Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Stratfor: Musharraf to reinstate the CJ !

To date Stratfor's predictions have been fairly accurate. This latest bit is a quite bombshell as far as your Blogger is concerned.

Is Musharraf actually planning to reinstate the CJ?

If he is, then it is a huge and humiliating retreat for the blundering general. (But then to safeguard his kursi he is left with few other options.)


Pakistan: The Problems With Musharraf's Survival Plan
June 12, 2007 22 51 GMT


In an effort designed to help dissipate the growing political storm in the country and secure his own re-election, Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf plans, among other things, to reinstate suspended Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. The plan is crippled by too many moving parts, however, meaning Musharraf at best could only hold on to power as a president sharing power with a prime minister at the head of a coalition government.


Richard Boucher, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, arrived June 12 in Islamabad on a two-day official visit. Topping the agenda of discussion between Boucher and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf is Pakistan's increasing crisis of governance. Boucher will relay Washington's interest in having Musharraf remain at the helm, but also will communicate that Musharraf needs to reach an accommodation with his opponents.

The two main reasons informing Musharraf's decision to tough it out in the face of the South Asian nation's rapidly expanding crisis are U.S. backing and the support of the senior generals within Pakistan's military hierarchy. Musharraf also knows that he must demonstrate to both Washington and his own generals that he very much controls the situation to ensure their continued support. To do so he has devised a plan to defuse the political crisis involving reinstating suspended Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, something that also will help create conditions conducive for his own re-election.

Though Chaudhry's reinstatement might provide the embattled general with a brief respite, his bid for re-election is going to be extremely hard to pull off in part due to the increasingly assertive nature of Pakistan's judiciary and the media. Ultimately, there is just too much that can go wrong in the process of securing a second term.

The first step in defusing tensions was the government's June 9 move to withdraw restrictions on the media; this had two effects. First, it satisfied concerns within the Bush administration, which was finding it difficult to support Musharraf while his government was openly limiting free speech. Second, it prevented the anti-Musharraf movement from receiving a sudden and major boost.

In the meantime, the government produced a budget significantly increasing government employee salaries and announced that an election schedule would be released soon after parliament approved the budget. Musharraf himself said June 8 that the nation would hear the good news about the end of the ongoing political crisis. "The ongoing drama will end itself very soon and there is nothing to worry about it," he told members of parliament from the ruling coalition and Cabinet members.

The next step will be allowing Pakistan's Supreme Court to reinstate the chief justice, which will be Musharraf's way of neutralizing the legal community's protests. Once back on the job, Chaudhry will not be able to participate in rallies given his position as a nonpartisan national figure -- thus taking the chief justice and his supporters out of the limelight. The government also will try to block Chaudhry from presiding over cases involving the president on grounds that as a party to a dispute with the president, the top jurist cannot appear unbiased against Musharraf. The chief justice and his allies indeed would like to see Chaudhry's restoration and Musharraf's ouster. The government, however, hopes the restoration will forestall the latter.

The chief justice's reinstatement could provide some brief respite to Musharraf. But the president general must go through the process of re-election, which according to the government must take place between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15. The presidential election is highly controversial because Musharraf is seeking re-election from the same electoral college, composed of the current national and provincial legislatures, that elected him in the first place. His opponents have demanded fresh parliamentary elections before the presidential vote. But the main opposition group, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto might be willing to negotiate a deal whereby Musharraf can be re-elected on the condition he steps down as military chief.

Accepting a president in uniform is a redline the PPP cannot cross and sustain its position as the country's largest political party and its reputation of being anti-establishment. Musharraf's uniform constitutes the basis of his power, and assuming the role of a civilian president is a prospect fraught with perils. Even so, mounting pressure to defuse the crisis could force his hand and make him decide to retire from the military, though that would entail another set of complexities.

Ideally, Musharraf wants to remain army chief of staff until after the parliamentary elections to be held sometime in November, though even he knows that under the present conditions that is asking too much. At a bare minimum, however, he wants to remain military chief until the first week of October so he can oversee the next round of routine promotions and retirements of senior generals. That would allow him to stack the military deck with people he can theoretically work with even after becoming a civilian president.

Another hurdle to his re-election is that even if he were to have a deal with the PPP, members of parliament from the Islamist coalition, the Mutahiddah Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) -- which controls one and a half provinces and is one of the largest opposition blocs in parliament -- could see its members tender their resignations, thereby rendering the electoral college dysfunctional. And street protests would come back with a bang should Musharraf try to force his way to re-election. So any deal would have to include not just the PPP, but the MMA and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom Musharraf ousted from power in 1999.

Balancing the civilian side of his government with the military side is rapidly becoming untenable for Musharraf. As a result, the resolution to the current crisis requires a very complex arrangement that under the present conditions is unlikely to hold. Thus Musharraf at best can hope to share power as a civilian with a much broader array of far more assertive civilians.


libertarian said...

Seems Musharraf is looking not so much at how to weather the current storm, but how to make an exit sometime after October and still stay alive. Without the US watching his back (with those cell-phone jammers and tricked-out Mercedes') he's a sitting duck. Or it could be a vengeful judiciary calling out any treasonous behavior. Hasta La Vista Mush. You will not be missed.

Onto Queen BB and her machinations ... <groan>

AAS said...

God, Pakistan needs a new political party and the moment for it is now....just wondering if someone will actually attempt it and maybe do the right thing for our country.

Anonymous said...

Hasta La Vista Mush – no problemo
Onto Queen BB – big problemo
Everything according to dictates of Uncle Sam – big problemo

We always expect change to come from elsewhere, we never attempt it ourselves.

"The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment".


Anonymous said...

Pakistan is changing - whether it is the rise of civil society and its understanding of its power or the rise of the fundamentalists and their understanding of their expanded and charged base. So, stop whining about BB and start looking at the Pakistan you actualy live in - though maybe you dont....you live in your drawing room cultures and though you give lip service to understanding Pakistan you are so isolated and hopefully more and more irrelevant. MAHI

libertarian said...

aas: Pakistan needs a new political party and the moment for it is now ...
Or maybe if there's sufficient checks and balances (judiciary + press, like onlooker theorized) the current folks will be forced to deliver. Even Queen Bee(bee) Kleptocrat Daughter of the East.

Mahi: don't bust a capillary. Just ignore me.

Syed said...

He is already a champion of U turns. I wonder about his next achievements.

Anonymous said...

Libertarian: If you think you have that great an impact on me or any others who visit this blog you must have a rather inflated sense of self. Keep your personal comments to yourself. Ths is a political blog. MAHI

jusAthot said...

It is either the woozy and crackpot rambling of some snooty scions of the ruling elite or the gibberish from our naive down-home wadera or fanatics. What Pakistan needed most is a break from these extremes.

On a different level Dr Ayesha Siddiqa’s perspective is worth pondering:

First, most of these people actually belong to the ruling elite; this means their fight is not so much for the sake of political liberalism but for their own power. The problem with the Pakistani political system is that since there is no method to negotiate power, new players tend to use different tools such as religion or political liberalism to create spaces for themselves. Once power is negotiated, these people fall in line with the establishment.

Second, most of these people have stakes in the establishment and its discourse. The intention is not to change the discourse but to divert the emphasis from the old actors to themselves. A lot of the big names are scions of the ruling elite who have greater access to the establishment’s discourse. The tendency is to deviate from the official line for a short period. Being radical in an authoritarian political system is highly fashionable and brings kudos and attention. It is almost like pot-smoking, not as a habit but to challenge the traditional norms and to establish one’s independence.

Third, being part of the ruling elite, the new stars ..are extremely comfortable with the state-oriented security discourse. In fact, these people challenge the security discourse to the degree and to the point where they can get public attention and attract the establishment with their seemingly radical ideas. The expression of radicalism is then used to negotiate an elevated space in the socio-political hierarchy. Once the target is achieved, the old stance is quickly abandoned. Hence, most of the stars are actually the children of the establishment, which is comfortable with them because the radicalism is temporary.

libertarian said...

mahi: ouch. Point taken.

AAS said...

Libetarian it's best to not argue with Mahi...he loves to play with bombast and rhetoric.

I like what Dr Ayesha Siddiqa wrote and i agree with it...unfortuantely she offers so solution to break that cycle...well she is part of the elite...hehhe.

I still don't trust the press and judiciary.....and i think a new political party based on moderation can make a difference....we have a shot to do this right.

Anonymous said...

aas: this is not personal but a person who does not trust the crucual underpinnings which are represented by the press and the judiciary is an army man - which i have always felt was refelected by what you have written here many times. Which is why I have strongly disagreed with your comments and ideas many times. Ps Ms Siddiqa is many things but not a part of any elite! She is a hard-working middle class person who has published her phd thesis as a book. MAHI

AAS said...

To Mahi:

Rather than trying to always figure out what i am ....has it occurred to you to ever truly read what i write?

I do believe the moment is right for a new party that will truly work for the people....i am very sure that the NS, BB, Mush, and the mullahs have had their chances to make a difference...all have failed.

I don't believe that the judiciary nor the press are the institutions we should look towards....saving Pakistan. Each have had propped up corrupt millitary and political regimes. We all know this.

I do believe in giving the CJ a chance. I don't see him as a hero.... i am sure there are skeletons in his closet too...but if he is serious about helping Pakistan then i support him.

That is why, even now, i hope the CJ and Aitzaz Ahsan would come together and form a new party. I am willing to support them and hopefully they can help reform our instituions. This is a long shot but i still have some hope.

libertarian said...

onlooker: your piece on America raised some smart eye-brows. Congratulations!

You may want to write a letter to Musharraf/anyone else directly. I'm sure he'll read it.

jusAthot said...

Onlooker: Keep up the good work!

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