Agitational Politics to Engineered Politics
The history of Pakistan reveals two distinct eras of its politics, i.e., from agitational politics to engineered politics. Political agitation (1947–1971) and political engineering (1972–present) are the two separate eras that make up Pakistan’s political history. Both eras have the characteristic of putting diverse tactics to use to stifle political movements rather than coming up with a remedy.
Since the military in Pakistan has significant power and the capacity to affect the political process, everyone turns to the military establishment during times of political unrest for guidance or action. To govern the socio-economic and political conflicts in society, the military is more likely to use forceful, disciplinary methods because it is thought that they are unable to understand the complexities and nuances of complicated political circumstances.
Pakistan is an emerging society, where political confrontations are frequent, and fresh political forces are pushing for a bigger say in the political system after being freed up by socioeconomic transformation processes. For the military, which is not trained in the art of compromise, negotiating, verbal skills, mass appeal, and give-and-take, the dilemma of tolerating dissidents and integrating, or at least containing different socio-political forces becomes more difficult.
These presumptions are the foundation for the idea that military regimes are “inherently unstable.” The ultimate remedy for political gridlock has always been military action, as we will see in the paragraphs that follow. There are two distinct and ostensibly distinct eras to these interventions by the Pakistani military establishment: political agitation prior to intervention and intervention through political engineering.
Language riots in 1948
On March 11, 1948, students at the University of Dhaka and other local colleges organized a national strike to protest the Bengali language’s exclusion from official usage, which included use on coinage, stamps, and naval recruiting exams. The organization reiterated its call for the Dominion of Pakistan to designate Bengali as an official language.
During the rallies, political figures like Shamsul Huq, Shawkat Ali, M Sirajul Islam, Kazi Golam Mahboob, Oli Ahad, Abdul Wahed, and others were detained. After attempting to steal a firearm from a police officer, rally leader Mohammad Toaha was taken to the hospital. Abdul Matin and Abdul Malek Ukil, two prominent student leaders, marched in the parade.
On March 11, there was a gathering to voice opposition to arrests and police abuse. In front of the Dhaka High Court, a group of students marching toward the residence of the chief minister Khawaja Nazimuddin was halted. The gathering shifted its course to head toward the Secretariat building. A. K. Fazlul Huq was among the students and leaders hurt as police broke up the parade.
The following four days saw continued strikes. Under these conditions, chief minister Nazimuddin signed an agreement with the student leaders, accepting some terms and conditions but refusing to give in to the demand that Bengali be declared the official language of the state.
The Anti-Ahmadiyya Movement of 1953
The Lahore Disturbances of 1953 were a series of violent riots against the Ahmadiyya Movement, a marginalized faith in Pakistan, primarily in the city of Lahore and the rest of Punjab. The Pakistan Army eventually put an end to the riots by imposing martial law for three months. The protests started in February 1953 and quickly spread to the entire city, resulting in looting, arson, the murder of 200–2000 persons, and the displacement of thousands more.
The Punjab Government’s official investigation found that about 20 people were killed in these disturbances. According to page one of the inquiry, “Before the declaration of Martial Law, the police had to resort to firing in several places, and at least two people were killed on the night of March 4 and ten on March 5.
Additionally, sixty-six other people must have been injured in the firing because many wounded people admitted to the Lahore hospitals had gunshot wounds. Eleven people were killed and 49 were injured, according to the military, in their effort to put an end to the unrest in Lahore.
Lahore returned to normal after the 70-day military deployment, which was the military’s first venture into civilian politics. Maulana Abdul Sattar Khan Niazi, the Secretary-General of the Awami Muslim League, was detained and given a death sentence, but it was later commuted. The riots also had unprecedented political repercussions.
On March 24, Ghulam Muhammad first fired Mian Mumtaz Daultana as Punjab’s chief minister, accusing him of using the religious component of the anti-Ahmadi violence for political gain. The whole federal cabinet as well as Prime Minister Khwaja Nazimuddin were then fired by Ghulam Muhammad on April 17 using his unique powers granted by the Government of India Act 1935.
He was replaced by Muhammad Ali Bogra, Pakistan’s ambassador to the US. Within hours following Nazimuddin’s ouster, Bogra, who had no idea why he had been brought back, took the oath as the new Prime Minister.
The Punjab Disturbances Court Of Inquiry was constituted on June 19, 1953, to investigate disturbances. The investigation kicked off on July 1 and held 117 hearings. Arguments in the case continued until 28 February 1954 after the conclusion of the evidence on 23 January 1954. The report was released on 10 April 1954 after conclusions had been drawn.
Pakistan appointed seven prime ministers and one commander-in-chief between 1950 and 1958, a record that may be attributed to the political immaturity of the country’s leadership hopefuls. There was ongoing conflict and instability inside the parliamentary system’s political leadership and government, in addition to the ongoing changes in administration.
At the same time, in 1958, Pakistan was experiencing a severe economic crisis as a result of “a lack of consumers, rising costs, a lack of food, financial irresponsibility, and extensive deficit financing by the government.” Additionally, the government’s foreign exchange reserves were declining, and the Treasury was empty.
The demonstrations against Ayyub Khan’s autocratic government
The 1968 Movement in Pakistan was a component of the uprising against Ayub Khan’s autocratic rule. People from all walks of life joined in what appeared to be a major student and worker uprising. Around 10 to 15 million people participated in the rebellion, which lasted from early November 1968 to the end of March 1969. Ayub Khan’s government was overthrown as a result of the movement.
As Ayyub Khan celebrated the “Decade of Development” in the early months of 1968, disgruntled people launched agitations. Early in October 1968, the National Students Federation (affiliated with the Maoists branch of the Communist Party of West Pakistan) launched a protest movement to attract attention to the “Decade of Development” and made demands.
On October 7, 1968, Demands Week began, and the first protest was held in front of the Board of Secondary Education in Karachi. Later in November, when a group of Rawalpindi students were returning from Landi Kotal and stopped at customs inspections near Attock, the movement spread throughout the nation. Customs agents forcefully greeted them. They protested against the police’s mistreatment upon their return to Rawalpindi as a result of their ordeal.
When protests reached a significant magnitude, the police attempted to break them up and shots were fired. A student at Rawalpindi Polytechnic College, was shot and killed. The death of the student galvanized the entire society and the workforce to join the unhappy individuals who were already protesting a hike in the price of sugar.
Peasant committees and organisations from the countryside of the nation joined the campaign in early 1969. Senior military officers encouraged Ayub to resign in March 1969 out of concern about the outbreak of a full-fledged civil war in East Pakistan as well as the political and social disorder in the country’s western region. Even Ayub Khan acknowledged how the movement had rendered the government and society ineffective.
Ayub Khan, the president of Pakistan, announced his resignation on March 25 and that he would hand over power to Gen. Yahya Khan, the head of the army.
Rise of Awami League
Over time, any sense of religious unity between the two wings was gradually overshadowed by disparities in culture and language. The West Pakistani elite, who felt that Bengali had absorbed a significant amount of Hindu cultural elements, found the Bengalis’ language and culture to be repugnant and disdained their Bengali script and terminology.
West Pakistanis wanted the Bengalis to embrace Urdu to “Islamize” the East. Bengalis who supported rejecting Pakistan’s communalism in favour of secular politics were encouraged to do so by the language movement’s actions. Through its journal, the Awami League started spreading its concept of secularism to Bengali readers.
The Awami League distinguished themselves from the Muslim League by emphasising secularism. Secularists celebrated the Bangladeshi win as the triumph of secular Bengali nationalism over religion-centered Pakistani nationalism in 1971, when secular leaders led Bangladesh’s freedom battle against Pakistan. Bangladesh was founded as a secular state, but Pakistan’s government aspires to create Islamic state.
The Awami League tried to establish a secular order after the liberation war, and the pro-Pakistan Islamist groups were forbidden from running for office. The bulk of East Pakistani ulama had remained neutral or backed the Pakistani state, believing that Pakistan’s disintegration would be damaging to Islam.
Even though East Pakistan had a tiny majority of the country’s population, West Pakistanis retained political control. Because a simple population-based system of representation would have concentrated political power in East Pakistan, the West Pakistani elite devised the “One Unit” model, in which all of West Pakistan was designated as one province. This was done to counterbalance the votes of the East Wing.
East Pakistanis observed that the West Pakistani elite would promptly remove any East Pakistani-elected prime minister of Pakistan, including Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Mohammad Ali Bogra, and Khawaja Nazimuddin. The military dictatorships of West Pakistanis Ayub Khan (27 October 1958–25 March 1969) and Yahya Khan (25 March 1969–20 December 1971) added to their worries.
The situation reached a climax in 1970, when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Bangladesh Awami League, the main East Pakistani political party, won a landslide victory in national elections. The party won 167 of the 169 East Pakistan seats, giving them a majority of the 313 seats in the National Assembly.
The Awami League now has the constitutional authority to form a government. However, the Pakistan People’s Party leader, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (a former Foreign Minister), refused to allow Rahman to become Prime Minister of Pakistan.
The Troika Power Play: Yahya, Bhutto, and Rahman
The two leaders of the two wings met with President General Yahya Khan in Dacca to discuss the fate of the country. When their conversations yielded no results, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called for a countrywide strike. Bhutto dispatched Mubashir Hassan, a trusted confidant because he was afraid of a civil war. Rahman received a message and decided to see Bhutto.
When Rahman first arrived, he met with Bhutto, and the two of them decided to establish a coalition government with Bhutto as president and Rahman as premier. Sheikh Mujib eventually ruled out the prospect of such a partnership. Bhutto put pressure on Rahman to make a choice, while the military remained unaware of these events.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Freedom speech
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who would soon become prime minister, spoke at the Racecourse Ground on March 7, 1971. (Now called the Suhrawardy Udyan). In addition to his well-known six principles, he included a further four points in this speech during the National Assembly meeting on March 25:
·The immediate lifting of martial law.
·Immediate withdrawal of all military personnel to their barracks.
·An inquiry into the loss of life.
·Immediate transfer of power to the elected representative of the people before the assembly meeting on 25 March.
Every home should be turned into a fort of resistance, he exhorted his people. He concluded by adding, “For our freedom, we fight. For independence, we are fighting.” The key event that motivated the country to fight for independence is regarded as this speech. To assume the position of Governor of East Bengal, General Tikka Khan was flown into Dacca. He was not sworn in by justices from East Pakistan, including Justice Siddique.
Pakistan International Airlines cancelled all of their international routes between March 10 and March 13 in order to quickly transport “official people” to Dacca. Nearly majority of these “government passengers” were Pakistani soldiers dressed casually.
The Pakistan Navy ship MV Swat was docked in Chittagong Port with soldiers and ammunition on board, but the port’s Bengali crew members refused to unload the ship. A mutiny among Bengali soldiers was started when a unit of East Pakistan Rifles disobeyed orders to fire on Bengali demonstrators.
Although the violence was concentrated in Dacca, the provincial capital, it spread to every region of East Pakistan. Particularly targeted were the University of Dacca’s student rooms. The Pakistani military burned Jagannath Hall, the lone residential hall for Hindus, and executed 600 to 700 of its occupants. Although the Hamoodur Rahman Commission in Pakistan found that excessive force was used at the university, the Pakistani army denied any cold-blooded executions had taken place there.
The arrest of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
The Pakistani Army detained Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Brigadier (later General) Rahim Uddin Khan was chosen by Yahya Khan to preside over a special tribunal that would try Rahman on a number of counts. The tribunal’s ruling was never made public, but Yahya nevertheless managed to have the decision suspended. Several Awami League leaders fled Dacca to avoid capture, while other Awami League leaders were also detained. General Yahya Khan outlawed the Awami League.
The radio broadcast of the Declaration of Independence on March 26, 1971
Some students in Chittagong received a telegram that contained the text of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s proclamation. Dr. Manjula Anwar translated the message from English into Bengali. The students were unable to obtain approval from higher officials to broadcast the message from the neighboring Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation Agrabad Station.
The independent Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro Radio, which was started by some dissident Bangali Radio employees in Kalurghat, read the message multiple times. Major Ziaur Rahman was instructed to provide protection of the station and he also read the Declaration on 27 March 1971. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s representative, Major Ziaur Rahman, televised the declaration of independence.
Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra is this. At Bangobondhu Mujibur Rahman’s request, I, Major Ziaur Rahman, hereby proclaim the establishment of the Independent People’s Republic of Bangladesh. I have assumed responsibility as the Republic’s interim leader at his order.
I urge all Bengalis to rise up in opposition to the West Pakistani Army onslaught in the name of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. To the very end, we will struggle to set our nation free. By Allah’s Grace, victory is ours. Happy Bangla. Despite the Kalurghat Radio Station’s limited ability to transmit, a Japanese ship in the Bay of Bengal managed to receive the message. Later, Radio Australia and the BBC both broadcast it again.
On March 26, 1971, M. A. Hannan, a Chittagong-based Awami League official, is credited with making the first radio announcement of the declaration of independence. As a result, March 26, 1971 is recognized as Bangladesh’s formal Independence Day, and from that point forward, the country was known as Bangladesh. Erstwhile East Pakistan was openly referred to be Bangladesh by Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in July 1971. Up to December 16th, 1971, certain Pakistani and Indian authorities used the term “East Pakistan.”
Political engineering’s second era
Z.A. Bhutto led the new Pakistan that developed after the separation of East Pakistan. After Pakistan’s defeat in the war with India, which was allied with Bangladesh, in December 1971, Bhutto assumed the presidency, and the emergency rule was put in place.
Bhutto said his goal in starting to develop New Pakistan was to “renew confidence and rebuild hope for the future.” When Bhutto’s government took office, Pakistan was still recovering from the war with India that had resulted in Bangladesh’s independence and formation. As the military became unable to resolve problems, the Pakistani populace was ready to take part in elections that guaranteed an elected political representative would take office.
Some analysts think that the starting stages of the transition to democracy are vital because they allow the country’s leader to successfully alter and establish institutions that will permit the transfer of power from the military to civilian authorities. Although Bhutto succeeded in removing the military from positions of authority, his dependence on the military in dealing with opposition parties did not succeed in keeping the military out of politics. Bhutto was shown to be an inadequate political leader due to her constant reliance on the military.
Additionally, the Arab Embargo and the Lahore Summit, which included all Muslim nations, alarmed nations like the United States and Israel since their interests were at stake. The United States has historically been able to exert influence and presence in the region by providing financial support to the Pakistani military.
It might be said that the cooperation between the United States and the Pakistani military, as well as the Pakistani military’s support of opposition parties, played a role in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s removal from the government. As a result of this collaboration, the Supreme Court heard murder cases involving Bhutto. In other words, when Bhutto was in charge, both Pakistan’s military and the interests of strong foreign nations like the United States were at risk.
In order to wage a concerted political campaign against the PPP, which supported the left, in the national elections that year, the biggest right-wing organizations in the nation banded together to form PNA. Because of the fragmented opposition, it was widely expected that Bhutto would win the 1977 elections. However, the opposition parties established the Pakistan National Alliance as a political coalition (PNA).
The PNA emphasized the government’s incapacity to enact successful domestic and international policies and to protect civil and political liberties. The PNA received considerable public support after the restrictions on public meetings were lifted. The PPP won the elections, despite the PNA’s best efforts, which led PNA to launch a massive anti-Bhutto movement on the grounds of election rigging. The PNA led a massive effort to ensure the conduct of new elections, remove the Chief Election Commission, and call for Prime Minister Bhutto’s resignation.
As it swept through rural areas and metropolitan hubs, the mass movement of 1977 was widespread. The mass movement was supported by the PPP-affected business and trading community, and the government also suffered from the closure of stores and other establishments. In reaction, Bhutto utilised the army, FSF, and police to crush the mass movement while also detaining the PNA’s leading officials. A Saudi envoy set up a meeting between the two groups in an effort to facilitate negotiations, but the political parties were unable to resolve their differences.
In order to restore law and order and hold trials, Bhutto declared martial law in Karachi, Hyderabad, and Lahore on April 22, 1977. Meetings between the PNA and the army were organised to provide briefings on internal and external matters, and Bhutto used to participate in these meetings. The PNA made an effort to sever the military’s ties to the administration.
The PNA urged the Service Chiefs to oppose Bhutto’s administration and asked that martial law be lifted. The administration was also put in a terrible position as a result of the military’s continued use to suppress the mass movement and intimidate the opposition parties. Additionally, Bhutto’s declining popularity offered the military an opportunity to once again seize control of political matters.
Therefore, on July 5, 1977, the military took over by ousting Bhutto from power because there were no negotiations between Bhutto and the PNA. Zia ul Haq’s new martial law dictatorship also put Bhutto on trial for the murder of Muhammad Ali Kasuri; in an extraordinary 4- 3 ruling, the high court found Bhutto guilty and sentenced him to death. Bhutto was put to death on April 4, 1979.
A society without an adequate political culture will leave the military structures or institutions as the sole entity to govern, according to some experts who claim that political culture establishes the conditions for military interventions. Political culture can be described as the underlying principles that determine whether a political system will succeed or fail. They contend that the six modalities of intervention can be divided into four levels of military involvement.
1) the regular constitutional channels.
2) collusion and rivalry with civil authority.
3) intimidation of civil authority.
4) threats of non-cooperation with civil authority.
5) disregard for civil authority during the violence,
and 6) violence against civil authority.
The sequence of political culture, amount of involvement, and form of intervention are all interconnected and society-based and can result in a civilian, indirect limited, indirect complete, dual, direct military, or direct, quasi-civilianized regime type.
They conclude that military interventions are an issue in countries that lack political institutions and culture by researching various countries depending on the characteristics of political culture. In other words, because they lack political institutions and culture, new governments will face difficulties in constructing a full-fledged democracy.
Researchers believe that the lack of a supportive political culture will make newly emerging democracies vulnerable to military intervention. According to one scholar, when a country moves to democracy, the civilian authorities must “construct” institutions that shift power from the military to civilian institutions by limiting the military’s access to areas of state policy where it plays a dominant role.
To limit military access, it is necessary to distinguish between civilian and military activities, as well as take into account the agency that “orders and controls the activity.” The military will intervene in political issues if political institutions are fragile and weak, ensuring civilian supremacy.
Civilian leaders can use these political institutions to monitor, “divide and rule,” and sanction the military in order to assure civilian oversight and limit the military’s involvement in interfering in political concerns. In addition to a lack of democratic institutions, the military enters politics when elected politicians slash military spending and attempt to shift authority away from the military and toward themselves.
When the military takes over, there is a rise in military expenditures. The military receives new buildings, new hardware is ordered, and pay are raised. Furthermore, if a civilian leader attempts to limit the military’s power, such as in national security and foreign policy, the military tends to produce indirect internal instability.
Another study shows a changing pattern in military interference in politics, referring to this pattern as “power without responsibility and accountability,” and they argue that the military does not directly come to power anymore; however, the military secretly controls the establishment and destabilizes elected leaders. They claim that this tendency occurs when political politicians seek to seize control of institutions that were previously dominated by the military.
Article 58(2)(b): A Political Engineering Instrument
General Zia-ul-Haq opened the path for civilian rule and the restoration of constitutional governance in the country. The resurrection of Constitution Order (P.O.14 of 1985) was issued on March 2, 1985, with a considerable number of amendments to the Constitution. The National Assembly had its inaugural session on March 20, 1985.
The President of Pakistan (General Zia-ul-Haq) nominated Mr. Muhammad Khan Junejo to be Prime Minister of Pakistan. On March 24, 1985, he obtained a vote of confidence. The Parliament then passed the 8th Constitutional Amendment in November 1985.
Among other revisions to the Constitution, the critical Article 58(2)(b) was introduced, giving the President discretionary powers to dissolve the National Assembly. The President dissolved the Assembly on May 29, 1988, utilizing the authority granted by Article 58(2)(b).
Following the death of Zia ul Haq in an aircraft crash in 1988, political parties came forward to participate in elections once again. In 1988, the PPP, now led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s daughter, Benazir Bhutto, became Pakistan’s first female Prime Minister. Nonetheless, Benazir Bhutto’s success was brief. The late 1980s and early 1990s in Pakistan are remembered as a period of power transfers between elected leaders and the military, and vice versa.
When the Pucca Qila Incident occurred in Hyderabad in 1990, ties between the PPP and MQM turned antagonistic since the latter party’s leader, Altaf Hussain, was out of the country receiving treatment for renal ailments. During the event, Sindhi police raided Pucca Qila, a muhajir neighborhood in Hyderabad, to recover illicit weapons. During this operation, Sindhi police opened fire, killing forty people and injuring fifty more.
The MQM accused the Sindhi police of discriminating and claimed that women holding Qurans in their hands and appealing with the police to stop the massacre were rejected by the police. The Sindhi police, however, stated that their actions were committed in self-defense after MQM supporters opened fire. “Whatever the truth of the case was, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan claimed the episode and the wave of violence that followed in Karachi, notably the Qayyum bus massacre on 31 May, as part of his argument for dismissing the Bhutto government.”
As a result, in addition to the instability in Sindh and the constant blows from the opposition party IJI, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan removed Benazir Bhutto from office on August 6, 1990, by using the powers granted to him by the Eighth Amendment under Article 58(2)(b) and dissolved the National Assembly as well as the Provincial Assemblies.
Variation in Article 58(2)(b)
Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister on November 7, 1990, although he faced the same issues as his predecessors. Nawaz Sharif, who was known to have close ties with the Zia dictatorship, was blamed for corruption, a lack of effort toward Islamization, and a failure to deal with the Sindh situation. However, in comparison to Benazir Bhutto’s administration, Nawaz Sharif implemented numerous economic changes. According to I.A Rehman, Nawaz Sharif’s priorities differed from those of past governments.
Sharif had a clear goal in mind: “free enterprise, realizing his nuclear aspirations, and asserting his own power.” The Prime Minister had developed a dislike for the President and the Chief of Army Staff despite the fact that his economic reforms were going extremely well. Following the passing of General Asif Nawaz Janjua and General Baig’s retirement, Sharif disagreed with the President’s choice of a new army commander. In order to avoid the President’s oversight, Nawaz Sharif proposed the 12th Amendment in 1991.
With this amendment, the Prime Minister was allegedly given the go-ahead to seize control of a province’s administration. The IJI refused to back Sharif because it feared President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and tensions between the two leaders arose when the Prime Minister declined to say if he backed the reelection of the President. Nawaz Sharif, like Benazir Bhutto, did not handle the muhajir problems in Karachi, allowing the president and the military to seize control of the civilian government.
After the MQM party split into the MQM (Haqiqi) and MQM factions in 1992, the government ordered a military operation in Karachi known as “Operation Clean Up” (Altaf). This operation’s goal was to eradicate terrorists and criminals from Sindh.
The military discovered “arms depots and torture cells for which they held the MQM responsible” during this clean-up. The army found 17 MQM-operated torture cells that were “used to punish MQM dissidents and opponents… and that 60 persons had been detained since the outbreak of the intragroup conflict.
The Supreme Court heard an appeal from Nawaz Sharif against the President’s decision to remove his government this time, and the court ruled in his favour, ruling the dismissal to be unconstitutional.
In addition to this, Nawaz Sharif also petitioned the High Court of Lahore for the reinstatement of the Punjabi administration, and this case was also decided in his favour. The army corps commanders immediately gathered on July 1 to address the problem; therefore, this restoration of authority was only temporary. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ghulam Ishaq Khan were both asked to step down in 1993.
Judicial validity in support of political engineering
On October 6, 1993, the tenth National Assembly was chosen. On October 15, 1993, the first meeting took place. On October 17, 1993, Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani took the oath of office as Speaker of the National Assembly.
On October 19, 1993, Mohtarma Benizar Bhutto took the oath of office as Pakistan’s prime minister. She suffered a defeat in the election because she only garnered 86 of the 202 seats available, forcing her to form an alliance with Junejo and the MQM-led Muslim League once more. When her PPP party was successful in having one of its senior members, Farooq Lehar, elected as President in 1993, her position as Prime Minister became solid and effective.
Three of the eleven High Court judges Benazir Bhutto planned to install in 1994 were women, and their selection was not justified by qualifications. These appointments were deemed to be unlawful by the Supreme Court, but Benazir defied the ruling and went on.
Lawyers in Karachi and Lahore boycotted these “political judges” as a result of Benazir’s conduct, and President Leghari agreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling. The acquisition of a lavish villa in Surrey, the assassination of her brother Murtaza Bhutto, and attempts to bribe votes from lawmakers in Punjab to install the government of her choice are said to have caused bad relations between the President and Prime Minister, in addition to this incident.
The National Assembly was subsequently dissolved, and Prime Minister Bhutto was fired by President Leghari in 1996. This time, the “Supreme Court approved her dismissal.”
Engineers took overpower
In 1997, Nawaz Sharif was elected prime minister for a second time and won the military’s backing once more. In order for Sharif to win the 1997 elections with a three-fourths majority, the military assisted him. After taking power, Sharif focused all of his efforts on settling disputes with India, particularly the conflict over Jammu & Kashmir.
For instance, Sharif declared in 1998 that he would only sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) if India agreed to do so. Pakistan chose to establish an agreement rather than test its own nuclear weapons after India conducted the Pokhran II operation, which involved the testing of five nuclear weapons.
As Sharif attempted to oust General Musharraf, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Chief of Army Staff, ties between Sharif and the military deteriorated in October 1999. The Army removed Sharif from power on Musharraf’s orders and safely landed his plane in Karachi despite the fact that Sharif also disputed General Musharraf’s plane landing because he suspected a military takeover.
The military put Sharif under house arrest while he was tried in an antiterrorism court for offences like kidnapping, hijacking, attempted murder, terrorist, and corruption. Sharif was given a life sentence by the court, but thanks to a deal with Saudi Arabia, the military exiled him from the nation for the following ten years. The military, which ruled Pakistan for ten years, regained political control.
Controlled politics through political engineers
On May 12, 2000, the Supreme Court upheld the October 1999 coup and granted General Pervez Musharraf executive and legislative authority for three years. Nawaz Sharif was convicted to life in jail in 2000 on allegations of hijacking and terrorism. Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007, in a blast/bullet attack in Rawalpindi, which plunged Pakistan into instability and political unrest.
The Election Commission announced elections later, on January 2, 2008. Elections are held that year under high security. PPP, PML-N, PML-Q, MQM, and ANP won 124, 91, 54, 25 and 13 seats respectively. In March 24, Yusuf Raza Gilani is elected as the new prime minister and later on in Aug 18, Pervaiz Musharraf steps down as President of Pakistan.
First time in the history of Pakistan, the PPP government completed its five-year tenure and in May 11 2013, general elections were held which were won by PML-N and Nawaz Sharif was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan for the 3rd time.
However, on July 28, 2017, A unanimous verdict by the Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office, over the controversy of his and some of his family members names being in the Panama Papers, thus leading to his disqualification for lifetime. On August 1, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is sworn in as Prime Minister, succeeding Nawaz Sharif.
On 25 July 2018, general elections were held and PTI formed a government in coalition with five other parties for the first time with Khan as prime minister. In April 2022, Khan’s government was removed due to a successful no-confidence vote against him.
Political engineering in layers
Pakistan Today, published a beautiful article to understand different dimensions of political engineering. In a nutshell, political engineering is present on many levels. The first step is the establishment of a political body that uses a set procedure.
They find a charismatic someone who is an oligarch (An oligarch is one of the select few people who rule or influence leaders in an oligarchy—a government in which power is held by a select few individuals or a small class of powerful people) who is prepared to finance it, give it media attention, and gather elect-ables who can join it to give it political relevance.
This approach has been used in all circumstances, including IJI (PML-N), where Nawaz Sharif functioned as the organization’s charismatic leader and Mehran Bank as its financier. Vote-rigging was used to ensure MQM’s victory, and its charismatic leader Altaf Hussain received funding from Karachi billionaires initially.
Imran Khan is the charismatic head of PTI-L (lotas), Jahangir Tareen is the oligarch who finances it, and Shah
Mehmood Qureshi and other electables individuals joined it to give it political relevance. In PSP, Malik Riaz is the financier, Mustafa Kamal is the charismatic leader, and MQM-P elect-ables are joining him to add political importance. The media has always given them exposure from the outside to develop their widespread popularity.
Numerous hours of MQM-P news conferences and PAT/PTI-L dharna coverage in the media were carried without any commercials. Was it requested by the establishment or for a social service?
Even the heads of PPP and PML-N are significantly wealthier than any oligarch, with multiple oligarchs funding both parties. These parties have no shortage of electable candidates, and they have charismatic leaders who last for generations and cousins, Nawaz Sharif to Marriam Sharif, Benazir Bhutto to Bilawal Bhutto, and Z.A. Bhutto.
The next step is the creation of alliances to guarantee a workable allocation of parliamentary seats. It seems to me that the goal of the 2018 general elections is to establish party governments in the provinces and a hung parliament at the national level.
To accomplish this goal in Punjab, the PML-N did not disintegrate following the Panama verdict as many had predicted; rather, electables told journalists they had not received any calls asking them to change sides. However, in the middle, alliances are now forming, like as the union of PSP and MQM-P, which will eventually take place despite early difficulties.
It is also possible that MMA will reincarnate to unite the political clout of the religious right. Additionally, SNF-style tiny parties that are electable in specific particular areas have joined PTI-L. As a result, PPP will continue to only dominate rural parts of Sind, while MQM will rule the city. In KP and South Punjab, PTI-L will win a few seats, while PML-N will win in the Hazara division and North Punjab. On election day, political engineering is also carried out to get this result.
All political parties are going above and beyond to win seats in the upcoming parliament. After the initial outcry over mujhe kyun nikala, Nawaz Sharif has now announced his resignation to work with them amicably.
Asif Ali Zardari is doing all in his power to portray himself as a puppet, and Bilawal has been given the job of defending democracy while pushing an anti-establishment agenda, much like Shabazz Sharif/Nawaz Sharif did in the PML-N. Since the PTI was established at the command of Gen. Hamid Gul, Imran Khan has been a puppet and has voluntarily backed all establishment-led agendas.
However, political engineering continues to have an impact on legislation and executive branch restraint in addition to influencing election outcomes. To use a recent, NAB law as an illustration, a consensus was formed to hold generals and judges accountable, but it was broken within 24 hours, and they are now exempt. For this exclusion, lame justifications are offered. Military courts are another illustration.
On the one hand, the military says it does not want it, but no such statement was issued when legislation was passed. Dharnas and lockdowns were also employed to obstruct civilian authority. Despite this, some elements of the elite want more and are creating a narrative in which technocrats should be placed.
When some others and I wrote about former corps commander Lt Gen Tariq Khan’s social media posts in support of technocrats, he responded, arguing that he has the right to speak on politics as a citizen. I agree that he has that right, but I am concerned about whether he had such undemocratic sentiments while serving as corps commander, and whether he also acted to realize such beliefs.
Politicians and political groups amassing too much power go against the establishment’s interests. As a result, throughout history, they have undermined popular presidents and political parties. They do not want Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, or, in the future, Imran Khan to retain popular support. It is sad that PTI was turned into PTI-L with strong establishment support.
Keeping the baradari system in place also aids in political control by keeping ideological politics out. Thick files on politicians’ abuse of power and unscrupulous practices also aid the establishment in exerting control over them.