receives a citation from World Jews after his New York address
Has Finally Become Dispensable, or so the General Claims
Wajid Shamsul Hasan
September 25: General Pervez Musharraf, with a bagful of 'foreign
conquests' has returned to his country that welcomed its macho
hero with bomb blasts, death of several innocent commoners, injuries
to scores of others writhing in pain for lack of proper medical
care and a blistering indictment of his recently held local bodies
elections by the Commonwealth and the EU observers that found
them, as in the past, fraudulent and deeply flawed.
more than a weeklong yatra that took him to New York
to attend 60th annual session of the United Nations, among other
engagements, included a 30-minute ceremonial meeting with President
Bush, a much sought-after handshake with Israeli Prime Minister,
a free meal with the Indian Prime Minister and his address to
the World Jewry.
the usual annual address to the UN General Assembly, an opportunity
extended to all the invited heads of states, to recall its performance
the previous year and to promise more of the same for the future,
Musharraf used it as an occasion to reassure his insurers in Washington
that he would do better and the taste he offered in the pudding
as what it is being called as "historic breakthrough"
regarding recognition of Israel was amply savoury for his mentors.
While mention of Pakistan was conspicuously missing from President
Bush's speech to the UN his comments praising India were prominently
one calculates the gains and losses of his visit, one regretfully
arrives at a total that is in the red for the country and its
image. It is also a manifestation of the recognition of the glaring
difference in American approaches to democracy and dictatorship.
In case of India, it is the country that is praised and its people
described as great. When it comes to Pakistan, it is Musharraf
who gets plaudits and not his people who have to face the main
brunt of his failures. In the Time magazine interview
US Secretary of State Dr Condi Rice took pains to praise him to
the skies for his brave stance against terrorism.
her being a woman and that too bracketed among the few most powerful
in the world, she found it expedient to turn a deaf ear to his
gender-bashing remarks that women in Pakistan are in the business
of getting raped by design, that is to make money and get a foreign
passport. No doubt she did mention about democracy in Pakistan
and wants Musharraf to do more for it forgetting that to ask a
military dictator to do that is like asking a man to get pregnant.
also ended up with lot of domestic and foreign flak on his face.
His overall performance has done more damage to Pakistan's already
tarnished image than ever before. Though he issued a tongue-and-cheek
denial following his highly derogatory remarks on Mukhtaran Mai's
rape case, his subsequent performance sunk him deeper into his
own scum. What an anorchous image that he managed to create for
himself when he got provoked on a question by a member of the
weaker sex in a meeting attended by hundreds of women in New York
that had been organized to white wash his sins of omission and
outraged by a question that hit him right where his flesh is rather
sore since he sits long on pile of problems, the macho general
trying to do his best to uphold the ignominious traditions of
General "Tiger" Niazi (master of rape and genocide)
converted an event to promote his regime's so-called pro-women
policies to degenerate into a shouting match between himself and
part of the invited audience. He desperately stooped so low that
he tried to convert an innocent question into an enemy war against
Pakistan. "I'm a fighter, I'll fight you. I don't give up
and if you can shout, I can shout louder" was the response
of our so-called battle-hardened commando president. Later, he
also accused the questioner of being a member of a hostile political
well his sub-human frame of mind, those who know him diagnose
that his desperation is due to the messages that he is receiving
from his Western mentors that enough is enough, that he has to
do more for democracy, to ensure that 2007 elections are freely
and transparently held with level-playing field for all political
parties and their leaders especially poet Habib Jalib's "Nehati
Larki" (Benazir Bhutto).
his disparate efforts at Geneva, that she nailed so effectively
recently by putting the record straight on baseless charges of
corruption out of political vendetta, through his NAB courts and
outright thuggery to break PPP are his last ditch measures to
force Ms Bhutto out of politics. Like his mentor General Zia who
failed to bury the Bhutto legacy under the dung-heap of allegations,
Musharraf too would ultimately have all the filth on his face
when innate justice would be done to her by the Lord above who
no general can bribe nor influence.
messages to Musharraf that a countdown has begun on him has at
least brought on him the home truth that he is not indispensable.
While his predecessor Ziaul Haq, despite well indicated, instead
of calling it a day, continued to say and believe that he would
remain at Pakistan's helms of affairs for many decades to come.
Regretfully, powers that be that had supported him for so long
against democracy, had found him to out-live his utility. His
fatal fall from the sky was perhaps "arranged". The
disposal bandobast (fix up) could only be done by his
colleagues in uniform who had ensured that they do not accompany
him on his fateful journey into eternity.
a number of my recent articles I have been underscoring the main
concern of those in the West who have reasons to believe that
their horse in Pakistan is in the last leg of his steam. The question
by them begging an answer is: After Musharraf what and who? Their
think tanks have been working on the contingency plans. No doubt
yet another military intervention would become inevitable but
it would not solve their problem. They do not know who that man
on horseback might be: a liberal or a fundamentalist belonging
to the Jihadis.
avoid such an eventuality their best bet is to pressurize Musharraf
to hold early free, fair and transparent elections, let leaders
in exile return home and participate in a level-playing field
political and electoral activity. Both London and Washington have
been trying to convey their man Friday that he cannot combat terrorism
by isolating the great majority of the people in his country by
denying it its democratic right to vote in a government of its
choice. The enormous magnitude of the terrorism requires a national
effort to combat it. By keeping main leaders out of the mainstream
politics, he has given an open field to the religious parties
to have the cake and eat it too.
late Washington in particular and other Western capitals in general,
seem to be taking seriously observations of experts like Stephen
P. Cohen who have sized up Pakistani population's "growing
alienation" from the United States that feeds into support
for extremism. And this growing anti-Americanism obviously is
due to absence of democracy and a level playing field for popular
leaders who continue to command the support of the majority in
recent report before the House of Representatives International
Relations Subcommittee for Asia and the Pacific on June 14 followed
a month later by her statement in Islamabad, the American Assistant
Secretary of State Christina Rocca virtually singed the lion's
beard in his den. Ms Rocca 's message amply communicated the wind
of change. She declared that it was the 'US policy that free and
fair elections, a level-playing field and return to full democracy
was the key to long-term prosperity and stability in Pakistan'.
in her Washington-Islamabad video conference with senior journalists,
Ms Rocca also brought on record that the US administration did
not believe that the President's uniform guaranteed success of
war against international terrorism and that it ensured that Pakistan's
nuclear assets would not fall into the hands of fundamentalists.
"It is a policy we continue to pursue," she said.
hurt Musharraf must have felt by her comments on his uniform as
not being a necessity for war on terror, his personal main achievement
in his just concluded American yatra was perhaps Washington's
concession to him to tell the press that uniform was not a matter
of concern for the Americans and that during his several meetings
with President Bush since 9/11 not once did Bush express his desire
to see him without his uniform. Obviously, the American reaction
to his fad is: "If the truant is happy with it, let it be."
If his Khaki viagarises him, why deny him the pleasure of feeling
manly. It is heartening to see that more and more of his Western
supporters have started seeing through his game of misleading
the international opinion in insisting that his uniform was essential
for stability and to fight terrorism.
people in Pakistan who continue to struggle for democracy welcome
the winds of change blowing from Washington, their gratitude is
more for the Commonwealth that has remained steadfast in demanding
of Musharraf to make electoral process transparent and to separate
the office of the President from that of Army Chief since that
is a contradiction of democracy. In this connection, the Commonwealth
Ministerial Action Group in its 26th meeting in New York on 17
September 2005 reviewed developments in Pakistan since its last
meeting in London in February 2005.
Group expressed concern on the slow progress in the democratization
process. It stressed that there were areas where improvements
still needed to be made to the electoral process and the political
environment in Pakistan. CMAG endorsed the recommendations of
the Commonwealth Election Team for strengthening the independence
of the Election Commission and empowering it to use its executive
powers to enforce its decisions and the code of conduct for elections.
The Group requested the Secretary-General to intensify ongoing
high-level contact with Pakistan and requested that the Secretariat
continue to extend all possible technical assistance to Pakistan
to support its transition to full democracy.
CMAG reaffirmed its earlier
stance that the holding by the same person of the offices of the
Head of State and Chief of Army Staff is incompatible with the
basic principles of democracy and the spirit of the Harare Commonwealth
principles, as well as CMAG's expectations. It also restated its
strong view that until the two offices are no longer combined
in the same person, the process of democratization in Pakistan
will not be irreversible. It urged the General to relinquish one
of his two offices, certainly no later than the end of the current
Presidential term in 2007.
called on Islamabad to continue and intensify progress in fostering
a sustainable and inclusive political culture, improving democratic
governance, strengthening political and oversight institutions,
supporting local governments, protecting human rights, respecting
media freedoms and improving the position of women and minorities.
It also called for the further widening of the democratic space
so that all who wish can participate in the electoral process.
The decision by CMAG to keep Pakistan on its agenda means that
it shall continue to monitor the political and electoral activities
to ensure sanctity of vote in 2007 general elections.
Commonwealth is doing all that it can to help speed up democratic
transition in Pakistan, the European Union too has been contributing
immensely to this end. Its mission in Islamabad too have compiled
a detailed report on the recently conducted local bodies polls
indicating serious flaws in the whole electoral exercise along
with numerous complaints of pre-poll rigging from the opposition
observers reported the failure of election officials to follow
procedure, complete lack of secrecy in most polling stations during
the vote casting and using of electoral rolls from 2001, not those
of the last elections in 2002, serious problems on the days of
polling such as presiding officers disallowing genuine ID cards,
blatant breaches of election code by candidates and politicians,
ballots box rigging including party officials removing real boxes
and replacing them with pre-filled boxes and different methods
of multiplying voting. The problems observed by EU missions also
included an unusually high number, in international terms, of
spoiled ballot papers and chaotic and violent scenes at polling
stations often to deliberately prevent voting from taking place.
the winds of change and apparently a countdown having begun on
him, American Professor Stephen Cohen believes that it would be
difficult to persuade the Pakistani General to democratize since
the military establishment is afraid that a complete civilian
government could mean end of policies that serve its interest
best. It would also draw a curtain on its self-assumed role as
the sole savior of "the national interests and guardian of
Pakistan's ideological and geographical frontiers."
Nevertheless, he rightly believes that Washington should insist
that Musharraf allow the mainstream political parties - Ms Benazir
Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N
of Mian Nawaz Sharif - to function freely and be provided an even
playing field. Any more marginalization of the main political
leaders and their political parties would further strengthen the
religious political parties who already have institutionalized
support in the form of chain of madrassas throughout the country.
Only a democratic Pakistan can defuse the emergence of a coalition
of the Army and Islamist forces committed, in the longer run,
to Talibanize Pakistan.
writer is a former Pakistan High Commissioner to UK