The General’s Crisis Is Now the Republic’s Calamity!

By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS

After over a month, the major predicament in the ummah still resides in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the 98% Muslim country in the Western regions of the Indian Subcontinent.

Through his State of Emergency, Musharraf was able to concoct a Supreme Court in his own image. By observer accounts, he did win the popular vote, but without the leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party (Benazir Bhutto) and the Muslim League (Nawaz Sharif), there is some question whether the voters lacked choice. The Constitutional question was whether he could remain President will holding on to his Commander-in-Chief of the Army. He has allowed Benazir to come back home with her convictions — in absentia — forgiven. During the regimes of the last two civilian Prime Ministers (Bhutto and Sharif), Pakistan was rated as the second most corrupt country in the world in which to do business. Things have changed. Now, it is time to open up the system democratically!

With the bad history between the former General and Nawaz Sharif, although Sharif has shown up in Lahore with Pervez’ blessings, they may have worked out a power sharing agreement in Saudi Arabia. That Kingdom, additionally, allowed Nawaz to go–obviously with Mushraff’s blessing!

Pakistan had the ability, but did not wish to go nuclear (in 1998) before the Chief Executive (CE is the name Musharraf employed to describe his new-found position until he was “elected” President), but the “fascist” Indian BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party) shot off their bombs to solidify their coalition in 1998 during Nawaz Sharif’s Prime Ministership when Musharraf was still solely the COAS. Pakistan had to respond in kind although it hurt them greatly, for India was self-sufficient, and Islamabad was an economic “basket case” dependent upon foreign aid at the time.

After 9/11, the U.S. Under-Secretary of State Richard Armitage was sent to Karachi, and threatened Musharraf with blowing the Islamic Republic “back to the Stone Age” if they did not join America in supporting Washington’s War on Pakistan’s ally, the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan and their unwelcomed Al’Quaida guests.

The Musharraf Constitution (which replaced the 1973 document by executive decree) gave the Army a place with limits much like that which had previously been unstated — similar to the Turkish Constitution. This has proved to be highly unpopular with the people. When the most recent protestors demand a reinstatement of the National Charter, it is the restoration of the1973 text they are specifying. At the same time there is an elected two-chamber legislature fully functioning even under the present Administration. He has a fully functional Cabinet with a Prime Minister, also. His one great innovation was to establish a mixed Parliamentary/ Presidential system – comparable to the French arrangement. The elections being argued over at the moment are those forthcoming Parliamentary contests.

Our forcing the Pakistanis to invade the tribal areas has broken an unwritten part of the Constitution that goes back to the British period granting the Pushtuns (the people of the Hindu Kush Mountains) autonomy. The United States has been critical of Rawalpindi for not being aggressive enough in their pursuit of the Taliban and Al’Quaida there and forcing Islamabad to interfere against the long-standing self-rule of the communities on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line (the border in the area established during the English period). Yet over 1,000 jawans have died in the tribal regions, and, further, the Taliban are beheading their 700 Pak captives three per day! Pervez is a creature of George W. that the electorate in the south – nearer the ocean – also resent!

Benazir Bhutto was invited back two months ago, to establish a Government of National Unity. The hope was to create a power-sharing arrangement, but she has made this impossible through her un-stateswoman-like actions! She has created a mess of the country’s security, though, and now there is talk of Nawaz Sharif for such a ruling partnership! That rumor is hard to believe considering the history between the two! Bhutto has announced her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) will contest the polls while Sharif’s Muslim League will not.

The Commonwealth has suspended Pakistan from their august but powerless body. Now, that he has taken off his khaki (uniform – as the opposition has been demanding), and his hand-picked Court has ruled in his favor, and he has taken the oath as a civilian President, it will be interesting to see if this will be enough to placate the “Queen’s [mock] Empire.” He has released over 500 political prisoners – including the third most important democratic politician — Imran Khan (who could become a counterweight within Pakistani politics) — by order of his Court. The now citizen President has promised to end his State of Emergency the middle of this month, for presently he claims the threat of terrorism is under control (sic!). Therefore, the promise of upcoming legislative elections is proceeding. The former General despite the anarchy between the Taliban in the North (which we forced onto his nation) and the middle class parties in the urban South, great stress has been put upon the country, and the Body Politic is in great disarray!

Unlike the American Right-wing Neo-Conservatives (Neo-Cons), the only democracy is not Jeffersonian Democracy. Musharraf has done much to make innovations in the Pakistani system, but it is time to open up voter participation to their own rule, and to place the military firmly under civilian control! If President Musharraf would step down after this term of office, he would have done much good, if not he would merely become another vulgar autocrat – (as Lord Acton’s axiom states: “absolute power corrupts absolutely!”) I sincerely deemed that he was hoping to prepare Ms. Bhutto to eventually to step into his shoes. Unfortunately, because of her lack of diplomatic ability, it will be hard to avoid a power vacuum, and she may only force Pervez to hold onto further power (see Benazir niece’s article that appeared in this publication two weeks ago) until he can find a competent politician to succeed him who must be acceptable by the majority of the citizens. (Personally, I would suggest a hard look at Imran Khan. He is the leader of the third largest party in the Republic, and he is well known having been one of the nation’s best cricketers before entering politics. Further, he has not actively held political office. This lifts a lot of personal baggage off his name.) Unfortunately, the lingering failure of a power-sharing situation only continues the crisis. The lessons of post-Tito’s Yugoslavia should firmly be held in our minds: apres moi le deluge!

I believe President Musharraf has made significant compromises for Pakistan to be re-admitted into the Commonwealth as well as that all other embargos be lifted after timely independent elections.


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