Democracy In The Line Of Fire

Published on, by Hassan N. Gardezi, June 26, 2007.

I started with the biggest domestic challenge: having to steer the ship of the state out of troubled waters before it sank. … Things are moving well now domestically despite external constraints being imposed on me by the West in its demand for ‘democracy’ “. Musharraf.

When Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s memoir, In the Line of Fire appeared last year it was perhaps dismissed too quickly by progressive readers and commentators as a military ruler’s attempt at self promotion …

… But corruption is by no means the exclusive endowment of the Pakistani politician. Political and financial corruption in inherent in the political economy of capitalism, although it can be more blatant and visible in countries like Pakistan where property relations of capitalism are underdeveloped.

To check or contain the ubiquitous problem of corruption, stable capitalist democracies provide for an independent and constitutionally empowered judiciary as one of the three branches of the state, the other two being the executive and the legislative. The concept of Checks and balances applies to these three branched of the state, not to the so called “three power brokers” as conceived by Musharraf. Army is only part of the executive branch of the state whose job is to take orders from the incumbent government and defend the territorial borders of the state.

So long as Pakistan’s military high command continues to cross the boundaries of its constitutionally allocated role and preempts the judiciary from performing its functions, setting itself up as the “savior of the nation,” so long as the army chief does not learn to accept orders from the constitutionally recognized executive head of the state and instead tries to impose his counsel on him or takes military action to displace him, and so long as the army establishment continues to spread its tentacles into the political sphere and manipulate the process of elections to the legislature, the army will indeed be “the only institution of stability left in Pakistan.

The rest of the instititutions, the foundations of a modern democratic stare – an exacutive that rules by consent and not commamd, a legislature that represents all the people and a judiciary that understands and upholds the rule of law – will either wither away or exist in a crippled and corrupt form. Unfortunately, in that case, there will also be no end to the crisis of governance in Pakistan. (full long text).

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