We are not comfortable with the direction of events. The President is in a crisis fighting for his survival; former Chief Justice wants his job back and is willing to get political to any limit irrespective of what it does to the country. The chairman of the ruling party is busy cleaning his criminal history and selling his soul to the Americans and the main party in Punjab wants nothing less than scalp of the President. The sub-nationalists in NWFP, Balochistan and Sindh are already on board with the Americans/Indians/Afghans, lawyers are grinding their own axe at the cost of national confusion, Prime Minister is lost and confused, and the media is out of control and sold out to the highest bidders. The U.S. now has all its assets in place and the game would be unfolding rapidly in near future.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Every week, it goes from bad to worse in terms of political confusion and chaos. It is quite clear none of the stakeholders in power in Islamabad is sane or sincere to resolve any crisis for the country. It is a cut-throat battle for survival, settling of blood feuds, grabbing power, preservation of petty self interest and outright treachery and betrayals of the country and the nation.
While the federal government remains confused and directionless, lawyers, sub-nationalist separatists and religious radicals all continue to exploit the weak federal government and its lack of national unity to enhance their vested agendas.
We are going to be pretty harsh this week and, in our honest assessment, lawyers are no different from BLA or Baitullah when it comes to increasing national divisions and disintegrating national unity. The leadership of the lawyers is playing its own game which is definitely not in the national interest. They are now also going in tangent with the PPP led government well charting their own course in the confused political landscape.
Before we do our analysis for the week, we would like to refresh what we wrote last week.
We had written:
“Things are not good as the political confusion can’t last very long as it is. It is all Wild West in Islamabad right now. While the army watches and waits on the wings, the political parties are hammering it out within themselves with lawyers and former Chief Justice remaining defiant in their bravado. The most vulnerable man remains in the Presidency but he intends to hold on for now. The game Zardari is playing is dangerous and can lead to much unexpected and even tragic results. So while everyone in the mainstream continues to fight and bicker over nonissues, the subnationalists in Sindh and NWFP are joining hands, again in a remarkable display of United States’ ability to bring together foes within the Pakistani politics. In the past, we have extensively written about this U.S. grand strategic objective within Pakistani politics.
U.S. is too desperate to create a larger separate Pashtun region based on ethnic lines as envisioned in the greater Middle East plan for Pakistan. The summer season is on and power demand is putting backbreaking pressure on the system which is at best able to cope with only 70% of the demand. With fuel high, food scarce and no power, it is going to be a very long hot summer for the government as well which is now struggling to bring in a budget within the next few days. The next few weeks would decide the fate of this experiment of democracy in the country.”
President Musharraf is now fighting for his survival and his only strength is the division within the ranks of his opponents. He has been pushed to the wall and now has no other option but to bite back and defend his weak position from his crumbling fortress. He is managing to hold on, not because of the strength of his moral or political authority but simply because the government, its coalition partners and the opposition are too bitterly divided to cause any immediate collapse of the Presidency.
But his self defense did not make his job any easier nor brought him allies or friends. It is now clear that both PPP and PML(N) want to remove him but while Zardari wants a guarantee that the actions of the President in which he gave a blanket pardon to the PPP chairperson would not be nullified or challenged after his ouster, Nawaz Sharif has a different and rather harsh take on the subject. The NS line of thinking is creating troubles for Zardari as well, hence the delay in the package which is supposed to be brought to the parliament for deciding the fate of the President and the future of the country’s politics. If Zardari did not have skeletons in his closet and he was not a man threatened with corruption cases, Mr. Musharraf would have been out of the Presidency by now. His corruption has now become the biggest asset for President Musharraf! What an irony!
Musharraf is all alone now and even his staunchest allies and protégés are not with him, including Shaukat Aziz who has now conveniently escaped the crisis at home and has words of wisdom to offer to the world media over the political scenario in the country. Shaukat gets his feedback from the very players who are orchestrating this crisis in the country and is foreseeing a ‘threat’ of Nawaz Sharif coming to power if the present game continues to unfold and Musharraf loses face, office and power in the country.
But the biggest dent to President Musharraf’s image and credibility came from his own clan when the ex-servicemen society decided to come out on the streets against him. Right now we are not very sure about the motives of the ex-servicemen.
They are either being very stupid, or being very ambitious or have gone over board in anger or some of them have been bought out and are externally funded just as lawyers’ movement is to increase the chaos and crisis on the streets and in politics. Statements of a retired General Kiyani who was a close confidant of Musharraf just a few years back have raised eyebrows even within the armed forces where the whole institution has been dragged into the controversy.
This is an unprecedented development in Pakistani history where brotherhood or arms had always remained stronger than personal grudges. The armed forces in this country are the symbol of federation and now they are under increasing spotlight of criticism and scrutiny due to the recklessness of Musharraf and the sense of revenge and anger of his opponents both within the ranks of former soldiers and political opponents.
The lawyers attitude and the behavior of Aitzaz Ahsan is even creating serious embarrassment for his parent party PPP whose government he is trying to topple by his adventurism over judges issue. It is obvious that what Aitzaz is doing is not appreciated by PPP or Zardari but since the lawyers have also strong backers and perhaps the same people, there is not much that PPP or Zardari can do to make Aitzaz change his mind.
the pml-n and ppp
Similarly, there is nothing in common between PPP and PML (N) except the person of President Musharraf whom they both want ousted from the President house. The policy, strategy and the long term goals of both these parties collide head-on. For a starter, the issue of Kalabagh dam has emerged as the main cause of disagreement. With Shahbaz Sharif now the CM of Punjab and water being the biggest issue on the table, the unilateral cancellation of KBD project and Indian attempts to block Pakistani waters as well as weak stance of PPP government on Indian attempts is going to create even more serious friction between both PPP and PML (N). If Musharraf issue is gone, both these parties will be at each others throats. Shaukat Aziz is right here for a change.
a pakistani neocon in washington
At the international level, the neo-cons have their man in Pakistani embassy in Washington, finally. Mr. Hussein Haqqani is as good as President Bush himself deciding about Pakistan’s national security and foreign policy. The iron grip of CIA is preparing Pakistan for another Yugoslav type balkanization or Mussadeq style coup in Islamabad. All the key assets have been placed now and the game is going to unfold or (collapse) rapidly from now on.
We are not very comfortable with the direction of events. In fact, we are concerned now. The President is in a crisis fighting for his survival, former Chief Justice wants his job back and is willing to get political to any limit irrespective of what he does to the country in the process, chairman of the ruling party is busy cleaning his past crime history and selling his soul to the Americans in the process, main party in Punjab wants nothing less than scalp of the President, sub-nationalists in NWFP, Balochistan and Sindh are already on board with
Americans / Indians /Afghans, lawyers are grinding their own axe at the cost of national confusion, Prime Minister is lost and confused, food, power and fuel crisis is multiplied with water shortages for next food crops, media is out of control and sold out to highest bidders both national and international and religious militants are taking advantage of inner weaknesses of the federal government to deceive them into “peace deals” which they flout and break routinely by attacking with impunity all across the country from tribal regions to the Federal Capital. The U.S. now has all its assets in place and the game would be unfolding rapidly in near future.
Army is watching these developments from the wings.
This country needs a strong federal government immediately. This circus is not going to go on for a very long period of time. Though we do not see any threat or risk to the geographical boundary of the country, still it is going to be a long hot summer.
This column is extracted from a situation report released by BRASSTACKS, a security and defense analysis think tank based in Islamabad. Mr. Zaid Hamid is its Founding Consultant. He can be reached at email@example.com