INDEPENDENCE WITHOUT DEMOCRACY!
During these 59 years, the basic concerns that arose were both on the political paradigm and also linked with the economic structure.
SADAF AURANGZAIB, Senior Correspondent
Aug 14 - 20, 2006
Independence is a fervor, a passion that we gained some 59 years back and each day we live in the peace and serenity that it brought with it. Pakistan became an independent country with a nation of several thousands whose abode and love are connected with its soil. We are the young nation who was not present in the struggle which our elders faced for us to give us a life full of tranquility, values and liberty. Let us look Pakistan's scenario in the aftermath of the independence struggle.
During these 59 years, the basic concerns that arose were both on the political paradigm and also linked with the economic structure. The irony of our nation is the fragmented approach of its leaders who ruled the country; our country remained in the turmoil of which is better or which is not, the both military and civil authoritarian rule have disposed our countrymen to think in the wider terms of what democracy is, what independence really means.
Our country have seen many eras, some of which brought development, many of it brought devastation not just to the economy but also to the mercantile approach, the businessmen in many times remained skeptical about the investment made and its return. Political instability has caused the indelible marks on the face of our economy. Whoever being elected or selected used to have just one policy and that is of lobbying, making your way straight, no matter what it cause to others. From the time Ayub Khan took over, and the reins of the politics went to the army, the infiltration of the forces to run the economy remained a failed practice.
In these 59 years, Pakistan fought two wars with India, lost its home ground of East Pakistan, testing nuclear war heads that resulted in severe sanctions from USA that were later lifted from Pakistan to help US in Afghanistan. In the wake of these years we saw more of the military rule and less of the democratic rule.
LET US LOOK INTO THE PARLIAMENTARY, POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC HISTORY:
The Muslims of India had, since the middle of the nineteenth century, begun the struggle for a separate homeland on the basis of the Two Nation Theory. Despite their long association and interactions at various levels, the Hindus and Muslims of India remained two separate and distinct socio-cultural entities. Their social segregation persisted due to their fundamentally divergent beliefs and practices, resulting in the demand for a separate homeland. Keeping in view the situation, the British, who ruled India at that time, were left with no option but to eventually accept the demand of the Muslims of India.
After the creation of Pakistan, the major task was to give nation a constitution on which basis the leaders could run the country. The first constitution was given in 1956 and later the political instability ruled the parliament and abrogated the laws of constitution.
In the absence of any law to control the Political Parties and the problem of floor crossing, political instability perpetually ensued. Although the first general elections were scheduled for early 1959, President Sikandar Mirza abrogated the Constitution, dissolved the National and Provincial Assemblies and declared Martial Law on 7th October 1958. He appointed General Muhammad Ayub Khan, Commander-in-Chief of the Army, as the Chief Martial Law Administrator.
On 27th October 1958, General Muhammad Ayub Khan took over as the second President of Pakistan. One of the major steps taken by him was the appointment of a Constitution Commission on 17th February 1960 under Muhammad Shahabuddin. The objective of this Commission was to submit proposals as to how best democracy can be strengthened and molded according to the country's socio-political environment and Islamic principles of justice. The Commission submitted its report to the Government on 29th April 1961. On the basis of this report, a new Constitution was framed and given to the nation on 1st March, 1962.
The 1962 Constitution envisaged a Federal State with Presidential form of government, with National Assembly at the center and the Provincial Assemblies in the Provinces.
The Legislatures, both at the center and in the provinces, were unicameral. The Federal system had been curtailed by allowing the Provincial Governors to be appointed directly by the President. All executive authority of the Republic of Pakistan, under the Constitution, vested in the office of the President. He appointed his Cabinet members who were directly responsible to him.
On 25th March 1969, the second Martial law was imposed and General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan took over as the President of Pakistan and Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA). He later issued a Legal Framework Order, under which the first ever general elections were held on 7th December 1970. This was the first Assembly elected on adult franchise and population basis. This Assembly could not meet due to grave political differences. Subsequently, the Province of East Pakistan seceded from West Pakistan and became Bangladesh.
On 20th December 1971, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto took over as the President of Pakistan as well as the first civilian Martial Law Administrator. On 17th April 1972, an Interim Constitution was adopted by the National Assembly which provided for a Presidential form of Government. The Assembly also formed a Constitution Committee on 17th April 1972 to prepare the first draft for framing a Constitution. This Constitution, called the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973, came into force on 14th August, 1973. On the same day, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto took oath as the Prime Minister while Mr. Fazal Illahi Choudhary took oath as the President of Pakistan.
The 1973 Constitution provided for a Parliamentary form of Government where the executive authority of the State vested in the Prime Minister. The President, according to the Constitution, was at the apex, representing the unity of the Republic.
From 1947 to 1973, the country had a unicameral system of legislature. Under the 1973 Constitution, Pakistan adopted the bicameral system at the center, called "The Parliament", comprising the President, the National Assembly and the Senate.
Under the 1973 Constitution, the National Assembly is elected for a five years term, unless sooner dissolved. Despite the tenure of the Assembly being five years, as prescribed in the Constitution, Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, on 7th January 1977 announced the holding of elections before time.
Consequently, on 10th January 1977, he advised the President to dissolve the National Assembly. Elections were held on 7th March 1977. The Opposition charged the government with rigging the elections to the National Assembly and thereafter boycotted the Provincial Assemblies elections. Since the Opposition had not accepted the National Assembly elections result, they did not take oath. This resulted in a political crisis and Martial Law was imposed by the then Army Chief, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, on 5th July, 1977.
On 24th December 1981, under a Presidential Order, a Federal Council (Majlis-e-Shoora) was constituted. In this way, limited and controlled political activities were resumed, as a result of which general elections were later held for the National and Provincial Assemblies on 25th February 1985, on non-party basis.
On 2nd March 1985, the revival of Constitution Order was issued through which a large number of amendments were made in the Constitution. In November 1985, the 8th Constitutional Amendment was adopted by the Parliament. Besides changes in other Articles of the Constitution, Article 58(2)(b) was added, according to which the President acquired discretionary powers to dissolve the National Assembly. The Article 58(2)(b) was later on omitted form the Constitution through the 13th Amendment. The Amendment became an Act after receiving the assent of the President on 3rd April 1997.
Several ups and downs in the successive governments were remained as a loophole to have a fair system of democracy.
Chief of Army Staff General Pervaz Musharraf took over the Government from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and became the Chief Executive through a Proclamation of Emergency, on 12th October 1999. Through the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) issued on October 14th, 1999, he held the Constitution in abeyance, suspended the Senate, National and Provincial Assemblies, Chairman and Deputy Chairman Senate, Speaker and Deputy Speaker and Provincial Assemblies and dismissed the Federal and Provincial Governments. The President, Mr. Muhammad Rafiq Tarar, was, however, allowed to continue in his office. The Suspension Orders were challenged in the Supreme Court. The Court in its judgment on 12th May 2000 validated the military take-over and gave three years time to the government, starting from 12th October 1999, to complete its agenda and then hand over power to the elected government. The Court also allowed the military government to bring necessary Constitutional Amendments, provided that those should not change the basic feature of Federal Parliamentary democracy, independence of judiciary and Islamic provisions of the Constitution.
On 20th June 2001, through a notification (C.E. Order No.1), the Chief Executive assumed the office of the President of Pakistan under President's Succession Order, 2001.
On the same day, through another Order (C. E. Order No.2, 2001), the President converted the orders of suspension of the legislative bodies and their presiding officers, into dissolution, Constitutional/political reforms were also undertaken.
After having a detailed outlook of the country's instability with regard to a political volatility that causes an err to take Pakistan in the race of dynamism and towards the road of development, we can understand that in all these years we simply lingered with the idea of democracy and the hackneyed practice of non conformity of the soul of the idea made us all an unprovoked nation.
Political instability also caused huge problems to build a strong economy that could survive the foreign pressures. All the leaders who came time and again and played with the politics also mishandle the economic practices and always brought a new economic plan whether it suited or not but it did get implemented.
The economy of Pakistan grew by 5.1 percent annually during the period from 1965 to 1980 and by about 6 percent during the 1980s and early 1990s. Nevertheless, in the early 1990s, the majority of the nation's citizens remained poor and heavily dependent on the agricultural sector for employment. This was largely a result of the country's high rate of population increase, but political factors, such as the war of secession waged successfully by East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1971 and a coup in 1977, also slowed economic growth and modernization. In 1994 Pakistan's gross domestic product (GDP) was $52 billion.
Nationalization brought devastation and major industrialists got hit when major industries have been nationalized. A government economic plan for 1978 to 1983, however, recommended that private capital be given a greater role in the industrial sector; the plan for 1983 to 1988 emphasized investment in hydroelectric power and rural development. A plan implemented in 1988 to liberalize internal and external trade and privatize more sectors of the economy had produced increases in the GDP growth rate, export revenues, and domestic and foreign investment by the early 1990s. In 1993 the government moved to reduce the nation's deficit and lessen its reliance on foreign aid and loans, by introducing, among other measures, a national sales tax and increases in fuel taxes. The estimated annual budget in the early 1990s included an estimated $9.4 billion in revenues and $10.9 billion in expenditures. Pakistan receives considerable economic assistance from foreign countries and from international organizations. The United States, which had imposed economic sanctions against Pakistan in 1990 in order to protest Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, lifted the sanctions in January 1996, clearing the way for economic assistance.
The recent government has taken few steps where the macro figures shows high rate of development and in view of Dr. Ishrat Hussain
"The recent government has provided an enabling and conducive environment for growth of economic activities in the future and foundation has been laid which will result in economic prosperity and stability. In the short term, we have to fight against inflation because it has hit the lower income groups and fixed wage earners the most. It will take five to ten years of sustainable high growth rates of 6 per cent or above to bring the incidence of poverty down to 16-17 per cent from the present level and improve the standards of living of the majority of population. This is possible if the policies are consistent and continued, external environment remains favourable and there are no sanctions or discrimination against Pakistan, good governance is practised, institutions for delivery of basic services to the poor are devolved and strengthened but most important political stability is entrenched. All political parties should agree on a common agenda that economic policies would continue in the larger interest of the country whichever party comes to power. After all they are all agreed on the need for rapid economic growth, macroeconomic stability, poverty reduction, improvement in social indicators and prosperity for the majority of the population. Of course, there will be fine tuning, adjustments and adaptation during the course of implementation, but the vision and direction would remain unchanged.
China has set its path to economic progress as far back as 1980 and there have been changes in the leadership of the Party but the direction and policies have remained the same. They have proactively managed the policies in light of changing external and domestic conditions. We can all see the spectacular results China has achieved in reducing poverty and bringing prosperity to the majority of their population.
In Pakistan also, the policies have to be adjusted in the light of unforeseen or unanticipated events. When inflation was low, the benefits of financial sector reforms, liberalization and competition were passed on to the borrowers as a policy aimed at kick start of the economy. As inflationary pressures have intensified in the recent months, the higher interest rates will raise the rates of return to the bank depositors who have been suffering for the last four to five years."
Thus all these happenings making our future are along with the shadows of our past, the pre-independence struggle and the post-independence period. Nonetheless our hope to have a democracy in the lines of real truth and beauty still breathe in us and every year on Independence Day celebration we pray to Allah to make us a democratic, stable and liberal nation without any provincial, ethnic or lingual jealousies so that we can meet the challenges that are coming ahead.