Thursday, February 22, 2007

Finally at Loggerheads?

After two months of public utterings from his minions, the man has finally spoken for himself. Musharraf has at long last officially confirmed what had already become common knowledge.

As the Daily Times reported this Tuesday (20th February, 2007)

President General Pervez Musharraf finally told a TV channel yesterday that he would seek re-election by the current assemblies and not by the new assemblies after the 2007 general elections.

One can surmise that the talks between Musharraf’s intelligence agents and Benazir Bhutto have reached a stalemate.

Browbeating her with the Swiss money laundering case, Musharraf evidently believed that he would eventually get his way. Sadly Benazir would have quite likely conceded on the General’s ‘Uniform Issue’ but the idea of a surrogate prime minister from the PPP proved a bridge too far – the idea is an obvious anathema to her.

Military rulers traditionally exploit the weaknesses of the political forces and attempt to divide and fragment them. Not surprisingly therefore one of the conditions believed to have been imposed on Benazir for the continuance of these secret parleys was that she would abstain from participating in any opposition roundtable meeting.

Consequently it does not come as a surprise that for weeks Benazir had been prevaricating on the subject of attending the Nawaz Sharif organized opposition summit in London. Suddenly all this has changed.

As your Blogger adamantly maintains, there is no such thing as a coincidence in the murky world of Pakistani power shenanigans.

So the day that Musharraf finally came clean about his re-election plans on TV was the very same day it was announced that Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif would co-chair the March 24-25 all-party conference in London.


In common with all military rulers Musharraf has come to enjoy the trappings of power and has no intention of letting go. Rumour has it that the grisly model of Hosni Mubarik, who has reigned over Egypt since 1982, is one that he wishes to emulate. Sadly for Musharraf, your Blogger stoutly contends that the Pakistanis will not prove to be as compliant as the poor downtrodden Egyptians.

As Dr. Hasan-Askari Rizvi noted nearly a month ago in the Daily Times:

If President Pervez Musharraf opts for this strategy, in total disregard of constitutional and ethical considerations, Pakistan will be faced with a head-on collision between the pro-and anti-Musharraf elements.

Such a confrontation will undermine the political interests of both General Pervez Musharraf and the opposition. It will also have negative ramifications for Pakistan’s political credibility at the global level.

Five years ago, Musharraf orchestrated a farcical referendum to prolong his self-imposed presidency. Now he is insisting on another ludicrous scenario whereby the present outgoing national and provincial assemblies ‘will re-elect’ him to a new five-year term as president

To my mind seven years of military rule has created a pressure-cooker environment. What Pakistanis (with the exception of the profiteering elite) require is a safety valve. If it is not given to them via the ballot box, there is a looming prospect of violent urban disturbances.


mountainman said...

Welcome back :) I guess PPP's attitude can be summarized in the Urdu couplet:

Saaf Chuptay bhi nahin, samnay aatay bhi nahin,

Yeah kiya pardah hai keh chilman say lagay baithay hain

Having said that our politicians have let our people down for the umpteenth time. I think the people that comprise Pakistan are very unlucky indeed that despite a hunger and genuine desire for democracy they are being deprived of it by greedy generals and gutless politicians. No wonder, our people keep oscillating between politicos and generalissmos without getting anything but Sau Piyaaz aur Sau Jootay.

HH said...

I think Benazir Bhutto has been quite clear about not having a deal with Musharraf unless it involves his shedding the uniform. But some of us are so averse to BB and the PPP that we are always willing to believe the worst about them and the Musharraf crowd has taken advantage of that by spreading all sorts of rumors of a deal without ever intending to cut one.

Also, Mountainman, the correct sher by Dagh Dehlvi is:

Khub purdah hai keh chilman say lage bethay hain,

Saaf Chhupte bhi nahin, Saamnay Aatay bhi nahin.

Anonymous said...


There was also talk floating around not too long ago of Musharaff declaring a national emergency on account of the situation along the Afghan border and in Balochistan and postponing the December elections.

mountainman said...

Thanks for correcting me, HH. However, you would have to give better evidence than Benazir's words for explaining PPP's flip flop stance viz a viz the millitary regime. It should have been clear to a politician of her stature and experience that Gen Musharraf is not going to let go of the uniform come what may because it is the sole guarentee of his presence/power in Pakistani politics. What would prevent the next COAS from pulling the rug under Gen Musharraf's feet once he doffs his uniform? Also our generals' hunger for power is a well-known and demonstrated fact so i am not sure how BB could be so naive as to harbor such illusions. In Pakistan even a Patwari does not let go of his position voluntarily and seeks extension in his tenure let alone someone occupying the offices of President and COAS. So, in my humble opinion, the only realistic assessment of BB's silence and lack of initiative in confronting the junta politically is what Onlooker has offered in these pages.