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Today, 30 years ago.

Byline: S. Hayat - Hariawala

APROPOS the article 'Today, 30 years, ago' (Aug 7). It would be interesting to recall what led to Ghulam Ishaq Khan's ''constitutional coup'' against the elected government of Benazir Bhutto. No doubt it was a coup, but it was constitutional. Being a prisoner of the constitution he had no option but to go for this coup.

His dilemma was that if 'in his opinion' a situation had arisen in which the government of the federation cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and an appeal to the electorate is necessary, the president 'shall' dissolve the National Assembly. He just did that.

Otherwise one would like to recall Ghlam Ishaq Khan's first address to the nation in which he unreservedly committed himself to the holding of elections on Nov 16, 1988 and followed it up by holding elections on that particular date. And as the Benazir Bhutto-led PPP got majority of seats in the National Assembly he invited her to take over as prime minister and go for a vote of confidence within 60 days.

While asking her to form the government he lavishly praised her, describing her ''young, educated, cultured, polite and highly capable person. She is an embodiment of qualities of leadership and sagacity. Above all she is the like of the people of people and choice of the nation.'

And a few months later he stood by her side by prematurely announcing the name of the next army chief when he felt someone was anxious to revive the Zia era. But that bonhomie didn't last long.

In his speech to the joint session of parliament on Dec 1, 1989 he warned that the people are ''in the grip of agony and concern ... We are all collectively guilty of failure in creating an atmosphere of mutual conciliation and healthy cooperation such as democracy demands.' These were the days when phrases like 'horse trading' and '10 percent' had acquired a popular buzz.

If President Arif Alvi cannot be another GIK it is only because of the 18th Amendment otherwise today is not very different from 'Today, 30 years ago.'

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Author:S. Hayat - Hariawala
Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Aug 11, 2020
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