Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Is 90% Good Enough?

In response my earlier post on the role of Justice Chaudry and Pakistani Judiciary, I got an interesting comment from Khalid A in London, UK. I'd like to share it with you as follows:

"I wrote the following, as early as March 2007
Knowing When to Stop ( Dawn 27.3.07 & Frontier Post 25.3.07)
I often wonder why our nation manages to extract defeat from the jaws
of victory. I am not talking of cricket.
I was able to identify at least 3 important historical moments when
history of Pakistan would have changed, had we known when to stop, and
bank our profits.

1. In 1969, an agitation for restoration of democracy was launched by
Air Marshal Asghar Khan and others against the Ayub regime. It was no
mean achievement that the all powerful military government was really
shaken. Ayub Khan offered to hold elections within 6 months and to
hand over power to the elected leaders. But Air Marshal Asghar Khan
was thumping the table and demanded immediate hand over of power.
There was no elected civilian leader who could have taken over
immediately. The only person who could take over was Gen Yahya Khan,
and he did. Air Marshal Asghar Khan and his colleagues did not know
when to stop. Having achieved 90 percent of their goals, they tried
for 100 percent and lost everything.
2. In 1977, the combined opposition launched a campaign against Mr
Bhutto. It was no mean achievement that the all powerful Bhutto was
ready to meet 90 percent of the demands of his opponents. But they
wanted 100 percent – Bhutto must go immediately! Bhutto did go, but it
was Zia who took over. Our politicians in the opposition did not know
when to stop!
3. In 1997, Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah had the Prime Minister Nawaz
Sharif in the dock. It was no mean achievement for a judge in a third
world country to be able to summon the Prime Minister. Even in the
West, such a situation would be quite remarkable. The Chief Justice
had achieved 90 percent of the goals and could have accepted an
apology. But he wanted a hundred percent victory. The rest is history.
Alas he did not know when to stop!

Today we have another watershed moment in our history. Will the
agitators know when to stop? Will they accept 90 percent victory or
must they lose everything to achieve 100 per cent? The smell of
victory is quite intoxicating and it blurs one's judgement. Will they
extract defeat from the jaws of victory? Will the nation face a coup

I also wrote more recently:

What Supreme Court could have done. (Frontier Post 17 nov 2007)

I wrote on the subject in March 2007, under the title "Knowing When to
Stop" ( Frontier Post 27th March 2007). It is very tempting for me to
say " I told you!", but the events are too traumatic for me to do

I said then that our nation always extracts defeat from the jaws of
victory, because we do not learn when to stop. This happened in 1969,
1977 and 1997. Having achieved 90 per cent of our goals, we do not
stop and consolidate our position. We go on fighting to achieve total
humiliation of the opponent. Instead of a 100 per cent victory, we end
up with total defeat.

This time, the Supreme Court had asserted itself and would have had a
major role to play in our national affairs, in future years, had the
Court avoided the path of confrontation. This should have been
done,not under any pressure, but in the supreme national interest. The
Court could have declared that the President's election would be
valid, but with the following conditions:
1. Gen Musharraf will give up the Army uniform BEFORE he takes the new
oath as President. In this way Gen Musharraf will be a civilian when
he takes the oath.
2. Gen Kiyani will be sworn in as Army Chief, in the same ceremony,
immediately after the Presidential oath.
3. Gen Musharraf must seek a new vote of confidence from the next
assemblies, within a specified time. If the vote of confidence is not
granted, the office of the President will become vacant.

Alas, it was not to be!

Khalid A
London UK

This comment reminded of the lyrics of a Kenny Rogers song:

"You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you're sittin' at the table
There'll be time enough for countin'
When the dealin's done"

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