Fresh deals offered to Shahbaz
Sharif, Yousaf Raza Gilani
Musharraf takes a Big Gamble
as Pakistan Goes to Polls
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan goes to polls on Thursday, Oct 10, with no
clear winner in sight, no national leader even in a position to
claim victory nationwide, no single person looking like the next
prime minister and the military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf,
sitting on the edge of his seat, thinking whether he had committed
a major blunder.
indicators show that the major political parties led by exiled
leaders Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Altaf Hussain, still
enjoy a commanding position among the voters and if massive vote
rigging is not resorted to, each will get a big chunk of seats.
all have complained of heavy pre-poll rigging in shape of official
interference, forcing popular politicians to change loyalties,
use of official machinery to support campaigns of favorite candidates
and pre-qualifications and disqualifications of others on a large
individual politicians wind up their campaigns, since no national
campaign by any political party was visible on any countrywide
issue, the one question in all minds is who will be chosen by
the army as the new prime minister, as still every one believes
it will be General Musharraf who will be selecting the PM and
not the people of Pakistan electing their head of government.
has tried twice in the past to make a deal with both Nawaz Sharif
and Benazir Bhutto on
unacceptable terms but SA Tribune has learnt that new lines of
communications have again been opened with Shahbaz Sharif as the
official assessments indicate a big swing in favor of Benazir
Bhutto’s PPP, although she has personally been disqualified
and thrown out of the race.
Sharif has also not been allowed to run for the National Assembly
but he could be maneuvered in as there is no time fixed for calling
the session of Parliament to elect its leader. This issue is also
complicated by the fact that the Senate would not be elected until
one month after the NA polls and this constitutional lacuna has
to be filled.
obvious choice of the army is the band of turncoat politicians,
led by the Choudhries of Gujrat, forming what is now known as
the “King’s Party”. Three years ago when General
Musharraf came to power, he spoke against these very politicians.
Today he is seeking their help to perpetuate his own rule amid
disclosures of scandals which match those found in any political
Musharraf had intelligently kept his cards close to his chest
and no one is yet sure of who will be picked as the Leader of
the House, a prerogative which the elected House should be enjoying
in normal democracies. The secret agencies indulging in back door
politicking and Musharraf’s trusted aides have made it somewhat
known that the largest Punjab province will go to the Choudhries
SA Tribune has learnt even this is not yet a done deal. Until
recently Musharraf’s main political
wheeler and dealer, his principal secretary Tariq Aziz and the
ISI Chief were trying to woo Multan’s jailed PPP leader,
ex-Speaker Yousaf Raza Gilani, to break away from the party and
in return become the Chief Minister of Punjab, leading the King's
Party, the PML (Quaid-e-Azam).
Shujaat was also asked to visit Gilani’s wife to offer mediation,
without being told about the Chief Ministership’s offer.
Shujaat did meet Gilani’s wife in Lahore and told her he
was ready to help in Gilani’s release from jail, as he did
in the case of another politician Syed Ghous Ali Shah of Sindh.
Gilani’s brother in law was also present when
Shujaat visited Gilani’s wife and made the offer. Later
Tariq Aziz also met Gilani's wife with the real offer of Chief
Reportedly Gilani has rejected these offers saying he would not
ditch his party at the time of a crisis specially when he had
already suffered one year in jail on frivolous charges of misusing
official cars. Many others, who were accused of similar charges,
have not even been asked a single question, including ex-Senate
Chairman Wasim Sajjad. Gilani was given a 10 year jail sentence.
Apart from these latest maneuvers, General Musharraf had been
promising the prime ministership to all major leaders in the hope
that any one of them would emerge with enough numbers to beat
others. So at various times, Sardar Farooq Leghari, Mian Mohammed
Azhar, Imran Khan, Ejaz ul Haq, Ilahi Bux Soomro and Ghulam Mustufa
Jatoi have been appearing as possible nominees.
of them can however claim to command a majority on his own and
would have to depend heavily on the carrot and stick of General
Musharraf to get a vote of confidence in the House.
other issue giving sleepless nights to General Musharraf is his
own position as President of Pakistan as no one has accepted his
version that the fraudulent April referendum gave his a five year
term. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has recently been showing
signs of shifting its position as judges have been making observations
that the laws and amendments promulgated by General Musharraf
shall have to be ratified by the new Parliament.
such a scenario it is likely that the President’s election
is also thrown open and that is where Benazir Bhutto is reportedly
calculating her entry into the equation, although under no circumstances
the army would allow her to even contest for the top position
against General Musharraf, let alone let her win it and assume
this means an uncertain immediate future for Pakistan, and specially
General Musharraf, whose sole source of strength is now the support
he enjoys in Washington. But that could also change if the elections
throw up a credible alternative leadership.
Email Story | Discuss Story