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Humayun Gauhar | 25 JANUARY, 2015

Political + Judicial Failure = Military Courts in Pakistan

Military courts in Pakistan?


Jesus was given a crown of thorns and put on the cross. He conquered the world. Barnabas is known only because he was preferred over Jesus by his own people and pardoned. He is reviled the world over. The progeny of those who made the choice are suffering to this day.

Pontius Pilot gave the people of Palestine a choice at a feast: pardon Jesus Christ for challenging the Jewish rabbis or Barnabas the thief. The people chose to pardon Barnabas and sent Jesus to the crucifix. Jesus’s mission to cleanse Judaism of clerical influence, misinterpretations, rituals and traditions that they had foisted on it was called ‘heresy’. If he prevailed it would end their overlordship, their livelihoods and high stations that they had created for themselves. The rabbis wanted Jesus dead because he was shaking up their self-serving status quo like a revolutionary.

While Christians believe that Jesus was crucified Muslims believe that Jesus was lifted up to heaven and someone of his likeness was put on the cross. Both believe that he will return one day – “The Second Coming” – to save Mankind. Both also believe in the Immaculate Conception. So what’s this kerfuffle between Islam and Christianity about? It is about clerical power still pervading minds, power that still prevails in the secular notion of freedom of speech and makes it license. The separation of church and state weakened that power somewhat in Christianity, but Muslims still await the separation of mullah from statecraft, but more about that next week.

People continue making wrong choices for which they suffer. Thrice have we offered the crown to Nawaz Sharif and thrice has he accepted it, unlike Julius Caesar who thrice refused it. Four times have we offered the crown to the Bhutto-Zardari Combine and four times has it accepted it. Between them they have ruled Pakistan like a conquered fief, denuded it of its wealth and left its people in penury. Serves the people right for repeatedly making the wrong choices for hopefully their mistakes will make them learn lessons. The excuse that elections were rigged is getting worn. Rigged they certainly were but millions voted for Barnabas again and again anyway even though they had no Jesus to vote for. Today we have nothing: no independence, no basic needs, no fundamental rights, no education, no gas or water, electricity or petrol, diminishing transport, no security, no justice, no government, only the pantomime of democracy with our chosen Mafiosi playing the government-government charade in turns.

Our simplicity makes us wonder why our ‘elected’ governments don’t come up to our expectations and achieve our objectives. Why do they degrade our country so and disappoint us? It is because their objectives and ours are different, something we still have not realized.

Our objectives are that our governments should improve our condition with incremental progress and prosperity. Their objectives are to improve their own condition, increase their wealth and ensure that their progeny rules Pakistan forever. There can be no meeting point between our false expectations and their evil objectives. Thus delivery to us has been nil while rulers have achieved their objectives beautifully. Nawaz Sharif and family started out with only one steel foundry. Today their wealth is beyond belief – and growing – while our credulity is still not strained enough to make us see our fault. Asif Zardari started life selling cinema tickets on the black market. Today his wealth too defies credulity, but our credulity is still not strained enough to make us see our fault. The Sharif and Bhutto-Zardari clans should be given special Nobel Prizes for wealth creation and entrepreneurship for converting politics into the most lucrative business in the world. Yes, we the people are at the root of our troubles because we are incapable of differentiating between right and wrong, good and evil. Our minds, such as they are, pickled by mullahs and blown by the rhetoric of predatory politicians, are unable to recognize what is good for us and what is bad. Thus we suffer and our suffering continues and increases.

It is because of such incompetent and corrupt political governments driven by evil intent that we have had military or army rule four times. Those who bleat that had the army not intervened and allowed the political process to evolve can’t think straight. Their minds are still colonized; their thought processes hostage to alien political and social constructs. All they want is what they mistakenly think is democracy without understanding the creed. So what gets foisted on us is sham democracy of the worst and most rapacious kind. It is not a chicken and egg situation – which came first? Pakistan’s political chicken came first and its incompetence, malfeasance and corruption laid army eggs four times from which we have made an unpalatable omelet, so horrible that it would take unusual genius to unscramble it. So what do we do? We try and convert the horrible omelet into a scrambled egg and make a bigger mess of it. The army brings back the same old political eggs and some new ones of the same kinds and our downward spiral continues. The challenge now is to turn our political chickens into tigers that beget more tigers, not lay eggs.

Can you believe it, petrol petrol everywhere and not a drop to drink? If this doesn’t expose stark system and systemic failure, what does? Why? For one thing, never rule out crass stupidity, gross incompetence and malfeasance. What else can one expect of governments rived with stupidity, corruption and ignorance that are short on substance but long on symbolism?

I don’t know what the military’s fuel reserves are and how much they have been depleted, but an unbelievable thought occurs to me, unlikely though it seems. Could it be that the government has deliberately caused a fuel shortage to immobilize our armed forces fighting a war against terrorism because some of our ‘elected’ politicians in and out of government, clerical and otherwise, are sympathetic to terrorists? If true, this falls in the category of political suicide, which is their habit.

Today we have no branch of government or institution left, only hollow shells. All that remains are the armed forces. Four times have the politicians lost their crown to the army and the best part of it for a fifth now. Parliament has legislated the establishment of military courts and legally brought the army into politics because the judiciary has failed to bring terrorists, their aiders, abettors, sympathizers and funders to justice. To salvage its position, the Supreme Court has admitted writ petitions challenging the constitutionality of the legislation allowing military courts.

But the reality is that the army chief has become the de facto prime minister meeting other heads of government and also the foreign, defence, interior and part law minister while the de jure prime minister has been left to attend funerals. One slip up by the politicians or judiciary and the army chief could become chief executive made de jure by the Supreme Court again. So let us understand: political failure plus judicial failure equals military courts, and if they are not careful, it will equal army rule yet again. Back to square one.

Well done, Nawaz Sharif, you have achieved the impossible, not only made Asif Zardari look good but also lost power to your political father and now self-created nemesis the army. All that remains is the window dressing of civilian rule. Suits the army fine, for they have power without responsibility and suits America fine for their charade of democracy continues while the people take the hindmost. Such hypocrisy cannot last. Something has to give. When, only the gods know.

Thus it is that I am worried about the future of the military courts because an unlettered people wrongly think that military courts are equal to army rule that will exterminate terrorism. One fears that due to their limited mandate and the many restrictions placed on them coupled with politicians and fake democrats talking against them, the possible ‘failure’ of the military courts to end terrorism could lead to the perception of military failure and degrade our only remaining institution of last resort, after which there is the abyss.

Obviously it will also work for the politicians fine if the army is defanged. Methinks the army accepted this with its mouth open and eyes closed. They should think again about the road they have agreed to tread upon, lest it leads to a cul de sac from where retreat would be a bloody mess. It would work for our enemies fine too were the army disabled, defiled and weakened by losing respect of the people – the best way to destroy a nation as Ghazi Salahuddin Ayyubi said. Soldiers, of all people, should realize that if you fire half cock the gun could injure your hand. Don’t try and be cleverer than you are. Realize that our parliament is just a circus, our executive a Mafia and our courts full of hot air whose failure has led to military courts. They have failed not only because their former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry politicized the judiciary woefully but also because of incompetent police investigation unable to provide evidence, outdated criminal laws, fewer judges than needed and the unavailability of good judges who would rather be lawyers and earn more. How can a police, badly paid, ill-equipped and understaffed with an unconscionable number of them detailed to useless ‘VIP’ duties do its job when it too is laden with criminals recruited from jails by criminal politicians to work for their criminal purposes?

The military courts have been charged with cutting only the leaves of the tree of terrorism, not its roots. The roots created militant minds: the madrassas, the mullahs of certain mosques and religious politicians and their sympathizing politicians and political parties and our Muslim and non-Muslim ‘brethren’ and ‘allies’ who helped create them to exorcise their own demons. Political clerics and their fake democrat political sympathizers would not have the military touch the seminaries that churn our terrorists or the religious political parties that encourage terrorism and sectarianism. How then can you destroy the terrorism tree by just plucking its leaves where more leaves will grow without destroying its roots? It took us 40 years to create terrorism. It will take at least two generations to kill this monster before it kills Dr. Frankenstein who is badly wounded and bleeding the world over right now.

My wife sometimes says that I am a prophet of doom who causes gloom and sometimes praises me for seeing silver linings in the gloaming. Yes, I do see hope because the people are learning, but oh so slowly. More and more people are beginning to understand that the roots of our disease lie in our Constitution that begets our political, judicial and every other system that beget rapacious governments, that our systems are the roots of misgovernance, injustice and woes. That is a great leap forward. May we continue on the path of learning from our mistakes because election-after-election and coup-after-coup won’t get us out of our nosedive and start rising. Only the people can when they get wisdom after getting a thrashing because of their own mistakes. They are the best pilots. But what a thrashing they are getting right now.

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