Moving Pakistan away from Toadistan
My late father Nazir Ahmed Malik proudly displayed his Tehreek-e-Pakistan Gold Medal which he received for his struggle in the freedom movement. For defending his neighbourhood in Ludhiana, he was sentenced to be hanged. With a head money of Rs5000, he barely escaped capture by the authorities to cross the Wagah border on August 18, 1947, hidden in a convoy of Madrassa-ul-Banat ladies who were being transported to Lahore, leaving a flourishing watch business behind, starting life all over again.
My grandfather wanted to return to his roots in Baramula Kashmir, so he settled in Rawalpindi as it was closer to home. Their hopes of returning were shattered after the ill-fated war to liberate the valley in 1948. As Rawalpindi of the late forties and fifties was just a Garrison town with limited opportunities, my old man started his watch business in Lahore. Most people from Ludhiana were industrious, honest and simple. Through sheer hardwork, the family was able to establish their businesses in the new land. He remained a leading importer of watches till October 1958, till the time that the toadies regrouped to take over Pakistan. Since then, the struggle has been ongoing between the forces of Pakistan and ‘Toadistan’. In this struggle, we lost the eastern wing of the country.
The in-between democratic period (1971 to 1977) was eventful but short. Once again, the Toadies regrouped under Zia the third usurper. He produced his own brand of politicians and so did Musharraf, the fourth dictator.
Recently, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the last PML-N Prime Minister (PM), was talking about the need for a truth and reconciliation commission to clean up the mess of the last four decades. The suggestion is worth exploring, as it may be the only way forward for a fresh start to return to Pakistan from Toadistan. The terms of the commission have to be clearly defined. In South Africa, where Nelson Mandela introduced this approach, the accused were required to accept their mistakes and then seek forgiveness; those who did not were then tried under the law of the land. In the Charter of Democracy signed by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif in May 2006, there was agreement on establishing such a forum to wash away the sins of the past, but it did not happen.
At the time of partition, Punjab was under ‘Toady Rule’ of big land owners like Sir Sikander Hayat, Khizar Hayat Tiwana etc. Fearing land reforms in India under Nehru and Sardar Patel, the Toadies joined the Muslim League enmasse. Today the situation is different but some estates do exist which calls for reforms. The issue of land reforms was discussed several times in the PTI Core Committee meetings but was always opposed by the electables whose survival is linked with ‘Toadistan’ and the influence they enjoy because of it. In one of the meetings, ownership of land was equated with industrial and commercial holdings. Hamid Khan rightly pointed out that in cities, industrialists do not enjoy absoulte authority as land owners do in rural settings where the entire civil administration is subservient to them. Effective land reforms will certainly dent ‘Toadistan’ and help improve the agricultural sector of the country together with rural development that has been largely ignored.
The unanimously agreed constitution can also play an effective role in strengthening Pakistan with its pro people legislation. The constitution envisages a federation and not a confederation. Provincial autonomy was guaranteed but never exercised. The 18th amendment has weakened the federation which has become economically unviable. The Chief Minister Punjab (CM) has now become more important than the PM, which means ‘Toadism’ is gaining strength at the cost of the federation. To strengthen Pakistan, ‘Toadism’ has to be dealt with in its heartland, the fertile land of the five rivers called Punjab.
The Senate of Pakistan in which all the federating units have equal representation can play an effective role in controlling the ‘Toadies’ who continue to hijack democracy by their lack of ownership and vision. The upper house can be made more powerful together with direct elections as is done in the United States of America, the oldest democracy of the world. Despite its limitations, the Senate has played an important role in blocking the expansion of ‘Toadistan’. In his second stint in power, Nawaz Sharif, succeeded in declaring himself Ameer-ul-Momineen by the lower house in which he enjoyed absolute majority. The bill then went to the upper house where my friend the great Comrade Aitzaz Ahsan blocked it. It was the Senate of Pakistan that saved the federation and the land of the pure continues to be a constitutional democracy. The role of the upper house is vital in strengthening the federation. In the US, all cabinet members and judges have to face scrutiny of the Senate before their appointment.
The threat of ‘Toadistan’ exists and must be taken seriously to save the Islamic Republic of Pakistan before it is too late. While I write this article, I continue to glance at my father’s Tehreek-e-Pakistan gold medal with mixed feelings, hoping to pass on the legacy to my children of fighting for freedom against the enemies within, the ‘Toadies’ that we inherited, who continue to rule over us under the democratic camouflage of ‘Electables’.
Dr Farid A Malik
The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email: firstname.lastname@example.org