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Political stability necessary for maintaining the Independency of Pakistan

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LAHORE: (August 15, 2018): From Muhammad Ali Jinnah to Imran Khan, Pakistan’s politics is full of conspiracies and political adventures as well as military coups, which ultimately taught the democratic forces how to move ahead and strengthen the people’s power in the country. We saw Imran Khan with Bilawal Butto greeting each other before taking oath in the National Assembly and in the third consecutive democratic powers transfers in a smooth way.

It was nothing less than a herculean task for the developing nation which remained under direct military control for several years. Pakistan faced many challenges during its long journey to become politically independent. This long journey started when the government of Pakistan was led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah as governor-general, with Liaquat Ali Khan serving as Prime Minister after the partition of Indian subcontinent in 1947. A constituent assembly was formed to act as both parliament and to draft a constitution. Muhammad Ali Jinnah died in 1948 after a long period of suffering. Khwaja Nazimuddin became the second governor general of Pakistan.

 Just two years after the independence the Objective Resolution (Qararda-de-Muqad) was passed which today is the preamble to Pakistan’s constitution. In 1951 Liaquat Ali khan was assassinated in Rawalpindi. Pakistan did get its first constitution in 1956, turning the country from an autonomous dominion into an “Islamic Republic”.

It was 1958, when President Iskander Ali Mirza conspires with the military chief Ayub Khan, dismissed the assembly and country’s first martial law was imposed. 20 days later, Army Chief General Ayub Khan disposed Mirza and forced him to leave the country. He appointed a commission to formulate a new system of government for the country.

In 1962, the second constitution outlined a presidential form of government, with a 156-member of National Assembly and a presidential electoral college of 80,000 “Basic Democrats”. Members of both bodies were equally divided between West Pakistan and East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh). Ayub Khan defeated Fatima Jinnah in a controversial presidential election in 1965.

Ayub Khan resigned as president during protests in 1969, political situation was getting much complicated when he handed over power to Army Chief General Yahya Khan. Second Martial Law proclaimed and all assemblies were dissolved. In 1970, general elections were held, with East Pakistani leader Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman’s party emerging as the overall winner. The results of the poll contested. The controversy over the general elections led to a war, also involving India, that results in the independence of republic of Bangladesh in 1971.

In 1971, the power was handed over to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He also launched Pakistan’s nuclear program. A new constitution enacted, declaring Pakistan a parliamentary democracy, with a Prime Minister as head of state, leading a bi-cameral (having two chambers) legislature. Bhutto became prime minister from president in 1973. It was 1976, when Bhutto appointed General Zia-ul-Haq as his chief of army staff.

In 1977, general elections were held, with the Bhutto’s party winning the majority of seats in the national assembly. Amid unrest following allegations of vote-rigging from the opposition, General Zia-ul-Haq stepped in, removed Bhutto in a coup, suspended the constitution and declared third martial law.

In 1978, Zia-ul-Haq became president. He retained the office of army chief. Bhutto is executed in 1979, after having been found guilty of “conspiracy to murder” in a trial heavily criticized for having been influenced by Zia. Zia enacted the controversial Hudood Ordinance, a law brought in as part of Zia’s ‘Islamisation’ policy that prescribed punishments considered more in line with the Quran.

In 1982, Zia banned political activity and formed a federal council of ‘technocrats’ he has nominated. After two years Zia-ul-Haq did a referendum on his Islamisation policies. His government claimed that more than 95 per cent of votes cast were in support of Zia.

In 1985, general elections were held (on a non-party basis). Martial law lifted and the newly elected national assembly ratified Zia’s actions over the last eight years, and elected him as president. Muhammad Khan Junejo was elected as Prime Minister. Zia dissolved parliament, dismissed Junejo’s government under Article 58-2(b) of the constitution during refits with Junejo in 1988. He promised elections within 90 days. On August 17, however, he killed, along with 31 others, in a plane crash.

The greatest tragedy of Zia policies was the birth of a mindset that refused to recognize the multi ethnic and multi sectarian make-up of the country and instead offered a rather complex, stiff and artificial understanding of the faith. This promoted inelastic and entirely narrow minded strengths of the faith.

In 1988, general elections were held, with the PPP (led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s daughter, Benazir) winning a majority of seats. Bhutto took the oath as first female prime minister in the history of Pakistan. Only two years later president Ghulam Ishaq Khan dissolved the National Assembly, dismissing Bhutto’s government on charges of alleged corruption and incompetence. Fresh elections were held in the same year, and Nawaz Sharif, groomed under Zia as the head of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), became the prime minister.

In 1991, the National Assembly adopted the Shariat bill, codifying elements of Islamic law into Pakistan’s legal system. Sharif’s government initiated a military operation against violence in Karachi, the country’s largest city in 1992. The operation is largely seen to target members of the Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM), a political party with its base in the city.

Three years later Sharif’s government dismissed from the same reason alleged corruption and incompetence by Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Ghulam Ishaq Khan himself resigned later in the year. General elections were held, with Benazir Bhutto elected prime minister for her second term. Farooq Leghari, a member of the PPP, elected as the country’s president.

In 1996, president Farooq Leghari dissolved the National Assembly, dismissing Benazir Bhutto’s government, which was operating under a cloud of corruption allegations. General elections were held in 1997, the fourth time such polls have taken place since 1988. Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N party won in a landslide, and he elected prime minister for the second time. Rafiq Tarar is sworn in as President the next year.

It was 1998, when Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in the Chaghi Hills of Balochistan, in response to similar Indian tests days earlier. The international community imposed strict economic sanctions on the country in response.

In 1999, after the Kargil War, Nawaz Sharif did attempt to replace General Pervez Musharraf, his army chief. Musharraf took power in a coup, placing Nawaz Sharif and other political leaders under house arrest. The Supreme Court validated Musharraf’s coup and gave him executive and legislative authority for a period of three years in 2000. Nawaz Sharif and his family fled to exile in Saudi Arabia.

In 2001, General Pervez Musharraf assumed the office of president, while remaining chief of army staff. One year later Musharraf won a referendum on his presidency, granting him five more years in the job. The government claimed he win the poll by more than 95 per cent.

General elections were also held, with the PML-Q, a party created by Musharraf and loyal to the president, winning most seats. The PML-Q’s Zafarullah Khan Jamali was elected prime minister. Musharraf, meanwhile, instituted a raft of amendments to the 1973 constitution. Zafaraullah Khan Jamali replaced by Shaukat Aziz, then the finance minister, as Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2004.

In 2007, President Musharraf dismissed chief justice of the Supreme Court Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. It prompted a nationwide protest movement for his reinstatement. Chaudhry eventually restored, but Musharraf imposed a state of emergency later in the year ahead of a key apex court ruling on the legality of his rule. The National Assembly, meanwhile, completed its five-year term for the first time in Pakistan’s history. Benazir Bhutto returned to the country to campaign in the general elections after the passage of a controversial blanket corruption amnesty deal. She killed in a bomb attack in Rawalpindi during her election campaign.

General elections were held in 2008, with the PPP winning the majority of seats in the national assembly. Yousuf Raza Gilani was elected prime minister, with Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto’s widower and now co-chairman of the PPP, replacing Musharraf as president. In 2009, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and his colleagues in the judiciary restored to their positions after heightening tensions over the issue, having been dismissed by Pervez Musharraf after his 2007 state of emergency.

Pakistan’s parliament passed the 18th amendment to the 1973 constitution, removed the president’s power to dissolve the parliament unilaterally under Article 58-2(b) and reversed some of the changes brought about by Musharraf.

In 2011, caught amidst scandals involving both corruption probes and “Memogate” affair, the PPP government came under increasing pressure from the opposition to hold early elections. After being found guilty of having committed contempt of court for not implementing a Supreme Court order to reopen a corruption case involving President Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani deemed to be ineligible to hold public office in 2012. He lost his seat in parliament, but not before he became the longest serving prime minister in Pakistan’s history. He succeeded as PM by Raja Pervez Ashraf, another leading PPP member and Zardari loyalist.

In 2013, the PPP led coalition government became Pakistan’s first democratically elected civilian, led government to complete its five-year term in office. A caretaker government appointed and a general election did set for May 11. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was elected in 2013 in Pakistan’s first democratic transfer of power. In 2015 the Panama papers released, documenting how Sharif and his children own foreign companies and properties.

In 2017, Sharif’s third term as Prime Minister came to an end when he was forced to resign as a result of a corruption probe. Sharif denied any wrongdoing, but the Supreme Court voted in July 2017 to permanently disqualify him from holding office. He stepped down and was replaced by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. In July 2018, Nawaz Sharif was convicted of having owned assets beyond his income and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In May 25, 2018, third time in Pakistan’s political history national assembly completed its five-year term in office. General elections were held in July 25, 2018 and Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf received the plurality of the vote. It was a surprise that number of female participation increased, both as candidates and as voters although cultural norms have often denied them the right to cast their ballots. The PML-N conceded victory to Tehreek-e-Insaf, however, in a bid to strengthen democracy.

International observers praised the election commission of Pakistan’s performance. The Wall Street Journal stated that Khan’s apparent victory will “break the country’s two-party system.” Others wondered whether his election will have salubrious effects on Pakistan’s shambolic economy, foreign policy, or internal security.

The EU’s observer mission in Pakistan said while there were positive changes to Pakistan’s legal framework for elections, the polls were “overshadowed by restrictions on freedom of expression and unequal campaign opportunities”. EU also praised the ECP for the way the election was conducted, the EU EOM observed that the commission is an independent constitutional body with powers and responsibility to conduct elections.

Democratically elected governments have struggled to complete their terms, being alternately dismissed by presidents or removed from power by army chiefs. Fortunately, three parliaments have ever completed their five-year term and were headed by General Pervez Musharraf, a military dictator, Asif Ali Zardari, ex-president, and Nawaz sharif, ex-prime minister. Next prime minister of Pakistan will take oath on August 18, 2018. Pakistan is going to become politically stable but remains threatened by sectarian and terrorist violence.

Democratically transfer of power will give more strength to Pakistan’s political stability. We will become an independent and a developed country if we will politically stable. Every Independence Day reminds us the sacrifices of our ancestors for Pakistan and gives a motivation to serve the country. We should do our own duty to maintain Pakistan politically stable.

The question is how we contribute; we should use the power of our vote and elect the most educated, loyal, honest, capable and hardworking candidate. Some people are blindly following their corrupt leaders and give illogical reasons that corruption is not big issue. We should show zero tolerance for those who are corrupt and target their opposites with the help of unethical and false allegation. We should give away our priority on the basis of cast system, symbolism, religious, sectarian and linguistic prejudice and vote for national parties.

Our political parties should follow our beloved Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s massage “Unity, Faith, Discipline” and give priority to the national cause over personal interests. We must learn a lesson from the history.

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