The Downside of Martyrdom

The Downside of Martyrdom


Once Prime Minister Gilani makes up his mind, he’s full of indecision. In the mouth of our chief executive, the practice of flip-flopping has been elevated to the equivalent of statesmanship. The result: poor democracy is like a ship on a stormy sea driven about by winds blowing from all four corners of heaven. One day, the country is staring into the abyss of crises and coups; the same evening it has miraculously pulled back from the brink; by the next day, the news channels have moved onto the next big story.


But why has lurching from one ‘insurmountable’ crisis to the next become our government’s default mode in the last few weeks? What is up with the prime minister throwing down the gauntlet one minute and shifting to pacification mode the next? Why would President Zardari choose to set Pakistani politics on six and seven rather than buy the time and space to live to fight another day? Learning to turn the other cheek, and thus guiding the PPP through the most rugged of political terrains – hasn’t that been the hallmark of Modus Zardari?


Why is the PPP digging in its heels now? Is the threat of a military intervention really real? Is that what is making our dear leaders ebb and flow in wretchedness – that the bad boys are really, really, really about to strike this time?


Fear. When you’re convinced that an antagonistic robe is getting its cues and cuts from an annoyed uniform in Rawalpindi or an astute opposition in Raiwind, then you’re also convinced that the ultimate goal is your government’s ouster. Add to that ultimate fear the hardship of staying given the multiple messes you’ve landed yourself in. Unwilling to live, not knowing how to die; not having the heart to stay, nor wit enough to run away – what would you do?

Excuse the French but the PPP’s strategy at the moment seems to be two-pronged: say “screw you” to the courts and “screw us” to the army.


Getting an adverse judgment from the courts at this point would mean game up. Despite the PPP vultures hovering in a circle over the judges, distracting with their merciless yelping and yawping, the reputation of the judges remains untainted in the public imagination. The CJ is still Hero Number One; an ultra-hostile court is still better than an untamed PPP.


Up until now, the PPP has been able to stall things with the courts and buy time by planting what it considers political landmines (e g the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto reference) in the court’s path. It has wiggled out of implementing sundry judgments through legal hair-splitting and by raising the spectre of disastrous political instability if it were to comply with rulings. But when push comes to shove – and the PPP thinks it’s about to – it would be exceptionally hard for the government to villainise an institution that has come to be seen in the court of public opinion as seraphic, even messianic.


But the bad boys are a different story altogether. Since May this year, the generals have been behind the eight-ball, with tumultuous events occurring in quick succession to exacerbate suspicions about the tricks they’ve been up to.


Between the two villains – the robes and the boys – the PPP has figured one is a villain with better publicity. Perhaps for the first time in the country’s history, the army has a serious competitor for the slot of patriarchal saviour: the chief justice and his bench of unyielding sergeants. Thus, getting disgraced and booted out by the courts means losing in the court of law and the court of public opinion. No one’s going to stand by the government against the courts – not the opposition, not the people, not the media. But getting booted out by the boys means going down as martyrs – the last refuge of scoundrels who have nothing to show for themselves in terms of political success the principled, democratic way.


So win back the disaffected PPP base angered by another PPP government’s dismissal; let the media unleash a firestorm of rage and shame; see the judges bring their gavels crashing down on the boys’ undemocratic ways; let the political parties and the people take to the streets, especially the country’s educated and professional classes politically reawakened after the 2007 lawyers’ movement.


Is this the scenario the PPP increasingly sees as the only one with a fighting chance? Is this the PPP’s calculation: that the risk of a wrong decision at this moment is preferable to the terror of indecision? Because you know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road? They get run over.


But the skeptics will tell you something different: because the space for military intervention has been so drastically eroded in the last few years, were it to happen now, it would be more crimson than ever before. The cost of a military coup is now indirectly proportional to the chances of one taking place. But does the PPP get this?


The government has decided that to be born again, first you have to die. But the boys may have other things on their mind. After all, why assume the generals will be as forgiving as the civilians are? We can’t all be martyrs and saints.

Mehreen Zahra Malik

An Assistant Editor, The News International

  • Asghar

    A thief is always fearful of the fact that he has to be caught one day. This corrupt mafia and its leaders are also guilty conscience and have a fear looming on their sub conscience that their day of judgement has arrived, so they make all sorts of cries that democracy is in danger. Now even a child is aware that Army has no plans and in fact has no urge to intervene unless they are asked by the Supreme Court. However, the people of Pakistan very sincerely feel that the time has come for the Supreme Court to ensure upholding the rule of law and supremacy of the constitution. This corrupt mafia led by Mr Zardari and Mr Gillani are perhaps trying to take cover behind the Parliament. No way, the People of Pakistan now know it well that it is the constitution and not the Parliament that is supreme, and constitution is what is interpreted by the Supreme Court. So the corrupt mafia is really finding it difficult to hood wink the people this time. The thieves will definitely meet their logical end


    It is NOT the ‘martyrdom’ at the alter of the 111 Coup Corp the PPP is seeking — (what a journalistic lingo of fatalism!) — it is the TAMING of the perennially berserk military shrew — the civilian governance is seeking.

    If not the PPP who else? — the tearful PML(N)? — come on — or the juvenile PTI?

  • M.Saeed

    I have no doubt that, the Super-Sharp Baber Awan is the hidden Weapon of Mass Destruction being used by the melon-head helmsman of the Government. Every dart thrown against a lawful initiative, either of judiciary or a party of his province of domicile, is a harpoon sharpened by Baber on his “Barber Stone”!

    If PPP has any right sense of direction,it must get rid of that lethal serpent-in-sleeve Baber at the earliest. Otherwise, it is only preparing its own funeral.

  • Mabob

    A stupid cannot hide its stupidity forever.

  • Asom khan

    AND Let there be a coup !!!!! Failed Leadership of Peoples Party (FLOPP) did noting for Underprivileged people of Pakistan.

    Public of Pakistan rather have Military and or interim Government then FLOPP corrupt Democracy. Average person on street dont have an education to even understand what is democracy and what is Coup; to them it does not make any difference, and they are in majority.

    Its shame no foreign investment is coming into Pakistan, locals are taking their money out of Pakistan. Only thing FLOPP is doing engaging with “bad guys” to keep War On Terror.

    Shah Mehmood Qureshi has explained clearly how FLOPP operates.

    Time has come to step up to the plate CJP and COAS should control this bleak and hopeless situation. Its CJP and COAS call they must put their decisions on fast track motion as it should have few months ago. no need to foster FLOPP as they are “looting” what ever left in Pakistan.

  • Anonymous

    Height of mediocrity and exhibition of a feudal mindset that was YRG’s speech in the parliament (or the Islamabad debating club) on Friday…..not a speech of a statesman PM….He has done favours for the judges by freeing them and doubled salaries etc…and now wants those favours returned….how low can one get?! And that resolution by As-fan-d-yar ‘the dollar man’ (but not by Pir of London!)

  • Abdullah

    This Prime Minister maybe the king of Liars you just watch his speeches from 2008 till now and you will see the web of his lies, obviously if he sought help from Britain he is not only a coward but also a traitor and begger of the British Raj days. Why is it that these people deny the foreign media news if they are telling the truth and wearing classy suits everyday so he can obviously afford a lawyer sue the people who gave the news.

  • Somaniabdulmalik

    Since 1988 Pakistan politic turn into “CHU CHU KA MURABBA”. and become Bread and Butter for BLACK SHEEP POLITICIAN.

  • S Nasrullah

    The rusty, old snob, NASAH quaintly pens his opinions, betraying a level of ignorance and recklessness, that clearly points to an interpolation or extrapolation of events of the past, which has little or no bearing with the current social, political and economic conditions in Pakistan. It was the cherished desire of Zardari PPP to be booted out by the military to be labeled as political martyrs to invoke public sympathy to regain their foothold in the corridors of power. As Mr Abdullah, a blogger, has crowned PM Gilani as the ‘King of Liars’, neither YRG nor his coterie of corrupt PPP minions could say boo to the military Lions. If the military is sitting quiet, it knows for sure the public odium to military intervention, as also the strong aversion to Martial Law, enunciated explicitly and unequivocally by both PML(N) and PTI. Even the Coalition Partners of PPP, like MQM, ANP, PML(Q) have been counseling Zardari not to pursue a path of conflict and confrontation with the Military. PTI have been putting all their weight behind the Judiciary to independently pursue those cases under NRO, to its fair and logical ends. Once the judgment against the NRO, its beneficiaries and the Swiss cases swing into action, Zardari and his cohorts would simply vanish into the thin air seeking refuge in countries where they have already processed their amnesty (bought their safe refuge).

    YRG is a spent force. He sounds force and fury one day and the very next day, he sounds lame, tame, extinguished flame. He tries to catch the bull by the horns lambasting the ‘wage-earners’ posing as ‘a State within the State’ and the very next minute extols the integrity and bravery of those soldiers who he praises with abject flattery. It is said that a little pot is soon hot; whereas oceans take long to hot up and also take longer to cool down. Tussle and tension have taken the worst of the two institutions : the Government vs the Military.

    King Fahd may intercede only if the PPP leadership faces military firing squad. But if the SC have pronounced them as criminals, treacherous and treasonous, Saudis know the distinction between political persecution and unerring execution.

  • Mabob

    Wish someone make them understand the meaning of Martyrdom before they commit political suicide. As I understand the Martyrdom is an act of sacrificing life selflessly and purely to advance the will of Allah. Please do not raise these political jugglers to the level they cannot even dream off.

  • Fazilsardar

    This all reminds me of famous comic-epic “Rape of the Lock”. This is going to make the myrtyrdom the tivial as never before. The best way to pay tribute to these myrtyrs of democaracy to bury all the dollars, dinars and euors (they plundered from the nation) on their shrines. Because this is what their political demise is bound to occur.

  • Saji

    The army, i fear has decided not to take over no matter what the government does. Our judges, although on the right track are way too slow in passing out judgements. They crib and complain just like ordinary citizens of Pakistan. The erosion and destruction in the fabric of our society is apparent to all! There are only two options left for us, complete anarchy………which would change our country forever or the army comming in to our judges support, reposing confidence in them as well as protection and assuring them of execution of all of their legal orders. The public would welcome this pleasant change.

    • M.S. Qureshi

      COAS is not the entire army!

      Brigade III is the special coup machine and its commander has been replaced recently to forestall such sudden operation. But, the world very well knows of the “counter-coups” from lower ranks. And such a coup always rolls many heads.

    • Anonymous

      It is not the army’s job to takeover…neither is the judiciary’s role to run the country….

      Yes the government is inept and undermining the constitution and its own legitimacy by disobeying court orders but ultimately, the civilian politicians have to sort it out….just think of current phase as the bitter medicine needed for the voters to realise the importance of their vote…and yes the government will implement the court orders after having exhibited the lack of any moral turpitude.


    Out of 25 paragraphs in this vindictive write up — one paragraph against the khaki “bad boys” 24 tirades against the “PPP vultures” — and that is supposed to be an example of balanced journalism.

    Well what can I say — the worst enemy of a civilian government is not the Khaki bad boy — it is another self-hating khaki ignoring judicial pedastalizing schizophrenic civilian.

  • Longphaland

    Ms. Mehreen I feel that you should have been more vocal about the role of army into this debacle. The example of PM is of a cat who is cornered and has the fear of life, so she decides to attack before dying. Not this government rather all the previous democratic governments have never had an opportunity to govern with full authority. For all policy matters they had to have a go ahead signal from army. Who does not that army interfere with every thing including matter pertaining to foreign policy. You talk about strengthening tied with India and this army will stand up against you. Any civilian PM talk about Nuclear assets army give him a shit up call. Army has subverted constitution three times by removing elected governments but no general has ever been tried under article 6.

    I an irritated with the logic that army defends Pakistan, this is a facade which army created itself to provide the reasons for its existence and for getting the biggest share of Pakistan’s budget. Army has never defended Pakistan. To prove this I have the following reasons;

    Creation of Bangladesh: India inflicted upon Pakistan the most abject defeat in the modern history. General Niazi kept claiming till Dec 16, 1971 that he will only let Indian forces advance into Dhaka over his dead body where is he actually had already sent to UN his readiness to surrender. What a character. He was a craven. More than 40,000 soldiers were taken as POWs. Most shameful reflection of the bravery of this army was that most commanders and soldiers had fled their posts without firing a single shot at Indian army leaving all the arms and ammunition behind. But this army is still a brave one. What a contradiction.

    Kashmir: Despite having had so much of funds army has simply failed to get even an inch of Kashmir from India. They even had tried operation Jibraltar and Kargil but they all foiled. What is the fun of having such a big army who never could be successful.

    Siachen: India occupied Kashmir while Pak army was sleeping. What happened afterwards is India is still occupying the land it captured. Pak army is a mere spectator.
    Abbottabad and Salala: Americans have attacked both Abbottabad and Salala. Both times Americans didn’t have to face brave Pak army. I am sure General Kiyani must have been puffing his favourite cigar at the time of these attacks.

    Invasion of PNS Hafeez and GHQ: A handful of terrorists invaded GHQ and PNS Hafeez. On both occasions brave soldiers couldn’t have guessed and aborted the attacks before they took place.

    Who does not know that ISI has had and still have allegiance with the terrorist outfit of Pakistan and other countries. Who does not know that ISI had trained and developed thousands of terrorists and exported them to all countries.

    Who does not know the role of ISI in Mumbai attack.

    All these activities are clear indications of the fact that when an army couldn’t defeat its enemy it uses other methods to waken its enemy which Pakistan army has so sparingly did. But in the course of doing so it has uprooted the very foundation of its own country.

    But there are lot of claims of Pakistan army being the one of the best armies of the world. My question is what is the yardstick of being the best?

    So in a situation where army runs more than 27 commercial concern and is busy making money right left and center. When a small officer retires from Pakistan army he gets a piece of land somewhere. This all happens in a country where people are find it next to impossible to sustain because of poverty.

    So all this boils down to the fact that why civilian governance has always failed to deliver. The causal link could easily be found in the fact that they actually never rule the country they have to be puppets of army if they want to survive. An insecure government could never deliver.

    I also understand and disdain this fact that our politicians are highly corrupt and have avarice for money. They have become such as democracy was never allowed to flourish. Had there not been interruption to democracy this excellent system of governance would have developed the people of Pakistan not to elect dishonest people into power.

    In the end I would say that I must be treated as traitor to Pakistan as opposing army in Pakistan is akin to being disloyal to Pakistan. I am sure if noticed army men will search for me to terminate me. But I am not afraid. I am a loyalist to Pakistan and will not shut up to save my life. I am not a craven like them. Whether you publish these comments or not it is my wish that Ms. Mehreen should at least be kind and big hearted enough to let me know that as to why being a learned person have taken her eyes away from the role of army into annihilation of Pakistan

  • Tariq Ahmad

    Well Said

  • Tariq Ahmad

    Well Said, PPP cant defend it governance, so it now wants the Army to kick it out, but it wont happen, the courts will send them to jail

  • Naeem

    Sitting hear in London I fail to understand one simple question” why this PM refuses to write the letter to the Swiss Courts”.
    He and his cronneys try every tactic to divert answering this question and thereby confirming to all sane minded people that he is in the pockets of Zardari.

  • Naeem

    The writer of the article (excusing her French) says that the PPP policy is two pronged. “Screw you” to the Courts and “Screw us” to the Army.
    I disagree. I say it is three proged . With the third being “Screw You” to the Public of Pakistan.