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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2994

Damaging Role of PPP and Musharraf

By Asif Haroon Raja

The two antagonists had their first meeting at Dubai hosted by Ameer of Dubai and attended by Malik Rehman in January 2007. Having sorted out the preliminaries the next meeting was held at the same venue on 27 July during which the final deal of power sharing was inked. The two meetings as well as the deal were kept secret from the people of Pakistan as well as PPP stalwarts. When quizzed by the media BB flatly denied; however, when Musharraf spilled the beans she had to admit but hastened to rename the deal as dialogue meant to restore democracy. There on her hobnobbing with the establishment and with USA were justified under the label of promoting the cause of democracy.

It must be remembered that the two secret meetings had taken place after the signing of CoD at London in May 2006 amidst fanfare and pledges made not to repeat past follies and never to give a helping hand to a military dictator and to earnestly work towards restoration of true democracy. Having betrayed Nawaz she refused to participate in APC because of inclusion of MMA, which in her perception had provided a lifeline to the dictator. Notwithstanding the cardinal sin of MMA to facilitate passage of 17th Amendment, she repeatedly betrayed the cause of political forces by maintaining secret links with the establishment merely to regain power with the help of Musharraf.

Musharraf manufactured NRO to absolve Benazir and her cronies as well as the MQM and facilitate her return and take part in elections in return for getting his presidential election validated by PPP. The NRO had no scope of forgiveness for Sharif brothers since it covered period up to October 1999 only. The PPP reciprocated by playing a dual game to keep both sides happy. They did not resign from legislature as had been done by other opposition parties but abstained from voting. Musharraf imposed emergency to get rid of Iftikhar and other rebellious judges who refused to take oath under PCO. He brought in Hameed Dogar led team of senior judges who agreed to do as told to do. He removed his uniform after arrogating all powers to the seat of president.

He allowed pre-poll rigging to ensure victory of PPP, PML-Q and MQM. But for Gen Kayani?s last minute decision to keep the army out of politics, he would have allowed D-day-poll rigging to ensure results as per his and US wishes. PML-Q’s rout and PPP‘ not attaining sufficient seats to form government at its own and PML-N’s impressive electoral results in the centre as well as in Punjab disturbed his chalked out plan. He in league with defeated Q League got busy in post poll rigging to oust PML-N from corridors of power and also devised ways and means in league with PPP to get rid of the headache of deposed judges. His efforts have eventually borne fruit too a great extent.

If the PPP is feeling so saintly and moralistic on the issue of judges by arguing that a wrong should not be committed to rectify a wrong, where were its high principles and morals when BB made compromises with USA and then under its patronage secretly inked an unholy deal with military dictator at Dubai? Why did she not take a proper route to negotiate with Musharraf along with Nawaz and other political leaders? She struck the deal secretly because she wanted to collect the trophy all by herself. Instead of following the judicial route, she requested Musharraf to devise infamous NRO through which all her and her cronies’ sins could be laundered.

In return for NRO and her homecoming, she made a bargain with Musharraf that her party would legalise the controversial presidential election and would work with him for the next five years. However, outwardly she maintained a hostile posture against him. She flew to Dubai on the night on which emergency was clamped, constitution suspended, PCO promulgated and 60 judges sacked. On her return she did not make any hue and cry on the judges. She refused to agree to APDM call of election boycott.

I remember how desperate BB and later on Zardari were to win elections at all costs and how vociferously they had hyped the rigging charge and had raised a storm. After her murder Zardari and other PPP leaders clamoured for a UN probe and rejected Scotland Yard inquest. They shunned Musharraf’s appeals and assurances on these two issues and adopted a highly aggressive posture at a time when PPP was out of power and Musharraf was enjoying all powers.

How come the PPP leaders have suddenly become so frail and helpless when they have captured power and Musharraf is on a weak wicket? Why has Malik Qayum still been retained as AG and Hussain Haqqani and Maj Gen Durrani inducted in the government at the behest of president? What was the compulsion for Zardari to induct MQM in Sindh cabinet and why he is so eager to accommodate it in federal cabinet particularly when its major coalition partner as well as lower leadership and workers of PPP are against such a union? PPP leaders are indulging in hypocrisy under the garb of reconciliation, pragmatism, compromise and expedience.

Zardari?s brazen statement that PPP was not mandated to restore judges is far from true. PPP was out in the wilderness till such time the lawyers’ movement gained countrywide momentum and was joined by political forces including PPP, media and civil society. Raising the party flags and shouting slogans in favour of deposed chief justice Iftikhar and Benazir, PPP activists promoted the cause of both. It was judicial crisis which unnerved Musharraf and he was compelled to lean towards Benazir to gain political strength. Although Benazir was not favourably inclined towards Iftikhar, however, having sensed his popularity among the masses, she had to swallow the bitter pill and gave a statement outside his residence in Islamabad that the PPP would hoist the national flag once again at his residence. It was her wavering stance on the issue of judges, her alliance with USA and Musharraf and the NRO which pulled her popularity graph down as compared to Nawaz. At Bhurban, Zardari pledged to restore judges to 2 November position by 30 April.

Zardari damaged the cause of PPP further when he also towed her spouse’s line. He lowered his credibility by following dual-faced policy to keep both sides in good books. After creating series of impediments to parry the issue, he reluctantly agreed to restore the judges by 12 May on the condition that PCO judges would also be retained. He once again reverted to his stance of restoring judges through constitutional package only and not through simple resolution since retention of PCO judges would raise the strength of Supreme Court to 27 as against authorisation of 17. His failure to live up to his promise led to collapse of talks between him and Nawaz and the latter deciding to withdraw PML-N members from federal cabinet as a mark of protest.

While Zardari is playing a cat and mouse game, PM Gilani role has been reduced to an onlooker. He is keenly waiting for instructions from Zardari so that he could make an announcement accordingly. Decision on judges would be announced within a month time but on PPP’s terms and without giving any credit to PML-N. The restrictions imposed in the constitutional package would be anti-deposed judges and pro-PCO judges, which will be unacceptable to the former, PML-N, lawyers, APDM, civil society and the general public. It would result in another round of lawyers? movement and this time the police would employ its batons on instructions of Gilani and Rehman Malik. Talk of taking strict measures against anti-establishment/government journalists and media persons is already in the air. President’s team of conspirators have sprung into action to play the final bout in Punjab. A controversial figure Salman Taseer who is anti-Nawaz has been appointed Governor Punjab which has consternated PML-N and may further widen the gulf between the two coalition partners.

While Zardari and his team may be able to stay in power and further multiply their wealth, but these material gains would be at the cost of losing respect and confidence of the people. Once Zardari loses the trust of the people he will never be able to regain it and he will regret this loss for the rest of his life.

Asif Haroon Raja is a defence and political analyst based in Rawalpindi.

- Asian Tribune -

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