“Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I
have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first”.
(Ronald Reagan). That defines the universal character of politics.
The politicians everywhere, tell lies and make reckless promises. Ours are
no different, except that ours are miles ahead of others in these fields.
All politicians seek to acquire power. It is a very genuine and legitimate
ambition to nurture. So do ours. But continue to blame others for doing so.
That is professional naivety.
The commonalities notwithstanding, every country has developed its own
political culture. Ours is thoroughly corrupt. But by comparison it is much
more benign and much less exploitative and unscrupulous than that of our
One propensity of our political culture was emphatically highlighted during
recent tempest in the Senate. The leaders of the opposition admitted that
their honorable senators were guilty of selling their souls to the devil,
(the government) in voting against their parties’ interest.
After one of the past senate elections a senator friend had to resort to
some arm-twisting to get back his 25 million he had given to someone to vote
for him. Those were the days when the rates of senate seats were being
openly discussed on the major TV channels without an eyebrow raised by the
honorable senators. My senator friend had said that despite the secret
ballot there were always ways to find who did not vote for you. It should
thus be possible for various leaders to find out the dissidents in their
parties. May be they have already found them out.
The strongest statement came from the leader of the opposition, Mr. Shahbaz
Sharif. He called these fourteen dissidents as Meer Jaffars and Meer Sadiqs.
One Meer Jafar of Bengal, a traitor was enough for the upset defeat of a
powerful Bengali ruler Siraj Ud Doula. That had paved the way for the
British rule in India.One Meer Sadiq brought about the downfall of the lion
of Mysore, Tipu Sultan. If one Meer Jafar and one Meer Sadiq could change
the course of history, fourteen of them coming together must have caused
ominous concerns in the opposition ranks.
That goes for the honorable members of the Upper House with serious
implications on legislation in the country. The other organ of the
parliament, the National Assembly had already acquired a notorious
reputation for horse-trading in the past. It is difficult to erase from
memory the days of Changa Manga and Murree where the MNAs were held hostages
to save them from the allurements of the opposite camp.
During the first reign of BB, a grade 19 civil bureaucrate posted in the
National Assembly came to my office. Before he took a seat he blurted out.
“What on earth is General Kakar (the COS) doing?” I was taken aback. General
Abdul Wahid Kakar enjoyed a tremendous reputation as a professional and an
honest and God fearing human being. He came from an illustrious background,
(nephew of Abdul Rab Nishtar) and carried himself with honor and dignity.
The emotional outburst continued. “He will be answerable to God for our
deplorable condition. All the members of the parliament whether belonging to
the ruling party or the opposition, with hardly an honorable exception were
concerned with their personal welfare. National interest got served, if at
all by default only. General Kakar as the COS has to save the nation from
I heaved a sigh of relief. Although it was difficult to convince him, I was
always for military remaining away from politics. But later when I had
closer exposure to the politicians’ functioning, I remembered this honest,
God-fearing, emotional young man still burning with the desire to give his
best to the country. He eventually rose to the highest position in his cadre
but what emotional losses he had to suffer on the way, only he could tell.
I could not and would not have conveyed the young man’s concerns to the
Chief, but I know for sure that many hadsounded similar apprehensions to
General Kakar, Jahangir Karamat and to Musharraf too. I remain convinced
that having known general Musharraf from very close, only a naïve Nawaz
Sharif could have pushed him into bringing about a coup. Not hit below the
belt, he would have retired asa good Army Chief and the Army as an
institution would have been sparred the pangs and shame of some terrible
blunders he committed at National level.
Coming to the Military I believe there is no holy cow. All are equal before
the law. But those parroting enemy propaganda without substance cannot hide
their real and vicious motives.For instance, the allegation of an
unsuccessful murder attempt made by the ISI Chief. The victim survived
afterapparently a mock attempt by those who had intimate knowledge of his
secret sojourn. It was a sheer insult to the efficiency of the ISI, a proven
pain in the neck to many famous foreign intelligence bigwigsthat it had
failed to execute a simple plan on its own soil. The childish manipulators
should have been sued for undermining ISI’s professional reputation.
The best of all came from Mr. Bazinjo. For a lifetime achievement award in
politics he was a sure candidate of a cock-sure opposition. It was not to
be. He dumped his and his backers’ failure on the Chief of ISI. Someone
suggested that the ISI had confronted the dissidents with some unmentionable
videos. To quote an innocent old lady, why had they allowed someone to make
ISI is actually busy with much more important issues. I suggest we leave it
and the Military alone to attend to their extremely sensitive business in an
alarming security environment.
Good luck to the politicians and their old culture in serious present
(Major General (r)Askari Raza Malik is the author of book, “Pakistan in
search of a Messiah”)