The stealing of 1990 elections, once again, is a common subject of discussion these days. Not only that but the echoes of rigging of 1988 elections are also resonating. In the seventies President Nixon was banished from politics for bugging the party headquarters of the opponents. The court not only announced the verdict but also awarded due punishments. The entire process was completed within 22 days. The verdict in the rigging of 1990 elections has come after 2years and that too in an incomplete form.
In spite this development, our friends and the editorial pages of the newspapers are feverishly engaged in hiding the proven crimes of rigging of the elections, sabotaging of the mandate of the people. They are also trying to ferret out something negative against the affected party (PPP) and its allies.
Muhtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto did not survive till 25th October when her stance about rigging of 1990 elections was finally proved. Nevertheless the people of Pakistan and time have delivered a marvelous justice. When after inordinate delay of 22 years an incomplete verdict has come and the existence of a conspiratorial cell in the Presidency and the use of public money against PPP have been established, they have their own elected President sitting in the Presidency who has cleansed it of all the remnants of conspiracies and turned it into a catalyst for strengthening democracy. But those elements who projected the 1990 elections as the true verdict of the people are now desperately trying to throw the blame for this proven crime back on PPP through their editorial notes to camouflage their own embarrassment.
The decision makes mention of only one President who could not be President Zardari as he himself was an aggrieved party. How could he be the architect of this crime? It is about the President who occupied the Presidency when this episode unfolded. Is it not a matter of oppression that when at last an incomplete verdict has been given attempts are being made to by use the power of the pen to give it a different hue and use it against the oppressed. It has been established beyond any iota of doubt that President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and his cronies stole the people’s mandate by manoeuvring the defeat of PPP and catapulted Mian Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister of Pakistan. But no punishment has been handed out. However the court has unequivocally declared the simple truth that Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister courtesy rigging of polls at the official level.
The worst dictator of our history could not banish PPP from the political landscape of Pakistan despite his sinister machinations and the judicial murder of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. After his death in a plane crash, his successors unleashed unending conspiracies against PPP and Muhterma Benazir Bhutto. Mohsin Naqvi wrote that the daughter of Asia was surrounded by the conspiracies. Even Mohsin Naqvi was martyred. The courts may give whatever verdict they like after much delay, but the people of Pakistan had announced their decision then and there by saying “ Ya Allah Ya Rasool Benazir Beqasoor” ( Oh our Lord and his prophet, Benazir is innocent ). Through newspaper advertisements, editorials and rattling noise on the official media they tried to rub in the notion of Benazir being a security risk. Bhutto’s son-in-law was implicated in false and fabricated cases. But how could the people believe this farce. They repeatedly mandated PPP into power. The PPP has no doubt about the fact that the people are more intelligent than the so-called intellectuals and their miniature groups. They know who is their well wisher. General Hameed Gul created IJI after the demise of General Zia Ul Haq in 1988. Actually the conspiracy against Shaheed Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto was hatched the day she landed in Pakistan in 1986. The IJI secured only 53 seats against 92 of PPP in spite of the official support. However the enemies of PPP succeeded in rigging elections in Punjab and making Mian Nawaz Sharif, the Chief Minister of the province. Then in 1989 an abortive attempt was made to bring in a vote of no confidence against Benazir. Ultimately through a conspiracy Benazir’s government was sacked. In the ensuing elections, IJI obtained 105 seats through rigging, official patronage and extensive use of public money. The PPP could only manage 45 seats. Benazir Bhutto while talking to the media at Islamabad airport on 25th October 1990 said that she was being threatened that her husband will be eliminated. She declared that IJI owed its existence to animosity against PPP. She emphatically declared “On 24th October the mandate of the people was stolen. The tyrants usurped the rights of the people in the broad day light and we are participating in the provincial elections for the tomorrow of Pakistan and democracy.”
Now the court has accepted the PPP’s version about the rigging of elections and asked for filing an FIR. We are sanguine that the history will unravel the ultimate truth. This verdict has established without any doubt that public money was used to steal the elections and the mandate of the people. Is it a small theft that the public money is spent on stealing the public franchise? And yet Chaudhry Nisar has the audacity to ask in a press conference, what have we done? He asks the well informed journalist of Islamabad in a feigned innocence that there were eight other parties in IJI then why the accusing finger is being pointed at PML(N)? He perhaps thought that this new crop of journalist will be unaware of the nexus between the between the government that was formed as a result of rigging the elections, four chief minister and eighty percent members of his league. The poet probably said this verse for our friend “ Yaade Mazi Azab Hey Ya Rab Cheen Ley Muj Sey Hafza Mera” ( Oh God my past memories are haunting me please deprive me of my retentive faculty of mind). People are flabbergasted as to how a person like him could muster the courage to ask, what we have done, even before the ink with which the verdict was written dried out? Even now the question what have we done? His situation can be likened to General Yahya asking after dismembering Pakistan” Mein kera lokan di khoti noon hath laya Eh” what have I done to earn the ire of the people?
It has been proved that that an election cell existed in the Presidency which planned the rigging of the elections and the conspiracy was executed through lavish use of public funds to keep PPP out of the corridors of power. Shaheed Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto in a press conference on 18 October 1990 revealed that Presdient Ghulam Ishaq Khan had ordered that no election result should be announced before showing him. This is how a complete rigging had been choreographed. In the short verdict announced by the court the name of the head of the cell has not been revealed but there are innumerable witnesses to this effect. It is obvious that there existed a cell and there it might have been headed by somebody. May be in the detailed verdict an order is also given for action against him. The basic difference between dictatorship and democracy is that of legitimacy which comes through public mandate. Our history is replete with direct and indirect martial laws. The government formed in 1990 was a product of indirect martial law. It was a denial of people’s right of vote and that is why it became a culpable crime. Ahsan Iqbal says that the people will not vote in the elections on the basis of history. Whatever the reason, the people have been putting their trust in the PPP. The people know the historic injustices, their perpetrators and their victims. Let Ahsan Iqbal say what he like but the reality is that once again a historic injustice stands proven during our regime. It is a recent occurring that is why pro PML(N) columnist are trying desperately to defend its leadership. Every column begins with the line that PML(N) has no connections with this case. They end up saying that it was an insignificant case of the past which has come to a close. One may ask if it was so then why there was a need to write columns on this subject every day? Obviously there is some spark flickering somewhere and emitting smoke relentlessly. If the PML(N) will try to suppress it as a rubble of history, then the people will also demand accountability of the slogans raised in favour of rule of law and justice. Granted that due to some lucanae in our judicial system and the political nature of the case, the matter dragged on for long but it does not mean that the culprits should not be unmasked and punished. Justice delayed in itself is justice denaied. But intellectual dishonesty and apologetic attitude are even bigger injustices. A robbery was committed in broad day light and now the perpetrators want the people to forget it. This apologetic stance however cannot change history. The history is that Asghar Khan contested election from NA-95 from Lahore against Nawaz Sharif in the 1990 elections and later on lodged a case of rigging of elections, on which the verdict has been delivered now. Even then Chaudhry Nisar ask what have we done?. The rigging was carried out through use of money. Fake organizations were raised and in their name an advertisement campaign in the media was run utilizing the funds provided for the purpose. Three to four advertisements were placed in one newspaper daily for the character assassination of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari. A number of false cases were instituted against them.
Now it has been established that they were never elected. If they were not elected how did they form the government and what is the truth about the cases raised by them? What about the fables of piety and trusteeship The PPP and its allies, through the platform of Peoples Democratic Alliance had issued a white paper comprising 500 pages which furnished exhaustive details about pre-poll rigging; partisan attitude of the care take sep and President; ghost polling stations; registration of bogus votes and ID cards; misuse of postal votes; denying access to the polling stations to the voters of the alliance; arrests and kidnappings; forced expulsion of polling agents from the polling stations; changes in the elections results before sending to the presiding officer; refusal to provide signed copies of result to the polling agents; presence of police within the polling stations and the tactics used to pressurize the ticket holders not to participate in the elections.
President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Roedad Khan were personally monitoring this rigging. The rigging was carried out through Presidency, care taker government (Jatoi) Ghulam Haider Waen, Jam Sadiq, bureaucracy and functionaries of the court. The modes operandi of rigging on the pole day was that they would enact the farce of hundred percent polling of votes, whereas the general turn out was not more than 40%. So through this extensive rigging, seats were won for the party of Nawaz Sahrif and he was made the Prime Minister. Muhtarma Benazir demanded re-polling in hundred constituencies in view of this unprecedented stealing of elections which was out rightly rejected. So Mian Saheb became Prime Minister for the first on the basis of a false mandate. Even then Nisar asks what have we done? Mashahd Ullah says that the names of Nawaz and Shahbaz have not been in the court decision. The fact is that the affidavit on the basis of which the court has delivered the decision contained the names of these two gentlemen on top of the list. According to the court procedures if the contents of the affidavit entered in the court are not contested or disputed it is tantamount to confession and the court has no option other than to decide the case on the basis of that affidavit. According to the affidavit submitted by the ISI Chief both Nawaz sharif and Shahbaz Sharif did receive the money. This money was only a token. The other benefits that accrued to them afterwards were much bigger than this. Since Mian brothers did not contest the affidavit of the ISI chief, therefore in conformity with the judicial principles their culpability stands proven and if the court had not shown leniency they could even had been convicted on the charges of violation of the constitution , showing disrespect to the public mandate and accepting illegal money. Both the brothers could have been incarcerated, fined and debarred from participating in the political activities. But the court exhibited leniency. We are happy that after 22 years the court has accepted the crime as a crime. We can wait for another 22 years for their convictions. Shahbaz Sharif every now and then talks about resignations on moral grounds. Now that his crime has been established and further investigations ordered by the court, morality demands that he should resign from his post till the completion of the probe. The verdict in the Asghar Khan case has identified an old bureaucrat known as :BABA” and his forty accomplices and the people now know who are the real and the biggest forty thieves. I appeal to the people to recognize these characters and their BABA properly otherwise they will continue to dupe the people with identical names. I will also advise this gang of forty thieves to listen to the poetry of a romantic poet who says” SUNTA JA SHARMAT JA” ( listen and feel embarrassed) instead of breaking the legs of the revolutionary poet Habib Jalib. And if at all they need to do something they better be ashamed of what they have been doing because according to Karl Marx this is the least revolutionary step that they can take.
(The Writer is the Central Information Secretary, Pakistan Peoples Party and Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting)