Saturday, March 21, 2009

Charter of national integration by Sajjad Shaukat

Every year, March 23 is celebrated by every Pakistani with a sense of greater satisfaction as it reminds us of the day when our forefathers passed a key resolution, demanding a separate state for the Muslims of India, where they could live in accordance with their own political and cultural values as a stable entity.

It was due to strong unity among the Muslims under the leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah that within seven years Pakistan became a tangible reality. But unfortunately, that unity started declining and after passing through a number of crises from time to time since partition, the country have reached the stage of continuous internal and external threats which are not only worrying all the citizens, but are also putting the very integration of the state at stake. It is owing to lack of unity among our politicians and leaders that external opportunists have been exploiting the precarious situation of Pakistan in order to fulfill their anti-Pakistan agenda-to destabilise and even to disintegrate our country. These sinister goals of foreign elements can be gauged from a number of developments such as subversive acts in the tribal areas, separatism in Balochistan, US-Indian opposition to Swat peace agreement, Moreover, they intend to weaken the federation of Pakistan as nuclear assets of our country irk the eyes of our enemies. Particularly, American CIA, Indian RAW, and Israeli Mossad are in collusion to disintegrate Pakistan where they have been supporting perennial insurgency. In this respect, our civil and military leadership has repeatedly been saying directly or indirectly that there were "several enemies of the country" and "foreign hands involved in the acts of terrorism". On August 4, 2007, the former President Musharraf remarked that India was behind the unrest in Balochistan, providing with arms and material support to those involved in violence in the province. As a matter of fact, there is a co-relationship of our internal and external crises which are part of a plot. Regrettably, most of our regional and national parties, divided on sectarian and ethnic lines have been manipulating the ongoing phenomenon of terrorism, economic dilemma and political mess not only against one another but also against the state as they do not care for the integration of the country. Indirectly, their acts of commission support the external enemies of Pakistan. This selfish attitude is blocking the path of national unity. In this regard, some days before, the crisis deepened between President Zardari and the PML-N when latter's leader, Nawaz Sharif started a Long March from Lahore Islamabad in wake of a series of protests to favour the cause of lawyers that had threatened to bring turmoil to Pakistan till the restoration of the sacked Chief Justice of Supreme Court, Iftikhar Chaudhry in accordance with the Charter of Democracy as the government was unwillingly to accept the demands. Jamaat-i-Islami and Tehrik-e-Insaaf, including some other organisations also joined the protest rallies. As both the opposite political forces were adamant on their stands, taking cognizance of the drastic situation which could lead to civil war in the country at this critical juncture, Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani played a positive role of reconciliation. He held meetings with President Zardari and Prime Minister Gillani. And ultimately, he succeeded in resolving the crisis amicably. Pakistan government agreed to reinstate Iftikhar Chaudhry as chief justice and Nawaz Sharif called off the long march in response. However, reconciliatory role of Kayani has greatly been appreciated inside and outside the country. General Kayani did not repeat the history. Notably, he had clearly explained on March 6, 2008 in a meeting of the corps commanders that "the army would stay out of the political process", and reaffirmed the army's "commitment to the integrity of Pakistan" which could be "possible with the full support of People". Nonetheless, his impartial mediatory role has proved that he has no political designs because he pays a greater attention to the integration of Pakistan. It is notable that since its existence, Pakistan has been facing ethnic, linguistic and communal problems. A blind dedication to one's own race, tribe and creed creates hatred in one group against the other, which ends in violence. Economic injustices further worsen the situation as our society is extremely divided into rich and poor classes. Regional and provincial political leaders who exploit these disparities at the cost of federation have hindered the path of national integration. Besides other issues like Kalabagh Dam which could be resolved through mutual negotiations according to the constitution, a prolonged controversy over the reinstatement of the sacked judges might be noted as an example in this respect. Concentration of wealth in few hands has created a privileged class of landowners and industrialists who contest elections against each other again and again. By dominating the political parties, they have dominated the politics of the country and have always sacrificed national interests for their personal and selfish gains. Thus they forget the real aim of public mandate to resolve the economic and social problems - the factors which cause frustration among the people. Formation of alliances and counter alliances, based upon the principle of hostility for the sake of hostility shows that our leaders are themselves responsible for lack of national cohesion among various segments of society. In fact, fault can not be laid on the general masses, majority of whom is illiterate. They are swayed by emotions and stereotypes, created by provincial and national leaders who keep on exploiting any crisis for their own self-interest. It is in dire need of national integration. Such integration is not possible unless our elected rulers and the opposition leaders pledge to sign a charter of integration which is very essential to pull the country out of the ongoing multiple crises. The ongoing adverse circumstances have enveloped the country from all sides, either we gauge in political or economic terms. Drastic implications of the situation cannot be grasped by the general masses at large, who abruptly change their opinion without reason. Hence, they become easy prey to the internal exploiters, unintentionally benefiting the external conspirators who want to weaken Pakistan by creating a rift between our general masses led by politicians on one hand and the security forces on the other. Apart from it, foreign agents misguide the disgruntled elements that national institutions are not made to develop the backward areas and policies formulated at Islamabad are not congenial to other provinces except Punjab. All this requires that in the new charter of democracy, our all political leaders must vow to guide the common men to right direction which moves towards national unity. They should not only show the passions of tolerance and cool-mindedness in themselves, but also create the same among the people. The charter of national integration is necessary for the survival of Pakistan as well as for the political leaders themselves. It has become exigency of the hour as at present, even a layman can note that our country is in chaos and it seems as if there is a "war of all against all" in the sense of 4Hobbesian state of nature'. Now the day of 23rd March demands sacrifices of individual and collective selfish interests from the citizen and politician of every province including every religious and political organization for the national integration of Pakistan. There must be a selfless national unity among the general public, politicians and the security forces in order to cope with the anti-Pakistan conspiracy.

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