Another feather in the cap
Dr Shabir Choudhry 6 July 2007
General Musharaf has done it again. Since overthrowing an elected government in 1999, he had one remedy for all problems of Pakistan: resolve crises by creating new crises. Logic is simple - when one issue is getting out of hand create another and bigger issue and the first issue will be overshadowed, and people will forget about the first one.
By and large he has been successful in his endeavours to keep all parties sufficiently satisfied that they feel compelled to keep on supporting him. And in this list of supporters we find international figures like President Bush, former Prime Minister Tony Blair and other international dignitaries.
He always chooses his targets very carefully, plan them with the military precision and implement them. His military mind sometimes does not fully comprehend implications of his adventures in the field of politics, and gets in to problems, but he has many politicians and legal experts to bail him out of problems.
His record of military expeditions is not to be proud of, be it Kargil fiasco, Wazirstan or Balochistan (for that matter all expeditions taken up by the military rulers have proved to be counterproductive); but he can take some pride in political adventures. Critics say he has maligned the image of the army where they are killing their own Muslim brothers and their own Pakistani citizens; and has led Pakistan in to a kind of civil war where Pakistani troops are attacked in various parts of the country.
He found himself cornered after many blunders, especially after sacking and humiliation of Country’s Chief Justice. He tried to resolve this issue with the same medicine- create more crises, diversions, intimidation and oppression, but this time it did not work. Every move proved to be counter productive, and that resulted in frustration and resentment; and when one takes decisions with that mind set one is bound to make more mistakes.
Proceedings of Supreme Court were proving to be disastrous and source of embarrassment; and to make things worse floods came at wrong time for which the authorities were not ready as they had other priorities. Another problem was Nawaz Sharif’s All Parties Conference, in which he wanted to unite opposition and plan a campaign against the military ruler.
General Musharaf had successfully cultivated Benazir Bhutto and she decided to stay away from Nawaz Sharif Show. She did not want to strengthen her political foe; she knows how to fight back the military ruler. How to corner him, embarrass him or make a deal with him, but Nawaz Sharif’s strength will be at the cost of her weakness; and she is not a fool to strengthen him. I am sure she has got a good package for keeping away from this moot.
On his part the beleaguered General decided to play his trump card. It was time to invade Red Fort; sorry I mean Red Mosque, Pakistan army has plenty of experience in fighting their own people and invading their own territory. And in view of that rich experience Red Mosque was just a walk over for the Pakistan army. There was more than one way to end that and end it quickly, but if it ends too soon then it won’t achieve the desired results; so it was imperative that it drags on to overshadow events taking place in London and else where.
Events of Red Mosque have put every thing on the back burner. People are least interested in knowing who is travelling to London to take part in All Parties Conference. They are not even interested in what is going on the in Supreme Court and what is happening to the plight of the flood victims. Attention of the entire nation is focused around events of Red Mosque. People are concerned about the lives of innocent people.
Only winner in this scenario is the Pakistani ruler, General Musharaf. He has emerged as a tolerant but strong man who can take tough actions. He is the man who can root out extremism and support and perhaps help win the ‘war on terrorism’. His rating in the country and outside has increased; and in the words of famous writer, Ayaz Mir: ‘the government will milk this ‘triumph’ for all it is worth, portraying it as another victory against ‘extremism’.
Many will take it as another feather in his cap. It will help him to sell his future plans with regard to his uniform, general elections and his own election of president to his people, and more importantly to interested parties outside the country.
In view of one commentator this drama has to continue that proceedings of APC, the Supreme Court and plight of flood victims are over shadowed to provide cushion to the government. Benazir Bhutto by staying away from London moot has strengthen the hands of Musharaf, and weakened the opposition, so she has taken out much of the wind out of APC sails; and events of Red Mosque have successfully diverted the attention away from this moot.
Some of Nawaz Sharif’s advisors and leaders are already showing arrogance and behaving like party in office, yet they have long journey ahead of them before they even see buildings of the Parliament. They need to win support of people and other groups which help to win office that they can present their case properly, and become effective in this scenario; but they have to work hard and change their attitude and prove that Nawaz Sharif has leant since he was forced out of office in 1999.
Writer is Chairman Diplomatic Committee of JKLF, Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs and author of many books on Kashmir. He could be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org