Now all is well with President Pervez Musharraf. The fuedals, after securing seats in corridors of power, have forgotten all their promises they have made with the masses of Pakistan. Commenting on the situation Dawn in its editorial comment stated that Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani's speech at the reception he gave for the army chief and the formation commanders on Thursday contains points that deserve to be noted because of the variety of their thought contents, including what would appear to be a stupefying bit of aberration. Some of the ideas needed to be emphasised - like the need for striking a balance between the military and civilian institutions, strengthening democracy, and forging ahead without arguing about the 'colossal mistakes of the past'. He stressed the need for moving away from bigotry and poverty, establishing the rule of law and giving the people 'a decent life, a peaceful society and a friendly administrative system'. One could understand if the prime minister talked animatedly about the army at a dinner that was given in honour of the army's elite and which brought President Pervez Musharraf and some of his bitter enemies to the same table. There is a thing called courtesy: he thanked all those 'stakeholders', including the armed forces, who helped in the transition to democracy, paid tributes to the army's professional competence and welcomed Gen Parvez Kayani's decision to call the army officers back from civilian departments. However, while speaking of the army's 'delicate responsibility', the prime minister, according to the government agency APP, said the army had to defend 'the ideological boundaries along with the geographical boundaries' of this country. How come?
The talk of the army having ideological frontiers to defend was invented during the regime of Ziaul Haq. Ayub and Yahya had introduced unabashed military rule in the country, but neither of them talked about the army having an ideological job. The fiction about the army's 'ideological' role was designed to make the nation believe that Gen Ziaul Haq was personally involved in a formidable task, and that was to defend 'the ideology of Pakistan'. Having postponed the election, because he was not sure of 'positive results', Zia relied, with help from obscurantist parties and elements, on the ideology stunt to transform what was promised to be a 90-day stint into an 11-year nightmare for the Pakistani people.
The prime minister had no reason to harken back to Ziaul Haq's days and borrow from his lexicon. The Feb 18 vote was clearly in favour of moderate parties, none of which garnered votes on the forgotten ideology issue. Instead, the common points among the victors related to food inflation, the independence of the judiciary, fighting terrorism and restoring the 1973 Constitution to its parliamentary character. The prime minister would do well not to resurrect a controversy that did immense harm to Pakistan in the past.