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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2680

Pakistan: On-going deceitful tactics

By Asif Haroon Raja

The plot makers had attached high hopes in the elections. They wanted the future elected parliament to be a replica of its predecessor to play to the tunes of the president and USA so that the laid down US objectives in the region could be achieved. The US had also not ruled out the possibility of a political impasse as in 1971 so that it became easier for India to deliver the hammer by the close of 2008. Assassination of Benazir, defeat of PML-Q and unexpected impressive results achieved by PML-N together with development of complete understanding between the erstwhile foes PPP-PML N and Musharraf having become unpopular upset their future plans.

They had pinned high hopes in their blue eyed boy to be able to change the political structure to their liking or spoil the broth and cook another mixed dish suiting his and American taste. His mentors in Washington felt highly disturbed to learn that the one on whom they had relied the most had landed in thick soup and his survival had become questionable. It was in backdrop of this worrisome scenario that Bush despatched his two key diplomats to Islamabad.

Notwithstanding that the King’s Party had been roundly defeated, the Ch brothers and their chief patron drew satisfaction from the fact that no party was in a position to single-handedly form a government either at the centre or in provinces. This factor kept their hopes of turning the tide in their favour alive. To start with they lived on the hope that the PPP would disintegrate from within because of rift between the senior leadership, each vying to assume the leadership of the party. None in their view was capable of keeping the party united. In view of sizeable number of seats available in the kitty of PML-Q and the MQM in the centre, Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan, the two were optimistic to form governments at the centre and three provinces by creating forward blocs in both the mainstream parties and winning over smaller parties.

The conspirators worked on a two pronged strategy to accomplish their objective. One prong aimed at dividing the PPP and the other worked on creating misgivings between PPP and PML-N and breaking the alliance. When the first prong failed to deliver, the plotters jumped into the ship of PPP and aimed their guns at the PML-N. Behind the scenes efforts were redoubled for another grand reconciliation between like-minded political parties. This was evident from MQM?s withdrawal of Farooq Sattar from the contest of PM and extending unconditional support to PPP, followed by whole-hearted support of the entire opposition to the newly elected PM Gilani, which was unprecedented. The idea behind such a generosity was to win over PPP and isolate PML-N and push it to opposition benches.

The opposition members have launched a whispering campaign that the ongoing bonhomie between the PPP and PML-N is temporary and will collapse within three months. It is this hope which is making Musharraf stick to his seat despite being repeatedly told to abdicate. His cronies are still trying to bolster his sagging morale by assuring him that his favourites will return to power sooner than later and are restraining him from quitting. The PPP is continually being wooed to ditch uncompromising PML-N before it is too late and warned that restoration of judges is only in the interest of Sharif brothers and would prove catastrophic for the top leadership of PPP.

The schemers are assuring the PPP that the new alignment of PPP-PML-Q-MQM-ANP-JUI-F will be able to achieve two-thirds majority in the parliament, which will then proceed to validate Musharraf?s second term. The legislature will next introduce an amendment in the constitution to restore the deposed judges and to retain PCO judges as well. This will be subject to the response of chief justice Iftikhar whether he will be willing to play the game as set by new rulers or otherwise. Another bill will be passed whereby the powers of the Supreme Court particularly suo moto powers, will be taken away to make the parliament supreme and its members holy cows. Yet another bill might be introduced to shorten the tenure of Supreme Court judges so as to get rid of the rebellious judges who had refused to take oath under PCO.

The key to the success of this plan rests with the PPP. In case it takes a u-turn and ditches PML-N, it will have to accept Musharraf equipped with Article 58-2-(b) in return for an assured five-year term for the new coalition. With this draconian Article in his hand, the wishful supremacy of parliament can never be achieved. The PPP leaders are somehow having a soft corner for the President and are eager to break bread with him and continue with his concept of enlightened moderation as well as his Kashmir and US-centric policies. This was evident from the heavy attendance of PPP leaders on the occasion of oath administered by Musharraf to newly elected PM Gilani and their roundabout statements.

Concurrently, Nawaz is being constantly advised by so-called saner elements to abandon politics of confrontation and opt for reconciliation and let bygone be bygone. He is being asked to conciliate with the President, MQM and Q League and let go the emotive issue of judges since CJ Iftikhar has become controversial and political. If principles and ethics are upheld and a spade is called a spade, how is it termed as confrontationist and against national interests? On the contrary, the crimes of the looters, bank defaulters and criminals, whose tales of evil doings had been narrated to the nation since 1996, have been absolved in a jiffy through an infamous NRO. The cleansed ones are now defined as pragmatic and realists. The widely criticised pardon has been justified under the plea that they had been politically victimised and hence deserved rich compensation. Some have already been assigned lucrative posts.

The architect of NRO as well as law makers of the last government now want all their unconstitutional acts and wrong doings to be indemnified as a quid pro quo. In his first address in the parliament, the new PM made laudable announcements and gave death blows to Pemra Ordinance, FCR and NAB. He sought parliament?s apology for judicial murder of ZAB as well as UN probe on Benazir?s murder, but somehow he did not deem it fit to seek inquests of Gen Ziaul Haq and others who died in a mysterious air crash, Kargil misadventure, 1999 coup, 12 May mayhem, Lal Masjid tragedy and 3 November emergency. There is a need for a second probe on 1971 as well as suggested by me in my book ?Roots of 1971 Tragedy?. The people would have danced with joy had he scrapped the unethical NRO and issued an executive order for the re-instatement of judges.

While restoration of judges will spell disaster for the president, MQM, PCO judges and the elite, it will bring happiness and relief to the lawyers? community, PML-N, APDM, the under privileged and the missing people. If the judges are restored, there is a danger of clash between the presidency and legislature since the former would not take it lying down. If the judges are not restored as wished by the President and MQM, there will be a confrontation between the public and legislature and the judiciary will remain subservient to establishment and legislature for times to come. The choice between the two has to be made by the new leaders. They must also understand that Musharraf has become a liability and not an asset as claimed by Ahmad Mukhtar. Sailing with him in the same boat as desired by him and Washington will retard democracy and intensify militancy. The suspense on judges created by the PPP must end now since it has bred uncertainty and insecurity.

Asif Haroon Raja is a defence and political analyst based in Rawalpindi and writer of several books.

- Asian Tribune -

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