The article has been updated. Governor’s rule has been imposed on Punjab. Protest call by PML-N failed miserably all over the country and only sporadic incidents of mob violence and protest were noted in few districts of central Punjab. It should be a matter of concern for PML-N that virtually no reaction was noted in South Punjab, Sindh, Pakhtunkhaw and Baluchistan. The call of General Strike by PML-N was also met with usual failure, even Central Punjab didnt observe even a reasonable partial strike.
The initial reports coming from Pakistan suggest that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has passed a short order on different writ petitions challenging the eligibility of the right wing Sharif Brothers. The reports suggest that court has decided in the favor of the petitioners and have disqualified the Sharif Brothers. The implications of this decision are that Punjab is free from the highly centralized, Punjabi chauvinist and pro Taliban ministry of Mian Shahbaz Sharif. All control has shifted to the secular and progressive governor of Punjab Mr Salman Taseer.
Mr Shahbaz Sharif and Mian Nawaz Sharif both are convicted criminals, in a unconstitutional deal with the military dictator General Pervez Musharaf, both of them went into exile with a promise to stop participating in politics. The former Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Ch in his decision declared the deal “unconstitutional” thus paving the way of their return. Instead of going back to jail and completing the sentence Sharif brothers entered into political coalition with their political rivals the PPP. Despite the unprecedented media hype right wing PML-N of Sharif Brothers lost the elections. PML-N failed to get representation in 3 provinces and even failed to win a convincing majority in Punjab which according to the right wing cooperate media is center of their power. Refusing to accept the election results the Sharif brothers with help of shabby characters and political opportunists like Aitzaz Ahsan started an effort to politicize and divide the judicial bureaucracy. The plan was to bring Iftikhar Ch back to power and than get Mr Asif Ali Zardari disqualified and declare the entire “illegal acts of General Musharaf after 3rd November” null n void which included the “election” thus bringing the right wing back into power through back door
The cat was out of bag when Qazi Hussein Ahmad , Ameer of Jamate Islami today in his initial reaction to judgement said what was in their heart for a long time, that “we have always maintained that the general elections were unconstitutional”. This was the precise reason that PML-N and Aitzaz Ahsan and Co were bitterly opposing a “constitutional solution” to judicial crisis. The constitution plan would have given indemnity to certain acts of PCO like General Elections and NRO thus giving the democratic setup an immunity from Iftikhar Ch’s politically motivated and selective judicial activism. The shameful and so called “democratic and constitutionalist” lawyer movement put on stage murderous fascists like General Hameed Gul and notorious nuclear proliferator Dr Qadeer Khan on central stage. Instead of asking Jamate Islami to pay for the murder and genocide of East Pakistanis our secular democrats gave Jamate Islami a central role in their movement. The meetings of Air Marshal Asghar Khan and General Hameed Gul with Chief Justice Iftikhar Ch were reported in media and were commented on by progressive writers. The Pakistani Right Wing has this long history of using unelected state institutions to subvert democracy, first they used Army, after General Mushraf the public opinion was strongly against Army hence they planned to use judiciary to control democracy. The plan backfired and the present judges fed up with constant abuses and threats by Sharifs acted and disqualified both Sharif brothers. Its not an act of establishment rather it was result of conflict of interests between two sections of Judicial Bureaucracy , the clash which took a personal turn due to Farah Dogar case and continuous use of personal abuses against sitting judges by PML-N and a section of Lawyers . Whilst I considers the Judicial Bureaucracy of Pakistan , both section one in power and other out of power and on the lap of Jihadis as inherently corrupt, anti people and politically motivated , I nevertheless welcome the outcome of this decision in Punjab which has resulted in fall of the pro- Taliban ministry. The media and all representatives of upper and middle classes of Punjab have tried to develop Shahbaz Sharif as a “great leader” of Pakistan, the facts unfortunately are very bitter. A virtual authoritarian Mr Shahbaz Sharif first act of government was to “re instate” the colonial mode of governance by restoring the “Babu Raj” of commissioners and collectors. He was leading a highly centralized government which was non democratic, the politicians were powerless, he hardly held cabinet sessions, and whole government was being run by him with the help of chief secretary.
This was the continuation of the highly centralized post colonial state which Muslim League built in 1947 and the mode of governance which has resulted in all the ills of Pakistan. With Mr Sharif’s non political and bureaucracy dominated government the Saraiki South Punjab which voted for PPP was increasingly becoming isolated. Already disenfranchised and in grip of Talibanization the inherent Punjabi chauvinism of Sharif was pushing Southern Punjab to the brink. A small example of Sharif’s inherent hatred of Saraiki people is the fact that the Prime minister Mr Yousaf Raza Gilani announced declaring Multan a “big city” in a public meeting saying that Chief Minister on his next visit will issue the notification. Next day Chief Minister visited Multan and to the utter disbelief of workers and labour activist of Multan refused to follow the PM’s order.
There was a virtual police state in Punjab, trade unions were harassed, protesting doctors were beaten up by police on his direct orders, his party was resisting the lifting of ban on student unions in Punjab. This despite the fact that Peoples Party Government had announced lifting the ban on trade and student unions. A more disturbing aspect was Talibanization of Punjab, situation was worse in neglected and isolated Saraiki Southern Punjab; Taliban put posters as far as Multan asking women not to come out of homes and ordering the music centers to shut down. Mr Shahbaz Sharif instead of checking this pushed their agenda forward just like the MMA government of NWFP. On his direct orders police burned CDs and DVDs on Hall Road Lahore, he banned stage dance in Punjab against which the dancing girls of Lahore held a strike. He ordered the administration to check “obscenity in name of Arts and Culture”. All this typical right wing hypocrisy of “Apply Sharia- on- every- one- apart -from -me“. Mr Sharif himself is known to be a Mujra Lover and tales of his flings with Herra Mandi’s dancing girls have always been in circulation.
If this continued we were afraid that South Punjab could have turned into next Swat.[It has all the ingredients along with an adjoining tribal area] We welcome fall of Taliban Ministry in Punjab and we hope that a democratic government is formed in Punjab replacing the existing one.
Mr Nawaz Sharif after his statement of pushing things “beyond” dharna left nothing for imagination, with Punjab government sponsored Long March , Islamabad was to be put under siege to cause either a fall of Gilani government or restoration of Iftikhar and subsequent judicial coup d’e’tat and fresh election. This is a crisis of Right wings own making, and contrary to popular middle class opinion , no sky will fall, there was virtually no people’s agitation in the 3 provinces and isolated cases of mob violence in central Punjab . All they could do was to trample posters of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto in front of Governor House under their feet forgetting it was her which in first place brought the Sharifs out of the trash bin of history when escaped to Saudi Arabia leaving people in grip of dictatorship. We all know how active PML-N workers are when it comes to any “protest movement” which is not state sponsored, we all remember 12 people who reached Air Port to receive Mr Sharif and when he was sent back against his wishes and they couldn’t even secure a general strike in Model Town market the next day.
Hopefully peoples party will again invite Sharifs for negotiations on a “constitutional package” which will give both parties some thing , people unfortunately will remain starving thats what Capitalist democracy in colonial countries is.