In a modern democratic state, respect for the Constitution and religion must go hand in hand. There should be absolute clarity that Pakistan is a constitutional democracy. Peoples’ mandate to amend the sacred document must be respected at all costs. Unfortunately, the vital organs of the state (Khakis, Qazis, Baboos) have repeatedly connived to manipulate and disfigure this article of faith. Such anti nation conspiracies must be thwarted for long term sustainability and welfare of the masses.

It took us nine years (1947–1956) to frame the constitution for the first Islamic democracy of the world. Despite the teething problems of a new nation, Pakistan became a republic with Baboo and Maj. General (Honorary) Iskander Mirza as the last Viceroy and the first President. The caravan of democracy was on track, even complex issues of population parity with the Eastern wing had been worked out. Ayub Khan’s martial and then abrogation of the constitution started the rot that ultimately resulted in the dismemberment of Quaid’s Pakistan.

Opinions differ on the forces behind this derailment, some believe that the elections in 1958 could have resulted in a victory for the progressive left while others maintain that the centrist Muslim League under Qayyum Khan was a strong contender. But there was no chance for right wing parties. Finally, when the first usurper was toppled and elections held in 1970, the Islami Ittehad performed very poorly. The Awami League prevailed in the Eastern Wing on an agenda of autonomy while the Peoples Party emerged victorious as a progressive force committed to social justice. The comrades played a major role in Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s (ZAB) rise to power; eventually he side tracked them but not before solid democratic gains like the framing of the unanimous 1973 constitution that ensures provincial autonomy and protects fundamental rights of the citizen.

The Nizam-e-Mustafa movement started after the allegations of rigging in the 1977 elections. Zia then toppled ZAB’s government on the promise of holding elections within ninety days. When the election monitoring cell within ISI reported that PPP was ahead of Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) in the election polls, the ballot was postponed. Right wing parties became an integral part of the unholy regime of the usurper. It did not stop here. Afghan war-I, Talibanization and fattening of the Mullas all took place during this period.

Another master-stroke was the formation of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI). The street power of the Jamaat was combined with the economic appeal of PML(N) while funds were provided by the Khakis to defeat the left of centre PPP led by Benazir Bhutto (BB). The Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered an inquiry followed by punishment of the culprits but no action has been taken as yet.

The fourth Khaki usurper upheld the traditions of the three dictators before him by forming another alliance of right wing parties called Muthida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). The alliance ruled KPK for five years and played a pivotal role in strengthening the politics of right wing conservatism. Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman has threatened to revive the same alliance to combat the forces of reason and peace.

Right wing politics has been thrust upon the nation against its wishes. The Khakis under a professional soldier have finally decided to pull the plug on their life support mechanisms.

While the progressives have been victimized, the conservatives have been propped up and supported against national interests.

Ayub Khan covered up his evil deeds under the garb of economic growth. Zia used Islam to prolong his misrule at the cost of dismantling vital state institutions; even the constitution was not spared. Musharraf claimed to be an enlightened individual but worked against national interests and continued to support the Mullas.

In order to move forward, nations must learn from their past mistakes. Now when the scrooge of terrorism has threatened the very existence of the state, the nation as always has responded. I heard an interesting comment: “when the Taliban were being formed, there was no discussion or debate as dollars were flowing in. Now that their threat is looming, a consensus is being sought. Why?’

In South Africa, the ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ was formed where the apologies of rulers were accepted and they were pardoned for their past crimes. The Vietnam war was disastrous for the US. The architect of this debacle, the Secretary of Defence Robert MacNamara, wrote a book called, ‘My Apologies,’ and asked for the forgiveness of the nation.

Cardinal sins have been committed against the people of Pakistan by three important pillars of state: Khakis, Qazis and Baboos. As a nation, while we correct our course, there must be apology, remorse and retribution from the individuals and institutions that were responsible for creating this mess. Containment of right wing politics is perhaps the single most retributory step that can be taken; it is the demand of the times.