Thursday, December 3, 2009

What about us?

It’s only been 20 months since the current government of Pakistan was ‘popularly elected ‘during the almost immediate aftermath of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Already there is noise on Capitol Hill and in Islamabad indicating the possibility of a legislative coup against Zardari and his cabal in the first quarter of next year. The ‘National Reconciliation Ordnance’ (NRO) which was propelled by the Musharraf government in 2007 expired on November 28th.

The NRO ‘hibernated’ the criminal prosecutions of 8000 individuals including President Zardari. With the NRO now expired, Zardari’s opponents and their obduracy is growing by the day.

Fuelling the speculations of another ‘regime change’ is the deteriorating relationship between the Military and the Zardari government.
Incredulously it was only last January (2008), when the Army Chief of Staff General Kayani passed a directive which ordered military officers not to maintain contacts with politicians. On 7 March 2008 General Kayani confirmed that Pakistan's armed forces will stay out of politics and support the new government. He told a gathering of military commanders in the garrison city of Rawalpindi that "the army fully stands behind the democratic process and is committed to playing its constitutional role." The comments made were after the results of the Pakistani general election, 2008 where the Pakistan Peoples Party won the election and began forming a coalition government who were opposed to President Pervez Musharraf.

That love affair between the PPP government and the military is now over. A series of events have widened the gap between the incumbents and the military establishment.

In July 2008, the Pakistani government announced that the Pakistan clandestine service (ISI) will be brought under the control of the interior ministry, but revoked its decision within hours. Constitutionally, the agency is accountable to the prime minister. But most officers in the ISI are from the army, so that is where their loyalties and interests lie. This hasty announcement and the immediate back tracking was seen by observers as a weak attempt by the Zardari government to bring the ISI under the control of his government.

Shortly after the terror attacks in India, in November 2008, the Pakistani Prime Minister called his Indian counterpart to offer condolences and offered to help with the terror probe. The Indian Prime Minister demanded that the Chief of the Pakistan clandestine service (ISI) must visit India. Astonishingly the Pakistani Prime Minister, hastily agreed on sending the ISI Chief to India while on phone with Manmohan Singh! Within hours of this phone conversation, President Zardari, and his Prime Minister was reprimanded by the Army leadership for their agreement to send Lieutenant General Shuja Pasha to New Delhi. This decision too, was subsequently reversed which further discredited the Government, and deepened the rift with the military.

Historically it’s the top brass of the military which engages in negotiations with the United States when it comes to military assistance, the current government however temporarily curtailed this link by allegedly contributing to some of the language contained within the Kerry-Lugar Bill. Specifically allegations have been made against the Pakistan’s Ambassador to United States, Hussain Haqqani who is reported to have contributed to section ‘SEC. 205. REQUIREMENTS FOR CIVILIAN CONTROL OF CERTAIN ASSISTANCE’, a portion of which reads ‘For fiscal years 2010 through 2014, any direct cash security-related assistance or non-assistance payments by the United States to the Government of Pakistan may only be provided or made to civilian authorities of a civilian government of Pakistan.

The state of democracy in Pakistan has unfortunately been a derisory story. Between the 1988-1999 period, Pakistan hosted the musical chair of 8 Prime Ministers, which included 4 care-taker Prime Ministers, a bit too much ‘caring’ wouldn’t you say?

The current ditherer state of the country mandates that steps must be taken by both the political parties and the military to work in concert with each other to strengthen and re-build this nation of 160 million and to weed out differences, you both are old enough now, start acting like adults.

Every delay in truly reconciling differences is much more angst for the people of Pakistan.

In essence the political instability in Pakistan is a virulent trend and it continues to threaten the solidarity and the existence of the country.
The people of Pakistan are tired, war torn and inflation-ridden, they demand stability, they deserve better than this constant bickering and back and forth between landed feudals, family politicians, generational soldiers and the new emerging media king makers.


1 comment:

  1. Well written and informative. Sofyan, I agree whole-heartdly for making efforts to unite the bitterly divided country and bringing back the spirit of patriotism that has disappeared just like the credibility of the country's leadership.
    I know that it is a tad-bit hippocritical coming out of an expat. But I haven't stopped thinking about the problems in Pakistan and I am glad to see that neither have you. Sometimes it's good to be outside the box and analyze the issues. I don' think I would be as concerned about the problems in Pakistan while living there. And I believe I can be of much more help from here.



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