World of General Musharraf
July 12: The political system and strategy cobbled by General
Pervez Musharraf’s advisors in 2002 seems to be unraveling
in the run up to the local body elections in 2005.
“revolutionary” grassroots system so beloved of General
Tanvir Naqvi has been finally overthrown by the provinces. The
Military Mullah Alliance once so dear to the military establishment
has become a millstone around its neck.
Muslim League that was usurped from Nawaz Sharif (so that it could
be united and groomed as the King’s Party) is riven with
dissent. And efforts to woo the PPP of Benazir Bhutto in order
to broaden the base of the regime have amounted to zilch. With
Washington and the international community keen on greater democracy,
stability, continuity and predictability, we are not terribly
sanguine about the political outlook.
Naqvi, the founder of the high-sounding National “Reconstruction”
Bureau, has already become a footnote in Pakistani history. The
“revolutionary” local body system that was supposed
to become an umbilical chord between the military establishment
in Islamabad and the grassroots politician below has been spiked
by provincial governments.
Punjab PML government has amended the Local Government Act by
giving the chief minister full powers over district nazims. In
Sindh, the PML government has blithely gerrymandered districts
to undermine the PPP’s prospects. Now it has chickened out
from holding the elections and ordered the city and district governments
not to pass their budgets.
the Jamaat i Islami’s Karachi government has defied the
provincial government’s orders. Meanwhile, the government’s
current partner (MQM) and former partner (MMA) are sharpening
their knives for a full blooded encounter in Karachi if the local
polls are held. And everywhere the PML naib-nazims are demanding
the accountability of PML nazims across the board while half the
members of the PML are insisting that the local polls should be
The Military Mullah Alliance was
manufactured by the establishment and the mullahs were handed
more than 60 seats in parliament, two seats in the National Security
Council and the slot of the leader of the opposition. They were
also catapulted into power in two provinces and Karachi. Now they
have become a millstone around General Musharraf’s neck.
They refuse to sit in the NSC, they refuse to help the war against
terror; they refuse to support the India-Kashmir initiatives,
they refuse to allow enlightened amendments to the blasphemy and
Hudood laws. Worse, they refuse to prop up General Musharraf as
president or army chief.
Muslim League that was usurped from Nawaz Sharif and strapped
to Choudhry Shujaat Hussain and Mushahid Hussain so that it could
become a strong, united and fierce fighting force, is bitterly
divided. Its Punjab members are against holding local elections
not because they can’t win them but because they don’t
want the Choudhries to claim credit for victory and entrench themselves
Musharraf is constantly involved in negotiating truces between
its feuding members who are either former prime ministers or future
prime ministerial hopefuls – first between Zafarullah Jamali
and Choudhry Shujaat and recently between Humayun Akhtar Khan
and Choudhry Shujaat.
the former president of Pakistan, Farooq Leghari, the former chief
minister of Punjab, Manzoor Wattoo, and the former head of the
Muslim League (J), Hamid Nasir Chattha, are all conspiring to
dethrone the Choudhries And what are the Choudhries doing? They
are lining up with the Jamaat i Islami to take aim at friends
within and enemies without.
attempts to woo the PPP and PMLN into the fold without Benazir
Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif have stalled. Mr Asif Zardari’s
silence since he was released from prison and allowed to leave
the country is as stunning as Mr Shahbaz Sharif’s since
he was allowed to exit his gilded cage in Saudi Arabia and ensconce
himself in London. Both of them are, as Choudhry Shujaat famously
put it, “zeros without Nawaz and Benazir”.
neither Ms Bhutto will relent to a civilian Musharraf as president
of Pakistan without a full withdrawal of the cases against her
and free rein in the forthcoming general elections, nor will Mr
Sharif settle for anything less than the unequivocal exit of General
Musharraf and the army from politics. The only option for General
Musharraf is to break both parties afresh and compel the new rumps
to join his camp in preparation for 2007.
But that’s where it all
began in 1999, didn’t it, imprisonment and exile, the making
of cases, the breaking of parties, the system change, the pre-election
rigging and the constitutional wheeling and dealing?
From 1999 to 2001, the military
regime seemed strong at home but weak abroad. After 9/11, it seemed
strong at home and strong abroad. Come 2007, however, after the
war against terror has abated, and the honeymoon with the Bush
regime has fizzled out, and institutional stability is still missing
and a national consensus is lacking on the strategic goals of
Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf could be faced with the prospect
of being shown up as weak at home and weak abroad.
might happen if he continues to make tactical maneuvers for political
survival in the short term while losing sight of the national
strategic objectives in the long run.
writer is Editor of The Friday Times where this editorial appeared