Posts Tagged ‘dictatorship vs democracy’

Democracy or dictatorship?

Thursday, November 26, 2009
Ijaz Tabassum, in his letter of November 22, has recommended that we should bring back Musharraf. I will go a step further and recommend that military rule should, through a constitutional amendment if need be, return legally for a limited period with checks and balances. The problem with democratic governments is that they remain under pressure to go with what the majority of the citizens want, not what is best for them. If the majority wants that babies should be given cigarettes, babies will be given cigarettes. Civilians have ruled us for more than 20 years now, and during this period we have seen loot, plunder, crookedness and every type of fraudulency under the sun. Only two former military officers are listed among the hundreds of NRO beneficiaries. People of several South American countries, which have returned to civilian rule after a long time, are now beginning to feel they were better off under dictatorships.

Ayub Khan was ruling Pakistan when I was a child. Whenever foreign dignitaries visited Pakistan (among them were President Eisenhower, Queen Elizabeth, the Shah of Iran, Vice President Lyndon B Johnson and others) they used to ride in an open horse-driven carriage with our president in Karachi (our capital at that time) on an immaculately clean Elphinstone Street (now the filthy Zebunnisa Street). People used to shower flowers on them from the side buildings. There were no police. I used to accompany my father to see them, and often they stopped the carriage to shake hands with the people lining the street just ten feet away. Invite President Obama now to do the same. I will eat my shoes if he can do it.

I say, first bring back Ayub Khan and his chosen governor of West Pakistan, Nawab Amir Mohammad Khan of Kalabagh. Musharraf can follow.

Commodore (r) Parvez Iqbal



Saturday, November 28, 2009
Commodore (r) Parvez Iqbal in his letter titled “Democracy or dictatorship” (November 26) has suggested that military rule should return legally for a limited period with checks and balances. He has also claimed that during the civilian rule the nation has seen loot, plunder, crookedness and every type of fraudulency. In my view the retired commodore has mixed up the conduct of certain politicians with the system of governance. I would suggest that the writer should carefully go through the contents of the article by Kamila Hyat (November 26) wherein she has very lucidly explained how democracies have done wonders in India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Bolivia. May I request the writer to look at the list of corrupt countries brought out by Transparency International and see for himself that the countries at the bottom are all democratic while the ones at the top have a weak democratic system?

Despite a high level of corruption in Pakistan, at least there is uproar in parliament as well as in the press on this problem and the prime minister has to respond to the questions being raised by the opposition relating to illegal appointments and promotions and other allegations of corruption. On the contrary, all the dictators in Pakistan appointed their cronies in lucrative positions without any questions asked. May I ask the writer whether the country was corruption-free during the rule of Ayub Khan, Zia-ul-Haq and Musharraf? The writer has to understand the difference between legalised corruption and other types of illegal transactions. There are very few names of army officers on the NRO list because the armed forces do not fall under the purview of NAB or any other civilian anti-corruption agency.

Furthermore, no one can technically point a finger towards commercial plots and agricultural farms having market value of tens of millions rupees allotted by the government to individuals. The legalised corruption is not accounted for anywhere. During the eras of Ayub, Zia and Musharraf, remarkable progress was seen in development of infrastructure, but that was due to certain geo-political situations such as the Cold War, the Afghan war and the post-9/11 scenario in which Pakistan got financial and military support from developed countries, especially the US. Despite these lucky breakthroughs, the dictators failed to bring about any meaningful change in the country. Democracy in Pakistan will work very well if it is allowed to breathe freely without military interventions every now and then.

Dr Najeeb A Khan



It was shocking to read the letter of Commodore (r) Parvez Iqbal titled “Democracy or dictatorship” (November 26). The respected commodore believes that another dictatorship can save Pakistan from a mess created by a dictator who has fled the country in fear of being held accountable for the crimes he and his allies committed in the previous regime.

Let me remind the commodore that due to short-sighted policies of dictators over the years, East Pakistan became Bangladesh and Balochistan cries for its rights. Due to these tyrants, NWFP is burning. Due to these dictators and their lust for power, the Pakistan army is forced to fight an enemy that the state itself created during Zia’s regime. Pakistan became a hub of Islamist militias. It is because of these dictators and their continuous meddling in civilian affairs that every institution is weak and Pakistan hasn’t tasted the real taste of democracy. Curse upon these dictators and their puppets. If we want to progress and redeem our image across the globe, we must hold Musharraf responsible for the atrocities he and his friends committed. We must punish those who have made Pakistanis bleed and then move forward towards a real democratic culture which will take time to develop.

A corrupt ruler does not automatically make the previous tyrant good, neither does faulty democracy in its infancy mean that dictatorship is a better option. The current parliament may or may not teem with thieves accused of looting public money and brought back to mainstream politics by yet another dictator who engineered the NRO, but that should not justify military rule.

Commodore sahib is advised to have some sense as I remember his comments against dictators during the great “Bloody civilian” debate that he initiated in these very columns and later apologised to the readers for using derogatory language for his fellow civilian countrymen.

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi



In his letter titled “Democracy or dictatorship?” (November 26) Commodore Parvez Iqbal favoured dictatorship over democracy. He should be reminded that the people of Pakistan are sick and tired of generals ruling them and rejected Musharraf’s policies in the February 18, 2008, elections. It was because of the dictatorships of Ayub, Yahya, Zia and Musharraf that today, even after 62 years, Pakistan is struggling to achieve success and prosperity and its people are deprived of the basic necessities of life. The answer to a flawed democratic system is certainly not dictatorship and it is this thinking that has destroyed Pakistan from within. Pakistan is still bearing the brunt of the actions and decisions of the past despots. Not one country in the world that is successful and prosperous today is run by a military regime or the system that Mr Iqbal is proposing.

Pakistan doesn’t need the army or landlords to run it; it needs shrewd and sincere leadership elected through a democratic process. Let’s not forget the words of the Quaid-e-Azam who during his address at the Military Staff College said: “Never forget that you are the servants of the state. You do not make policy. It is we, the people’s representatives, who decide how the country is to be run. Your job is to only obey the decisions of your civilian masters.”

Hafsa Khawaja


Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Commodore (r) Parvez Iqbal’s letter titled “Democracy or dictatorship?” (December 1) in response to Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi’s criticism of his earlier letter was amusing. The distinguished commodore defends military regimes in Pakistan with arguments that are best left for concocted history books. He even throws in a reference about Venezuela being the epitome of good governance ever since Hugo Chavez came into power and has cemented his stay using all means necessary. He also had the audacity to claim that under Musharraf, we at least “saw a reasonable amount of stability”. Yes, try telling that to the Baloch.

Finally, the commodore throws at us a gem saying military leaders often have to make decisions on an ‘act-first-explain-later’ basis. In Pakistan, however, military leaders seem to be acting on an ‘act-first-then-forget-about-explanations’ basis. We are, after all, still waiting for explanations on the Operation Gibraltar, the Ojhri ammunition depot fire, Kargil, the 1971 war, the judicial murder of our first elected prime minister, the rape of the constitution a couple of years ago and so on and so forth.

Sohaib Athar

Boston, US


This is in reference to Commodore (r) Parvez Iqbal’s letter “Democracy or dictatorship?” (December 1) in response to my letter of November 28. The respected commodore listed a few good deeds of the military dictators and advised the civilians to go through history before criticising them. Commodore Sahib declared Field Marshall Ayub Khan a ‘charismatic leader’ who built Islamabad in five years. He completely ignored, however, the corruption and nepotism that marred his 10 year rule. He also forgot to mention the economic disparity created by his rule which led to public agitation and in result he had to transfer power to yet another dictator.

Commodore Sahib, while referring to Gen Ziaul Haq, ignored to mention that the US aid to help the mujahideen came through intelligence agencies Zia used to cement his own rule. The Afghan jihad converted Pakistan from a peaceful nation to a hub of Islamist extremists. Why doesn’t the writer remember that era’s heroin smuggling, AK-47 culture, religious extremism and diversion of scarce national resources to the military?

It was General Pervez Musharraf who put Balochistan on fire. Who sacked judges unconstitutionally after they refused to hand down a favourable judgment? Who was responsible for the murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti, the Lal Masjid fiasco, curbs on the media and the emergency of November 3, 2007, which he himself termed unconstitutional?

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi



This is in reference to the letter “Democracy or dictatorship?” by Commodore (r) Parvez Iqbal (December 1). Looking into our past it’s not difficult to judge that due to the dictators our country is bleeding today. They have inflicted sever damages both to our geography as well as our independence and sovereignty just to prolong their own rule. We must not support them just for a few goods they have done during their long reigns.

Instead of saviours I hope Ayub Khan and Pervez Musharraf will be considered as the first and the last dictators, respectively, of Pakistan.

Kamran Bangash



This is with reference to Commodore (r) Parvez Iqbal’s letter “Democracy or dictatorship?” (December 1). The retired gentleman never fails to start a controversy on your pages. Such issues should not be started in times of war when our forces are busy fighting a tough battle against cowardly terrorists. A state is built upon a social contract or the constitution which sets the boundaries in which various organs of the state should function. A negation of the contract occurs when any organ of the state crosses these limits. Martial laws, military rule and dictatorships, however benevolent, are a negation of the people’s right to govern themselves. We have paid the price for these violations in the shape of the Bangladesh debacle, sectarianism and Kalashnikov and heroin culture.

As regards his rhetoric about corruption, incompetence and inefficiency of politicians, that is none of the business of a bureaucrat (civil or military) to determine. The people are the best judge and their decisions are never wrong. Only they can judge their representatives. Also the degree of corruption among high-ranking bureaucrats, both civil and military, is far worse than politicians. The people of Pakistan, especially the young generation, are not interested in the sermons of retired military men about the blessings of dictatorship.

Ahmad Nadeem Gehla



Friday, December 04, 2009
Commodore (r) Iqbal Parvez’ step to trigger the democracy-dictatorship debate is most inappropriate and ill-timed. With the country mired in countless problems and the army valiantly fighting in FATA to save the nation from terrorism the commodore should have exercised discretion. There can be no denying that the inept political class has repeatedly and appallingly let this nation down. A dispassionate examination, however, would lead us back to the ‘original sin’. The political manipulation, the empowerment of individuals, the culture of sycophancy and little acceptance for any dissent — all sprouting from that fatal October 1958 decision — have led to the current state of affairs.

Ayub Khan stopped General Akhtar Malik from taking Akhnoor in 1965. His scion ran a fiefdom and owned an industrial empire. He schemed to defeat Fatima Jinnah in the 1964 elections. Pakistan’s political culture would have been quite different today if Fatima Jinnah had been allowed to win. Yahya Khan’s fair elections are a myth. His investment in such an election was the result of an erroneous input by the intelligence maintaining that no single party will return with absolute majority. He and his coterie were not willing to part with power even after Dec 16, 1971. Besides introducing heroin, Kalashnikov and drugs, Zia bloodied the streets of Karachi and unleashed serpents of religious extremism, fiery mullahs and sectarian violence on society. His era saw Pakistan losing the Quaid peak in Siachen to Bana Singh of the Indian army. Rather than the Soviets, it is the nation whose nose continues to be rubbed in the dust because of the defacement then received. Musharraf’s moth-eaten era will always be remembered for his abject failure to provide an alternate fresh political leadership. He finally compromised with those whom he had tirelessly condemned in the most vicious manner.

Let time and history be the arbiter if the Venezuelans’ choice is correct. In 1932-33 several posters in Germany read “Hitler — our last hope”. By 1945 Hitler had led his nation to annihilation and the world at large to complete destruction. Before becoming the supreme commander of the Allies’ expeditionary forces in 1943, Eisenhower was the allies’ commander in European theatre. He brought laurels for the free world. De Gaulle granted independence to Algeria in the teeth of opposition from his comrades. Let the politicians squabble as always — but let their nemesis be written by none other than the people.

Commander (r) Muhammad Azam Khan



I fail to understand why dictatorship can even be an ‘option’ for a country. What we need is a change of leaders, not of system. The present lot needs to be disposed of. We need a leader who is honest. There may not be many honest men in the present lot, but that doesn’t call for a military takeover.

Dr Habib Usmani



In his response to Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi’s letter, Commodore (r) Parvez Iqbal (December 1) tries to wrongly glorify the eras of Pakistani dictators which have actually brought Pakistan to the brink of collapse. Ayub, Yahya, Zia and Musharraf, all were blotches of shame on the face of the country. The retired commodore tried to portray that all the military dictators had halos above their heads. If that is the case, then are the 16 crore Pakistanis wrong who rebelled and struggled against the rule of the military? I admit that there is widespread corruption in civilian governments but it is no secret that corruption and nepotism were more rampant in the years of these dictators, particularly Musharraf’s.

The new generation will not believe the false accounts of the so-called great military eras that destroyed our country. A few good actions of these despots cannot justify their rule or make us forget what they did to our homeland.

Hafsa Khawaja



With reference to the ongoing democracy-dictatorship debate and particularly the comments of Parvez Iqbal on December 1, let me say that as for the Indus Waters Treaty the commodore failed to mention the heavy price paid by the state by officially surrendering its claim to rivers Ravi, Beas and Sutlaj, all tributaries on the east bank of the Indus, in lieu of aid and loan for the construction of Mangla Dam. This was done overlooking the fact that the reservoir would consistently be reduced and the water demand would keep growing. The fact that the canal irrigation without water would become redundant was also ignored.

The Basha Dam fiasco and the abandonment of the Kalabagh Dam project pose a serious danger of drought in the near future. The construction of the Baglihar dam during military rule is another feather in the cap of military dictators. The building of Islamabad by Ayub Khan was a decision simply to have the capital near his real power base, GHQ. As for the examples of Eisenhower and De Gaulle given by the retired commodore, they came through ballet. Could Pervez Musharraf have occupied the presidency through the ballet?

Jehangir Khan


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