Which country’s history is being described in the following paragraph?
Democratic governments were more often than not interrupted by military. The last military dictatorship…justified its actions (illegal detentions, forced disappearances, torture and summary executions) as necessary for the suppression of terrorism.
Pakistan? No. Argentina, 1976 – 1983. The sixth and last military dictatorship in that country’s history in the 20th century. The period during which the “Dirty War” (a polite way of describing a government butchering its own citizens) took place.
The period when all rights were repealed, when the judiciary rolled over to have its tummy scratched by the generals, when so-called “subversives” were arrested without warrant, tortured, thrown alive out of airplanes, or if they were among the fortunate were mercifully shot in the head and dumped in a mass grave.
Thanks to these guardians of the Republic, between 9,000 – 30,000 men, women and children disappeared, depending on whose numbers you believe.
So what happened to end this horror? The ruling generals screwed utterly in their attempt to turn the public’s attention away from these grotesque injustices and economic problems by picking a fight with England over a shitty group of islands called the Falklands, where the sheep outnumbered the human population.
Argentina’s loss proved conclusively that the army, while excelling at killing unarmed civilians, was not too great at waging “war”. Within a year the generals were gone, with the newly elected democratic government establishing a national commission to investigate the mass disappearances.
Forensic researchers, aided by students, dug up mass graves, sometimes only with spoons, to identify remains. Trials were convened to hold the killers responsible.
So what about Pakistan?
Unlike their Argentine counterparts, segments of Pakistani society are saying “fuck you” to the generals’ faces.
Argentina’s lawyers never took to the streets to protest the suspension of rule of law.
There was no need to arrest anyone in the judiciary. None of the judges complained.
But in order to re-establish the rule of law, what was true in Argentina holds for Pakistan: The generals must go.
It’s time for Pakistan to say what Argentines finally said after six military governments:
- ► 2008 (29)