Thursday, 15 November 2007


A message for Mush:

And in other news, about 700 lawyers rallied in New York outside the Supreme Court in Manhattan in support of the lawyers protesting in Pakistan. Personally, I feel that this is a much more important and worthwhile gesture than any of the two-faced mumbo-jumbo issuing from U.S. government officials. With the Musharraf regime unmoved and the protesters in sorry shape, its good to know their heroic efforts are being recognized.

On a similar note, the Harvard Law School Association has decided the honour the ousted Chief Justice with the Harvard Law School Medal of Freedom.

Concerning news in Pakistan, 'V' on the Lahore Metroblog has a very emotional piece on the Islami Jamiat Talaba's betrayal of Imran Khan to the police at the Punjab University campus yesterday. Here is the Guardian's more detailed and less emotional report of the event.

The Emergency Times has an article on this odd dichotomy that many in Pakistan (particularly those from military backgrounds) draw between military dictators and politicians. The tired old story goes that politicians are and have always been corrupt, feeble and ineffective rulers while military men are devoted, upright and efficient. It won't surprise anyone that this idea is a hangover from colonial times when the Anglo-Indian military and bureaucracy (the line between the two was always rather blurred) derided the corrupt, effeminate native politicians as well as the ineffective democracy back in Britain that seemed hellbent on "losing India" by introducing parliamentary forms and handing power over to the unwashed native masses who were easily manipulated and were unfit to govern themselves. Sound familiar?

After last weeks mock split between BB and Musharraf, it seems as if attitudes have hardened over the weekend. Increasingly it seems as if there may be a split between the two and the deal may well be moribund. It seems as if BB may have overplayed her hand. But my guess is that both BB and Mush have not yet shut each other out completely. The definitive proof of a final break will only come in Musharraf invalidates the NRO, or has his puppet Supreme Court do it for him.

The army officially took over operations from the Frontier Constabulary yesterday and finally launched a major operation against militants in Swat. There are conflicting reports about the death toll. The Corps Commander in the region blamed the MMA provincial government for allowing the build up of militants in Swat, saying that they did not allow a military operation earlier and had preferred appeasing the militants.

Now this is a very interesting assertion. The first question that comes to mind, is that if the MMA provincial government was obstructing the re-assertion of government control, why was it not dismissed and a caretaker government, imposed in NWFP earlier, or, since the military regime is fond of Emergencies, why wasn't an Emergency imposed in NWFP? The answer to this, of course, is that Musharraf needed the mullahs to be re-elected as President in the Presidential elections in October. When the APDM parties attempted to resign en masse in order to force a dissolution of the NWFP assembly, thereby making the holding of Presidential elections impossible till national elections were held, the JUI(F) - the Islamic party with the largest number of seats both in NWFP and the senate, blocked the dissolution of the assembly by refusing to resign. In this way, as in 2004, the mullahs and the military united to have Musharraf re-elected.

So its convenient for the Corps Commander to blame the burgeoning of militancy on the MMA, but lets not forget who had a vested interest in keeping the MMA government in power. The mullahs may have been appeasing the militants, but it was Musharraf who was appeasing the mullahs.


Anonymous said...

well said, as usual Ifty! Nadia.

Anonymous said...

I'm not aware of the evidence for a split between Musharraf and Bhutto - the BBC article you link to provides no evidence at all (and that is rather symptomatic of the 'analysis' in the UK media). I'd imagine that its in her interest to join the chorus of condemnation, and its in Musharraf's interest to publicly apply pressure on her and her party. Paradoxically, this tango between Musharraf and Bhutto, in which they both duly carry out their programmed steps, increases U.S. sympathy for Bhutto. Once the dance is over, there will remain little doubt within the American administration that Bhutto is 'their man'. WZ

Misanthrope said...

There seems to be a definite dividing line in Mush-BB relations dating to about Sunday last (11th Nov). BB was put under a week's house arrest (released on Friday under US pressure). BB started openly calling for Mush's ouster and stated she would not work with him while Mush stated equivocally that she was being confrontational and that he would not work with her in such a situation. Furthermore there was a major crackdown on PPP activists nationwide which previously had not happened (apart from limited arrests the day of the projected Rawalpindi rally). Bhutto's freedom to wander about giving impromptu press conferences to the small foreign press corps following her around became restricted. People close to Musharraf (Sheikh Rashid is an especially good source of information), are confirming a split. The new caretaker government has no PPP representatives though Musharraf had said that it would be broad-based. There are two ex-PPP affiliated people in it, but both are said to be closer to the PPP (Sherpao group) than to BB - the guys who broke from PPP to join Musharraf after the 2002 elections. The most conclusive proof would seem to be the major kick-off in PML-Q electioneering on an active anti-PPP platform and with a definitive Pervez Elahi for PM agenda. Pervez Elahi's father was a clsoe friend and ally of Zia-ul-Haq and was supposedly assassinated by Murtaza Bhutto's terrorist group, Al-Zulfiqar. BB blamed him as one of the three 'masterminds' of the Oct 18 suicide bombing on her rally. Finally, accounts from within the military suggest that they are very upset with her comments about handing Dr. Qadeer over to the IAEA and, even more so, her accusations about Punjabis murdering a PM from Sindh (her father).

Like I said, there may not be a irreconcilable break, and its possible that both sides are trying to apply pressure on each other to wrangle more concessions for a future deal. Whatever the exact situation is, its not the scripted pantomime of the first week following the Emergency.