MG an air warrior, a political observer, and writer with wide experience.
Pakistan was created in 1947 out of the subcontinent. Muhamed Ali Jinnah became the first Governor-General and he has gone on record to have stated that any Hindu, Sikh, or Christian is free to practice his religion and the government has nothing to do with it. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who along with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community favored a secular model of governance. Jinnah saw a Pakistan where civic and public affairs would be conducted for the betterment of all regardless of religion or culture. Unfortunately for Pakistan, Jinnah died soon after independence, and much of the weight to run the country fell on Liaket Ali Khan who became the first Prime Minister.
Somehow the fringe elements of Pakistan society, the extremist Islamists began to slowly hold sway over the country. Pakistan began to move closer to a hard-line Islamic state. This led to the first race riots against the Ahmadiyya community in 1953-54 and hundreds were killed. Earlier in 1951, Liaquat Ali Khan the Pakistan Prime Minister was shot dead in Karachi, until date nobody knows why he was shot dead. This was the beginning of Internecine killings in Pakistan. In 1956 Iskander Mirza declared martial law. He brought in the chief of the Pakistan army general Ayub Khan as the defense minister.
Within a year Ayub Khan arrested Mirza and put him on a plane to London and became dictator of Pakistan. In 1969 when Mirza died in London his kin requested that his body be brought to Pakistan for burial but general Ayub refused and his body was not allowed to be brought to Pakistan and the Shah of Iran had to intervene and finally his body was buried in Tehran.
The stage had been set where one ruler was not prepared to accommodate the ruler he had replaced or removed and Pakistan began a long dive into an abyss of no return.
Tryst with murder
Towards the end of 1969, there was tremendous unrest in both wings of Pakistan and in East Pakistan, an agitation commenced asking for more rights and better status. Ayub Khan resigned in disgrace and handed over power to General Yahya Khan. This man on the advice of politician Zulfikar Ali Bhutto ordered the military crackdown in East Pakistan. This was the last straw that broke the back of the Pakistan state. A liberation group the Mukti Bahini began guerrilla warfare against the Pakistan army. The Pakistanis raised the irregular force of 200,000 Razakars and these along with 100,000 troops carried out atrocities on the Bengali population including rape and murder.
There was a war with India in 1971 and the superior professional Indian army defeated the Pakistan army and 300,000 Pakistani soldiers and irregulars surrendered and the ceremony was conducted in the Dhaka stadium in the presence of hundreds of thousands of Bengali Muslims.
Yahya went into disgrace and was put under house arrest and died shortly after and Zulfikar Al Bhutto became Prime Minister. He was a man without any sense of reason and timing and in my opinion, was solely responsible for the break up of Pakistan. In 1973 he decided to consolidate his power and declared the Ahmedayas as non-Muslim and Pakistan became the only Muslim country in the world to have such legislation. Bhutto was playing with fire and he was overthrown by his army chief general Zia who took the decision along with the corps commanders to kill Bhutto. A trumped-up charge of murder was brought against him and wonder of wonders instead of the trial being conducted in the sessions court which is normally the case of murder trials, Bhutto was tried in the Punjab High Court which sentenced him to death. For all his faults he had not committed any murder but the generals had decided that Bhutto be killed so that there was no threat to them in the future.
Despite pleas by many nations in the world not to execute, Zia signed the death warrant, and Bhutto was hanged to death. His last words were 'by God I have not killed anybody' but once the general decided, he had to be killed there was nothing that could be done.
Matters came to a head when the general to consolidate his power decided to Islamize Pakistani society and brought in the Hooded ordinance which curtailed the rights of women and put certain crimes like rape under the sharia. A cat has only nine lives and General Zia in 1989 faced divine retribution. His opponents were able to put a bomb on his plane and it was blown up. General Zia and six generals including the US ambassador were killed.
The death of Zia brought instability in the country and there was a succession of Prime Ministers and Benazir the daughter of Bhutto became Prime Minister for some time and later Nawaz Shariff became Prime Minister. Shariff was overthrown by his commander in chief general Musharraf and he was tried for treason. There was every chance that Nawaz would hang but times had changed and this time Saudi Arabia intervened and the king of Saudi Arabia worked out a deal and Shariff was exiled to Saudi Arabia for the next10 years.
Musharraf did not have an easy life and he tried to consolidate his power by taking on the judiciary and the extremists. The Pakistan Taliban made three attempts to kill him but he survived but he could not survive a popular agitation that dethroned him in 2008. Before that Benazir Bhutto, the ex-Prime Minister was killed in a terrorist attack after a public meeting. It was rumored that General Musharraf knew about this attack but yet took no action and there is every chance he may have connived in this also.
Musharraf went into exile and by that time Shariff completed his 10 years and came back to Pakistan and won a massive victory. Musharraf also came back to Pakistan but was arrested and put on trial for the murder of Benazir Bhutto and the Balooch leader Bugti. He was allowed to go for medical treatment to Dubai on bail and his trial continued in absentia. A special bench at the Punjab HC sentenced him to death. The judgment is interesting as one of the judges said that after the hanging his body should be displayed in freedom Square in Islamabad as a showpiece to everybody what happens to a traitor.
The pressure was mounted on Shariff by the Pakistan army who were aghast one of the former army commanders had been sentenced to death. There is never any love between the Pakistan army and Shariff and the high court sentence was set aside but he did not come back to Pakistan. He is now a fugitive from the law and hiding in Dubai.
The Pakistan army which had lost all professionalism after losing half the country in 1971, was looking at ways and means to overthrow Shariff. They found one in Imran Khan. A devious plan was hatched and Sharif was held on charges of corruption and put in jail. He was not allowed to complete his tenure as Prime Minister. How fictitious the charge is can be understood from the fact that those terrorists who were being tried for the Bombay carnage; the trial has continued for 10 years and nothing was happening but in the case of Shariff everything was completed within four months and he was sentenced to 10 years in jail. I could die laughing on a bed of nails at this sort of justice.
Imran Khan became Prime Minister but he was at the beck and call of the army. The current violence is against Imran Khan and the army on an issue that happened in France thousands of miles away. The point to be noted here is that Pakistan is the only country in the world where such an agitation took place and there are other Muslim countries who are not really concerned so much about it at least there was no devastation on the streets and violent confrontation with the police.
This agitation has engulfed the entire Pakistan and Imran Khan is under siege. There is a growing undercurrent of support for the movement within the Pakistan army itself because anything which is connected with religion in Pakistan spreads like wildfire. It is a moot point as to whether Imran Khan will be able to complete his tenure because the army can drop him like a hot potato. After all, no Pakistan Prime Minister has ever completed his tenure in the last seven decades.
The question arises of how come the extremist groups in Pakistan launch such agitations. A research paper published by the US Army shows that the Pakistan army was having links with extremist organizations and was funding them as well. The net result is Pakistan has been put on the watchlist that is the grey list by FATF. (Financial Action Task Force) If Pakistan does not show any improvement it could very much go into the blacklist and that would be a terrible thing. The Financial Action Task Force was founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering. In 2001, its mandate was expanded to include terrorism financing. The action task force has come to the conclusion that Pakistan is actively financing terrorist activities.
The Pakistanis and Indians are of the same racial stock and I am surprised why extremism up to this level has caught on in Pakistan when nothing is happening in countries like Turkey and Egypt and the UAE. Pakistan will have to look inwards and do the exorcism of this cancer that has gone into their society.
Sadly even now the Hooded ordinance remains on the statute books and the clerics are calling the shots all the time. One sincerely hopes that Pakistan will be able to sort out this problem. but I have a lurking feeling that the days of Imran Khan are coming to an end. I like him he's a nice man but he has no base of his own and depending on the army for support. Let us see how things pan out in the days to come.
MG Singh (author) from UAE on April 21, 2021:
Thank you Mehra for commenting.
R Mehra on April 21, 2021:
Very interesting article wih a historical perspective. The chance of Imran surviving is slim. let's see what happens.