SUBJECT: Noora Kushti of Pakistani Politics Since 1988
Dear Fellow Pakistani Citizens,
I love democracy and so have always been a democracy lover. I believe it is very important to exercise one’s right to vote because it is our national duty, and because it is the only way to decide the fate of our country and, hence, our people.
I remember, as a young boy, that General Zia-ul-Haq and his top-brass along with some VIPs were killed in a plane crash back in 1988. After the death of General Zia, my fellow-citizens and I thought that the process of democratization would start soon and that would lead to the general elections --- a sure thing. And all and sundry looked forward to the long-awaited change, after the “colossal national loss” and the self-exiled Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan after a pretty long time.
No doubt, “the return of her” gave a big boost to the frustrated and disappointed people as they saw in her person a gleam of hope and people began to cherish a democratic setup, following Benazir Bhutto’s election as the first female prime minister of a Muslim country in the world.
That kind of hope also encouraged me to think that soon we would also be able to join the ranks of other developed countries of the Western world like the United Kingdom (UK), Canada, the United States of America or Australia. But soon I stood disillusioned. I immediately realized that politics in Pakistan was like something shown in our movies. It was more of a Noora Kushti than pure and sane politics, anyway.
Well, now, after 30 long years which took me to believe that my theory of success would hardly work in the present crucial circumstances, I simply stood like in awe as if I had been lost somewhere in wild-wild-west. You will understand my logic once you will finish reading this column, you will realize that in fact we are still being entertained by a series of Noora Kushti’s even today.
Let me take you to the world of Noora Kushti by enumerating, in a chronological order, the baffling political arena in its historical perspective.
Year 1988: Noora Kushti No. 1 --- ‘Empress’ Benazir Bhutto (PPP)
In the November 1988 general elections, through which Pakistanis saw a highly important phase in the country’s political history, Pakistan elected the first female prime minister. That was indeed a historic moment in Pakistan’s political history.
I was very much hopeful due to all those changes and started fantasizing about the future course of action. Yet my inquisitiveness made me feel optimistic and positive about the future of Pakistan.
At the end, a Noora Kushti between Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Islamic Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) was witnessed. Benazir Bhutto’s PPP won but, unfortunately, her government could not last for more than two years, while she faced real difficulties in surviving her government and retaining power during her brief tenure. This is how the episode for another Noora Kushti ended.
Year 1990: Noora Kushti No. 2 --- ‘Emperor’ Nawaz Sharif (IJI)
Then, in October 1990, we had a new government. And now we began to prepare for Noora Kushti No. 2 and that was between Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto. In that Noora Kushti, Nawaz Sharif was declared ‘Emperor’ by a majority vote. But his victory simply could not prevent the ‘Empress’ (Benazir Bhutto) from accusing the ‘Emperor’ (Nawaz Sharif) of rigging the elections, while after coming into power Nawaz Sharif blamed Benazir Bhutto of massive corruption and that of the problems created by her government thereupon. He also continued to blame Benazir of all the ‘wrongdoings’ he believed she had committed in the Noora Kushti No. 1.
However, by 1990, there was discontent over the rising lawlessness, allegations of corruption and the failure of her government to fulfil the promises made to the people during the 1988 election campaign, while the PPP ran for a coalition of three other parties named the Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDA).
The 19th of October 2012 saw the Supreme Court of Pakistan give ruling on a petition filed by Tehrik-e-Istiqlal chief Asghar Khan, requesting the court probe allegations that the 1990 elections had been rigged. The court ruled that two Army Generals – Mirza Aslam Baig and Asad Durrani (head of ISI) along with president Ghulam Ishaq Khan – had provided financial assistance to their favorite parties. The motive was to deliberately weaken the mandate of the PPP. It was believed that the PPP, led by Benazir Bhutto, was a liability for the nation.
Year 1993: Noora Kushti No. 3 --- ‘Empress’ Benazir Bhutto (PPP)
It was in October 1993 that the general elections were held after both Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and (late) president Ghulam Ishaq Khan resigned to end the power struggle. Although Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won the largest number of votes, the PPP won the majority seats. After winning the support of minor parties and independent candidates, PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto was elected prime minister. The voter turnout was 40.3 per cent.
Year 1997: Noora Kushti No. 4 --- ‘Emperor’ Nawaz Sharif (IJI)
The general elections were held in Pakistan on February 3, 1997 to elect Members of the National Assembly (MNA) of Pakistan and the four provincial assemblies. The election featured a fierce contest between ruling PPP led by incumbent Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the PML-N led by conservative leader Nawaz Sharif, benefited from his position and was aided by the controversial death of populist leader Murtaza Bhutto, coupled with the worsening economy, and won the election in a landslide victory, getting the highest number of votes ever by a non-incumbent prime ministerial candidate. Nawaz Sharif subsequently became the 12th prime minister of Pakistan.
Elections were held after the previous PPP government of Benazir Bhutto was dismissed by President Farooq Leghari over some national security issues. Benazir Bhutto’s government suffered a lot mainly due to financial mismanagement, corruption charges, racial tensions in her native province, issues with the Supreme Court of Pakistan, serious violation of the Constitution, and problems resulting out of the inter-PPP conflicts, notably the case of Murtaza Bhutto, who stood determined to end Asif Ali Zardari’s meddling in government affairs.
The PML-N of Nawaz Sharif won by landslide victory for the first time in the history of Pakistan. Sharif was sworn in as prime minister on 17th February. The voter turnout was 36.0 per cent.
Year 2002: Noora Kushti No. 5 ‘King & Queen’ General Pervez Musharraf & Zafarullah Khan Jamali (PML-Q)
The general elections were held in Pakistan on October 10, 2002 to elect Members of the National Assembly (MNA) and Members of the Provincial Assemblies (MPAs). The elections were held under the watchful scrutiny of the military government of General Pervez Musharraf. This election featured the multiparty democracy as it brought an end to the two-party system between the PPP and the PML-N. A new liberal Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) emerged in the mainstream political spectrum of Pakistan, and that supported President General Pervez Musharraf.
Around 70 parties participated in the elections. However, only six of them managed to bag sufficient popular vote which included PML-Q, PPP, MNA, PML-N, MQM and the National Alliance.
Year 2008: Noora Kushti No. 6 ‘King’ Yousaf Raza Gillani (PPP)
The general elections were held in Pakistan on February 18, 2008, after postponement on January 8, 2008. The original date was intended to elect MNAs in the Lower House of Parliament of Pakistan.
On November 3, 2007, President and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Pervez Musharraf enacted declared emergency; the elections were initially postponed indefinitely. However, it was later assured that elections would be held as planned (or as per the schedule).
On November 8, 2007, General Musharraf announced that elections would be held on February 15, 2008, but the election date was changed to January 9, 2008 instead. General Musharraf also suggested January 8, 2008 as the election date. Following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the Election Commission convened a meeting and announced that the elections were not possible, therefore, now elections would be held on February 18, 2008.
President General Pervez Musharraf conceded and pledged to work with the new Parliament. Around 35.2 million people cast their votes and the turnout was 44.01 per cent. The by-elections for the 28 seats (23 of the Provincial Assembly and 5 of the National Assembly) were delayed several times, and most of them were held on June 26, 2008. The results indicated that the PPP and the PML-N had bagged the largest number of votes.
Due to the common mistrust in General Musharraf, the two parties initially formed the coalition government with PPP’s Yousaf Raza Gillani as prime minister of Pakistan. Within a week, the PML-N left the coalition to lead an impeachment movement and for the restoration of judiciary. The PPP instead formed a leftist alliance, comprising the MQM, ANP, and JUI (F).
Year 2013: Noora Kushti No. 7 ‘Emperor’ Nawaz Sharif (PML-N)
The general elections were held on May 11, 2013 to elect MNAs of the 14th National Assembly and to the four provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in the general elections. That finally led to an anti-government march that called for electoral reforms in 2014.
The fifth largest and the second largest Muslim democracy, after Indonesia, in the world saw the general elections for the first civilian transfer of power following the successful completion of a five-year term by a democratically elected government. The elections were held in 272 constituencies, whilst further 70 seats were awarded to parties reserved for women and minority groups. None of the parties could win the 172 seats needed for an overall majority. The PML-N won the largest number of votes and seats but it still fell short of six seats.
This resulted in a hung parliament where no party was able to claim majority in the National Assembly. The initial results saw the hung parliament for the second consecutive general election — the first being previously held in 2008. The potential for a hung parliament was widely considered and predicted as both countries’ politicians were better prepared for the constitutional process that would follow such a result in contrast with 2008.
Speculations for the potential hung parliament were dismissed when independent candidates joined the PML-N which allowed this party to form a simple-majority government by bringing on-board 19 independent candidates, 13 more than the minimum number required to form the government. This swing ultimately resulted in Nawaz Sharif’s becoming the new prime minister of Pakistan.
Prior to the elections, the Centre-left PPP formed an alliance with PML-Q, while on the conservative side, the PML-N allied with Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) and the Baloch parties. Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan led the centrist Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI). The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) also participated in the elections. The PPP and PML-Q saw their vote share plummet, with the former being essentially wiped out in the Punjab province.
On 28 July 2017, following the submittal of the JIT report, the Supreme Court decided that Nawaz Sharif was dishonest, therefore he did not fulfil the requirements of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, which require one who holds a public office to be ‘Sadiq and Ameen’ (Urdu words for ‘Truthful and Virtuous’). Hence, he was disqualified as a prime minister and as an MNA).  The court also ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file a reference against Nawaz Sharif, his family and his former finance minister Ishaq Dar on charges of corruption.
Year 2018: Noora Kushti No. 8 --- ‘Emperor’ Who? Imran or Sharif or Bhutto?
The general elections are scheduled to be held in Pakistan on July 25, 2018 to elect MNAs and the four provincial assemblies of Pakistan. Most of the opinion polls suggest an overall PML-N lead over PTI. There have been allegations of pre-poll rigging allegedly done by judiciary, military and intelligence agencies to sway the election results in favor of PTI and against PML-N.
My Logic Behind Theory Of "Noora Kushti":
As you can all see that the first 30 years of this Noora Kushti did not give anything to our country except for the US$220 billion debt, injustice, inflation, inequality, corruption, violence, and a barbarian behavior. So, now, why should I be so happy about cherishing the existence of a so-called Fake democracy?
In other countries, usually political parties get united when it comes to mutual public interest for the sake of their country. But we stand divided than ever before. However, in certain things our political parties are united and on the same page when it comes to swearing at each other, accusing each other for corruption, making false promises, not being transparent, especially when they beg for votes, yet without answering where they had spent all our money i.e. the embezzled US$233 billion, and how they got their assets and the money in possession of their families without any business or project in the last 30 years, or then accusing NAB and SC of being unfair to them; and also for accusing the Pakistan military for being harsh on them, again blaming them for hampering restoration of real democracy and its growth.
Now my question is that during the last three wars fought between Pakistan and India, how many Pakistan military personnel laid down their lives and how many politicians died in those three wars. So that very instance questions as to who was the real patriot to my country.
Now, everyone is asking me who I’m going to vote for in the general election 2018. And my reply will be that we have already reposed my trust in these political parties many times, but each time the results were worse than that of the previous Noora Kushti. So this time around, we must give a chance to someone who has never been a part of any Noora Kushti before. So I am going to play the game of head-and-tail, with 50 percent chances of losing and 50 percent chance of winning. So I have now made up my mind to vote for the party of my choice or some independent candidate, whatever the case may be in the upcoming General Election 2018.
Well, supposedly, I’ll vote for Imran and his PTI and give them the first and the last opportunity to prove what they have been claiming during the last couple of years. I’ll see what agenda they are going follow and what reforms they are set to introduce if elected into power. In case they become successful in the achievement of their goal, then I shall be their biggest supporter ever. But if they break their promises, then I will make sure there is no bigger critic of PTI in the world then me.
A specific headline-grabbing promise in the party manifesto that practically won’t be fulfilled should not be used as a net to trap the voter. A voter needs to understand that such promises simply create a misleading impression of the proper and a dynamic role of really sincere politicians and the parliament.
Now, let’s see if they become a real political party, which we all have always looked up to in the last 30 years, or they will join this usual Noora Kushti and become another Noora Pehlwan of 2018. Remember! Change is the essence of time; and time itself is the biggest truth-teller.