Pakistan’s transition from Musharraf’s nine years of dictatorship to democracy can hardly be called a smooth one. The assassination of Pakistan’s only female Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto (the daughter of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto) was a severe blow to the leadership of the most popular political party in the country and was a reflection of the problems the country was mired in 2007. A militant insurgency the country is still in grip of.
Unlike the country’s cricket team, Politics in Pakistan has always been fairly predictable game. There is a pattern in Pakistan’s politics.A decade of democracy followed by a decade of military rule and even during the period of civilian rule military playing a pivotal role in creating and destroying factions within political parties. Taming the military has always been a challenge for the civil rule in the country. Historically, there has always been a friction between the country’s military and political leadership. Owing to external threats from a neighbouring country with which Pakistan shares a common history the relationship between these two pillars of power is based on mutual distrust and contempt that has once led to the break up of the country in 1971. An injury that still pains the country.
During exile in Ex-President and Retired General Pervaiz Musharraf’s regime, the two opposing and most dominant political parties reached a consensus that democracy and not military rule was the way toward future prosperity of the people and country, which they named “Charter of Democracy”, a paragraph of the text of that hallowed promise to the nation is given below;
Noting our responsibility to our people to set an alternative direction for the country saving it from its present predicaments on an economically sustainable, socially progressive, politically democratic and pluralist, federally cooperative, ideologically tolerant, internationally respectable and regionally peaceful basis in the larger interests of the peoples of Pakistan to decide once for all that only the people and no one else has the sovereign right to govern through their elected representatives, as conceived by the democrat par excellence, Father of the Nation Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah;
Source: Dawn Newspaper
In these few lines the leaders of the country reflected and agreed on solutions to myriad of problems confronting the country. Riding the tide of sympathetic public mandate PPP made a comeback to power and inherited an economy that was on the brink of collapse. Foreign reserves had plummeted to insufficient levels for international trade to take place. And added trouble was militancy. Instead of resolving the longstanding woes of the country the Zardari led PPP invested much of its political capital in preserving and accumulating the family’s financial capital. Financial irregularities took place in every major government controlled institution.
PML (N) on its turn to power had a huge burden of a broken society and economy and persistent militancy and an ambitious opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. The Prime Minister gave priority to first consolidating power and then came the economic governance of the country. During his five year tenure as Prime Minister of Pakistan, which is about to come to an end in 2018, Mr. Nawaz Shareef’s most crowning achievements are in foreign affairs and somewhat economic revival of the country. In foreign affairs Prime Minister Nawaz Shareef took a pro- active approach to raise the Kashmir issue which had been sidelined during Musharraf and PPP’s governments due to the grave internal threats the country faced in those turbulent times and strengthening economic and military ties with China. The party proudly boasts of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) that is believed to help in the economic uplift of the country in the next decade.
On home front the country’s current leadership, however, has busied itself in a diatribe with opposition parties due to the Prime Minister and his family’s involvement in Panama leaks scandal. These spates of criticism between political parties is part and parcel of politics in every country. Pakistan’s case, however, is a unique one. The leaders have never delivered on their promises and the “Charter of Democracy” never meant anything more than sharing the bounty of plunder between them. In a nutshell, these past nine years of democracy is a sad tale of the country’s leadership’s avarice and plunder of the national ex chequer to make for the losses of years in exile. And while PML (N) and PPP have put their differences on a backburner for the sake of whatever is in their minds. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is sounding a discordant note.
PTI’s leader Imran Khan, a former sportsman and captain of world cup champion cricket team of Pakistan, rules over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (a province of Pakistan most affected by terror attacks) has been the most vocal supporter of accountability of the culprits of financial corruption of leaders revealed in Panama leaks. Imran Khan’s credentials for the next elections to be held in 2018 are strong enough to challenge any party. Let’s see what he contributes to the democratic landscape of the country, if he were to become the Prime Minister in 2018.