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A Macabre Tragedy Like Macbeth: No Pakistani Leader Has Ever Completed His Term

MG is a keen political observer and commentator who has a ringside seat to the turbulent years of the present political scenario

Liaquat Ali Khan

Liaquat Ali Khan

Introduction

Recently I have been reading news that the present Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is on his way out without completing his term. The opposition has collected the necessary numbers and most likely Imran Khan will cease to be prime minister in just a few days. No tears will be shed on his removal as he had brought Pakistan society to the brink of anarchy. He has led Pakistan into a debt trap and Pakistan is burdened by external debt which it cannot pay and secondly a speech in 2018; he had said that he supported the blasphemy laws which have made Pakistan notorious.

I had a look at the history of Pakistan and I find that after 1950 there is no Prime Minister who could complete his term and most leaders of Pakistan have been removed by extra-judicial means like murder, hanging, and farcical trials, that sent them into exile or imprisoned them on charges of corruption.

The happenings in Pakistan are a far cry from the dream of the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah who had thought of a secular Muslim state where all could live in peace and harmony. This never happened in Pakistan where the minorities who constituted 30% of the population of Pakistan in 1948 are now reduced to 3%.

Pakistan also is the only Muslim country in the world to have notorious blasphemy laws where 85 out of a total of 100 on death row in the world are from Pakistan and mainly from the minorities.

As if this was not enough the rulers in Pakistan have been facing death by hanging murder or exile with the result that no Pakistani Prime Minister after 1950 has ever completed his term.

The happenings in Pakistan that lead to Murder and death reminds me of the atmosphere generated by William Shakespeare in his play Macbeth where dark forces conspire to bring about death and terror. In the entire world, there are no instances where a number of people are just lynched and killed on charges of blasphemy on public streets. There is no Muslim country in the world that allows 70 extrajudicial deaths in the courts by bigots who do not want legal justice but carry out macabre killings. Read on

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Macabre procession

The ball in this macabre procession was set rolling when in 1951, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan was shot dead in Peshawar while he was addressing a public meeting. The killer was shot dead by the security guards and to date, nobody knows why Ali khan was killed. He was a prominent leader of Pakistan and a close friend of the Indian Prime Minister Nehru. His death set in motion a long line of blood-curdling events that makes one shudder (https://www.dawn.com/news/1213461)

In 1957, the next victim was Iskander Mirza who was the first president of Pakistan he was woken up in the early hours of the morning by a troop of Pakistani soldiers led by brigadier Yahiya Khan, later president of Pakistan, and a pistol put to his head. He was told to board the first British Airways flight to London and never come back. The man who succeeded him General Ayub Khan was a bigot, and he did not even allow his body to be buried in Pakistan and he had to be buried in Tehran in 1969. (https://www.nytimes.com/1958/11/03/archives/pakistans-exhead-travels-into-exile.html)

Ayub had to resign in the middle of his tenure after he lost the war against India in 1965 and mounting unrest in East Pakistan led to his replacement by General Yahya Khan. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/3992125)

Yahya Khan was removed as president of Pakistan in the middle of his tenure and put under perpetual house arrest where he died in 1978. He was blamed for the catastrophic defeat in East Pakistan when 95,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered and became POWs and the state of Bangladesh was created.

The next man who succeeded him was the mercurial Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Bhutto had a lot of faults but he did not deserve what he got. He was arrested by general Zia ul Haq and a kangaroo trial was carried out in the Punjab High Court for a murder he had not committed. Subsequently in the middle of the night, he was hanged in Rawalpindi jail in 1978 for a crime he had not committed. Ramsey Clark the former Attorney General of America who attended the trial has noted that the trial did not follow any rules of justice or law.(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/05/pakistan-zulfikar-ali-bhutto-executed-1979)

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General Zia ul Haq the president of Pakistan was the next man in this macabre procession when in 1989 a Nerve Bomb was placed in the cabin of the C-130 Hercules in which he was traveling, killing him and 6 other generals. An inquiry was ordered but its report was never made public.(https://www.timesnownews.com/international/article/explosives-in-mango-crate-nerve-gas-and-a-projectile-brought-down-ex-pakistan-president-zia-ul-haq-s-plane/556994)

The list does not end here because general Parvez Musharraf in a military coup removed the elected Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff on trumped-up charges of treason to the nation. He wanted him to hang to death but luckily for Nawaz, Saudi Arabia intervened with the threat of stoppage of financial help. He was permitted to go into exile for 10 years.

In the meantime, general Mushraff was feeling pretty insecure and he began to behave like an autocrat. At the back of his mind was the fear of Nawaz Sharif coming back. He was scared to lose power to the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto. At this critical in 2007, Benazir Bhutto was attacked after a public meeting in Peshawar and killed. There is no doubt that General Mushraff had a hand in this as he did not allow private security guards, the Black Water to guard Benazir Bhutto. She had requested American security guards.

A violent agitation removed General Musharraf who fled to London and in the subsequent election, Nawaz Sharif who had earlier been exiled came back and won a majority. Musharraf returned to Pakistan but was arrested on charges of murder and being a traitor to Pakistan. A special branch of the Pakistan High Court sentenced him to death. The judgment itself is very bizarre because one of the judges in his judgment said that Mushraff should not only be hanged in freedom Square in Islamabad but his body hung in the Square as an example to the people of Pakistan. The full text can be read at (https://www.dawn.com/news/1523186)

The army intervened to help and Mushrraff was able to fly to Dubai where he is now residing. He is a broken man not knowing what to do. He can never come back to Pakistan.

The next man in the drama is Nawaz Sharif who had become Prime Minister for the third time but without completing his tenure a trial in the High Court convicted him of corruption and he had to resign. In addition, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. This was at the behest of the Pakistan army and the evidence against him was very flimsy. The army at that time wanted Imran Khan to be the Prime Minister.

In a deal worked out between Imran khan and Sharif he was allowed to go to London for medical treatment but obviously, he was not going to come back and is presently in exile there. Imran himself thought he was safe and he would continue as the Prime Minister of Pakistan but other events have unfolded now. I think he's on his way out. I sincerely hope he can survive the storm but there appears to be a little chance of it as the opposition has mustered up enough votes to throw him out.


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Last word

When I write all this,I feel very sad because I have a strong connection with Pakistan. My grandfather was a resident of Lahore and I have many Pakistani friends and all of them feel generally perturbed with the events that are taking place in Pakistan. One reason for this is the failure of the Intelligencia to lead the way forward. We must remember that French writers like Voltaire, inspired the French Revolution. Writers have a very important part to play but there is hardly any writer in Pakistan who has taken the bull by the horns and written against these macabre happenings that do no credit to Pakistan.

The situation in Pakistan is very grim and there is a need for a man, certainly not Imran Khan who has hobnobbed with the extremists. We will have to wait and see how things play out because the extremists in Pakistan are gaining strength and Pakistan has also learned that the Taliban in Afghanistan is not their friend. Their branch the Pak Taliban is waging a war against the Pakistan government to enforce sharia and make Pakistan a pristine Muslim state where minorities will have no place. Imran himself has been talking about the regime in Medina which is a utopia but he is misleading the people who are suffering from high inflation and crippling foreign debt. (https://frontline.thehindu.com/world-affairs/imran-khan-pakistan-government-vulnerable-and-unpopular-and-capitulating-meekly-to-the-demands-of-violent-extremist-groups/article37480815.ece)

I sincerely hope that some sense will come in the erudite class of Pakistan to join hands together to take Pakistan out of these Shakespearean tragedies and follow the examples of Turkey, Kazakhstan, UAE, and Bangladesh not forgetting Indonesia which are moderate states. Extremism has no place in Muslim society and Mohammed Ali Jinnah himself was a secularist.

Further reading

A dangerous game: the perils of Pakistani politics https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17653380

https://www.britannica.com/story/understanding-the-history-and-politics-behind-pakistans-blasphemylaws

© 2022 MG Singh emge

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