Musharraf Slips Away
Musharraf relinquished his military powers on the 28th of November 2007 when he handed over the military control to Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, a former head of Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence. This move would lead to the emergence of two power centers in Pakistan ' one with the army chief and second with civilian President Musharraf. To aggravate and add more wagers to the power game are two exiled leaders, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif who returned to Pakistan making the situation politically motivated in the coming days ahead.
Musharraf's exit as army chief was imminent because he was surrounded by issues of insurgency, a resurgent judiciary, opposition political parties, and immense pressure from the U.S. to doff his uniform and establish a democratic set up in Pakistan. The decision of sacking Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary and then reinstating him had made Musharraf quite unpopular in Pakistan. The dualist role played by him ' as the President and an Army Chief lead to his maximum time spent on political survival by wooing PML-Q members and allies.. In an opinion poll conducted by the International Republican Institute (IRI) in September, 73 percent of Pakistanis felt that Pakistan was headed in the wrong direction under Musharraf`s command. 75 percent opined that the government had performed poorly on issues of importance to the respondents. 62 percent simply disapproved of the way Musharraf had done his job as the head of the state.
The real heat was felt when the kidnappings of army soldiers fighting terrorists in the tribal areas began leading to a low morale in the rank and file of the army. Senior Commanders protested in meetings about the failure of the army in FATA and NWFP areas in containing extremism. According to the Pakistan analysts, after doffing his uniform he would continue to hold sway as a civilian president, which is fortified by his emergency decree of November 3rd and appointments at (with??) the top military commanders.
Gen. Kayani, an infantry commander and a graduate of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas US, has been described as a pro-West army chief. He is the first DG ISI to head the Pakistan army, although he does not belong to the coterie of generals around Musharraf, but he has been described as an Army Chief who has Washington's nod.
Musharraf has followed the footsteps of the Shah of Iran, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines and Manuel Noriega of Panama. In a similar manner that when these dictators were challenged by the their own people, each one of these US backed authoritarian rulers blamed America for failing to understand their compulsions, and for creating circumstances which led to their downfall. The immediate uproar in Pakistan happened when Pakistan's constitution was disrespected and an emergency was placed by Musharraf. The growing discontentment against Musharraf grew stronger due to his support for US war on terror.
Musharraf faces challenge from senior lawyers and judges who declared the emergency illegal; but once they are freed they would create roadblocks for civilian Musharraf. This may lead to Musharraf's exit policy wherein he may relinquish the President Chair and go in exile. One development which would turn the tables for Musharraf ' an alliance between Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz ' which is a distant possibility.
The final blow to Musharraf's authority would be when the newly appointed General Kayani shows his back to the President ' this would gradually weaken Musharraf and give him a safe exit.
The way forward for Pakistan lies not in legal or political maneuvers, or military laced power, but creation of a government based on national consensus, comprising of secular, moderate, liberal elements, which could mobilize popular support for the war against terrorism and bring some political stability in Pakistan. The army cannot be deprived of power, as it has been seasoned to call the shots. David Ricardo, a well known founder of political economy, wrote in his Principles in 1815: 'The Landlord class is the enemy of all other classes'. As India could abolish landlord system, Pakistan could not; leading to a systematic alliance of Army officers integrally linked with feudal and landlord families. The Pakistan army officials not only became usurper of political power, but also important economic actors in decision making. The Army in Pakistan is not only considered to have a commanding position in society, economy and polity, but it is also treated as a special extension of the US.
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