By Khurshid Anwer
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, but what about ‘street power’- it goes straight to the head, giving birth to various cards – Sindh card, Punjab card etc.
Bhutto knew how to build up street power. He denigrated army generals to get the jawans behind him. He denigrated the police hierarchy to get the ranks behind him. He denigrated teachers and professors to get the students behind him. He denigrated the ‘haves’ to get the ‘have nots’ behind him, and he put the industrialists behind bars to get the workers behind him. The rest is history.
With all this street power going to his head he became a law unto himself. No rules or regulations could stand in his way. This has become the hallmark of all PPP governments to this day. The Jiyalas take a cue from the leaders and are not bound by any discipline, except party discipline. A completely free for all attitude towards the resources and the institutions of the country.
Bhutto wanted to kick upstairs a chief justice of the Lahore high court, but before that he got a law passed that refusal by a judge of a transfer order would be considered a resignation. The chief justice refused/resigned and left the scene.
Benazir improved upon that. She transferred a non-pliable chief justice of the Sindh high court to the Shariat Court. The next incumbent was sent packing to the supreme court for similar reasons. Then she picked a junior to head the court. Thereafter the judges who were appointed in their dozens had never seen the inside of the high court, only the inside of the prime ministers house. Did any one say, Cronies.
Her crowning moment was when she picked Sajjad Ali Shah over the head of many seniors as the chief justice of the supreme court, on the condition that he would not judge against her government. Apparently the latter did not feel bound by that condition.
What is happening today comes as no surprise, it is par for the course for PPP governments.