Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pakistan's Election Aftermath

There is a great deal going on in the wake of Pakistan's recent elections.

First, a report at the Times of India entitled Musharraf may be impeached: US intelligence, in its entirety, uninterrupted by comments:

WASHINGTON: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf faces the threat of being impeached if the two major parties -- PPP and PML(N) -- which have joined hands to form the next government get the support of independents, a top US intelligence official has said.

The official said even though the two parties do not have the numbers with which Musharraf can be arraigned since PML(N) leader and former premier Nawaz Sharif had "an agenda to impeach President Musharraf".

The Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnel told the Bush administration that the PPP and PML(N) "do not have the votes to do that(impeach), but if they had independents join them, they could possibly have the votes".

The ruling coalition needs a two-third majority in a House of 272 to successfully carry out any impeachment. The PPP (88) and PML-N (66) together have 154 seats. The Awami National Party (ANP) which has 10 members and an unspecified number of independents, have also extended support.

"We are watching very closely now to see how the coalition is formed, who the members will be and who the prime minister might be," McConnel said.

On being asked by the Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin about the fairness of the polls, he said "all the reporting I saw was they were reasonably -- by Pakistani standards, they were reasonable and fair. The number of people voting was a little higher than anticipated and a little higher than average for Pakistan. It was over 40 per cent".

Responding to a question that if the polls were a repudiation of Islamic extremism, he said "What I would highlight is those Islamic extremists that had been serving in the assembly were defeated in this election. So at that level, the parties that won are more secular. So there is some level of repudiating extremism".

President Musharraf is promising that the mandate of the people will be respected:

ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf has said the mandate of the masses has to be respected and no one will be allowed to create hurdles in the smooth transition to democracy. Speaking to former Punjab chief minister Mian Manzoor Wattoo on Wednesday, he said the parties that succeeded in the polls would have full freedom to form a government.Many issues were discussed at the meeting, including reasons for the PML-Q’s defeat and the post-poll scenario, sources told Online. Musharraf assured Wattoo he was ready to work with the new government and expressed hope that the parties that form it would work together for the welfare of the country, especially to root out terrorism. After the meeting, Wattoo told reporters he would support the establishment of a national government but would back the it on an issue-to-issue basis. Independent MPs would also lend their support to the government on the same basis, he added.

The blogosphere is wondering about Musharraf's future, and the true nature of his connections to Bush -- USA & Pakistan’s Musharraf: A Dangerous Affair...? Excerpt:

The Pakistani Spectator says that in this action packed drama the US ambassador to Pakistan is playing a desperate game to ensure the survival of President Musharraf. The blog says that now it is the battle between the US ambassador and the mandate of the Pakistani people.

Wow! Is this another form of ‘War on Terror’? Or an attempt to cover up the strange goings-on between Bush and Musharraf during the past seven years with billions of dollars pouring into Pakistan’s army establishment led by the present Pakistani President? So who are the real terrorists? No one has the guts to answer that question...!!!

In Iraq, we are building democracy -- and spending a great many American lives to do so! But, in Pakistan we have been supporting a leader who siezed power in a military coup, and who only a few months back retired from his military post. The rationale has been that if Musharraf loses power, the militants will win. But, the truth is that in the recent elections, extremism fared very poorly. Pakistanis want a secular government, but one which abides by the law and is answerable at the ballot box and in court; Musharraf, having taken power in a coup and having recently deposed so many members of Pakistan's judiciary, has been giving them neither -- though now he is talking about honoring the will of the people.

After the ties we've been exploring between Pakistan's 1) military and Inter-Services Intelligence, and 2) the extremists, this whole idea that we need to support Musharraf to have an ally in the "War on Terror" has seemed like a charade, and it seems the elections have now called President Bush's bluff on this matter.

Speaking of the judges, Mushy's dismissal of them still isn't sitting well (and it shouldn't): Islamabad lawyers observe strike.

ISLAMABAD: The lawyers observed strike in Rawalpindi and Islamabad courts on Thursday to stress for restoration of deposed judges. The lawyers of the twin cities stayed away from the courts proceedings on Pakistan Bar Council’s strike call. The lawyers bodies holding protest meetings throughout the country to demand reinstatement of the sacked judges.

Talk of messing with Pakistan's Constitution promises trouble: Removal of 58-2 (B) to cause crisis, warns Shujaat.

Meanwhile, back to Pakistan's military and its influence in the government -- An open letter to General Kayani by Irfan Husain, February 25th, 2008 (excerpts):

DEAR General Kayani,

As a Pakistani, I have no doubt that you are as delighted with the way the recent elections were conducted as I am. Some of the credit must go to your officers and troops for having assisted in maintaining law and order. But of even greater significance was your decision not to involve the army in any other aspect of the elections. All of us remember all too well the negative role played by Military Intelligence (MI) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in past polls.

As democracy finally returns to our deeply troubled country, and a new government takes shape in Islamabad, I have a few suggestions on how you can help the political system find its feet, and to mix a metaphor, put down roots. I would also like to share a few thoughts on a new partnership between elected governments and the Pakistan Army.

You are well aware of the widespread perception that the army has meddled in politics long enough. Indeed, this feeling has been vociferously expressed by the public and the media over the last year, particularly during the crisis over the fate of the Chief Justice. A crisis, I might add, that was precipitated entirely by your predecessor, and one that brought great discredit to the service you now head.

You and your colleagues must have noted with concern and dismay the growing gulf between the people of Pakistan and their army. I am sure you will agree that this is a very unhealthy tendency, and one that should be corrected as soon as possible.

By and large, all Pakistanis are proud of their army, and have sacrificed much to support it over the years. But of late, a perception has developed that the army is an occupying force bent on plundering the country for its own benefit. Repeated coups against legitimate governments have only added to this perception.

Pakistan has a fine military, professional and competent. Pakistanis have a great deal to be proud of.

I am sure that as a professional soldier, you would like to restore the army's badly tarnished image. For the difficult tasks that lie ahead, you will need public support and a smooth working relationship with the new government.

Firstly, a consensus needs to be evolved within the army that henceforth, it will not intervene in politics. I know this is easier said than done as all too often, defeated politicians are prone to invite the army to help dismiss elected governments. This temptation needs to be resisted, and politicians discouraged from making a beeline to GHQ every time there is a political crisis.

Currently, I realise you are caught in a quandary as Mr Musharraf anointed you as his successor on the assumption that you would support him. But surely the oath you took on being inducted into the army to uphold the constitution must take precedence over personal and service loyalty. Given your predecessor's determination to hang on to the presidency despite the humiliating defeat his PML-Q suffered in the recent elections, it would be in the national interest for him to step down rather than be at the centre of an unnecessary political battle. You can help to focus his mind, and encourage him to resign. Clearly, the major task before the army is to fight the scourge of Islamic terrorism that has made such deep inroads into our country under your predecessor's watch. Presently, our army has been trained in conventional warfare, with India being seen as our biggest threat. But now, it is the Taliban and the many home-grown gangs of Islamic militants that are the source of the biggest danger to Pakistan.

"Presently, our army has been trained in conventional warfare, with India being seen as our biggest threat. But now, it is the Taliban and the many home-grown gangs of Islamic militants that are the source of the biggest danger to Pakistan."

While my readers from Pakistan are at it, you might consider looking into corruption, organized crime, the nuclear black market, and heroin trafficking -- and don't be surprised when your "allies" in Washington, Riyadh, Beijing, Dubai and elsewhere are implicated in some of these scandals (especially Washington)!

Skipping now to another article, Mahsud tribesmen hopes resolution of problems by new Govt (in its entirety; it's a little choppy):

TANK: Mahsud tribesmen Thursday experessed strong hope that newly elected government would focus on their problems on priority basis.This was said by tribal elders during a press conference held in WAPDA Rest House.

The tribal elders thanked those, who generously provided accommodation and supported relief activities for displaced tribal families of South Wazeeristan Agency.

Sher Muhammad Chairman Mahsud Relief Committee flanked by Hussain Khan Slimi Khel, Allauddin Barki, Faqeer Mahsud and Malik Muhammad Yousaf told the newsmen that hundreds of families had been displaced owing to the ongoing military action in South Wazeeristan.

These displaced persons are leading miserable lives in adjacent plan areas after they migrated from the troubled agency.

He added that the way people helped miserable tribesmen is unprecedented and laudable.

Tribal elder maintained that like past, Mahsud tribesmen would leave no stone unturned to consolidate the grace and sovereignty of the country.●

Hope that a broad consensus might emerge to move Pakistan forward democratically and peacefully? Time shall tell....

I encourage my readers in Pakistan to leave a comment.

1 comment:

Aurora said...

Yankee, I don't know. The anti-Musharraf meme seems a bit too all-inclusive, too seductive. It's exactly the way the smooth-tongued beast of global power operates. The alternative, Imran Khan for example, the epitome of the globalist choice. Like Obama, youngish, handsome, an activist fighting for the cause. I wouldn't be surprised if he rises out of the ashes and is made to look like the hero. We shall see. Musharraf is just not popular enough to be any kind of real problem. But that's just my opinion.