Nisar A. Memon
23-December-2019 – Pakistan Observer
PAKISTAN once again is at the cross road of history. On one side, we are struggling on domestic front with legal, political, economic and social challenges; while on the other hand Indian Occupied Kashmir is under locked down where universally recognized fundamental human rights of 13 million Kashmiris are trampled by Hindutva forces and Kashmiris being killed, missing, detained by a million occupying Indian armed forces. The Kashmiris are looking to Pakistan to galvanize world’s diplomatic, moral, human and existential support for them. However, the regional power conflicts in Afghanistan, Iran, Gulf and Middle East are pulling our government away from supporting the Kashmiris. The recent non participation of Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur Summit speaks of our precarious situation within Ummah.
But the last few days happenings on the home front are sapping away all our national energies to the advantage of our adversaries. The single most amongst them is the Special Court ruling on November 2007 Emergency. The decision is extensively and freely discussed on our media and one can see that the nation stands divided. Many like me, are pained to see dangerous, controversial, split judgement about former President and Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf, specially the inhuman and condemnable para 66 which smacks of hatred. Justice must be done and also seen to be done.
This country is wronged in ways more than one by many people in many ways including the state institutions, since its inception, The abrogation of Constitutions, endorsement by judiciary, supported by parliaments and political parties but yet no convictions made. We could not protect our first prime minister from assassination, hanged our prime minister, removed our prime ministers, and could not save many political leaders from terrorism. All this, but the silent majority remained silent.
I speak out today for the man who invited me to join his transition cabinet of 2002 and 2007. As his Federal Information Minister, I have seen him as a democrat even though he was in uniform, all powerful yet so humble, not praying five time a day yet a good Muslim, living in high presidential palace yet lived the values of a middle-class citizen. I do not recall any case of corruption nor of his family using his position of power.
It is a matter of historic fact that it was on his personal directive to free the media that radio and TV were opened to private sector by Federal Information Ministry preparing and announcing the policy in 2002 and commenced its implementation the same year towards greater freedom of media. Later, after November 2007 emergency he called to invite me to join the cabinet and to free all media prior to new general elections to civilian-led democracy with a free open media.
Senate Standing Committee on Defence & Defence Production was encouraged to seek understanding of our top-confidential Defence Policy, Strategic Division Programs and visits to the development laboratories and facilities in China for JF-17 aircrafts and F22P frigates. All historic firsts by a military leader.
Our Parliamentary Committee on Water Resources recommended Diamer-Basha Dam and not Kalabagh Dam which he was under pressure from some quarters, but he respected without influencing the committee. He believed in consensus and for Mangla Dam Extension he assigned me to get Kashmiri leadership consensus at home and abroad, which paved the way to its extension held up for several years.
I have personally seen the pain and anguish he went through while the Lal Masjid Islamabad operation was under way. How callous can we be to hand him over such a severe decision of the court while he is under serious treatment at the hospital. The legal and constitutional aspects are under debate and decision.
His concern for the Gilgit Baltistan (GB) people came naturally since as SSG Commando he had seen the sufferings of people of these rugged mountainous areas. He introduced reforms in GB which included: establishment of Northern Areas Court of Appeal (similar to our Supreme Court), the chairman and members of Chief Court (our High Court) were named as Chief Judge and Judges, local members of bar were given the opportunity to be inducted as judges to the Chief Court, increasing number of six reserved seats for technocrats and one additional seat for women in Northern Areas Legislative Council (NALC ). In 2006, six advisors were appointed from the NALC members, who were brought at par with the members of Azad Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly in terms of pay and privileges. A new district of Astor was created to provide administrative services at the doorstep of far flung area of Astore. In August 2007, President Musharraf promulgated further changes whereby the NALC was changed to Northern Areas Legislative Assembly (now GB Assembly) wherein Deputy Chief Executive was promoted to Chief Executive (now Chief Minister GB). The new Karakorum International University with its scenic location and building was made possible due to his belief in providing the highest education for the people of GB who today are equally disturbed on court decision and are hoping for justice to their savior.
The rebuilding after the unprecedented 2005 earthquake stands testimony to his leadership of emergency response and rebuilding affected areas with national and international support.During my tenure in the cabinet of caretaker prime minister Moeen Qureshi in 1993, on a proposal to hang 10 most known corrupt to send the strong message, the sagacious prime minister in his soft but firm voice stated that hanging has its ramification, but reforms in institutions and processes is the ultimate solution.
General Musharraf served Pakistan at most difficult juncture of history and such a judgment while dividing the nation can weaken the democratic dispensation in the country and may create conflict between various state institutions to the advantage of enemies of country. It is the responsibility of the government and leadership to unite the nation towards national reconciliation and divert national energies to the service of 220 million people by bringing them out of poverty and giving them the quality life with clean drinking water, health, education, food, housing, earning opportunities and save them from climate change impact. Let this generation be remembered as taking the country out of current negative downward spiral to a upward positive spiral.
Let us stand up for justice to strengthen the country and unite the already divided nation. Quaid said, “If you will work in cooperation, forgetting the past, burying hatchet, you are bound to succeed.”
—Nisar A Memon: Author of ‘Insight into the Senate of Pakistan’