For the last two years, I have been watching, with the deepest anxiety the ruthless struggle for power, corruption, the shameful exploitation of our simple, honest, patriotic and industrious masses, the lack of decorum and the prostitution of Islam for political ends. There have been a few honourable exceptions. But being in a minority, they have not been able to assert their influence in the affairs of the country. These despicable activities have led to a dictatorship of the lowest order…

Some of our politicians have lately been talking of bloody revolution. Another type of adventure among them think it fit to go to foreign countries and attempt direct alignment with them which can only be described as high treason.

The mentality of the political parties has sunk so low that I am unable any longer to believe that elections will improve the present chaotic international situation… The same group of people who have brought Pakistan to the verge of ruination will rig the elections for their own ends…

They will not solve our difficulties. On the contrary, they are likely to create greater unhappiness and disappointments leading ultimately to a really bloody revolution. Recently, we had elections for the Karachi Municipal Corporation. Twenty percent of the electorate exercised their votes, and out of these, about fifty percent were bogus votes.”

The preceding paragraphs are extracts taken from the Proclamation of Emergency by President Iskandar Mirza on 7th October 1958. It is believed that President Iskandar Mirza wanted to avoid elections as he had little chance of being re-elected. In order to avoid the risk of holding elections, he declared the emergency, dissolved the assemblies, abrogated the 1956 Constitution and imposed the first countrywide Marital Law. Ayub Khan was appointed as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Chief Martial Law Administrator. Later on, Ayub Khan stripped of all the powers of the President, deported him from the country and took the reigns of the country with absolute power.

It has been more than five decades since the proclamation of emergency by President Iskandar Mirza. His intentions for imposing Marital Law are not relevant anymore. What is relevant is the charge sheet against the politicians mentioned in the proclamation of emergency. This is 2015, but if anyone was to impose Martial Law today I wonder if there is a need to change anything in the proclamation of emergency of 1958. Each and every single allegation against the politicians of 1958 holds true for the politicians of 2015. Before I am flooded with the accusations of being pro-dictatorship I should clarify that I am a pro-democracy and I support a leftist party or what is left of it now.

The argument put forward by the politicians for the flaws on their part is that because of constant interference by military dictators, institution building has not taken place and as a result democracy has not been able to deliver for the people of The Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I wonder what the argument would have been for the politicians in 1958 as there was no military intervention before that. The leadership at that time had been part of the freedom struggle against the British. Soon after independence, the Muslim League leadership forgot its promises and the struggle for personal power started.

The plight of Pakistan’s political development is due to the fact that the ruling elite have always tried to achieve their personal objectives at the expense of political development and nation building. During the freedom movement, Indian Muslims fought their case on the basis of the claim that they were a nation by any definition; hence they should have their own state. However, after the independence, the events took a different turn and Pakistan emerged as a state desperately looking for a nation. Since independence the ruling classes, rather than establishing a political system based on harmony, co-operation and participation of the federating units have tried to impose authoritarian systems of governance for their personal gains.

The dilemma faced by the people of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is that they do not have many options when it comes to political parties. The reality is that the politics of Pakistan has primarily been based on a two party system. Recently PTI has come forward with a third option for the people. In the current scenario it appears that precondition for $40 Billion plus investment by China is to improve the security situation and a crackdown on corruption which has been rampant for quite some time now. The recent crackdown in Karachi by Rangers both against terrorists and corrupt political parties is a result of that precondition. The situation in Sindh is worse than other provinces when it comes to corruption because PPP made a fatal mistake of trying to generate the same amount of revenue through corruption from one province that it generated at the Federal level in its previous tenure. The crackdown was bound to happen and the prediction is that it will not stop at Karachi and will reach Punjab and Islamabad in the next couple of months. When it comes to PML-N the corruption is of a different level and is more sophisticated; it is limited amongst the high ups. When it comes to PTI, they have got too many favourites amongst the party and its internal conflicts are going to hurt it more than anything else. The only thing working in Imran Khan’s favour is that there have been no allegations of financial corruption against him. It remains to be seen as to how he will deal with the internal conflicts of the party and whether or not he is able to lead the country.

The only good thing that has happened in the last year is that the security situation of the country has remarkably improved. All credit for this goes to the Armed Forces of Pakistan. However, it does not entitle them to interfere in the affairs of running the country. The fact is that the situation in 2015 is not very different from 1958 when it comes to political parties. Despite the fact that both leading parties have been there for decades they have not learned much from the past. One can only hope that they will learn and improve their governance with the current crackdown against corruption. If they do not, then one fine morning we can expect a speech that starts with “My dear countrymen….”. The charge sheet would be more or less the same as that in the proclamation of emergency of 1958.