LAHORE - The Pakistan People’s Party will be observing Thursday (July 5) as black day as on this day 37 years ago the government of then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had been toppled by his otherwise ‘humble servant’ Gen Ziaul Haq. Most of the other parties don’t share the grief because they think the overthrow of the PPP government was the logical result of what they call the stubbornness of then leadership.

Unfortunately, as the PPP leaders will recall the bitter memories of the day, they are conveniently forgetting that they have created a situation over the past four years which is conducive for another military intervention, and if the army leadership is reluctant to take over for whatever reason, they should be credited for exercising restraint. Many allege that the PPP, having failed to solve people’s problems, wants to be booted out to be able to claim that they had not been allowed to complete their mandated term and capitalise on their victimhood at some later stage.

In 1977, the elections held under the supervision of the PPP had been massively rigged and hence rejected by the then opposition parties. The opposition alliance – Pakistan National Alliance – comprising nine parties launched a movement against the government. Several rounds of talks between the two sides failed to resolve the crisis and the army, which had run out of patience, took over power.

In the talks, the PPP was represented by ZA Bhutto, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada and Maulana Kausar Niazi, while the PNA’s negotiators were Maulana Mufti Mehmud, Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan and Professor Ghafoor Ahmed.

Some people say that the intervention by Gen Zia was totally uncalled for as the two sides had reached an agreement. Others don’t subscribe to the assertion. The two sides will continue to stick to their respective points of view.

However, there is little doubt that the present government through its wrong policies has pushed the country almost to ‘Stone Age’, a situation Gen Pervez Musharraf had temporarily averted by extending fullest cooperation to the US after the 9/11 attacks. At the time then State Department official Richard Armitage had threatened that Pakistan would be thrown into the Stone Age if it did not cooperate with the US in war on terror.

Musharraf, living in self-exile ever since his resignation as president in August 2008, has been quoted as saying in an interview: “The state is being run to the ground at the moment, and people are again running to the military to save the country”.

While agreeing that the country’s Constitution is sacrosanct, he said: “Should we save the country and do something unconstitutional or uphold the Constitution but let the state go down?”

Musharraf himself had overthrown the PML-N government on October 12, 1999, and comfortably ruled the country for about nine years. With such a vast experience of military and political affairs, he must be fully aware of what is happening in the country at present and what the situation can lead to. What he is saying should not be underestimated by anyone.

Interestingly, some rightist writers as well as those having good contacts with the presidency these days also indicate that something extra-constitutional cannot be ruled out.

If something like this happens, only the government is to be held responsible. The fact is that the situation is beyond the control of the rulers. Even after four years in power, the government has failed to arrest the economic meltdown. Prices have gone beyond the reach of the common man. Rupee’s unbridled depreciation has made imported items more expensive, and this has raised the prices of many other items.

Corruption is so widespread that fingers are being raised even at the president. The controversy about his alleged Swiss accounts has taken the country hostage. The Supreme Court wants the money (about $60 million) brought back, but the law minister – who has been defending Mr Zardari and the late Benazir Bhutto in the Swiss cases – has been quoted as saying in an interview that there is not even a single dollar in the said accounts.

The new prime minister also faces corruption charges, as also his predecessor and his sons.

Law and order has slipped out of the government’s control. Killings have become order of the day in Karachi and the killers are at large.

In Balochistan, foreign agencies are playing their games. Disgruntled Baloch elements are playing into the hands of these agencies, because of which innocent people are being targeted. Enemies are trying to separate Balochistan. The writ of the Raisani government is limited to Quetta, just as Afghan President Karzai’s to Kabul.

Loadshedding has broken the back of the industrial sector. Flight of capital continues unabated. Drone attacks are being carried out despite parliament’s resolutions against them.

All this means that these failures provide ample justification for a military intervention. And if the military people are exercising restraint, the credit goes to them. Although opposition parties and the judiciary will not tolerate any extra-constitutional step they are not in a position to defend the failures of those in power.