Was it not just a decade ago when despite the hated ( by democracy lovers) regime of Genereal Pervez Musharraf, there was peace and stability in the country. But that is a bit too recent. Let’s go back to the times of General Mohammad Ayub Khan. Yes he did come to power through a military coup at a time when Pakistan was reeling with a quasi democratic regime and the political infighting between the various political powers were hell bent to the tear this newly formed country to shreds. Each had his own motives, but the one thing that they all agreed to was that each individual in his own right should lead the country. The question that was being ignored was, lead to what ?

On the other side of the divide was the other half of Pakistan, decimated as it was by the huge migration on the pattern of the western half, but with not one tenth of the resources to rectify the ills. A predominant Western Pakistani / Punjabi leadership was in no mood to share the very limited resources at their disposal with the Eastern half and thus were sown the seeds of separation. But this rot had to be stymied and in jumped the military. For all their faults and highhanded actions, Ayub Khan brought in Pakistan’s industrial revolution. Not only that, the agriculture sector was given special attention in both the half of the country and soon Pakistan was on the road to becoming an economic and social model. It was of no surprise when South Korea, Malaysia and even China asked for our model Five Year plans to implement in their own countries.

Our bureaucracy was hard working, honest and diligent. Our planning division was one of the best and our implementing institutions were second to none. There was widespread peace and stability in the country. Educational institutions were of the highest standards and health department was being improved at a fast pace. In short, the country was both prosperous and peaceful. The rumblings from the Eastern side started in the late sixties and eventually through a very tragic and depressing set of events, the two parts decided to part ways, but by than Ayub Khan was out of power and the road to progress was filled with potholes. Yayha and Bhutto opted not to bend to the forces of the times and Bangladesh came into being.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, for all his genius, was too hell bent to bring in a socialistic revolution in the country to have noticed the dismantling of the economic structure that was serving the demands of the population. Bhutto’s six years of rule were full of lofty slogans but absent were the tools for a progressive economy. Yes, he did set up the Pakistan Steel Mill with Russia’s help and did bring in agrarian reforms, but alas he missed out on securing the safety of the public and when the population at large is unsafe, there is bound to be resentment. All this led to his downfall and the eventual takeover by General Mohammad Zia ul Haq.

If ever there is going to be a more repressive regime then his, it would find itself up against a mountain. Giving the devil his due, for all his faults, Zia did put an end to petty crime and brought in a measure of safety to the general public. His faults were too numerous to count, and this not being the place to narrate them, he too brought in a modem of direction and civility to the narrative. An upward swing in the economic sector, strengthening of the industrial sector were there to keep the populous silent, but resentment was simmering underground for all his political shenanigans including the holding of Party less elections. But all things come to an end and so did Zia’s regime through an airbrush.

What followed Zia in the garb of democracy was nothing short of a circus. Nawaz Sharif and his Muslim League was created by Zia to take on Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan’s Peoples Party. Between these two leaders, whose animosity towards each other brought the country to its knees, a rampant and uncontrollable appetite to accumulate wealth to further their parties cause, led to a moral decay. Politicians were being bought as are the sacrificial animals at Eid. Each overthrowing the others government twice each within a decade. The country in the meantime was losing its economic zeal and the safety of the street. Nawaz in his insatiable appetite for complete power, did the unforgivable by his bizarre sacking of the then COAS Musharraf. The move blew up in his face and he ended up in a self imposed exile for ten years.

Generel Pervez Musharraf went after the erosion of public safety and economic stagnation with a vengeance. Those who had looted the country mercilessly were hounded by his accountability bureau. A prosperous, self confident, economically strong and vibrant society was emerging all around. People were feeling safe overall and they seemed to be eager to invest in the future of Pakistan once again. A wholehearted effort to improve the devastated educational setup was undertaken, the social and health sectors were being the much needed attention. Dams were being proposed and some even started to take care of the energy shortfall needs. To cap his efforts, General Musharraf brought in something that no other leader had dared to tackle, an open and vibrant media, both written and electronic. A powerful and open electronic media came into being and its fruits of openness are being felt to this day. Oh there are those who are intellectual midgets and do not have the honesty to give Musharraf the credit for an open media, which today is free to outline the shortcomings of the rulers to the public at large.

Musharraf too bit the dust to be followed by two of the most corrupt, dishonest and utterly incompetent governments that the world has ever seen. Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, in their five year terms have brought the country to a halt. There is no economic progress, no security of life and limb, no morality , no ethics, no Electricity , no clean drinking water, no working hospitals, basically a country on the verge of an economic implosion. In all this era of doom and gloom, the Supreme Court of Pakistan delivered a historic decision and ousted Prime Minister Nawaz for corruption etc.

We are now undergoing a period of hand wringing by those who matter, but not before it is too late, a decision to bring back the rule of law is eminent. The future that was Pakistan’s destiny, but was stolen by thugs in the garb of politicians, a democracy which was prostituted as never before in the world of civilized nations, is bound to rebound after the ouster of this vagabonds. How this all shall come to pass is not quite clear, but that it shall happen, there can be no doubt. The future of a civilized, developed, law abiding and law fearing, morally upright nation is our destiny. This country is going ‘Back to the future”, and no one shall be allowed to become a hurdle.

 

n            The writer is a freelance contributor.