Thursday, 22 November 2007

The Pot Calls the Kettle White...

"US President George W Bush said on Tuesday that President General Pervez Musharraf was a man of his word and truly believed in democracy." Thanks for that endorsement. Now I can sit back and relax. Its okay - Bush has reassured me about Musharraf's intentions and we know that Bush never lies.

"President General Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday introduced a set of seven constitutional amendments to give legal cover to his act of holding the constitution in abeyance, imposing emergency rule and issuing the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) on November 3." By now the constitution has been given so many face lifts in the space of a few years that, much like Michael Jackson's nose, it is now little but the fragile, crumbling structure perched atop an emaciated edifice no one believes in anymore. Why not dump it altogether?

In an article that claims that the opposition is falling into Musharraf's trap by taking part in upcoming elections, the News also gives "Full marks to our independent chief election commissioner, who in order to facilitate the government agenda [extended the deadline for Presidential candidates] to withdraw candidature but only few days to file the nomination papers" for parliamentary elections. Its great having an independent chief election commissioner.

Meanwhile speculation is rife that Musharraf's recent trip to Saudi Arabia was to discuss the rehabilitation of that other dinosaur of the previous decade's corrupt politics, Nawaz Sharif. Opinions seem to differ over whether or not Musharraf has consented to Nawaz's return, or whether negotiations are ongoing. However, Nawaz Sharif has announced he will soon be returning to Pakistan... again.

Its hardly worth mentioning that the newly assembled Supreme Court has now dismissed the final petition against Musharraf's candidature as President. I wonder if the CJ felt even a little sheepish at parroting the words dismissing the case before a world that knew they had been scripted in the Presidential house? Disgusting.

And as this article notes that while some media channels were shut down, "some private Pakistani news channels, including a channel owned by one of Musharraf's new ministers and another owned by his son's father-in-law, have been allowed back on the air during the emergency". Coincidence? No.

An article in the Daily Times, citing analysts at the London-based think tank, Chatam House observes that "Fragmented, outflanked by young militants and politically compromised, Pakistan’s mainstream Islamist leaders have only a side role to play in the crisis engulfing the country, analysts say." It goes on to predict a poor showing for the Islamists in upcoming elections. Now, my first observation on this article is that it is belaboring the obvious. The second is that it fails to draw the proper conclusion. The mullah establishment is deeply connected to the military establishment and depends upon it for its sustenance. Musharraf's government was promoting the mullahs to gain control of the provincial legislatures in Baluchistan and NWFP and for several years continued, foolishly, to believe that the mullahs would allow them to keep a handle on the militants - something they spectacularly failed to do. Once the sponsorship of the military is gone, they will subside to their rightful place on the fringes of Pakistani politics.

Perhaps I should say 'If the sponsorship of the military is gone'...

There has been much talk of a proposal floating around in America to arm the tribes of the NWFP against the Taliban. As this blogger notes, while discussing the plan, the idea is rubbish.
But the news also seems to be floating around that the U.S. will put in $350 million in training and rearm the Frontier Constubulary (FC) for a renewed campaign in Waziristan. It would seem as if this money is necessary because the previous $10 billion the U.S. government has provided Pakistan has gone against more immediate priorities in the war on terror, such as the threat of Al-Qaeda submarines attacking our ships, Al-Qaeda bombers bombing our cities, Al-Qaeda jamming our radar, Al-Qaeda stealing our nukes, and the lack of Barbecue restaurants in Islamabad. On a more serious note, training and arming the FC is a much better idea than training and arming the tribes. The FC is more likely to listen to the government about who to use their new weapons upon, and as the current heavy fighting between tribes from different sectarian groups in Parachinar the last few days shows, more weapons is not what they need at the moment. The country is still plagued by the effects of the last time the Tribes were armed and trained against the communists. I think we have learned our lesson on that issue by now.

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