This is my latest article on the topic I have been writing about for some time. Today I shall highlight another major reason of democracy failure in Pakistan and major contributing factor in democracy not gaining strength.
The problem began when general Ayub Khan the then chief of army staff was appointed defense minister of the country in 1954 by Muhammad Ali Bogra. Then Sikandar Mirza the then President declared martial law and appointed general Ayub Khan the Chief Martial Law Administrator. Subsequently Ayub Khan deposed Sikandar Mirza and took over power. This was the first military coup and the one that lasted almost eleven years. This was the beginning of the sad event that shall be repeated by following chief of army staff. After eleven years people became fed up and Ayub Khan and after fierce demonstrations he was forced to give up. However instead of handing over powers to elected representatives another general Yahya Khan took over. Although his tenure was only about two years long but resulted in one of the worst tragedy the nation had to faced. After the tragedy of 1971 Yahya Khan was forced to give up power and ultimately an elected government was handed over the power.
However democracy only lasted mere six years and after the elections of 1977 political situation again deteriorated. Negotiations began between different political parties and leaders and although it seemed that the matter shall be resolved when suddenly on July 5, 1977 general Zia-ul-Haq took over power in a bloodless coup. The action was justified or not is one thing however it would have been better for the nation if politicians would have been given time to settle the issues and perhaps fresh elections held. This martial law also lasted for almost eleven years and left the most damaging effect on nation. This martial law ended when general Zia died in a plane crash in 1988.
Democracy again returned and elections were held which resulted in democratically elected government. Although country faced many crises however democracy continued every time crises were averted by holding elections. During 1999 tensions between government and army again reached heightened level and the then Prime Minister dismissed the chief or army staff. However army refused to accept the decision and removed the government and imposed martial law. Democracy lasted only about eleven years from 1988 to 1999.
The latest martial law of general Musharraf lasted for about nine years and ended when he resigned from the post of President in 2008. Although elections were held in 2002 when Musharraf’s supported party won the elections however since he held both the posts of chief or army staff and the President this government could not be described as the true democratic government because a uniformed general was actually governing. His last years as President were marred by many controversies that resulted in his popularity dipping very low. He was forced to retire as chief of army staff and ultimately as the President.
Presently there is democracy in country since 2008 when last elections were held. Out of sixty five years of Pakistan’s independence the country was under martial for almost half her history. This is one of the factors that resulted in the derailment of democracy in the country and weakening of institutions that ensure strengthening of democracy.
In the end I would only like to say that one should hope that the politicians, the generals and especially the people of Pakistan have learnt the lesson and would make sure that in future martial laws are not imposed in the country. Only this way democracy can be strengthened in the country.