Pakistan is in grip of a hybrid governance system that is the outcome of militarism. Pakistan has been subjected to incessant militarism whose core militaralistic beliefs state that human nature is prone to conflict, armed force is the ultimate resolver of tensions, having enemies is a natural condition, hierarchical relations produce effective actions, a state without an army is naive, scarcely modern and barely legitimate, in times of crisis those who are feminine need armed protection and in times of crisis any man who refuses to engage in armed violent action is jeopardising his own status as a manly man. This is precisely what Pakistani national psyche has evolved into. Pakistani narrative begins with Islamic glory meandering through independence struggle and ends in military glory attributed to defence forces of Pakistan.
The national narrative is completely devoid of any description of dedicated efforts waged by civilian political elements for bringing about democratic rule, the very basis of creation of the country. The current political confusion created by arbitrary forces underscored the need to develop and widely propagate a counter narrative aimed at emphasising that parliamentary representative system is the only legitimate mode of governance in Pakistan. Our national narrative was hijacked by jingoistic perceptions of dominant Pakistani Praetorian Guard owing to the global ideological confusion prevailing when Pakistan came into being. The 20th century witnessed clash of governance ideologies that were to replace the fading monarchical system. Free popular consensus based collegial democratic ideology collided, initially, with over centralised insulated arbitrary monarchical ideology and then its successor populist dictatorial rule.
The struggle began when Ayub Khan toppled the civilian regime in 1958 on the pretext that democratic political activity was detrimental to national unity and that politicians were incompetent to manage national affairs. The military junta reviled this period and compared it in thinly veiled terms as the darkness of the medieval times. The governance process and the unparalleled contribution of towering political personalities instrumental in winning and creating Pakistan were brazenly dismissed. The political aspects of arriving at a national consensual agreement aimed at settling parity and power sharing issues between provinces, a legitimate political activity, were taunted as selfish bickering.
Regimented national unity was forced from above fatally damaging the fabric of Pakistan. The forced sidelining of political forces was unprecedented; disinheriting, disowning and discrediting the political activity of preceding years thereby negating and declaring infructous the very basis of Pakistan. The predatory raid negatively affected political careers of two heads of state: Khwaja Nazimuddin and Iskander Mirza, five Prime Ministers, Khwaja Nazimuddin, Ch. Muhammad Ali, Feroz Khan Noon, Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar and host of political stalwarts with massive contribution in political struggle such as Nurul Amin, Ch. Khaliquzzaman, A.K. Fazlul Haq, Mahmud Ali, Mahmudul Haq Usmani, Abu Hussain Sarkar, Maulana Bhashani, Ataur Rehman Khan, Mumtaz Daultana, Ayub Khoro, Nawab Mamdot, Muzaffar Hussain Qizilbash and Ch. Sir Zafarullah Khan.
The first opposition alliance formed against Ayub Khan, National Democratic Front, was spearheaded by HS Suhrawardy, the shrewdest political strategist, former Prime Minister and CM of United Bengal. Fifty four political leaders from both East and West Pakistan joined this alliance. The alliance passed its famous resolution on 28 January 1963 calling for restoration of parliamentary democracy. It suffered a setback when Suhrawardy died on 5 December 1963 but it was soon strengthened when Awami League, ANP (Nasrullah group) and Council Muslim League (Nurul Amin group) joined it. This alliance faced repressive measures from Ayub regime but succeeded in gathering together all democratic leaders including politicians who were barred from taking part in public activity through EBDO. It also laid the basis for not letting the field free for Ayub to contest presidential election in 1965.
The opposition alliance was transformed as Combined Opposition Parties (COP) in Dhaka on 21 July 1964 and was led by Khwaja Nazimuddin and Mumtaz Daultana of Council Muslim League, Sheikh Mujeebur Rehman and Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan of Awami League, NAP factions of Maulana Bhashani and Abdul Wali Khan, Nizam-e-Islam Party of Ch. Muhammad Ali and Jamat-e-Islami of Maulana Muadoodi. COP initially considered Gen Azam Khan as their presidential candidate but then decided on Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah. Jamiat-ul-Mashaikh issued a decree on 7 November 1964 declaring that a woman cannot be head of the state prompting a counter statement by Sir Zafarullah Khan (an Ahmadi having the freedom to enter the religious fray then!) clarifying that according to 1962 Constitution, accepted by Ulema, a woman could become head of the state. His legal moorings also made him to comment that according to Islamic ideology a woman cannot be head a state but Pakistan was not a Khilafat!
Maulana Maudoodi asserted that although Islam forbade women heading a state but a democratic woman can do so particularly when facing a cruel dictator. His party was banned and he was imprisoned but both penalties were invalidated by court. People thronged Fatima Jinnah’s public meetings in both wings of the country. COP objected to Ayub Khan’s candidature by pointing out that he was still a government servant because a Field Marshal never retires, an objection overruled by Election Commission. JUI demanded fulfillment of certain conditions that were negated by Ayub Khan but accepted by Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan of COP but despite assurances JUI voted for Ayub!
When G. Moeenudin, CEC, announced election results from President House (severely objected upon by COP as against article 37 of Presidential Election Act!), it transpired that Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah had given tough time to Ayub by winning 28,691 BD members, a 36.36% of the total electorate coming very close to Ayub in more democratic East Pakistan by winning 18,434, against Ayub’s 21,012, a gap of only 2,578 votes! In West Pakistan Ayub won everywhere except Karachi but in East Pakistan he lost everywhere but in Rajshahi and Khulna. Malik Khuda Buksh Buccha, the legendary agriculturist and Ayub’s minister, commented that ‘we won the presidential elections but lost the leadership of nation’. This election taught a poignant lesson to military dictators never to venture again for popular mandate except claiming legitimacy through sham referendums or highly manipulated elections through compromised legislatures.
COP performed great service by crystallising the country’s democratic temperament and traditions and rejected high handed conformism by rekindling the enfeebled and dying flame of democracy. Temporarily halting their activities due to 1965 war, the opposition formed a formidable alliance, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on 30 April 1967 led by Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan and comprising AL, PML (Council), JI, NAP and all components of erstwhile NDF. Its struggle unnerved Ayub into repressing it but it gained momentum that was ultimately converted in the last quarter of 1968 into Democratic Action Committee (DAC) asking for resignation of government. Building up on national disappointment arising out of Tashkent declaration this movement was strengthened by efforts of ZA Bhutto (although PPP and AL remained aloof from DAC), Air Marshal Asghar Khan, Justice Murshed and Gen Azam Khan. Ayub responded by repressive action including incarcerating national leaders but the rising agitation humbled him to call a roundtable conference on 17 February 1969. The failure of political parleys prompted Gen Yahya Khan to topple Ayub and take over power. Although the power was again usurped by military leadership but the efforts of political elements were mainly responsible for challenging and defeating dictatorship. TW