Two days ago the Texas-based private intelligence agency Stratfor (Pakistan: Systemic Change in the Making) came to the conclusion:
It no longer is a matter of if, but of when Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf will leave the helm in Islamabad. The judiciary and the man he ousted from power, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, are threatening to throw a monkey wrench into his evasive maneuvers. The issue, however, now turns from the day-to-day drama of internal Pakistani politics to the much deeper issue of whether Musharraf's fall from grace will be paralleled by that of the Pakistani military as a whole.
Stratfor’s report also made the following points:
- Today, a vibrant civil society and increasingly independent and assertive judiciary have emerged within the country.
- The country's media, particularly the private television news channels, also have emerged as a powerful driver of events
- Pakistan also has witnessed an unprecedented surge in civil society activism. Instead of the political parties that historically have led protests, civil society groups -- especially the legal syndicates -- drove the protests during the legal crisis. There also has been an unprecedented outbreak of social debate on national issues, not only regarding the military's role in politics but also on the issue of rule of law. This debate has included criticism of men in uniform, as well as politicians.
Okay, so far this private intelligence agency, as far as your Blogger’s is concerned, has been stating the obvious. However the following comments made by Stratfor are more than a little interesting:
…within the military, Musharraf's repeated reshuffling of positions has contributed to his own undoing. It has brought to the fore a junior crop of generals that is inexperienced in politics and government. For a long time, this worked to his advantage by preventing any of his subordinates from rising up to challenge him. Now, however, as he faces challenges from Pakistan's civilian sectors, his top generals are unable and/or unwilling to support him.
In essence, the law of unintended consequences has worked against Musharraf. Moreover, it has weakened the military's ability to dominate the state. For now, this is limited to the political sphere. Eventually, the judicial branch can be expected to empower the legislative branch by forcing the military and the intelligence community to open up their books to parliamentary scrutiny. The weakening of the military's hold over the country's economic sector will be the next stage in the ongoing systemic change.
The question moving forward is: How far will the military's grip slacken before arrestors force the generals to take a firmer role? For now, the trend is running against the military -- and historical positions are being reversed. As the civilians entrench their power, it is the military -- not the civilian politicians -- that will mostly have to contend with limitations imposed by the judiciary. And civil society will serve as the watchdog.
Now for some local analysis.
On Nawaz Sharif
The News today confirms our recent assumptions:
Intelligence agencies have reported that there has been a phenomenal rise in the popularity graph of Nawaz Sharif and if he returns to Pakistan according to his announced schedule, he would be invincible because of his fame.
A top official source in Lahore, referring to the intelligence reports that were prepared and filed before the latest Supreme Court’s decision in the Sharifs case, said that Benazir Bhutto’s desperation for a deal with General Musharraf had made Nawaz the most popular leader in Pakistan.
In their assessment of the ground situation, these agencies indicated that the Punjab had slipped out of the hands of both the ruling Q-League and Benazir Bhutto and was now sympathetic towards Nawaz Sharif.
“According to the agencies’ estimation, out of the total 13 National Assembly seats in Lahore, at least, 11 will go to the PML-N,” the source revealed, adding that the agencies had a similar assessment about other parts of urban Punjab.
… In case he comes to Pakistan on September 10 despite the official threats and claims, Nawaz is expected to get an unprecedented reception, particularly in the Punjab. However, in case Nawaz fails to fly back home as hinted by some ruling party leaders and certain ministers, his ascendancy would vanish.
On Benazir Bhutto
Having given Musharraf a 48 hour ultimatum till 31 August to deliver, Benazir Bhutto promptly backed out once the deadline expired.
As Dawn reported:
Contrary to expectations, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto has put off at least by 13 days the decision on when to return home, perhaps still hoping to hear from President Musharraf on the seemingly deadlocked talks on the proposed power-sharing arrangement between them.
She told a crowded press conference here on Saturday at the end of a two-day meeting of PPP’s Central Executive Committee that on Sept 14 her party would make known in Pakistan the date of her return home.
Despite being closely questioned on the matter she assiduously avoided agreeing with the suggestions that the talks had failed or were even in a deadlock mode…“Since I have received no word from Musharraf, either way, I cannot say whether the talks have failed or are still alive,” she added.
Your Blogger believes that the PPP leader is still naively relying on the US and the UK to pressurize Musharraf into making a deal.
So it is not surprising to learn, as the Daily Telegraph reported, that Ms Bhutto met the UK Foreign Secretary, David Miliband last Friday to discuss her plight.
And as the Washington Post points out:
Bhutto's own Pakistan People's Party, however, had also been resistant to the deal. Many of her strongest supporters have expressed grave reservations about the idea of negotiating with a military man. They have urged her to abandon the talks and return to Pakistan to oppose Musharraf's reelection.
Despite the efforts of Aitzaz Ahsan and others, the lady persists in clinging to the notion that only the Army and America can return her to power. It appears that the people of Pakistan - in particular the newly invigorated civil society - seemed to have completely escaped her outdated political radar screen.
Apprehensive about Nawaz Sharif’s announced return to Pakistan on 10 September, Musharraf has sent the Senate chairman Mohammad Mian Soomro, on a desperate mission to prevail upon the Saudi royals to do their utmost to prevent this from happening.
However Nawaz Sharif’s impending return is not the only problem facing Musharraf. Now he even lacks support in his ISI-fashioned assemblies to get Benzir Bhutto’s constitutional demands ratified.
According to The Daily Times:
Constitutional amendments package: Two-thirds majority for govt unlikely
ISLAMABAD: Growing dissent in the ruling PML on re-electing President Gen Pervez Musharraf in uniform and likely defections to the PML-Nawaz in case of Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan have brought the government to a numerically weak position, and even if PPP Chairwoman Benazir Bhutto finally comes to terms with President Musharraf, the government may not manage a two-thirds majority in parliament to pass a package of constitutional amendments.
The announced return of PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif ahead of the presidential election on September 10, if it materialises, would further complicate the situation with ‘expected’ defections from the ruling PML. Daily Times has learnt that a ‘soul-searching’ session of NA officials was held at the NA secretary’s office to work out numerical calculations for the two-thirds majority, but it ended on a negative note after analysing the current situation and in the wake of reports of treasury MNAs opposing the ‘deal’ in their private meetings
However hard Musharraf, Benazir Bhutto, the US and UK may try, it appears that the deal is dead as a Dodo.