Pakistan's internal stability is under grave threat today after more than seven years of military rule by General Musharraf. The year 2007 promises to be a critical year when General Elections in Pakistan are due and the Pakistani public is clamoring for fair and free elections and want the Pakistani Army to quit from governance of Pakistan and the suppression of liberal institutions in Pakistan.
Far divorced from these genuine aspirations of the Pakistani public are General Musharraf's disingenuous moves to prolong his military rule. He has declared plans that he would get re-elected as President by the present Assemblies before the General Elections are due. This would enable him to be at the helm of affairs and rig the General Elections as he did the last time.
In yet another devilish move his Government has been in parleys with exiled former PM Benazir Bhutto in a bid to win her over to his side before the elections and thereby split wide open the fragile political unity that was being built up to struggle for democracy and fair and free elections. In this direction the more glaring indicator has bee the proposed withdrawal of corruption cases against Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Zardari who is in jail. This deal is aimed at bringing into power a new political dispensation with General Musharraf continuing as President and in uniform, and Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party becoming the King's Party in Islamabad.
The conjectures in Pakistan are that Bhutto may borrow India's Congress Party's model of Sonia Gandhi where she would exercise actual political power in unison with General Musharraf by remote control and have a namesake Prime Minister. It needs to be mentioned that Benazir Bhutto on the two occasions that she was Prime Minister of Pakistan she could make it only after striking deals with the Pakistan Army and its Generals.
In marked contrast to these disingenuous political moves of General Musharraf to perpetuate his military regime and Benazir Bhutto's striking a deal with the General to gain a backdoor entry to Prime Minister-ship of Pakistan , the internal situation in Pakistan and the national mood of the Pakistani public is somber.
Pakistan's political fragility is exemplified today by two diametrically opposite political struggles ongoing in the capital city of Pakistan, Islamabad. The political agitation which broke out in the wake of the dismissal of Pakistan's Chief Justice by the General's latest onslaught on Pakistani Constitutional institutions shows no signs of petering out. The Pakistani media carry enough reports on this ongoing political demonstrations and the increasing number of people from different spectrum of Pakistani public joining it. It's a different matter that the Western media may not be giving it prominence.
More seriously, is the violent confrontation unleashed by the Islamic fundamentalists of the Lal Masjid within a stone's throw from the seat of power in Islamabad. They have given a virtual ultimatum to the Pakistani General that Pakistan has to be Talibanised. This violent agitation is also joined by hundreds of Burqa clad women students with flailing wooden staves from the seminary attached to the Masjid and indulging in violent sprees in Islamabad to destroy video libraries etc. The Pakistani General has virtually been forced to go on his knees as so far the security forces have not taken any action on his orders to meet the developing menace.
This has led to speculation in Pakistan that General Musharraf himself has generated this fundamentalist upsurge within Islamabad itself for two reasons. Firstly to divert attention from the political demonstrations against him with vocal slogans openly shouting 'Go Musharraf, Go'. The second reason is that he wants to reinvent his standing with the United States that a fundamentalist threat is re-emerging and that once again he is the best bet for America.
Pakistan's peripheries are equally in violent turmoil starting from Balochistan, running through the Waziristans, the NWFP and ending up in the Northern Areas bordering China.
Pakistan's internal stability is floundering today and as the General Elections come nearer the situation is likely to worsen. The United States can give infusions of millions of dollars to prop up the Pakistani military dictator to serve American strategic interests but it can hardly give any infusions of common sense and political propriety to General Musharraf to better manage the gathering internal storm.
Similarly India which will be the most impacted by a worsening internal stability within Pakistan has not woken up to the emerging ground realities. It's Prime Minister and the policy establishment continue to subscribe to the US long-held view that General Musharraf's standing in Pakistan should be buoyed by unilateral concessions by India.
The simple reality that needs to be grasped is that Pakistan's internal stability is floundering today because of over seven years of Pakistan Army misrule under General Musharraf and the Pakistani public's frustrations that they have had enough of the Pakistani military dictator.