“Justuju” / The Quest
A POLITICAL TSUNAMI IN PAKISTAN !
Riyadh: Saturday, April 16, 2005 – Hashim Syed Mohammad bin Qasim (Hashims@gmail.com)
There are warnings of an impending political tsunami soon hitting the shores and streets of Pakistan. Question is what toll would it take and how would it affect and reshape the Pakistani political landscape in its wake …. It is unfortunate that a section of the Pakistani nation continues to adore its demagogue and tainted leaders who have failed to prove their innocence …
So far the Pakistani President, General Parvez Musharraf, has performed exactly as expected from a highly professional military commando. He is focused on his tasks; he is locating, sighting, removing or creating, as the case maybe, whatever is needed to achieve his missions.
His key achievements: A dextrous handling of Kashmir with India, a successful carrot and stick play-out with Pakistani Balochistani Sirdars (Tribal Leaders), restraining and de-clawing the Al Qaedah operatives, getting a parliamentary nod for keeping two jobs (an Army chief in uniform, and a civilian President) at the same time, taking the Pakistani women to a path towards their full rights within a still very conservative society (at least beyond its urban centers), robbing Muttahidah Majlis e Amal (MMA) of a few touchy issues in their politics (like re-instating a column of religion in the national Passports) and keeping the “Islamic Nuclear Lion”, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, in a cage, and still saluting him as his hero. And above all, introducing a new gentle political culture, which has to be still emulated by Pakistani political parties now forming opposition.
General Parvez Musharraf has safely led Pakistan through a number of dangerous national and international minefields, and still appears to have the legendary 9 lives left for him. In spite of Pakistan’s continuing love affair with China, he has also kept USA at an arm’s length in case of Gwader Port and the Chinese cooperation and presence there. He even managed to get a fresh promise of delivery of the much sought after F-16 fighter-bomber airplanes from USA, which had been so far a bit wary of the Pakistani nuclear ambitions in the Islamic world.
In his efforts towards internal political stability, and economic gains and developments, he has been helped by Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid e Azam), Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), Muttahidah (MQM), and even Muttahidah Majlis e Amal (MMA) in a number of ways. And he appears to be still commanding respect from the real power base in Pakistan, the military corps commanders and other chiefs of Army, Navy, and Air force. His ways of negotiating are so convincing that even his biggest foes fear in their hearts about his straight and hard hitting talking abilities.
When we look at his strong position, one wonders as to why there is a new uproar created with respect to a new deal in making with the exiled leaders of the second largest political party of Pakistan, the PPP! A gleaning of the Pakistani news media, and its cosmetic frenzy, clearly shows signs of a made to order political tsunami in making and hitting the shores and streets of Pakistan in near future. And like any other tsunami, it would take its toll, and change the affected landscape in some unexpected ways.
It appears that Pakistan is on the verge of taking certain decisions, and positions, in the world affairs that would require a larger national consensus than what is available to the Pakistani government today. Kashmir, Water storage facilities, Constitutional amendments, and a possible Iranian flash point could be some of those issues.
Kashmir, especially, appears to be heading towards becoming a neutral territory, some of which could eventually be jointly controlled and patrolled by both India and Pakistan (except for the sources of water in that area, that India would certainly like to keep in its own control).
In this developing scenario, the main problem facing General Parvez Musharraf is how can he keep his current political allies and base in tact, while pleasing the PPP too. Whatever the game plan during this friendly hide and seek game had been, it has been complicated by the direct threats of the exiled PPP leaders to the current political players in Punjab, the biggest of the 4 provinces of Pakistan. (The fifth, and the largest province, East Pakistan, broke away in 1971.) Due to their own excellent services to the present military support based democratic government, those leaders cannot take such threats lightly. Too much is at stake for them due to the efforts that they have made to make the President successful in his many tricky political maneuvers.
PPP is branding the 8 years of Mr. Asif Zardari’s internment as a political wealth earned during that period. It is interesting though, that the charges of financial irregularities are still under trial in various courts, and that the PPP leader, for now out on bail, is also sought by a Swiss court. Therefore, until he is declared “innocent” in all the cases pending completion of trials, any such political and financial wealth would be deemed to be “stolen” rather than “earned”.
A common Pakistani, however, is wondering, if he has been once again befooled by another Military Ruler! If the PPP leader were innocent, why was he kept in jail for such a long time, and if he is indeed guilty, why has he been allowed to go scot-free, and then mysteriously come back and create a political storm.
PPP leaders harping about their democratic themes need to be reminded that the very creation of PPP was un-democratic (the founder broke away from his “dad’s” party instead of democratically struggling within the fold), and its major political stands, like those of 1970, actually assisted in a break-up of the united Pakistan in to two. It cannot boast of any democratic practices within its own structure, and if the PPP has really been based on true democratic principles, then why the East Pakistanis were not supported in their struggle! In spite of any political adjustments, PPP’s role during early 1990s in ruthlessly suppressing MQM, an urban based political party now the third largest in Pakistan, can also be not forgotten.
As for the claims that PPP could bring the Ballochis and Sindhis closer to Punjab and Pakistan, this too is a very weak political gimmick. What Ballochis need is a political liberation from their own Sirdars, and not a call from a party that very harshly dealt with them through aerial bombings in the early 1970s.
It is also interesting that though a meeting of the two exiled Prime Ministers, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, the leader of PML (N) and Mrs. Benazir Bhutto, the leader of PPP, in Jeddah recently was given a high profile coverage, all the talks of a joint stand of PML(N) and PPP seem to be another false hope for both of them; this is clear from the way PPP is trying to gain some ground through not too transparent deals with the current government.
In spite of these truths, since a common Pakistani is under severe and unbearable economic pressures, a shrewd political circus actor can play his tricks, and deceive the poor lot yet again with a show of old acts and lure them away with more false promises.
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Mr. Hashim Syed is a Pakistani Political and Global Affairs Analyst, based in Riyadh. He can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org