October 22, 2010

Return of the dictatorship: 18th Amendment

Running Pakistan is a familial enterprise. Very profitable.
(Photo: Dawn.com)
The art of decadence never dies in the political theatrics of Pakistan. After the passage of the 18th Amendment, the major political parties celebrated a lot of elation at the thought that they had purged the constitution of dictatorial vestiges. But a careful examination of the 18th Amendment tells a different story; particularly Article 63 which has been changed to suit tailored needs.

Although the politicians will have us believe that they have made the Parliament sovereign by taking away the powers of the President, they are more than happy to push other changes under the carpet. These changes include:
  1. The power of a political party head to get any member disqualified from the Parliament in the event he or she switches loyalty
  2. The disqualification powers of a party head to remove a sitting Parliamentarian from his post, regardless of whether the party head is a member of the Parliament or not
  3. The removal of the clause that stated that intra party elections are mandatory
Now if I remember correctly, the detractors of Musharraf greatly degrade him for his continuous subversion of the rule of law, and the all that is holy in this land of the pure. But if facts be told, the spirit of democracy under Musharraf was greater than what we witness today.

While Musharraf assumed power through unconstitutional methods, no one talks about how Nawaz Sharif ordered a PIA flight with the Pakistan army COAS on board to divert and land in India. That is akin to treason is not? But let’s leave the historical facts which are open to tantalizing controversy out of it.

While Musharraf was in power, the concept of devolution of power was first introduced to the population of Pakistan. Local governments were introduced and life was good, particularly in Karachi where Mustafa Kamal was a revelation to the Karachiites. Somehow the essence of democracy that came with Musharraf’s vision is much better than the current system which is mired in corruption and bureaucratic red tape.

But the major issue with the 18th Amendment is that it has reinforced the feudal ideals, and made them a part of our constitution. There is no stopping billionaire playboys like Bilawal Zardari, Hamza Shahbaz and Moonis Elahi to step up and continue the legacy of a family heirloom that is their political party. The PPP will remain a Bhutto household façade, while the Chaudries will milk everything out of the people through their Q league. As far as the PML – N is concerned, well what more can one say about a party that has its leader’s name etched into it?

The people of this country removed a dictator, but the cynical self serving toe rags who replaced him are even bigger dictators. They have converted this country into a personal fiefdom, and they rule over it with the help of thugs and cronies. What the 18th Amendment has done is to only solidify their control on the bastion known as Pakistan. It is acts like these, which are oppressive, tyrannical and dogmatic, that make people want change every day of their lives. That is the reason why the decade of destruction (1990s), was so turbulent, and that is why the current span of the PPP rule is marked with such anger and discontentment amongst the people.

The 18th Amendment has effectively ushered Pakistan into a new era of dictatorship, and this time it is far more potent and dangerous than the former general’s rule; because this time, the dictators are hiding behind a façade of democracy while they prepare their sons to take over the family business of ruling Pakistan.