Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Unstrategically Blasting His Way Out

Like all military dictators who have preceded him, Musharraf loathes the idea of surrendering his powers. To make the situation worse he is surrounded by self-serving advisers who also have much to lose in a change scenario.

Struggling for political survival Musharraf has sought to enlist Bush’s support by re-energising military confrontation against extremists in the western borderlands, he has humiliatingly flown to Dubai to negotiate a power-sharing deal with one of his hated rivals, and come close to declaring a state of emergency within the country.

But so far nothing has seemed to have worked for him.

With the clock ticking away and general elections to be held be held between September 15 and October 15, he appears to be heading towards a no-win situation. Especially as an activist Supreme Court seems likely to impose a legal obstacle against his attempt to get re-elected from the existing assemblies, as well as permitting the return of Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan.

Faced with such a bleak state of affairs Musharraf may easily be persuaded to declare an emergency (or still worse declare martial law), both of which will likely lead to national upheaval and ensuing chaos. But then the desperation of narcissistic dictators have no bounds.

Following is an article from the Financial Times worth reading. It quotes a diplomat in Islamabad as saying:

“He’s really not a great strategist…He’s a commando who, when he’s in a fix, likes to blast his way out.”

It is this reliance on ‘blasting his way out’ that does not bode well for the next few weeks to come.


The Financial Times: Final reckoning days away for Musharraf
By Jo Johnson
Published: August 13 2007 16:29

Confronted by the gravest crisis of his eight-year rule, Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, faces an ever-shrinking menu of options. In recent weeks he has spent much of his time shut away in his military camp in Rawalpindi, surrounded by self-interested advisers, increasingly intolerant of criticism and displaying signs, diplomats say, of growing paranoia.

But as the general toys with ideas such as imposing a state of emergency that would suspend elections and extend his rule, the reality is that he has just days left to find a way out of his labyrinth before a constitutional crisis paralyses Pakistan.

If Gen Musharraf sticks to his guns and proceeds with his plan to seek a new mandate from the existing state and national legislatures – themselves the product of rigged 2002 elections – he is likely to find his ability to govern severely impaired.

Challenges to his legitimacy are likely to hit him on two fronts: in the courts, from a judiciary emboldened by the reinstatement of Iftikhar Chaudhry, chief justice; and on the streets, from a newly-courageous civil society.

Presidential elections, via an indirect electoral college, must be held between September 15 and October 15. The constitution forbids a general from holding political office while still serving and also for up to two years after retirement. In December 2003, Gen Musharraf finessed matters by persuading a coalition of Islamic parties to back an amendment exempting him from the restriction, initially for one year. When the December 2004 deadline to step out of uniform expired, the exemption was extended until the end of 2007 by a rubber stamp parliament endorsed by the Supreme Court. Today it is a different story.

“This is going to be a battle,” says Shafqat Mahmood, a political analyst. “Back then, the Supreme Court was not free ... If the court now decides to disqualify him from contesting, it could lead to full martial law.”

Gen Musharraf acknowledged at the weekend that he had last week come close to declaring a state of emergency, only relenting after a 2 am telephone call from Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state.

Washington is keen for the isolated general to broaden his political base through an alliance with Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People’s party, and to reduce his dependency on religious parties.

Relations between the government and those religious parties were disrupted by last month’s raid on Islamabad’s Lal Masjid, or red mosque, which has prompted outrage among Islamists and a surge in suicide attacks.

“With all the suicide attacks, the sense of crisis is very acute now,” says Hasan-Askari Rizvi, a Lahore-based security analyst. “[The Islamic parties] want to show that [Gen Musharraf] can no longer count on them as intermediaries with the jihadis or govern effectively without them.”

Co-opting Ms Bhutto into government increasingly looks like Gen Musharraf’s best chance of securing his political future. The two met in secret in Abu Dhabi late last month, but have yet to agree the terms of their cohabitation. Under one scenario, Gen Musharraf, in return for the PPP’s support in the presidential election, would seek election as a civilian, drop corruption charges against Ms Bhutto, change the law that prevents her from seeking a third term as prime minister and allow her back to campaign for the parliamentary elections.

If Gen Musharraf refuses to put on civvies, a deal will be more complicated. Ms Bhutto is under pressure from her party to insist he steps out of uniform but many believe she might soften.

All bets would be off under an emergency. It still cannot be ruled out: the pro-Musharraf ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Q), a rag-bag of deserters from the PPP and Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (N), has much to lose from a return of the exiled former prime ministers.

An emergency that would derail a deal with Ms Bhutto, head off a challenge to the PML(Q) from Nawaz Sharif and postpone parliamentary elections for a year therefore has its appeal. It also could appeal to Gen Musharraf’s military instincts.

“He’s really not a great strategist,” says a diplomat in Islamabad. “He’s a commando who, when he’s in a fix, likes to blast his way out.”

The coming weeks will present a new set of challenges, starting with the Supreme Court’s imminent hearing of a petition demanding that Mr Sharif, the target of Gen Musharraf’s 1999 coup, be immediately permitted the right to return. If that petition is accepted, the temptation to impose an emergency will undoubtedly return.


S.B. said...

Anti American feeling? These Islamists should think again. Don't they know that Allah is just. He rewards only those who

understand the ways of the world and take actions accordingly. We are suffering for the inaction or the misdeeds of The Arab


Only after I read The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by Lawrence of Arabia and The Desert King by David Howarth did I understand

how easily Israel was created. Read and you will know how they acted like pawns in the hands of The British to throw Turks out.

Once that was accomplished it was easy to make Israel.

Now Jews are a smart people. They work hard and first they research, think and then plan hard. They have invested hundred

years on USA and also UK. They cultivated the minds of five generations and continue to do so.

If these Islamists wanted to do any thing they should first understand how the world works.

It rests on three pillars. The core power to be used as a deterrence, diplomacy most of the time and media 24x7 all the time. Do

they do it? No.

Remember none of this terrorism will ever make a policy change. Things will get worse and worse each time. What will work is a

long term persuasive effort.

USA had not invaded a single Muslim country untill 9/11. Take a good look at history. Had these terrorists done something to

change matters of their own countries things could have been a lot better. They had no brains.

How could they when they were a product of a society that is not allowed to think independently and where there is no culture

of learning, debates and difference of opinion. They have closed minds and can never think out of the box.

Please do not assume I am in any way supporting the aggressive actions of the present US regime and the way they totally

unnecessarily went into Iraq and destroyed a whole country. For that USA must pay 5 trillion dollars to Iraq and Mr. Bush tried

like in the Nurenberg trial. If the world does not do this then they are no different than the same terrorists that are responsible for


Yet there is no need to be anti-American, there is a lot of good there and good people, however bad and foolish the present

regime is.

For Pakistanis please do not die for these Arabs thinking they are Muslims. These Najadis do not even even consider you as

Muslims. Do not die for them please.

S.B. said...

Have the people forgotten the utter misrule and corruption in the periods, two each of Benazir and Nawaz Sharif?

Do they want the country to be plundered again with wanton disregard to national interests. If Pervez goes and if he is replaced by a commoner who feels, thinks and acts for Pakistan it makes sense but if we are to choose once again from the failed two villains then the third villain is a better choice.

There should be a struggle against the feudal system that is at the core of all the ills in Pakistan. Who ever brings in land ceiling and does away with the land lords and the vested interests we shall bring him into power.

Please we don't want the same villains again.

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