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It seems that the flood waters are now gushing towards the capital of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I remember in the decade of seventies the Public Comedians or ‘Bhaand’s’ as they were called in Punjabi came up with an interesting piece with respect to the East Pakistan crisis.

They first raised the question;” What Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman demands? “Prompt came the answer; “Capital should be moved to Dhaka while the floods should be routed towards Islamabad”.

It did not happen, as desired; Dhaka became the capital of Bangladesh while Islamabad continued with what remained of Jinnah’s Pakistan. Fatima Jinnah tried to re-enact the 1956 constitution but failed.

Finally, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the majority leader of West Pakistan, was able to formulate a consensual document in 1973, which has survived several onslaughts from those who prefer to be above the law of the land. For them the ancient colonial acts carry more sanctity like the Official Secrets Act of 1923 and the Government of India Act 1935 to name a few.

The 18th amendment to the constitution cut Islamabad to size but failed to transfer power to the grass-roots level as envisioned by the constituent assembly genuinely elected in the free and fair electoral contest of 1970. By inserting Article 6 in the constitutional framework, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) was confident that adventurism would end but he has been proven wrong three times (Zia, Musharraf, Bajwa). Democracy has not been safe in Islamabad, the artificial capital created by the first usurper. Had Karachi remained the capital city, Pakistan would have emerged as the first Asian Tiger. Our brothers in the Eastern Wing were comfortable with the Sea route, till today there is a huge population of Bengalis in the city of Quaid.

The Ayub Empire was built around garrison city Rawalpindi and Hazara his hometown. His son Gohar Ayub Khan was the heir-apparent to the throne but a heart attack and the 1965 war misadventure weakened Ayub’s grip over power.

Massive street protests started against the dictator in 1968, Pindi did not come to his rescue. Finally, he had to step down in March 1969. His mansion on the hill was sold by his heirs. His successor Agha Muhammad Yayha Khan presided over the break-up of Jinnah’s Pakistan.

Although Islamabad and Rawalpindi are called twin cities, they have nothing in common. Before independence Rawalpindi was a garrison city for the Northern Command of the Royal Indian Army.

Culturally, it was a barren land. There were a few bakeries mostly visited by men in uniform. Gordon College was the only credible institution of higher education. Unlike Data Ki Nagri, even Sufi traditions were very basic. Followers of Barri Imam dressed in green robes begged on the streets of the city.

In the absence of public transport, Tongas were used for transportation. Sian Mirchu and later Sian Mira were revered as saints. When Mirchu became violent he was marooned in the outskirts of the city. Recently, I discovered his shrine on the Kashmir Highway not too far from Peshawar Road.

Pakistan came into being after the ‘Lahore Resolution ‘ of 1940. Being a border town, Jinnah selected Karachi instead as capital of the new land. On invitation from Father of the Nation, industrialists and businessmen migrated from all over India to initiate commercial ventures in the city. While Lahore is the Cultural Capital of Pakistan, Karachi is its Commercial Hub with Islamabad as the seat of administration has emerged as a showstopper and major impediment to growth. Only constitutional democracies have advanced rest stagnate.

Had the 1956 constitution been followed in letter and spirit the republic would have grown. Again, if the second chance had been availed of following the 1973 consensual document the ground realities would have been favourable for the people. Power must be devolved where it belongs.

As the saying goes; ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. Ayub Khan created a centralized power base in Islamabad.

Today the bulk of this hold has been passed over to the provinces who now act in the same manner holding on to power. One original Islamabad and four supplementary versions doing the same continue to rule in the land of the pure.

After the 1970 electoral exercise when transition of power was delayed, Awami League called its own session of the parliament to enforce its mandate. Bullets prevailed over the ballot. Rest is history as they say. Jinnah’s Pakistan was dismembered.

Unfortunately, the more the things change the more they remain the same. East Pakistan felt neglected. The ravages of the flood waters were not appropriately countered as Islamabad was too far and detached.

Mujib wanted Islamabad to face the floods as Dhaka had to endure. Despite being next door Islamabad has not been able to save Rawalpindi from the ravages of overflowing Nullah Lai.

It is time to look inwards to understand the ground realities that confront the nation. The party has been on-going for far too long.

People’s mandate can no longer be ignored if the republic must grow and move forward. Only strict adherence to the constitution can prevalent the gushing flood waters from entering Islamabad.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

Dr Farid A Malik

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation; email:[email protected]


Comments are closed.

KU Feb 25, 2024 11:41am
It's a Pakistan story, and it's a tragedy. It keeps going on under the Corrupt & Co. , now an end in sight is visible.
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Usman Feb 25, 2024 03:20pm
The people are weak in this land and decide on the basis of emotions than reality.lets educate the people first or they will continue to choose people like imran,nawaz and zardari.
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E Feb 26, 2024 09:41am
Now the same pml and ppp have been forced on us AGAIN. I understand its easier to deal with dynasties like ppp and pml n but when people have voted against for pti respect them please. No ppp no pmln
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