As a Minister I once addressed the Larkana Bar Association. And on that occasion, a number of questions were asked by its members. I remember all of them. That is because I have a good memory.
A good memory is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing for students who want to memorise their lessons and, without understanding them, write them down as answers to questions asked in examinations. But it is also a curse because it makes it difficult to forget. There is a saying: forgive and forget. You can forgive, but how can you forget if you have a good memory?
I remember my last appearance here very well. I remember the questions that were asked, the people who asked them and the manner in which they were asked. And I come here again, today, in an entirely different situation. But even when I was here last you will have noticed that there was no arrogance in my manner or lone. I say this because throughout my career as a Minister, which was longer than those who are twice my age and have been Ministers in several Cabinets, I have regarded myself as one of you.
During that period there were many things said against this Government which is presently ruling Pakistan, a Government of which I was a member till about two years ago. Much was said about its dictator and about its dictatorial methods and nature. Many important members of your own Bar Association expressed their concern at the deterioration in our national life and were critical of the conditions that were causing this deterioration.
I hope you will bear me out when I say that at no stage during that period did I interfere with the judiciary or with any bar association.
No judge of this district can say that I ever asked him to meet me in my office or to call on me at my residence. I remember a judge once wanted to see me and I told him that I did not think it would be proper for him to come and call on me, because that was liable to be misunderstood. No advocate or any judge or magistrate can say that during my tenure as Minister, I interfered with the judiciary or in matters relating to the bar associations. I say this as a challenge. Is there anyone who can lead evidence to the contrary?
I know how different things are today. I know how members of the Bar are intimidated, summoned to the residences of officials and threatened, and how judges are told to adopt a certain point of view and to deliver judgements predetermined for them. What I am saying is not contempt of court. Some of you may think otherwise, but in my view this is not contempt of court. However, even if it is contempt of court, I think that in the present context truth is more important.
Mistakes can be made by anyone. I have made mistakes. Only those who regard themselves as infallible, who think that they are always right, who can justify each and every action of theirs can claim that they have never committed mistakes. They cannot be human. I do not belong to that category. I say that life is a continuous process of learning and mistakes are important lessons chalked on the blackboard of our experience, an experience which extends from childhood, through school, college and university to adult life. There is only a difference at various stages in the form and the procedure of learning. There is always a teacher and there are always those who are taught. There are always examinations which may not be held every six months or every year as they are held in schools and colleges, but in life there are tests all the time, no matter what position you may reach in life. And in these tests all the answers cannot always be right, if it is human beings we are talking about. Who else? Computers are not addicted to politics.
I am not here to argue that I was always right or to rationalise my mistakes. That I leave for those who think they are so wise and capable that they can commit no errors; that when they are thrown out by changes, they must preach against and curse those changes; and when fortune again smiles on them, they should forget the long past in which they have done nothing but to criticise.
I am asked very often by these gentlemen, who commit no mistakes, how it is possible that I was eight years in the Government and why I am now against the Government. I have already said that human beings are capable of making mistakes and I hope they concede that I am a human being. But I would like to ask what right have these individuals to ask this question? Changes in established systems come through two means: through a revolution or a coup d'etat.
A revolution takes place when there is some basic objective of economic and political betterment, to change the condition of the people, the pattern of their existence. This happened in the Soviet Union, where the people seized power to change the entire system and to bring about a new order. In China, there was a revolution; in France, there was a revolution. But, there are coups d'etat also. Those who bring off coups usually also claim that they are revolutionaries. But only time can tell whether the change was for personal power and personal aggrandisement or for a social change to improve the lot of the people. There is one common factor to be found in most revolutions and coups and that is that their leaders do at some stage develop differences and part company. This may not have happened in some minor revolution or coup but in the important ones this does happen at some point of time. But it has never happened, except here in Pakistan, that those who were ousted by such changes have later been brought into the ranks of leadership in the Government.
These people ask me how can I criticise a Government whose member I was for eight years? In turn I want to ask them how is it that they who were discredited, thrown out, abused, cursed, jailed, disqualified and condemned by the Government should now come into the service of that Government? This is the irony of the situation. I was not insulted or humiliated like them. I was not kicked in the pants. My nose was not rubbed in the dust. I was not abused and called a shark and a monster and all sorts of things. I was not one of those who had to run from one army official to another, trying to file replies to FBDO charges to prevent themselves from being disqualified from holding office in any elected body. I left in honour. When I left, the President of Pakistan was compelled to say that he wished me well and that I had served the country well.
I do not believe in rancour and bitterness or in a negative approach to politics. I believe in a positive approach. I believe in being broad-minded and not letting personal considerations influence political decisions. And it is for this reason that I have not so far revealed so many things that have happened. But if lies are spoken about me, I should, at least, have the right to speak the truth.
For this reason I must tell you, gentlemen, most emphatically, that at no stage, since I left the Government, have I ever approached the Government for a compromise or for any negotiation. Whoever says that I have sought a compromise is a liar. The Government itself has approached me on a number of occasions and it is in Larkana that I am making this revelation for the first time. I have not spoken on this subject before, but I have been compelled to do so now because of the lies that are being uttered about me. I have got evidence and proof that on many occasions close associates and relatives of the President have come to me for a compromise; I have not taken a single step to have any compromise with the Government. And those who speak lies about this have not brought credit to the Government, because I have been silent. I believe in clean politics. But my opponents want to drag people to their level of politics, the sort of politics that ended in the forties and the fifties. This is the trouble with these people who are now active in the politics of our country. They forget that their methods and their ways went out of fashion with the forties and fifties. Since they have not kept pace with time they are using political tactics of a generation ago. Time and political developments have not changed their mentality. Because they cannot change now they cannot improve. But the world has made progress and marched on. Man is going to land on the moon. There has been a Vietnam. New horizons and new vistas have opened. The old politicians have missed the bus. They think they can have it stopped and force their way in. But will the other passengers understand what they say? The idiom has changed, the situation has changed, the problems have changed.
These old-timers will be of little use to the Government; neither as friends nor as masters! They are actually damaging their own cause, if it can be called a cause, by stooping so low as to disgust the people. I cannot reply to all that was said at Dadu because I do not wish to lower myself to that level. But I would like to give a clear warning to the Government that if these people continue in this vein, then I will have to come out with facts that will embarrass the Government. I shall mention dates and occasions, and when, where and who have approached me to come to an understanding with the Government. If they press me too much, I shall have to give an account to the people of Pakistan.
I would like to say something about the Head of the Provincial Government. He is after all an important man. He is the Governor of a province and I am only an ordinary citizen, coming from an ordinary place, where only my friends gather to hear me. But I would like to tell this gentleman that he also should not be reckless and say things that are not correct. I know that he holds high office and that I am an ordinary citizen but I also know that it was I who approved his selection as Ambassador to Iran. It is not dignified for a Head of a Provincial Government to disapprove of a political leader simply because he is small in size. And, incidentally, this political leader does not belong to the People's Party. Is this the way that this Governor should talk from Khyber to Karachi? Is height the only thing that matters? The remark was in bad taste. The Governor may have power and authority but these don't last for ever. And, as for people who are not tall, the Vietnamese have shown what they can do. I say to this former Army Chief, "Learn from the lesson of Vietnam, from what little men have done in fighting the giant Marines, from the performance of little men without shoes, with hardly any clothes or weapons, against the well-equipped Americans. What made the difference was the strength of their conviction and their belief in the righteousness of their cause."
These lessons are so elementary that they should not be forgotten so easily. I remember that after the September war, the Governor went to Sargodha and he saw Squadron Leader Alam. When he came back he Said "I saw Alam. Alam was so short. He was only so high. I said to Alam, you are so short, so small." And he was told not to talk like that. But these people just forget. Such are the people who are ruling this country—clowns and charlatans.
They have alienated the whole of Pakistan. There is not a single section of the people of Pakistan which stands by them. Not a single section. Take the students. They are up in arms. I have not misled the students. Why should I mislead the students? They are the future of our country. They are the ones who are to take over the responsibilities of the brave new world. I have no desire to mislead them. The youth of Pakistan has been estranged, because of the way they have been treated by the Government. They have chained them with University Ordinances. The Government is destroying not only what is today, but the tomorrow as well. And that is why the youth of Pakistan is against the Government. The legal profession stands hostile. It stands hostile, because laws are being tampered with; archaic laws are being revived. The farmer is estranged because agricultural lands are being given to people who do not know the difference between a stalk of wheat and a Burmah cheroot.
Absentee landlords are now being recruited from the civil service; they are being given new lands which should be given to the tillers of the soil. The Government should first give the land to the local cultivators and peasants. If surplus land is available, then it should be given to peasants from other parts of the country. But a new class of squires should not be created. And what happens? Civil servants of high rank, like Members of the Board of Revenue, Chief Secretaries and Commissioners, are given vast areas of lands. And then who looks after those lands? The Mukhtiarkars and the Deputy Collectors who then give top priority to pleasing their superiors and neglect their own duties. The administration suffers. First of all, it is wrong to create this new class of absentee landlords, who own lands and live thou-sands of miles away—in Washington, New York or Paris, as ambassadors. Some work in the Secretariat in Lahore. The basic objection is the same. They know nothing about their lands. So they ask their colleagues and juniors in the districts, "Please look after my lands.''
The process then begins. The Commissioner tells the Deputy Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner tells the Deputy Collector and the Deputy Collector tells the Mukhtiarkar. And in this way the administration is destroyed. This creation of a new class of zamindars is wrong. The Government says that it wants to curtail landlordism and that it has brought about land reforms but at the same time it creates a new class of absentee landlords, who do not look after the lands themselves and who misuse the administrative machinery by making the local officials look after their lands. And what is the result? For them there are no mishaps. No pests attack their crops nor are they affected by floods or rains or by water-logging or salinity. They have already calculated their returns and the local officials see to it that these expectations are fulfilled—come what may. The shortfall has to be made good. What this practice does to the administration I leave to your imagination. How effectively can the administration, so burdened with extra-curricular responsibilities, deal with crime? When the priorities of the senior officers are for personal profit, how can they control their subordinates?
Half of Islamabad belongs to the begums of civil servants. They buildpalatial mansions and lease them out to the embassies of foreign countries. How then can you have an independent foreign policy? Much of Islamabad belongs to the officers of the Pakistan Foreign Service. They rent their houses to the embassies. Many embassies know how to choose and oblige P.F.S, officers.
Please search your hearts and tell me: are members of the legal profession satisfied with the prevailing conditions; are the farmers satisfied; are the labourers satisfied? Who is satisfied—the refugee from India, the Punjabi, the Baluchi, the Sindhi, the Pathan, the Bengali? The Government today is isolated and it has alienated each and every segment of society and each and every part of the country. How long can this go on? The President has been talking about the stability of the country. Where is that stability? When the health of the President fails, where does that stability go? For two months he is ill, and who takes the decisions? Where are the institutions which pro-vide for genuine stability? This is not the way stability is given to the people.
Corruption has increased. Lawlessness has increased. Crime has in-creased. Prices of commodities have increased. Blackmarketing has in-creased. Smuggling has increased. Interference in the administration has increased. Interference in the judiciary has increased. Everywhere there is Contamination. Everywhere there is chaos and trouble.
A local Minister says that the price of wheat in Pakistan is less than the price of wheat in India. But why is that so? When people in India ask asto why the prices are going up, they are told that the prices are going up because they have to increase their defence budget. In India, they have an answer for the rise of prices. They have told their people that "Whether you like it or not, we require to expand our defence budget." And the defence budget of India has gone up rapidly. But in our country we have reduced our defence budget. Why then have prices gone up? What is the justification? Is there an emergency? There cannot be because we are making overtures and gestures to India and the Finance Minister says, "We are reducing our defence budget and we hope that India will reciprocate." India has reciprocated by increasing its defence budget. So then there is no justification for you to compare the prices of wheat in Pakistan with the prices of wheat in India.
These are the illogical aspects and the absurdities of the present Government. Now you may say, "What can we do? After all it is the Government and we have to consider our future, for tomorrow we may be asked by the authorities why we attended Mr. Bhutto's dinner, why we met him." Is this an important consideration in the present day and age? If, after twenty years of Independence, we still think in those terms, then I am afraid that we can make no progress. I can tell you that harassment is more a state of the mind than a physical difficulty. Once you are prepared to face harassment and difficulties, you will find that there is no real difficulty involved. And the administration which threatens you is really a paper tiger. It is not even that. It is a tissue-paper tiger.
So you must not take into account these attempts at intimidation. They are only threats which cannot materialise if you are united and organised. Remove the clouds of fear from your minds. Fight for the right cause. Do you think that I am not made to suffer? You do not know the troubles and problems that are being placed in my way—the mean and despicable things that are being done. It makes a difference. But still I am there. Soon these will be things of the past. So, actually, this kind of intimidation is only a balloon. Your resistance will cause it to burst. There is no cause at all for fear. And I am not saying this because the People's Party is going to come into power. Our main purpose is not to come into power. Our purpose is to serve the people. But you can take it from me that this Government cannot last not after the blunders it has committed and the situation it has created for itself. It has sown the seeds of its own destruction and is helping them grow into a bumper harvest by adding doses of fertilizer with each reckless act of tyranny and corruption.
There is a, limit to the control of subjective authority without a political purpose and without a political objective. I would like to ask the Government, "What is their political objective? What are their plans to help the common man?" If the Government can answer that, they will have answered a great many associated questions as well. But it cannot. It is a regime of an individual, meant for some individuals, but not at all for the people of Pakistan. In no field, in no activity, is the commonweal ever taken into account by this Government. That is why it is inevitable, the way things are proceedings, that a change must come.
But, at the same time, it is no use saying, "You were right. The change has come", when it does come. All of you have to play a part. Everyone has to play a part. If you are satisfied with the present state of affairs, then help the Government stay in power. But if you are not satisfied, if you feel that violence, crime, corruption, and the regime's use of the administrative machinery to perpetuate itself is increasing, then it is your duty also to bear some burden and lake part in the struggle against the regime. You cannot sit on the fence, wait for someone else to come to power and rush to garland him. Those days are gone. A change has come in the life of the nation, in the mentality of the people. If you want to improve conditions, then you cannot go back to the same people and to the system that has brought things to such a pass.
The evils of the present system are like a cancer in our body politic. It cannot be cured by a few doses of medicine. It is a sort of cancer that has to be removed by surgery. Major changes and reforms are necessary, if our nation is to survive. We believe that ours is a great nation. It has got many resources. But we have to put an end to corruption and smuggling, we have to take care of the interests of the common people, we have to make the judiciary independent and fearless, we have to ensure that universities really become centres of knowledge, we have to provide fair wages to our labour, and we have to properly plan our agricultural and industrial development. If we can do all this, then we shall not fail. Our potential is great and we are bound to succeed. This country is big enough for everyone to be accommodated and for everyone's rights to be recognised. There should be no conflict between our people over their rights.
You will agree that all issues should be determined in a democratic manner on the basis of equality. When I say that we must determine all constitutional and political issues on the basis of the wishes of the people, I am not evading any question. Because this is the only way in which we can decide fundamental matters. They cannot be left to a few unrepresentative- people to decide. We must end dictatorial methods. We should have a truly democratic system. No person's vote should be more important than that of each of the other hundred million people. It is the people who should take decisions. Because the present system ignores the people and their views the nation is beset with so many problems. That is the cause of the tension. The people must be consulted. They must decide whether they want a parliamentary or a presidential form of Government. Because both can be democratic or dictatorial. It is for the people to take a close look at the substance of the various proposals that are presented to them and not be carried away by labels and slogans.
My colleagues and I have launched a new party to put before you a new blueprint for the future. This will be based on principles, not on an individual's whims. Individuals can fail but principles, if they are based on the peoples interests, cannot fail. We are bound to succeed, because our principles are right. So, please give more thought to these problems and see what you can do to assist. This is not my struggle. This is not any individual's struggle. I am not the only person involved. I have taken up the challenge, because it is the people's struggle. I would not have taken up the struggle, if the people's future were not involved, if the destinies of our future generation were not involved.
But a time comes when you must cry halt. And, finally, I would like to say that I was asked again to answer the question why I was eight years in the Government and why I am now criticising it. I will say that, some time after I joined the Government, it began to smell. When it began to stink, I could not tolerate it and left. And those who were out when it was merely smelling are now rushing in to inhale the stink.