मंथन

सत्य के पीछे का सच

New dawn ??

Posted by Sudeep Pandey on August 20, 2008

“I was really too honest a man to be a politician and live.”     

Socrates

As history repeats itself, yet again another army-chief turned dictator turned president of Pakistan finally resigned. General Parvez Musharraf will go down in history of Pakistan with mixed records of goods-and-bads.

In 1999 when he ousted, then prime minister and the democratically elected government in a bloodless coup, out of power; general belief was that this is yet another power hungry dictator on the rise, for more than half of the period of independent Pakistan; it was ruled by army dictators rather than democratically elected government. But I still believe that the best thing happened to Pakistan in 1999 was Parvez Musharraf. The country was literally on the brink of economic breakdown, under immense debts, political rivalries turned into personal rivalries, PML and PPP taking power in turns, and moving all the government machinery for two sole reasons: one to accumulate as much wealth as possible and second, to reinstate all cases against their arch-rivals, dumping all against themselves, country had highest corruption rate, ex-PM in exile, her husband in jail for corruption charges, in all a full mess. Musharraf, being a military tactician, has very skillfully used the 9/11 and post 9/11 conditions, to get very good bargains for Pakistan from international community especially US. Suddenly all the funds started flowing into Pakistan and all NATO and western countries have started calling Pakistan their strongest ally for war-against-terror. US government wanted Al-Qaida and its leader Osama Bin Laden that was supposedly hidden in Afghanistan, but to infiltrate Afghanistan, they needed a ground base. Pakistan was their best bet because of the porous border that it shares with this Taliban ruled country.

Interestingly Taliban became a Frankenstein’s monster to US, created by them during cold-war era and have been supported by them in all possible ways using Pakistan’s military and security agency to fight against Russia. Most of the tribes in border of NWFP had soft corner for these people as they share the same school of thought of extremist muslim rule and many Taliban fighters were amongst them or belonged to their families. So was the case with many hard-core Islamic parties of Pakistan. Considering the home-ground situation, the decision to go ahead with US for war against terror was not an easy one. Any civil government, which has to go back to public every five years, and considering the fact that Pakistan itself is a Muslim nation and Taliban represented the rulers who ruled by shariya (sacred Muslim laws), I strongly doubt, would have extended such an all out support to US. Musharraf weighed this opportunity quite well and used it for very hard bargains including writing off all debts for Pakistan, funding for betterment of Pakistan’s social and economic conditions, all economic sanctions being lifted which had been imposed after they have tested nuclear device, and what not.

One very interesting statement that had done rounds in diplomatic circle at that time and strongly denied was by then Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage who threatened that “if Pakistan did not cooperate with the US in the war against terror, they will bomb it into the Stone Age”. If this is true, I guess there were not many options left for Musharraf as such.

The darker part of his ruling was his desperate attempts to put himself into correct political place in the Pakistan’s arena. He tried to move into more respectable position, removing the then president of Pakistan, Mr. Rafiq Tarar from presidential position in 2001 and instating himself as the president of Pakistan promising the countrymen that democracy will prevail after October 2002 elections. Just before his promised dates for general elections were round the corner, in august 2002, he made more than 25 amendments in Pakistani constitution which allowed him to remain as president even after civil government is formed, created a national security council which constituted president and chief of three armed forces among others which oversees prime-minister and the parliament, and given the right to president (himself) to dissolve the parliament. One of the amendments denied any person to run for prime-minister ship for more than 2 tenures (keeping in mind the leader of PPP, Mrs. Benazir Bhutto and leader of PLM, Nawaz Sharif, both of them already have served as prime-minister of Pakistan, twice). Notwithstanding his promise for the “free-and-fair” elections, he plants a puppet-government claimed to be a result of rigged election by many observers, headed by PLM-Q, a political party which was his own brain-child. From 2002 to 2007 he was the crown-less king of Pakistan. He presided over economic growth but it ended in unemployment and increases in the prices of basic foodstuffs, sparking riots. But in general, he had reversed Pakistan’s pro-Taliban stance, handed over a handful of key Al-Qaeda leaders and espoused an acceptable liberalism in Pakistan.

He initially started with a clear vision and a seven point agenda :

  1. Rebuild National confidence and morale
  2. Strengthen the Federation, remove inter-provincial disharmony and restore National cohesion
  3. Revive the economy and restore investor confidence
  4. Ensure law and order and dispense speedy justice
  5. Depoliticize State institutions
  6. Devolution of power to the grass-roots level
  7. Ensure swift and across the board accountability

But somewhere down the line he missed the track. I believe managing the jihadis in frontier area in one hand and his electoral alliance in other hand has been Musharraf’s singular problem. On the one hand, he was committed to the war on terror and was under a lot of pressure to move into particular areas. On the other hand, his alliance partners weren’t particularly happy with that, because their constituents come from these areas. He tried to do a balancing act. That includes ceasefire agreement with tribes of South Waziristan area (along with exchange of militants for army personals) which suited well to ruling party but didn’t go well with his western counterparts. The Pakistani army’s morale was going down as well. Many of the people who were fighting in the frontier areas belong to the same ethnic communities. These border forces were not created for internal duties, but external duties geared toward India. Most of the Army of Pakistan is ethnically Pashtun. And these were all Pashtun areas where these troops were supposed to operate. So, people from the same ethnic background were being asked to mount operations against people with a similar background. There had been cases that soldiers had voluntarily surrendered, and had been willingly taken prisoner by the Taliban.

The last-nail-in-the-coffin was his interference with judiciary. Sacking Ifthikar Choudhary, the chief justice of Pakistan along with 60 judges of Supreme Court sent a wave of fury amongst the people of Pakistan. And then, Ifthikar Choudhary became the symbol of democracy in Pakistan. Despite of imposing marshal law, he could not control the outburst of people of Pakistan. When in year 2007, he has to go back for election of the president, and cases have been filed against validity of his candidature, he decided to go ahead with the voting declaring that the result will be declared only after the supreme court decision is out. But sensing that supreme court might disqualify him as a candidate for president, he’s taken this worst step of sacking justices and later paid the price for it.

One good thing he did to Pakistan was to let their nuclear arsenal be controlled by NCA or National Command Authority. It constituted the President, the prime minister, the ministers for foreign affairs, finance, defense and interior, the three service chiefs, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the director general of the Strategic Plans Division. That would be the safest bet for a country who generally has been under the rule of a single person rather than a cabinet of ministers.

Now lets see how it impacts India ? How will India feel after the downfall of architect of kargil ? As once the then prime minister of India Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has correctly said ” A strong and stable Pakistan is the best thing for India”. Pakistan’s birth itself was based on anti-India philosophy. That since India cant take care and preserve interests of muslims, they wanted a separate muslim nation. (Now, muslims of India have more rights and are more prosporous as compared to their pakistani counterparts, is a different matter altogather. India have had muslim president more than once). Having said that, nothing joins all the pakistani parties more than Kashmir (its just too close, but anything anti-indian produces the same effect. For some days lately Musharraf as well was granted the same status). They forget all their differences, their own country’s problems, all the things that directly affects them and sing the same song togather. Now that Pakistan has a coalition government and partners being PPP and PML-N, who’d spent all their life fighting against each-other and are now standing shoulder to shoulder. The question is how and till when ? “How” can perhaps be answered for the fact that they wanted to throw away musharraf. They have till now been busy how to tackle musharraf but now they have to face the ground realities. Which includes all the problems which actually affect the day-to-day life of a common citizen. Following the instability after this government is formed, Pakistan’s currency is all time low, market has no confidance, bomb-blasts every second day.. certainly a rough road ahead. And there is no consensus on the issue of reinstatement of sacked judges which has taken centrestage after musharraf stepped down. Then is the choice of who’d be the next president. We have to wait and see that it was only a “coalition of comfort” or they can think beyond their personal differences and can provide a stable and sensible government to people of Pakistan to answer “till when”.

Here lies the threat for India… As the current signals suggest, the elected government is neither working in syns within themselves nor with the most powerful agency of pakistane, the armed forces. One attempt which this government made to prove its metal was to change the reporting of notorious ISI to internal ministry which was reverted within hours after being declared, supposedly after army pulled the strings, shows the confidance that this government has in itself. Therefore in the current scenario, the Pakistan is neither strong nor stable. The threat for India has been felt by the statement of National Security Advisor M K Narayanan who said the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf could leave “a big vacuum” which will give extremists a free run on “our side of the border too”. This is because of the reason that civilian government may be even less successful than Mr Musharraf in reining in those religious, nationalist elements who regard jihadis as a “strategic asset”.

As for India is concerned, I expect more infiltration attempts across Kashmir border in very near future, more aggressive statements from various people from the government of Pakistan and others, and more instability in Kashmir induced by Pakistan.

As for people of Pakistan, is it really a “new dawn”?? We should wait and watch.

 

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