MG is a senior air warrior who is an alumnus of the Staff College and a notable writer on military history.
The state of Pakistan came into existence in 1947, when the British as a parting gift to the Indian subcontinent divided the ancient land of India into India and Pakistan. The motives behind this were not laudable but were dictated by a desire to try and keep India always in a state of ferment.
Pakistan came into existence in 1947 and promptly threw out the principle of secularism envisaged by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. His idea was allowed to lapse and after his death, Pakistan became an Islamic state with Islam as the state religion. This created its own problems and resulted in the minorities Hindus, Sikhs and Christians being viciously attacked and forced to migrate from the land where they lived for thousands of years. Pakistan became an Islamic state with 98% of the people professing the Islamic faith. Many Hindus who were left behind were converted to Islam on the pain of death. A point to be noted is, that in 1947 when Pakistan was created the population of the minorities was 30% and this has now reduced to 2%; can anybody explain this?
Pakistan was also consumed by a death wish and over the last seven decades almost 70% of the Pakistani rulers, Prime Ministers, and Presidents have either been murdered, shot dead, imprisoned, or sent into exile. This is a phenomenon that is difficult to explain and is manifest in the latest removal of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his sentencing to a 10 years jail term on charges of corruption. One wonders whether this has anything to do with Islamic culture. A look around shows that in almost all Islamic countries the rulers of states like Iran, Iraq, Egypt, and other countries have either been assassinated or killed. It looks like a death wish and it all started just after 1947.
In 1951, Pakistan Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated when two bullets are fired at him at Peshawar. He was killed by an Afghan but the mystery of his killing has never been solved. The assassin was shot dead by the security guards and the matter died away. Liaquat Ali Khan was the colleague of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and had been part of the movement for Pakistan. His killing remains unexplained.
The Killing of Laiqat Ali Khan was only a trailer and just a few years later General Iskander Mirza carried out a military coup and brought in Martial Law. General Mirza was however overthrown and arrested by General Ayub Khan. He was put on a plane to London and sent into exile. He spent his time there on a meager pension which he was getting. When he died his body was to be flown to Pakistan by Gen Ayub refused entry of the body into Pakistan.
Ultimately the Shah of Iran intervened and he was buried in Tehran. This was the fifth of a man who was president of Pakistan. Ayub Khan was one of the better rulers of Pakistan and during the decade he ruled Pakistan did have a semblance of stability. However, lack of economic progress led to agitation against him and he was overthrown and another general named Yahya Khan took over. Yahya Khan and no pretense of being an intellectual and he assumed everything could be solved with the bayonet and the gun.
This led to his crushing the Bangladesh movement, resulting in the creation of a movement for independence in East Pakistan. After the defeat of Pakistan in the 1971 war and the creation of Bangladesh Yahya Khan was deposed and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto became president. Bhutto, as pointed out by me in an earlier article, had a big hand in the creation of Bangladesh through his antics. He now became the dictator of Pakistan.
Unfortunately, Bhutto was riding a tiger, and unrest in the country gave an excuse to the man who was promoted as Army Chief by him, General Zia ul Haq to organize a coup. Bhutto was arrested and the Pakistan generals led by Zia decided that the only way they could perpetuate their power was by his execution.
Some old files were dug out and some data manufactured and with a compliant Supreme Court passed the sentence of death by hanging. Bhutto was hanged like a common criminal and there are reports that he was hanged for a crime that he never committed. The hanging of prime minister Bhutto will remain forever, a dark blot on the face of Pakistan. General Zia thought that the best way he could perpetuate his power was by resorting to the Islamization of Pakistan.
The killings continue
The death of Bhutto did not solve anything. General Zia began to feel increasingly insecure and he thought the best method to control Pakistan was to Islamize Pakistan society. But there were forces lurking against him and he was killed in 1988 when a bomb was planted in the C 130 Hercules aircraft and general Zia ul Haq died in the air crash. The plane was blown up.
This led to a period of great instability in Pakistan and twice Pakistan's Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif was removed. In 1998 General Musharraf who was beholden to Nawaz Sharif to be made the chief of the Army upstaged his mentor in a military coup. General Musharraf and the generals probably wanted to execute Nawaz Sharif but there was intense pressure from Saudi Arabia and Nawaz was allowed to go into exile for 10 years. In the meantime, Musharaf himself faced the wrath of the people and in 2008 had to make an ignoble exit from Pakistan.
He did come back later for an election to Pakistan but by then Nawaz Sharif his old Bette noir had become prime minister of Pakistan and he set about settling scores with Musharraf. He was arrested for a number of offenses including the killing of Benazir Bhutto. Benazir Bhutto was killed in a bomb attack when it was almost certain that she would be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan. Her killing was a body blow and reinforced the belief that the heads of government of the Pakistan state rolled very fast.
Nawaz Sharif, however, had to concede ground as the army put tremendous pressure on him to allow Musharraf to leave Pakistan. Musharaf ran away to Dubai where he presently resides. He cannot come back to Pakistan as there are murder charges pending against him. The army never had an easy relationship with Nawaz Sharif and it was looking for ways to throw him out. They would have liked to do it by a military coup but the United States had made it clear that it would no longer support a military regime in Pakistan.
The army and political opponents decided in connivance with the judiciary to ensure that Nawaz should be behind bars and should never be allowed to contest an election in Pakistan. In the short time of a year, Nawaz was not only dismissed by the supreme court of Pakistan but also sentenced to 10 years in jail. His daughter who was supposed to be his political heir Maryam was awarded 7 years jail term and fined 10 million and 2 million pounds. When the health of the Pakistan ex-Prime Minister deteriorated in jail a panic-stricken Imran Khan government allowed him to go on parole to London and he is there at the moment.
The speed with which this trial was conducted will remain a matter of great sorrow for the people of Pakistan. it must be pointed out that the trial of the perpetrators of the Bombay blast is meandering along for 10 years and nothing happened but in the case of Nawaz Sharif the entire judicial process right up to the Supreme Court was completed in less than a year. This is worth pondering and shows that in Pakistan the rulers are consumed by a death wish.
The Pakistan army unable to seize power openly has now tried to get into the driver's seat by sitting in the backseat. Most of the Pakistani generals have little battle experience and they have the distinction of losing half the country in 1971. They also have the distinction of losing almost all wars but at the same time are good at manipulating and ruling the country.
A dubious legacy
The ousting of Nawaz Sharif is in the tradition of what happened earlier. Imran Khan the ex-cricket player who now had the road open for him and making the right noises became Prime Minister. He is the good books of the army but then looking at the past history of Pakistan, it is anybody's guess how long Imran Khan will remain in power. One fact remains which has never been explained and should be studied by sociologist is that how come in Pakistan the ritual of killing/ exiling/jailing the ruler's and presidents is something that is almost second nature. Who will change this dubious legacy?
MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 01, 2021:
Mike, yes the man was probably right as Pakistan is also torn by sectarian violence with attacks on Christians and Ahmedias and Shia Muslims.
Readmikenow on April 01, 2021:
MG, excellent article. I once worked for a man from Pakistan. He was a brilliant guy. I asked him if he would ever return to Pakistan and he said no and to not ask him his reasons. I respected his request.
MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 01, 2021:
Thank you, Imtiaz for articulating your view.
Imtiaz on April 01, 2021:
I am from Pakistan and I'm greatly worried as to what all is happening here. No writer from Pakistan has the courage to write on this topic and at least I'm glad that you have written from Singapore.