48 hours. The action committee the APC has agreed to protest outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on August 8, this year.
However, quite opposite to the foreign observers who recognized that elections 2018 were free and fair, these political parties want to create unrest in the country to save their leaders and top parties’ workers from corruption charges, as Supreme Court of Pakistan and NAB have accelerated the cases of corruption which have become urgent issue for every patriot citizens of Pakistan.
It notable that the Pakistan’s armed forces have successfully broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the successful military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad which have also been extended to other parts of the country, including Balochistan. And Pakistan’s primarily intelligence agency, ISI has broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts.
Besides, since the government of the Balochistan province announced general pardon and protection to the Baloch militants as part of reconciliation process, many insurgents and their leaders have surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan. It is due to the successful operations of Pak Army and the Rangers that peace has been restored in Balochistan and Karachi.
Externally, from time to time, Pak Army and the Rangers have boldly been responding to India’s unprovoked firing at the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir. While, the fundamentalist party BJP led by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is implementing anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan agenda.
But, recent blasts in Balochistan and other regions of the country show that the US-led India, Afghanistan and Israel have again started acts of sabotage to destabilize Pakistan and to damage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
In this respect, in the recent past, new wave of terrorism in Pakistan, killed several innocent people, while various terrorist outfits, particularly the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL), and the affiliated faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA also known as JuA) claimed responsibility for these brutal acts. TTP based in Afghanistan has its connections with ISIL and other terrorist organizations and affiliated terror groups, including Baloch separatist elements, and all these outfits are promoting the anti-Pakistan agenda of the foreign entities against Pakistan. As part of the double game, CIA, RAW, Mossad and Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) which are in collaboration, are using these terror outfits in weakening Pakistan and especially Balochistan in order to fulfill the covert strategic aims of the US-led India and Israel against Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran.
These external secret agencies are especially supporting the TTP which is hiding in Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, Pakistan’s security forces have been facing a different war, while enemy is also different, which employs subversive activities of various kinds which also include internal and external challenges. In these terms, Pakistan is in the state of new war, being waged by the Armed Forces and intelligence agencies against terrorists.
At this juncture, Pakistan is facing multi-faceted crises and challenges like corruption, soaring prices, energy-shortage, unemployment, crimes, lack of health facilities, and dependence upon the US-led developed countries, IMF and World Bank for financial aid.
Present drastic situation cannot be comprehended by the general masses and even the political leaders who abruptly change their opinion. Therefore, they become unintentional victim of the external plotters who succeed in creating a rift particularly between the political groups, divided on ethnic and linguistic lines. These foreign enemies also seek to create a division between the political leaders and the armed forces of the country.
Nonetheless, today, Pakistan stands at the crossroads of its destiny, facing internal and external challenges and threats to the national security of the country.
At this critical moment, the Independence Day demands practical national unity, instead of verbal statements. This significant day emphasizes that our political leaders must pledge that they will not support their parties at the cost of the country. The opposition parties must not create obstacles in the way of apex court and NAB which have intensified crusade against the corruption. This very day demands that politicians should not manipulate their regional and provincial differences at the cost of the national interests so as to grab political power. In this connection, a blind dedication to one’s own race, tribe and creed should not be allowed to create hatred in one group against the other. They must avoid exploiting present thorny issues in order to increase their vote-bank at the cost of the integration of the country. If any controversy arises, it can better be settled in consonance with the constitution or mutual understanding of the new government and political parties. In this respect, in order to castigate the conspiracy of the external enemies against the integrity of the country, our political leaders, media and human rights groups must also stop manipulating any crisis against Pak Army and ISI whose image are deliberately being tarnished by the external plotters.
True and selfless unity against the external enemies require that our new rulers and leaders of other political parties and must create national cohesion among various segments of society. Particularly, our electronic media should give a matching response to malicious propaganda of the US-led some Western countries including India and Israel which are distorting the image of Pakistan, its army and ISI.
No doubt, at this crucial time, Pakistan’s survival lies in selfless practical unity and strong cohesion, as at present, even a layman can note that our country is in chaos and it seems as if there is a “war of all against all” in the sense of ‘Hobbesian state of nature.”
On the occasion, we must follow the essence of the Pakistan Resolution which explained the basic idea of an independent state (Pakistan) in real terms by displaying practical unity which is not possible unless the new government, the opposition leaders, civil societies and media owners including all other segments of society pledge to sign a charter of integration which is very necessary to pull the country out of the ongoing serious crises and threats.
We may conclude in wake of our internal and external crises that the Independence Day demands practical national unity.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations