By Tariq Ali
Thursday August 14 2008
There is never a dull moment in
Five months later, the moral climate has deteriorated still further. All the ideals embraced by the hopeful youth and the poor of the country – political morality, legality, civic virtue, food subsidies, freedom and equality of opportunity – once again lie at their feet, broken and scattered. The widower Bhutto and his men are extremely unpopular. The worm-eaten tongues of chameleon politicians and resurrected civil servants are on daily display. Removing Musharraf, who is even more unpopular, might win the politicians badly-needed popular support, but not for long.
As the country celebrated its 61st birthday today, its official president, ex-General Pervez Musharraf, was not allowed to take the salute at the official parade marking the event, while state television discussed plans to impeach him. Within a few days at most, Musharraf will resign and leave the country.
Now he is going in disgrace, abandoned by most of his cronies who accumulated land and money during his term and are now moving towards the new powerbrokers. Amidst the hullabaloo there was one hugely diverting moment involving pots and kettles. Two days ago, Asif Zardari, the caretaker-leader of the People's party who runs the government and is the second richest man in the country (from funds he accrued when his late wife was prime minister) accused Musharraf of corruption and siphoning US funds to private bank accounts.
Musharraf's departure will highlight the problems that confront the country, which is in the grip of a food and power crisis that is creating severe problems in every city. Inflation is out of control. The price of gas (used for cooking in many homes) has risen by 30%. Wheat, the staple diet of most people, has seen a 20% price hike since November 2007 and while the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation admits that the world's food stocks are at record lows there is an additional problem in
Too much wheat is being smuggled into
Other problems persist. The politicians remain divided on the restoration of the judges sacked by Musharraf. The chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, is the most respected person in the country. Zardari is reluctant to see him back at the head of the supreme court. A possible compromise might be to offer him the presidency. It would certainly unite the country for a short time. And there is the army. Last month, the country's powerless prime minister, Yousuf Gilani, went on a state visit to the
Haass: Let me ask the question a different way, then – (laughter) – beyond President Musharraf, which is whether you think now in the army there is a broader acceptance of a more limited role for the army. Do you think now the coming generation of army officers accepts the notion that their proper role is in the barracks rather than in politics?
Gilani: Certainly, yes. Because of the February 18 election of this year, we have a mandate to the moderate forces, to the democratic forces in
This is pure gibberish and convinces nobody. Over the last 50 years the
Tariq Ali's latest book, The Duel:
View Source article:
General's long goodbye
BY HASSAN ABBAS (Guardian News Service)
13 August 2008
PERVEZ Musharraf stands virtually alone today while facing the most serious challenge to his presidency: possible impeachment by the new democratically-elected government.
The potential charges are serious: conspiring to destabilise the government that was elected last February, unlawfully removing the country's top judges in November 2007, and failing to provide adequate security to Benazir Bhutto before her assassination last December. Allying himself with the Bush administration has increased his unpopularity, especially following missile attacks by the
Despite earlier differences over how to deal with
Though a protégé of Musharraf, the army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani is a professional soldier for whom the army's institutional interests are more important than the political interests of his former boss. Kayani has repeatedly declared that the army will not interfere in political affairs, and that the parliament and constitution are supreme.
Even if the army is tempted to step in, it has been chastened by political developments during the past year. The entire legal community arose to demand restoration of the country's judges and reinforcement of the rule of law. The public's demand for free elections and the resulting creation of a democratic government have forced the military to accept the public will. The army has also paid a heavy price for Musharraf's approach to the war on terror. Suicide bombers have struck repeatedly at military installations and personnel around the army's headquarters in
Though the army has reaped a financial windfall from
Nevertheless, there are signs of disagreement on important matters between the government and the army. The military recently blocked a government move to place
During PM Yousaf Raza Gilani's recent visit to the
Even if Musharraf faces impeachment and by some stroke of luck is saved from being thrown out of office, his future will be bleak. In March 2009, the current ruling coalition will gain more seats in the Senate, and the government would almost certainly try to impeach him again. Moreover, any attempt by Musharraf to dislodge the government by using his constitutional authority would trigger another election, the results of which would not be much different from the vote in February. It is time for Musharraf's friends in the West to press him to serve his country one last time, by avoiding confrontation with his country's democratic forces and calling it quits.
View Source article:
Musharraf's exit won't change much for
Indrani Bagchi, TNN
15 Aug 2008
National security advisor M K Narayanan raised the unhappy prospect of Musharraf's exit leaving a "vacuum" that would not be in
But it leaves a big vacuum and we are deeply concerned about this vacuum because it leaves the radical extremist outfits with freedom to do what they like, not merely on the Pak-Afghan border but clearly on our side of the border too."
The fact is, Musharraf has been emasculated for some time within Pakistani politics. The only reason he has held on so far is because he has taken advantage of the squabbling Zardari-Sharif duo. While the Pakistani nation has watched in horror the collapse of governance, it's also been very clear that the Taliban, Al Qaida, Lashar-e-Toiba and other versions of the radical Islamist fringe have been on a roll. And ISI, the way
And then J&K fell into
The point is, if Musharraf had been in control would the ISI or the jihadi groups be any more restrained? Probably not. A taste of what a Musharraf in control could have done was in his speech on Thursday in
"I condemn this act of human rights violation. There is no doubt that every Pakistani is with their brothers and sisters in
These are words
Where then is the vacuum that Musharraf's exit would create? Former envoy to
US fights for safe passage to Musharraf
14 Aug 2008, 0550 hrs IST, Chidanand Rajghatta,TNN
WASHINGTON: The Bush administration, for long a patron of Pakistan's military strongman Pervez Musharraf, has decided to let go of its ward amid growing momentum for the civilian democratic government's move to impeach the fading "president" who derived much of his strength from the army and Washington.
Washington has discreetly made it known, through key officials, that the impeachment proceedings are the "internal affairs" of Pakistan and the US will respect due process, but has also conveyed that Musharraf should be given immunity and/or safe exit from the political lynch mob should he decide to step down before lawmakers formally move against him.
There is growing expectation that Musharraf will step down after a farewell address to nation on August 14,
"Our expectation is that any action will be consistent with the rule of law and the Pakistani constitution," was all a state department official would say last week after the White House decided not to back Musharraf in his scrap with the new civilian rulers, having ascertained that the Pakistani Army is also not willing to interfere in the process.
However, both players –
With more and more Pakistani lawmakers, including prominent politicians who thrived under his dispensation, ditching Musharraf in the last few days, his days seem numbered. Some of the political players, including Musharraf's current nemesis Nawaz Sharif and the scions of the Bugti clan, whose paterfamilias was killed on Musharraf's orders, are playing hardball and insisting that Musharraf will be tried for various excesses. There are fears that such sentiments might generate a lynch mob.
The US position on Musharraf changed followed a growing body of evidence that he may have played a double game in not only the war on terror, but also in the carefully crafted US plans to bring about a rapproachment between him and Benazir Bhutto and transition Pakistan into a quasi-civilian form of government with a strong military influence.
A stunning disclosure based on communication intercepts by
"You should understand something," Musharraf tells Bhutto in one conversation. "Your security is based on the state of our relationship." The conversation takes place during Bhutto's meeting with US lawmakers at Capitol Hill, including John Kerry, and State Department officials, Suskind says, at a time when she was insisting on the repeal of the provision prohibiting a third term for prime ministers.
"The twice-elected provision is important to me," Bhutto tells Musharraf. "If you're retreating from that, what can you give me? May be some real reform in the election commission?" Bhutto also inquired whether some US officials had called the military ruler to make it clear that her safety is his responsibility.
Musharraf is clearly angry with the Americans for forcing him into a deal with Bhutto and makes it clear he does not give a damn about
Musharraf derived his backing from
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi