Saturday, September 8, 2007

Pakistan: Dictator's Deal Collapses

This should come as no surprise.

From The Times of India is an article on how the deal between Mushy and Bhutto is collapsing: 'Power-sharing deal between Bhutto, Musharraf collapses'.

ISLAMABAD: The much-touted power-sharing deal between Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and former Premier Benazir Bhutto has collapsed over her demand that prime ministers must be allowed a third term, a minister considered close to the General has said.

The Pakistani President, who isn't really a president, but who is actually a military dictator that siezed power in a coup, is not about to give up power. However, faced with a loss of support for his regime, he feels he may have to share power, as sharing power, and thereby losing some, is better than losing power altogether, and possibly losing his life as well.

Enter the former-Prime-Minister-in-exile, who was twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, and twice deposed for corruption.

Touted as the first woman to lead a post-colonial Muslim state, Benazir Bhutto, from the powerful Bhutto family in Pakistan, whose wealth dates back to the times of Moghul Islamic fundamentalist king Aurengzeb, seeks her old job back in a deal with "President" Musharraf. However, Bhutto must be allowed to serve three terms as "PM".

Does it sound like somebody else wants power, and doesn't want to give it up?

"It is finished. The President said 'no'. If you insist, there are very thin chances of salvaging it - just 1 or 2 per cent," Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad was quoted by 'Dawn' on Saturday as saying.

Translated: Please make us another offer. We're desperate!

"May be some last-minute attempt is made ... to salvage the deal. But personally I am not at all hopeful, the reason being Bhutto's insistence that prime ministers must be allowed a third term," he said.

Why insist on a third term? Right now, the only term facing her is one in prison for the many scandals and crimes she has been implicated in.

The crucial component of the deal being negotiated between Musharraf and Bhutto was the removal of bar on elected leaders holding the post of prime minister for a third term. The rule was brought in by Musharraf during the 2002 polls to prevent Bhutto and another ex-premier Nawaz Sharif from becoming premiers again as they held the post twice in past.

There's a reason why these people shouldn't become "Prime Minister for life" or "President for life" -- they grow too corrupt, and consolidate their power too well. It becomes a dictatorship.

So, what do they do? Mushy siezes power illegally in a coup, and now he's "President for life" -- which must be kind of scary, actually: he must now feel people are close to ending his term as President (heh), and so wants to cut a deal that will shore things up.

But, is Bhutto any better?

The only good news is that they don't seem to throw in completely with the Islamists.

Of course, if that suddenly became what was needed to stay in power (Mushy) or to regain power (Bhutto), might they?

Unlikely that Bhutto might...? During her election campaigns, Bhutto had promised to improve the situation for Pakistani women, but was supposedly unable to due to resistance from the opposition.

Also, I understand that Bhutto is a Shi'ite, and that Pakistan is three quarters Sunni, and one-fifth Shi'ite. I wonder if that's an issue.

Both of them likely face a common enemy in the Islamists.

But, if opportunity suddenly knocked at that door, I wonder....

Ahmad said things "changed abruptly" at the closing stage of the deal which was being discussed for about a year.

"Time is running out fast. Everything has to be decided by September 14 because the schedule for the President's election will come any day after that date," he said.

No pressure there....

Musharraf plans to get re-elected between September 15 and October 15 by the present assemblies.

It's easy to get re-elected when you're the only guy running, and a big block of voters are your subordinates in the military.

Or, is it?

The minister also said if the deal failed to materialise - after a last minute attempt - the government would consider the option of dissolution of Parliament and imposition of emergency.

That might be a good option to exercise just in case Mushy isn't, uh, re-elected.

He claimed that a successful deal would have been a big blow to the popularity of Bhutto and her Pakistan People's Party (PPP). Since new political arrangements with Bhutto could not be finalised, there were chances of dissolution of the National Assembly.

Then why would Bhutto want to do it?

Could it be that she is seen as selling out the PPP?

You don't suppose she would sell out her own party to regain power, do you?

"This is a very critical issue and if there is no dissolution then I am afraid emergency could be imposed or even martial law cannot be ruled out," he asserted.

No, no pressure there....

PPP spokesman Faratullah Babar declined to react to Rashid's comments. "I have seen his remarks but I have no comment to offer," he said.

Translated: "We're still trying to work another illegal backroom deal, so leave us alone right now."

Maybe Mushy and Benazir might be able to work out a deal yet.

Perhaps they should consider consulting with Bill and Hillary for a few pointers. I understand Bill & Hillary have a lunch date open where Hillary could give some advice, and that Bill thinks Hillary is a great advisor....

No comments: