After the NRO -Ayesha Siddiqa
The Supreme Court’s NRO judgement must be seen in the broader context of political tactics and power dynamics.Here is the article of Ayesha Siddiqa which does exactly that. In her opinion military is the prime beneficiary of the Judgement.
By Ayesha Siddiqa Friday, 18 Dec, 2009.With Thanks.DAWN
Now that the NRO problem has apparently been resolved people are jumping with joy. There are some commentators who believe that this represents the strengthening of the system and democracy, that the Supreme Court verdict is a warning for presumptuous, overly ambitious and corrupt politicians.
The decision certainly is a milestone, but what does it mean for the overall learning process of the various stakeholders in the country’s power politics? And will it influence the future of Pakistan’s politics? These are two basic points to ponder.
Although it can be argued that the NRO was always controversial and people were eager to sort the matter out soon after it came into existence, there was always the possibility of the issue getting sidelined due to workable political arrangements.
It cannot be ruled out that if relations between Asif Zardari and the PML-N — more precisely, the Sharif brothers — had been better there might have been a possibility of an agreement being reached. Or perhaps if the president had not made the fatal mistake of trying to change the balance of civil-military relations and getting caught in the act, the different forces might not have aligned against him so cohesively.
Not that the present decision is not welcome. However, it is also a fact that some hidden forces were making a point of exposing the president’s questionable behaviour and decisions and hiding that of many others.
No wonder Asif Zardari cooperated in the NRO case and did not really try to hold back information. After all, there are others who were part of the NRO as well, including the MQM. Though the NRO pertained to cases of financial corruption, military dictator Pervez Musharraf had also included in the NRO criminal cases that did not technically belong there.
It will now be interesting to see if the Supreme Court actually takes the matter to its ultimate conclusion by also questioning those who pushed forward the NRO. Surely, it will take Musharraf and those of his close aides who had cobbled this questionable law together to task. Since the highest court has jumped into the fray of supporting state institutions before they crumble forever, the task should be completed.
One cannot undermine the significance of public perception. It is equally important for people to have faith in a judgment and not see it as driven by any political or other bias. Building faith in the judicial system is vital and calls for accountability of all other state institutions as well to strengthen the perception that the decision on the NRO was in good faith and to strengthen the rule of law.
But if a question is asked about whether the decision signifies the strengthening of the democratic process and civilian institutions, the answer must be in the negative. Since the perception regarding the decision is that it strengthens the armed forces and their ability to manipulate political stakeholders, it is not possible to see a major shift in the balance of power.
The decision does coincide with the growing anger of the security establishment against the civilian government for becoming ‘too big for its boots.’ Given the friction between Islamabad and GHQ over the Kerry-Lugar law and other issues, the military is certainly coincidentally, if nothing else, a prime beneficiary of the Supreme Court decision. A humiliated president has lesser possibilities with which to tackle a rival institution.
The presidency-GHQ tension denotes a third critical attempt by the political class to curtail the military’s power. The first attempt was made by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who inherited a relatively weak army and had ample room to reduce its relative power. He partly tried to do it through building institutional mechanisms such as the joint chiefs of staff committee and the defence ministry and putting all service chiefs under the supreme command of the prime minister. However, he did not put spirit into his reforms and ended up strengthening the military.
Nawaz Sharif was the second leader to get a similar opportunity. It was hoped that he could make headway because he belonged to the most powerful ethnic group and had managed to infiltrate the higher rungs of the officer cadre. Probably the reason that the army views Nawaz Sharif with suspicion is due to his ability to partially and temporarily divide the officer cadre. The appointment of Gen Ziauddin Butt as the new army chief replacing Gen Musharraf appeared to be accepted by a number of senior army officers. However, Sharif blew the chance because of his final rash move.
Most recently, Asif Zardari also thought of undercutting the phenomenal power of the military by convincing the United States to support the civilian set-up versus the military. Zardari was instinctively right in assessing that he had time on his side in making the move. The army was seen in a bad light due to a decade of Musharraf’s rule and people were talking about strengthening political institutions and decreasing the power of the armed forces. Zardari’s formula: it would take the Islamabad-Washington partnership to do the job.
But President Zardari seems to have fallen victim to his lack of understanding of the military, its institutional dynamics and the importance of creating internal partnerships and institutional protective barriers to achieve this objective. For instance, he did not realise that the same civil society that protested against the military would stand up to defend the ISI and oppose provisions in the Kerry-Lugar bill to defang the military. Nor did he understand the worth of putting life into the available institutions if the power balance had to be corrected.
In fact, what numerous politicians have failed to understand is the need to put life into the ministry of defence, to build its capacity and ‘civilianise’ its power or decision-making structure. Since the defence ministry is the only institutional cushion between the political government and the military, its capacity is critical. Politicians in Pakistan fall prey to their insecurity regarding lack of time and miss the point.
Now, the president can think about extending the deadline for repealing the 17th Amendment to be able to play a role in the extension or appointment of the army chief. That’s his last but temporary lifeline. He could buy some time by giving a cold shoulder to the US, but these are temporary mechanisms. It will be a while before another opportunity comes along for the civilian stakeholders.
The writer is an independent strategic and political analyst.
Owning our institutions
Monday, December 21, 2009
Ayesha Ijaz Khan
There is a time to criticise the government. And then there is a time to stand firmly behind it. This principle is well-entrenched in most long-standing democracies but is something that we in Pakistan seem to be struggling with. Although the present government may have several flaws in terms of governance issues and corruption scandals, it is nevertheless a legitimately elected government, and not one that has made its way to power on the force of a gun.
I am stunned, therefore, when I hear some Pakistanis claim that the politicians and the establishment are “corrupt to the core and have a vested financial interest in earning American dollars for continuing a war in Pakistan.” It is true that our politicians and our establishment have much to answer for in terms of tax evasion, lack of focus on basic healthcare and education, as well as faulty policies of supporting jihadi groups in a quest for strategic depth, things that have all contributed in leading us to the present mess.
Given the ever-increasing number of loved ones lost by civilian politicians as well as army personnel, it is not only highly irresponsible to cast aspersions on the motivation or sincerity of the government and military to fight this war, but it also gives space to terrorists who would like nothing more than mistrust to flourish between the various arms of state and its people.
Munno Bhai’s column on NRO and the Supreme Court’s decision:
Let us be grateful for small mercies
By Kamran Shafi
Tuesday, 22 Dec, 2009
President Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, the leaders of the largest political parties, should immediately rein in their hawks before they do any more damage to democracy. –File Photo
As readers will recall, I have always opposed the NRO and have very often written against it. I have loudly supported the restoration of the superior judiciary so callously thrown into house arrest, families, children and all by the Commando.
I have championed its cause on TV, any chance I got, and stood outside the Supreme Court and marched on the roads with my wife and 12-year-old daughter alongside other protesters (sometimes only eight or 10!) demanding its restoration.
We were harassed by goons of the ‘agencies’ who rudely took photographs and made videos of us; we sometimes got lathi-charged and tear-gassed, my little Zainab at least twice. I have also spoken and written against the shameful way in which the PPP refused to restore the judiciary despite the many promises it made to its coalition partner, the PML-N.
But with due respect to their lordships, the way in which the NRO case was heard, or shall I say the way in which it was allowed to be reported in the press and on TV, left a bad taste in the mouth, and has set a very bad precedent at a time of extreme peril for the country.
All through the proceedings there was not a murmur in the press and TV (which were reporting the proceedings of the Supreme Court, mark) about the thousands of murder and hundreds of torture cases whose alleged perpetrators were also beneficiaries of the NRO.
The only name that was bandied about with abandon was that of Asif Zardari; the only litany heard was ‘money laundering, $60m, Swiss courts’ over and over and over again. Not one word about chopped up bodies in gunny bags, or people’s knees and electric drills.
More than that, since the NRO was such a bad law and ultra vires of the constitution, how is it that no mention was made of/no strictures placed on/no charges preferred against, the architect of this ordinance, the Commando?
How is it that those behind the deal-making based on this unconstitutional and illegal ordinance were not named and shamed/charged outright? Indeed, as reported widely at the time, the present chief of army staff was the DG ISI when the final draft of the NRO was being presented to Benazir in Dubai and was part of Musharraf’s team sent to convince her.
Far more than that, the whole exercise appeared politicians-specific. If what is reported is true i.e. that politicians make up only 0.4 per cent of the beneficiaries of the NRO it is astounding that the press should have only (over) amplified the name of just one politician! Indeed, if any bureaucrats were named they were, you guessed it, those closest to Zardari, and none else.
Again, while the press went to town on the way in which the SC rapped the government on the knuckles for transferring the DG FIA who has evidently got a fine reputation, there was no sense of outrage when the defence minister was humiliated while on his way to China (of all countries) on an official visit, on the pretext that his name was on the Exit Control List. This is something that should be immediately noted and condemned by all political parties for if it is a minister of the PPP being disgraced today, it will be one of theirs tomorrow.
I have said it before; I will say it yet again: first one then the other, one by one will our vain establishment finish the leaders of our biggest political parties unless they come together and stand arm in arm, knowing as they should, the extent of the skulduggery that is always at play in the Citadel of Islam.
Who should know better than our politicians that united they will stand, divided they will surely fall, as heretofore. To do which, of course, it is imperative that President Asif Zardari and Mr Nawaz Sharif, the leaders of the largest political parties, immediately rein in their hawks (how many times must I say this too?), before they do any more damage to democracy.
Which reminds me. It is really rich of people like Mushahid ‘Mandela’ Hussain, Tariq Azeem and Sheikh Rashid ‘Tulli,’ going about with smug looks on their faces and halos around their heads, talking loftily about how bad the NRO was. They were three pillars of Musharraf’s government, for God’s sake: ‘Mandela,’ the ideologue (!); Azeem the information minister of state; and Master ‘Tulli’ one of Musharraf’s top advisers (I ask you). Do these people have no shame at all?
Indeed, these three were the most vocal when it came to defending Musharraf’s unconstitutional sacking of our superior judiciary — barring the peerless Barrister Saif, of course. There was scarcely a talk-show where one of the three weren’t found, stoutly saying their Great Leader was right and everyone else was wrong.
I remember a TV programme when Azeem refused to admit that the judges were under house arrest even when confronted with proof in the form of pictures of barbed wire and lathi charges and tear gas on protesters on the way to the Judges Colony. Really! What perfidy.
Let me end with an appeal to all concerned to take two deep breaths; step back; and take a good, hard look at our country. My friends, you will see a fractured and tortured polity: a Balochistan that is bleeding and alienated and brooding; a Sindh that is bewildered and apprehensive; a Frontier in the throes of a cruel and bloody insurrection by our own monsters; and a Punjab, lately the most ‘efficient’ province, increasingly the hapless target of heartless murderers.
Let us ‘bloody civilians’ come together. Rather than indulging in rancour, let us celebrate the little mercies, the recent successes of democracy: the Gilgit-Baltistan elections; the Balochistan package (only a start, I know, but one that can be improved upon); the NFC award (in which all the players, particularly Punjab, played an admirable part); and the appointment of Justice Bhagwandas as the FPSC chairman.
Let the law take its course by all means, but let us, for God’s sake, be civilised about it. For, and mark my words, if this government does not complete its term, neither will the next.
Pirzada oppose NRO but support beneficiary [Agha Siraj Durrani and as per GEO a right hand man of Zardari] of NRO as a Lawyer.
Reality of Abdul Hafiz Pirzada [who was against NRO in Supreme Court] who accepted the Fees [35 Lakh Pak Rupees] from Zardari to defend him in Swiss Case. Read the details in Hamid MIR’S ARTICLE IN JANG [21 DEC 2009]
The same Pirzada and Mumtaz Bhutto too [Notorious Uncles of Late. Benazir Bhuto]: Mumtaz Bhutto’s loved Zoulfiqar Bhutto so much that only after a few days of ZAB’s Murder, both Mumtaz and Hafeez Peerzada got married [Courtesy Monthly Herald Pakisatn Divided They Stand by Mazhar Abbas Issue of January 2008].
Mumtaz Bhutto loved late Ms. Benazir Bhutto so much that after the dismissal of her second government [1993-1996] by PPP elected President Tumandar Sardar Farooq Ahmed Khan Laghari, he joined the Caretaker Chief Minister of Sindh under President Laghri in 1996 so much for the love of Ms. Bhutto.
Watch in BBC Documentary: Dirty Role played by the Close Friends [Pirzada, Jatoi and Mumtaz] of Late. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto [Murdered by JI, Judiciary, Military, and USA]
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آخری وقت اشاعت: Saturday, 4 April, 2009, 18:18 GMT 23:18 PST