Mr. Jinnah envisioned Pakistan as a modern, progressive, democratic country drawing its inspiration from the true, dynamic, pristine, revolutionary Islam of its early years with its emphasis on egalitarianism, social justice and accountability. Jinnah was a fervent believer in the sovereignty of the people, the inviolability of constitution, supremacy of civilian rule, an absolutely independent, incorruptible judiciary, Rule of Law and a strong, neutral, honest civil service. The ruling passion of Jinnah’s life was love of law and liberty.What was Jinnah’s concept of the role of military and civil bureaucracy in the governance of independent Pakistan? On the day of Pakistan’s independence, August 14, 1947, Mr. Jinnah, who had just become Governor General, scolded one young Pakistani army officer. The officer had complained that: “Instead of giving us the opportunity to serve our country in positions where our natural talents and native genius could be used to the greatest advantage, important posts are being entrusted, as had been done in the past, to foreigners. British officers have been appointed to head the three fighting services, and a number of other foreigners are in key senior appointments. This was not our understanding of how Pakistan should be run”. Mr. Jinnah was deliberate in his answer. He warned the officer concerned: “not to forget that armed forces were the servants of the people and you do not make national policy; it is we, the civilians, who decide these issues and it is your duty to carry out these tasks with which you are entrusted”.
Months later, during his first and only visit to Staff College Quetta, he expressed his alarm at the casual attitude of “one or two very high-ranking officers”. He warned the assembled officers that some of them were not aware of the implications of their oath to Pakistan and promptly read it out to them. And he added: “I should like you to study the constitution which is in force in Pakistan at present and understand its true constitutional and legal implications when you say that you will be faithful to the constitution of the Dominion”. The supreme irony of the event is that the Constitution of Pakistan was to be abrogated by some of the officers present in Mr. Jinnah’s audience.
In an informal talk to civil and military bureaucracy in Government House Peshawar in April 1948, Mr. Jinnah said: “The reason why I wanted to meet you is that I wanted to say a few words to you who are occupying very important positions in the administration of Pakistan”. “Governments are formed, governments are defeated. Prime Ministers come and go, ministers come and go, but you stay on and, therefore, there is a very great responsibility placed on your shoulders. You should have no hand in supporting this political party or that political party, this political leader or that political leader – this is not your business. Whichever government is formed according to the constitution in a free, fair and impartial election, whoever happens to be Prime Minister, coming into power in the ordinary constitutional course, your duty is not only to serve that government loyally, faithfully, but at the same time fearlessly, maintaining your high reputation, your prestige, your honor and the integrity of your service.
In public perception, the army chief has allied himself with one political party. The Pakistan army is a people’s army, in the sense that it belongs to the people of Pakistan who take a jealous and proprietary interest in it. It is not so much an arm of the Executive branch as it is an arm of the people of Pakistan. It is the only shield we have against foreign aggression. In the absence of authentic political institutions, it is the only glue that is keeping our fragile federation together. Why politicize it? Why expose it to the rough and tumble of politics?
When we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress. We live in a beautiful country. But people who have nothing but contempt for the people and no respect for democracy, freedom or justice have taken it over. It is up to all of us to take it back. And as Margaret Mead said, ‘never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has’.
Constitution making is a hazardous business in Pakistan. On the eve of the 1973 Constitution, Mr. Bhutto said: “Today we have passed through the dark tunnel, and I see the Golden Bridge”. Tragically, what he saw was not the Golden Bridge but an optical illusion and a mirage. Six years later, on April 4, 1979 to be precise, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan and architect of the 1973 Constitution, was taken to the gallows on a stretcher and hanged. “To such changes of human fortunes what words are adequate? Silence alone is adequate”.
Pakistan will be Pakistan again the day the Judges of the Supreme Court, following the noble tradition set by Chief Justice Coke and his colleagues, raise the shield of constitution, the embodiment of the Will of the people, and confront the usurper. When that happens, the long nightmare will be over. It will be morning once again in Pakistan.