Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mush in trouble

Past few months have brought what looks like a heap of troubles for Pak President Musharraf.

It all started in march of this year when in all his wisdom he decided to suspend the CJ of the country and the rest is history. The whole country stood up in CJ Choudhary's support and turned him into a instant hero.

Obviously, Mush didn't expect the kind of uprising across the country against this decision, added to it was the whole case of Lal Masjid terror crisis, uprising in NW frontier province (with the collapse of nearly a year long agreement with tribal elders) and recent strains in the relationship with US with the United States increasingly getting impatient over Pakistan's inability to do "enough" towards its promises - fight against Taliban and Al Qaeda on its soil.

Musharraf game plan was to get elected for another term as president while also retaining his army uniform, few would have called it improbable before march but now the situation has changed entirely, to the extent that even the option of imposing emergency was considered but given up due to US pressure and domestic resistance.

US finds that Musharraf is the only option left for it in Pakistan, and if his regime topples the country might fall in the hands of extremists. This is the prime reason Mushrraf is exploiting to get US backing and remain in power.

This reasoning is nothing new to Pakistan, even Nawaz Sharif used the same reasoning for demanding help from US during the Kargil war.

In his book "Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy, And the Bomb" Strobe Talbott describes the whole sequence of diplomatic exchanges between Sharif and the US administration led by President Clinton.

Talbott points out that whether it was the issue of Nuclear Tests or Kargil war the moment US tried to push Pakistan, Sharif used to come up with this "Suicidal" argument that if his government is pushed too much by US, Pakistan will be in chaos and will collapse.

According to My Talbott, India on other hand tackled US as an "equal".

Coming back to Pakistan, as things stands now options are very limited for President Musharraf; Chances of him getting elected by the present assemblies are remote, even though he has enough votes but any such move will result in a huge uprising against him; he is negotiating with Benezir Bhutto for her return and an electoral arrangement for power sharing but Bhutto insists on Musharraf quitting the army uniform and dilution of presidential powers (particularly the one by which a president on his whims and fancy can fire an elected prime minister and his cabinet)

If the deal with Benezir Bhutto doesn't work out for Musharraf, to remain in power he will have to impose emergency and get elected, or he will have to quit and go into exile, both the options are pretty depressing for Pakistan.

On the other hand if the deal with Bhutto works out, situation seems slightly brighter but Musharraf will have lesser powers and another power center of a new Army chief may emerge.

Even after 60 years of independence Democracy remains a distant dream in Pakistan, I was shocked when I came to know of the fact that no elected government or assembly (either at a state or national level) has ever completed a full five year term in that country.

On a lighter side I find the main headline on Pakistan TV website really amusing. It never changes, it always remain either "President General Pervez Musharraf" or occasionally "Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz" with the story below highlighting what the president/PM said or did that day :-). This is the face of government owned media.

Mercifully India's Doordarshan is still not so bad.

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