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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Impeachment of President Musharraf

Impeachment of President Musharraf

By Amicus
Taliban commanders are taking over more of the country’s ungoverned north-west by the day.Tensions between South Asia’s nuclear-armed rivals are rising. After a suicide-bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul last month—which India blamed on the ISI—its national security adviser, M.K. Narayanan, warned that India might have to “retaliate in kind”.
The economy is hell-bound. Inflation is running at 25% a year. The stockmarket in Karachi has lost 35% of its value since April. During blackouts, Pakistani businessmen trade tales of capital flight. Foreign-exchange reserves—once emblematic of economic recovery—now barely cover three months of imports.
The government, a coalition led by the Pakistan People Party (PPP), has been paralysed since its formation in February. It has no plan for the north-west and appears to have given little thought to arresting the economy’s decline.
The government does not even have a permanent finance minister. Ishaq Dar and half his colleagues were withdrawn from the cabinet in May by the PPP’s biggest coalition partner, Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (N).
It was protesting against the government’s failure to reinstate 60 judges, who were sacked by Pervez Musharraf last November lest they object to his (apparently illegal) re-election as president. Nawaz Sharifbelieves, if reinstated, these judges would force Mr Musharraf to quit.
For good reasons he has also demanded that parliament impeach the president. And he may have his way.
After showdown talks on August 6th and 7th Mr Sharif and the PPP’s leader, Asif Zardari, reached a provisional agreement to impeach the president and restore the judges.
Both moves would be popular. Having ruled Pakistan more or less outright for almost a decade, Mr Musharraf is blamed for many of its troubles.
According to a poll for the International Republican Institute, an American NGO, 83% of Pakistanis want him out and the judges reinstated.
Support for the PPP-led government, which came to power amid euphoria, has nose dived.
Its few efforts at policymaking—including a doomed effort to put the army-run ISI into civilian hands— have mostly been hapless.
Under Mr Zardari, the PPP seems rudderless and divided; a third of its elected members are said to be ready to rebel.
It appears Mr. Nawaz Sharif, like Mr Zardari, is reluctant to bring an end to an alliance for which he has no love.
The moves of the ruling coalition impeach President Pervez Musharraf on charges of plunging the country into a political and economic crisis.
They also warned Musharraf, a former general who first came to power in a 1999 military coup, against any attempt to dismiss the government.
The move is likely to deepen political uncertainty in the which already faces a faltering economy and a threat from Islamist militants.
This situation has taken a toll on Pakistani markets, with the main share index at its weakest in almost two years and the rupee headed back towards all-time lows posted in early July.
Asif Ali Zardari said, “The coalition leaders believe that it has become imperative to move for impeachment,” Zardari told a news conference with his coalition partner, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
The response of the powerful army to the prospect of a humiliating exit for its former chief will be crucial. Army commanders met in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, close to Islamabad, on Thursday but a military official said it was a routine meeting.
While Mushrraf has become increasingly unpopular at home and lost parliamentary support after his allies suffered a defeat in February elections but he has resisted calls to stand down.
“The economic policies pursued by General Musharraf during the last 8 years have brought Pakistan to the brink of critical economic impasse,” a joint statement read by Zardari said.
“He has worked to undermine the transition to democracy.”
Some analysts say the jockeying for political power has distracted leaders from dealing with Pakistan’s economic problems and the effort to control Islamic militants, especially along the border with Afghanistan.
The United States and the Afghanistan government say the border areas are shelters for Taliban and al Qaeda fighters.
Musharraf has previously said he would resign rather than face impeachment.
Under the Pakistani constitution, a president can be ousted if an impeachment motion wins a two-thirds majority of the combined strength of the National Assembly and Senate.
Zardari was confident the motion would be passed with an overwhelming majority.
“We have votes and we also have the courage,” he said
“The coalition reaffirmed the resolve of democracy and democratic forces will work jointly to make a transition to genuine democracy,” the head of Pakistan People’s Party Asif Ali Zardari said, reading a joint communique with his coalition partners.
Before pursuing impeachment proceedings, Pakistani lawmakers will demand Musharraf take a vote of confidence in the newly elected parliament, which he had vowed to do last year, Zardari said.
“The people of Pakistan gave a clear mandate in favor of democracy and democratic forces and voted for the change to oust Gen. Musharraf by defeating his … party,” Zardari added.
“In spite of his clear commitment that if his party was defeated in the election he would resign, he continues to cling to the office of the president.
On Thursday, Pakistani stocks had nudged up 0.3 percent, closing at 9,707.29 on turnover of 88.5 million shares, kept in check by anticipation of the formal announcement of the impeachment by the ruling parties.
The President is expected to fight off moves to oust him, saying he would take up the challenge and would not quit. “I will defeat those who try to push me to the wall,“ a defiant president told his supporters. “If they use their right to oust me, I have the right to defend myself.”
The twin issues of President Musharraf’s removal and the restoration of Supreme Court judges who were dismissed by the president last November during a brief period of emergency rule have over-shadowed the four-month-old coalition government.
The ruling coalition claims they have the two thirds majority required to remove the president.
Observers said the impeachment move could further destabilise the country, which is facing severe economic problem and rising Islamic insurgency.
He became hugely unpopular after he imposed a temporary emergency rule in the country in November 2007 and sacked the independent minded chief justice.
His allies were defeated in an election in February that resulted in a civilian coalition government led by the party of the late Benazir Bhutto, a two-time prime minister who was assassinated while campaigning last December.
Despite the loss of parliamentary support, Mr. Musharraf has resisted pressure to quit, and has insisted that he was willing to work with the new civilian government.
He has repeatedly said he would not use presidential powers to dismiss the parliament, but Pakistani political circles are rife with speculation that he is manouevring towards this scenario on grounds that the civilian government has proved inept.
Analysts said the impeachment move could increase political disarray the country and force the army to act, although the army leadership has so far kept itself out of the fray.
Political uncertainty has badly affected the economy with inflation reaching a record high. Investors have harboured doubts over whether the civilian coalition government has the ability to arrest the decline. Rising Islamic militancy which has gripped northern areas also threaten to tear apart the country.
The Causes for PPP going for Impeachment:
The PPP has been complaining of “interference” from the Presidency for some time, though not with the same intensity as the PMLN in Punjab.
The position may have changed a bit now because the PPP is also toying with the idea of having its own man in the presidency.
The level of unhappiness or dissatisfaction was revealed by Mr Zardari during an interview with Business Plus TV channel aired the same day.
He stated bluntly that the government of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was finding the president an obstacle in governance. When pushed to be more specific, he said the government would like to replace the Chief Commissioner and Governor of the State Bank but was hampered in this by the president. Apparently, the president is also dragging his feet on Mr Zardari’s nominee for the ambassadorship of the UAE, a position currently held by a friend of the president who also served in the caretaker administration.
It develops that the Governor of the State Bank, Ms Shamshad Akhtar, may have offended the government by making public the sum which his government had borrowed from the State Bank against good sense as it notched up the deficit and stoked inflation. Mr Zardari said the most recent Rs 50 billion had to be borrowed because his government had to pay off the oil companies whose dues had not been cleared by the Musharraf government. Because of non-payment, the companies were unable to supply oil for the production of electricity and power producers were unable to pay the suppliers. He seemed unhappy that this economic measure of last resort was shown to the public as an “excess”by the State Bank governor.
On Wednesday, Dr Pervez Tahir, chief economist of the Planning Commission from 2000 to 2006, brought out the supposed bias of the Governor in blinking the much bigger borrowings by governments before the PPP coalition took over in 2008. He wrote: “In November-December 2007 alone, the State Bank allowed the government to borrow Rs178bn. And now it is becoming restless because the new government in its first month borrowed Rs33bn. The consequences of the failure to act in July 2007 are being projected as problems that the democratic alliance does not have the competence to deal with. The plot continues to thicken.”
In any case, the precedents tell, presidential impeachment may be easier said than done. There is uncertainty in certain quarters about the impeachment in terms of numbers and procedure.
While many lawyers are agreed that impeachment can go ahead, some point to the difficulties of preparing a charge sheet according to the Constitution which pins the parliament down to one or all of the following three presidential culpabilities:
1) Unfitness to hold the office due to incapacity, 2) guilt of violating the Constitution, 3) gross misconduct.
2)   The partisans of this view hold that the President’s actions violating the Constitution in 1999 and 2007 through military rule were validated by the Supreme Court; therefore, the charge sheet will be seriously challenged.
The question of numbers has never been very clear. The PPP itself had earlier declared on a number of occasions that the coalition did not have the two-thirds vote required for impeachment in a joint parliamentary session.
The PMLQ and the MQM cannot be expected to support the move and their position will not change visibly in the interim.
Rumours have been afoot about the development of overt and covert “forward blocs” within the PMLQ, and that the PMLN has been quietly encouraging them. Therefore, if the PMLQ can be broken, and if the ANP and JUIF persuaded to go along, then the numbers may not be out of range. But these are two big ifs.
But there are other issues that are less clear. Does the PPP really want the quick exit of Mr Musharraf even if it leads to a stampede of the PMLQ into the arms of the PMLN and weakens the balance of power between the PMLN and PPP? How will the SC packed with Musharraf loyalists react to the impeachment when it knows that it will be on the hit list of the PMLN next?
Will the president sit back and let the PPP-PMLN grab the MNAs and Senators or will he throw the ISI and MI into the game and thwart them by wooing the ANP and JUIF?
Let us be clear about how the forces are stacked at the moment before we jump to any conclusions.
The PMLN and President Musharraf are true foes in the sense that they can’t share power under any circumstances.
The PPP is in the middle, it wants the president to go but it doesn’t want the PMLN to gain advantage out of it, and thus far it has been trying to survive by balancing one off against the other.
The ANP has its hands full in combating terrorism in its province and needs the army and ISI on its right side. The JUIF is looking over its shoulder to see which way the wind blows.
So we have the President, Army, ISI, MQM and PMLQ on one side, fully united, and the PMLN, the PPP, the lawyers’ movement and most Pakistanis on the other, with one critical qualification — the lawyers’ movement is fatigued and lacks the potency of last year, while “the people” are not ready to risk their necks for their anti-Musharraf beliefs. , ANP and JUIF, seemingly in the middle, but their short term interests have tilted in favour of the than the latter. The Supreme Court too, may take the que from the anti-Musharraf, highly charged public opinion.
Since the President Musharraf canceled his China visit, it means he takes this threat seriously and is going to quickly rally his forces.A beleaguered President Pervez Musharraf held consultations with his political loyalists and constitutional and legal aides on Wednesday in what appeared to be an effort to prepare himself to fight off the ruling coalition in its move to impeach him.
“I will defeat those who try to push me to the wall,” sources quoted the president as saying. “If they use their right to try to oust me I have the right to defend myself.
“I will go down fighting but will not give in to those who are doing so to create more political divisions,” he said.
He said he was an elected president and would continue to serve the nation as long as the Constitution allowed him.
Pakistan Muslim League-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and party leader Hamid Nasir Chattha were the first to meet him. They assured him of their party’s unwavering support “through thick and thin”.
Later, the governors of Punjab and Sindh met the president to discuss the political situation.
Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad is said to have renewed support for President Musharraf on behalf of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.
Reports of a meeting of constitutional and legal advisers with the president were not confirmed by the presidential spokesman Rashid Qureshi.
The sources said that the PML-Q leaders had asked the president to defend himself in person in parliament. They also convinced him not to call off his visit to China which was a tested strategic friend of Pakistan.
Private TV channels also reported a meeting between Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the president but it was denied by Inter-Services Public Relations director general Maj-Gen Athar Abbas.
Chaudhry Shujaat told reporters after his two and half an hour meeting at the president’s camp office that the impeachment bogie was aimed at diverting the attention of the people from real issues.
Ways of countering the impeachment move were discussed at the meeting and the PML-Q assured the president that its legislators would defend him in parliament and outside it.
Chaudhry Pervaiz said: “Gen (retd) Musharraf is an elected president who has the credit of holding free and fair elections. He does not deserve this treatment and we will stand by him in case of any effort to oust him.”
He warned against any move which could sabotage political harmony and create instability at this critical juncture in national history.
So what are Musharraf’s options to avoid a possible impeachment if he does not quit?
It will require a wide split in the ranks of PPP and PML-N — by no means an impossible task ordinarily but quite unlikely given their extraordinary need to do business together, for now.
Najam Sethi, editor of the pro-West Daily Times, who has previously supported Musharraf’s liberal policies,
suggests a way out.
“Ideally, President Musharraf might be advised to voluntarily quit, redeem some honour and allow the fledgling democracy to settle down and grow. But if he is reluctant to call it a day voluntarily, the choice will be between banding together and getting rid of him or letting him stay as a lame duck president.”
To arrive at any meaningful conclusion on, if and how, Musharraf can be impeached, if he decides to ignore calls for resignation, it is important for PPP and PML-N to converge.
As declared by the coalition partners, PPP-PMLN-ANP-JUIF, the Game Plan has began to unfold, with the passage of a Resolution requiring the President Musharraf to seek a vote of confidence from the National Assembly, as per his commitment before the Supreme Court (which otherwise the PMLN does not consider legitimate).
The strategy seems to be to create Moral Pressure via Provincial Assemblies calling upon him to seek that vote of confidence, mobilize public opinion, create Media Hype and brow be President to make him virtually reel before the socalled “Great Public Demand” and give in or else…….
It may not be out of place to point out Assembly Resolution may have moral value but no Constitutional binding on President Musharraf. This appears to be the case, since undertaking given before the Supreme Court on his behalf, may make why not approach the Supreme Court to seek a direction to Musharraf to honor his commitment made on his before the Apex Court. Albeit PMLN, atleast would not share such a course.
Hence Impeachment, at the cost and peril of the Primary and Pivotal Goal of getting the Honorable CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry and other 59 (or shall we substract the 8 Honorable ousted Justices, having been reappointed by the PPP-PMLN Coalition Government, because as of today those appointments holds the ground on Legal Plane), the Lawyers and Civil Socitieties’ Long Struggle. Now Restoration of Judges shall be preceded by Impeachment and Removal of President Musharraf.  No disagreement with that, the caveat is why this took so long to divine the Coalition Government of PPP and PMLN, moreso the later.
If it had, the Nation would have been spared the torture and agony since almost five months, lack or absence of governance, down heel slide of the National Economy, spiraling cost of living, high inflation, decline of Law and Order and the stark reality of Threats to National Security owing to the Regional Geo Political environment and serious attempts by enemies of Pakistan, within and without.
That being said, one would desire, impeachment, so be it. A word of caution is “Let’s do it right by our Constitution and Laws”.
To facilitate precisely that let our Lagislators, comprehend the “Doctrine of Impeachment of Head of the State, Government or even Public Servants” elsewhere in the Civilised World. Here are some insights for a starter.
The relevant Constututionl provisions for Impeachment of President.
The Federation of Pakistan
47. Removal [22][or impeachment] of President.
[22A](1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution, the President may, in accordance with the provisions of this Article, be removed from office on the ground of physical or mental incapacity or impeached on a charge of violating the Constitution or gross misconduct.
(2) Not less than one-half of the total membership of either House may give to the Speaker of the National Assembly or, as the case may be, the Chairman written notice of its intention to move a resolution for the removal of, or, as the case may be, to impeach, the President; and such notice shall set out the particulars of his incapacity or of the charge against him.]
(3) If a notice under clause (2) is received by the Chairman, he shall transmit it forthwith to the Speaker.
(4) The Speaker shall, within three days of the receipt of a notice under clause (2) or clause (3), cause a copy of the notice to be transmitted to the President.
(5) The Speaker shall summon the two Houses to meet in a joint sitting not earlier than seven days and not later than fourteen days after the receipt of the notice by him.
(6) The joint sitting may investigate or cause to be investigated the ground or the charge upon which the notice is founded.
(7) The President shall have the right to appear and be represented during the investigation, if any, and before the joint sitting.
(8) If, after consideration of the result of the investigation, if any, a resolution is passed at the joint sitting by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of [23][Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] declaring that the President is unfit to hold the office due to incapacity or is guilty of violating the Constitution or of gross misconduct, the President shall cease to hold office immediately on the passing of the resolution. (1)
In the absence of Bhutto, who remained its great binding force for nearly three decades, the PPP under Zardari — who has remained a source of discontent within the party rank and file thanks to his controversial role in her two governments — will be vulnerable to the devious games of the establishment and intelligence agencies.
In other words, staying in power will be the glue, which keeps the PPP together and provide Zardari the necessary space to earn his spurs as a genuine leader. But this could mean making uncomfortable compromises. PPP and Musharraf’s aides are already in talks over the future dispensation.
The PPP appears not too keen on the restoration of the deposed judges but PML-N can ill-afford to part with their hardened stand. Even if the PPP reluctantly agrees to find a middle ground on the issue, Sharif is not ready to let bygones be bygones with Musharraf.
To impeach or not to impeach
Both the parties want Musharraf out, but while they would rather the beleaguered leader resign of his own volition, PPP has given indications that it could still live with him if they get their pound of flesh. On the contrary, Sharif is gunning for an impeachment if Musharraf tries to push his luck.
So far, Musharraf is refusing to buckle down. This may change however, if Zardari and Sharif reach the same conclusion to keep their political stock intact. Debate on possible impeachment may gain currency in the days to come.
Zardari has called for Musharraf to quit.
Senator John Kerry, the last Bush rival for the White House, and one of few US lawmakers, who traveled to Pakistan as poll observers, was constrained to point to a clause for impeachment in the Pakistani constitution to offset a query at a news conference in Islamabad the other day.
Kerry was asked if he was working to advance longstanding US policy of supporting Musharraf in power when he suggested Musharraf and moderate victors of the February 18 elections had a great opportunity to work together to strengthen democracy.
Joseph Biden, chairman of the senate foreign relations committee and one of the poll observers, at least, signaled a change in outlook.
“This is an opportunity for us to move from a policy that has been focused on a personality to one based on an entire people,” Biden said.
Regardless of what eventually happens to Musharraf, the gnawing reality is that politically, he may have reached a dead-end.
The relevant Constututionl provisions for Impeachment of President.
The Federation of Pakistan
47. Removal [22][or impeachment] of President.
[22A](1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution, the President may, in accordance with the provisions of this Article, be removed from office on the ground of physical or mental incapacity or impeached on a charge of violating the Constitution or gross misconduct.
(2) Not less than one-half of the total membership of either House may give to the Speaker of the National Assembly or, as the case may be, the Chairman written notice of its intention to move a resolution for the removal of, or, as the case may be, to impeach, the President; and such notice shall set out the particulars of his incapacity or of the charge against him.]
(3) If a notice under clause (2) is received by the Chairman, he shall transmit it forthwith to the Speaker.
(4) The Speaker shall, within three days of the receipt of a notice under clause (2) or clause (3), cause a copy of the notice to be transmitted to the President.
(5) The Speaker shall summon the two Houses to meet in a joint sitting not earlier than seven days and not later than fourteen days after the receipt of the notice by him.
(6) The joint sitting may investigate or cause to be investigated the ground or the charge upon which the notice is founded.
(7) The President shall have the right to appear and be represented during the investigation, if any, and before the joint sitting.
(8) If, after consideration of the result of the investigation, if any, a resolution is passed at the joint sitting by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of [23][Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] declaring that the President is unfit to hold the office due to incapacity or is guilty of violating the Constitution or of gross misconduct, the President shall cease to hold office immediately on the passing of the resolution.
In order to comprehend what PPP-PMLN coalition is getting into by taking the Impeachment Route it may be useful to take a look at what Impeachment is in the contemporary world. Here are some relevant materials.

Independence Day of Pakistan

On the 61 Independence Day,  as the people of Pakistan celebrate and rejoice, the bounty that became home to the genertion that was witness to the Dawn of  14th August 1947 and  since. May be, the former knew what was the vision of Father of the Nation Mr. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, do we?
While Celebrating let’s revisit Jinnah’s Vision and collectively reflect, let ‘Bye gone be, that-Bye Gone “ and resolve to take Big steps, one at a time in humble and small way, in Unison to put our Mother Land Pakistan on the path envisioned and charted by  Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinah.
Let’s see what he said on following occasions:
Interview to a representative of the Associated Press of America, clarifying various aspects of Pakistan, Bombay, November 8, 1945(full text)
Politically, Pakistan would be a democracy. Mr. Jinnah said that he personally hoped its major industrial and public utility services would be socialized. The component states or provinces of Pakistan would have autonomy.
Economically, Mr Jinnah contended, Pakistan, divided into two separate zones, is just as sound an undertaking as if it were a country with all of its States in one bloc; that is natural resources and population would be sufficient to make it a great world power.
Most Powerful State
Declaring that Pakistan would embrace a population of some one hundred million persons, Mr. Jinnah added: “England became power with only a population of 35 million. Pakistan could become one of the most powerful states economically.”
Even now a Muslim League committee is studying the field for developing Pakistan States as a nation. There is a great future for it, with its still untouched iron, petroleum, sulphur, coal and other mineral deposits many of which already have been mapped. The Punjab is putting up one of the greatest hydroelectric stations in the world and this will mean a rural electrification and industrial development programme.
There is no merit to contentions that to draw masses of persons into industry would rob farms of needed labour and invite food shortages or famine.
There would be ample revenues from “equitable taxation, levied in a manner consistent with social justice” to finance good Government and “allow us to have a State as good as any in the world and better than many sovereign countries on the map of the world today..”
This would be a Muslim state. As far as the Musalmans are concerned there would be no social barriers of any kind against the Hindus or anyone else. The Musalmans are a people who believe in and act on the basic principle of  equality of manhood and fraternity.
No One-Party Government
Mr. Jinnah said that he did not expect that Pakistan would have one-party Government and that he would oppose one party rule. “An opposition party or parties are good correctives for any party which is in power” he said.
Hindu minorities in Pakistan can rest assured that their rights will be protected. No civilised Government can be run successfully without giving minorities a complete sense of security and confidence. They must be made to feel that they have a hand in Government and to do this they must have adequate representation in it. Pakistan will give this.
The theory of Pakistan guarantees that federated units of the National Government would have all the autonomy that you will find in the constitutions of the United States of America, Canada and Australia. But certain vital powers will remain vested in the Central Government such as the monetary system, national defence and other federal responsibilities.
Each federated State or province would have its own legislative executive and judicial systems, each of the three branches of Government being constitutionally separate.
National Defence
Britain has been strong with an empire scattered over the globe. We can be strong with a Pakistan which has one of its zones in the west and one in the east of India. We would be more closely knit than the British Commonwealth of Nations.
And do not forget that more than 55 per cent of the Indian Army comes from the Punjab and are mostly Muslims. (1)
On the occasion of the inauguration of the Pakistan Broadcasting Service: August 15, 1947
“It is with feelings of greatest happiness and emotion that I send you my greetings. August 15 is the birthday of the independent and sovereign State of Pakistan. It marks the fulfillment of the destiny of the Muslim nation which made great sacrifices in the past few years to have its homeland.
“At this supreme moment my thoughts are with those valiant fighters in our cause. Pakistan will remain grateful to them and cherish the memory of those who are no more.
“The creation of the new State has placed a tremendous responsibility on the citizens of Pakistan. It gives them an opportunity to demonstrate to the world how can a nation, containing many elements, live in peace and amity and work for the betterment of all its citizens, irrespective of caste or creed.
“Our object should be peace within and peace without. We want to live peacefully and maintain cordial and friendly relations with our immediate neighbors and with the world at large. We have no aggressive designs against any one. We stand by the United Nations Charter and will gladly make our full contribution to the peace and prosperity of the world.
“Muslims of India have shown to the world that they are a united nation, their cause is just and righteous which cannot be denied. Let us, on this day, humbly thank God for His bounty and pray that we might be able to prove that we are worthy of it.
“This day marks the end of a poignant phase in our national history and it should also be the beginning of a new and a noble era. Let us impress the minorities by word, deed and thought that as long as they fulfill their duties and obligations as loyal citizens of Pakistan, they have nothing to fear.
“To the freedom loving tribes on our borders and the States beyond our borders, we send our greetings and assure that Pakistan will respect their status and will extend to them its most friendly co-operation in preserving peace. We have no ambition beyond the desire to live honorably and let others live honorably.
“Today is Jummat-ul-Wida, last Friday of the holy month of Ramazan, a day of rejoicing for all of us wherever we may be in this vast sub-continent and for the matter of that throughout the world. Let the Muslim congregations in their thousands, in all the mosques, bow in all humility before the Almighty and thank Him for His eternal kindness and generosity, seeking His guidance and assistance in the task of making Pakistan into a great State and themselves into its worthy citizens.
“Finally, let me tell you, fellow citizens, Pakistan is a land of great potential resources. But to build it up into a country worthy of the Muslim nation, we shall require every ounce of energy that we possess and I am confident that it will come from all whole-heartedly.”
Pakistan Zindabad!
“I know there are people who do not quite agree with the division of India and the partition of the Punjab and Bengal. Much has been said against it, but now that it has been accepted, it is the duty of every one of us to loyally abide by it and honourably act according to the agreement which is now final and binding on all. But you must remember, as I have said, that this mighty revolution that has taken place is unprecedented. One can quite understand the feeling the exists between the two communities wherever one community is in majority and the other is in minority. But the question is whether it was possible or practicable to act otherwise than has been done. A division had to take place. On both sides, in Hindustan and Pakistan, there are sections of people who may not agree with it, who may not like it, but in my judgment there was no other solution and I am sure future history will record its verdict in favour of it. And what is more it will be proved by actual experience as we go on that that was the only solution of India’s constitutional problem. Any idea of a United India could never have worked and in my judgment it would have led us to terrific disaster. May be that view is correct ; may be it is not; that remains to be seen. All the same, in this division it was impossible to avoid the question of minorities being in one Dominion or the other. Now that was unavoidable. There is no other solution. Now what shall we do? Now, if we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor. If you will work in co-operation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.
I cannot emphasize it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities the Hindu community and the Muslim community-because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabies, Shias, Sunnis and so on and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnvas, Khatris, also Bengalis, Madrasis, and so on-will vanish. Indeed if you ask me this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence and but for this we would have been free peoples long long ago. No power can hold another nation, and specially a nation of 400 million souls in subjection ; nobody could have conquered you, and even if it had happened, nobody could have continued its hold on you for any length of time but for this. Therefore we must learn a lesson from this. You are free ; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed-that has nothing to do with the business of the State. As you know, history shows that in England conditions some time ago were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some State in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state. The people of England in course of time had to face the realities of the situation and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the Government of their country and they went through that fire step by step. Today you might say with justice that Roman Catholic and Protestants do not exists ; what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen, of Great Britain and they are all members of the Nation.
Now, I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.(3)
Reflect upon this;
In 1998 MR. Roe Dad Khan, reflected on editorial page of Dawn;
“Pakistan has lapsed into languor, a spiritless lassitude. A sense of guilt, shame, danger and anxiety hangs over the country like a pall. It appears as if we are on a phantom train that is gathering momentum and we cannot get off. Today Pakistan is a silent, mournful land where few people talk of the distant future and most live from day to day. They see themselves as ordinary and unimportant, their suffering too common to be noted and prefer to bury their pain.
Pakistan is in a deep, deep, hole. When will it follow the first rule of holes? When you are in a hole, stop digging. Unfortunately the hole Pakistan has dug itself into is really, really, deep. The problem for us is that you feel you are in a hole and you want to get out, and you hear all those noises, and all that activity, but you feel very much alone, with no one out there really wanting to stretch back to you and help you out. The country suffers from a malignant disease, but people think it is just a cold, so they continue taking small does of medicine and wonder why it still hurts.”
And also this;
Independence Day, 14th August 2007 General Pervez Musharraf said,
“To all who care about Pakistan Our country has come a long way since its independence. Recently included in the global “next 11” emerging economies. Pakistan is on a sure and sustainable macro-economic footing with investment and entrepreneurial activities spreading across sectors. The last six years have witnessed a radical transformation of the socio-economic landscape of the country. The economic upsurge can be seen permeating down to the welfare and quality of life of the people.
The Government hopes to sustain this trend.”  (4)
May Allah Give us the Sagacity, Wisdom and Vision of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinah
About the author: Amicus is the pseudonym of Advocate Mohammed Yousuf. Has written extensively on Islam and Islamist Militancy.
Interview to a representative of the Associated Press of America, clarifying various aspects of Pakistan, Bombay, November 8, 1945(full text)
(3) Dawn (11 August, 2006


100 Days Elections Pakistan 2008

100 Days
By Amicus.

The popular verdict of 18 February 2008 was clear: the people had overwhelmingly rejected General Musharraf’s policies that, in the name of ‘war on terror’, had plunged the FATA and NWFP into a war-like situation and, despite all tall claims about economic progress, had greatly widened the gulf between the rich and the poor. The people had also shown strong disapproval of Musharraf’s sacking of the superior court judges and the Proclamation of Emergency on 3 November 2007.
When on 24 March 2008, the National Assembly elected the PPP candidate Makhdoom Yusuf Raza Gilani as the Prime Minister, the hall resounded with the slogans of ‘Jiay Bhutto’ and ‘Go Musharraf Go’ and when the Prime Minister ordered the release of the ‘deposed’ judges, the applause was deafening. The majority of the elected representatives had expressed the sentiments of their electorates, viz:
  • ‘Restoration’ of the pre-PCO judiciary
  • Exit of General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf
On 29 March 2008 Yusuf Raza Gilani secured a unanimous vote of confidence from the National Assembly. On the floor of the House he declared that his government was not afraid of “innumerable challenges” that it would have to face and that “the restoration of law and order and total elimination of terrorism” would be its first priority. He identified unemployment, inflation and poverty as the second most pressing problem for his government. Referring to the crises with which the country was beset, the Prime Minister placed the problems of electricity, water, flour and high prices at the top and admitted that no immediate solution to these problems was possible.
In his address to the National Assembly on the occasion, he announced a number of steps that his government intended to take, including:
  • Negotiations with “all those people who will lay down arms and adopt the path of peace.”
  • Repeal of the Frontier Crime Regulations of 1901 that are still applicable to FATA.
  • Repeal of Industrial Relations Order 2002 that imposes curbs on trade union activities.
  • Revival of student unions.
  • Formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to promote national reconciliation, particularly in Balochistan where excesses have been committed.
  • Abolition of Concurrent List of the Constitution to devolve more powers to the provinces.
  • Framing of a new freedom of information law and making of Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) a subsidiary of the Information Ministry.
  • Bringing of National Accountability Bureau under the control of the judiciary.
  • Creation of an Employment Commission to provide jobs in private and public sectors.Launching of a National Employment Scheme in 50 per cent of districts to provide job to at least one person from every family.
  • Establishment of a Literacy and Health Corporation to provide jobs to young people for two years after graduation.
  • Construction of more power plants and small dams for energy and irrigation purposes and taking of energy conservation measures.
  • Setting up of a Madressah Welfare Authority to prescribe in consultation with the stake-holders a uniform syllabus for madressahs and to audit their funds.
  • Building of a million housing units every year for low-income groups. Launching of five-marla schemes in villages where state land is available and of schemes to provide flats and 80 square yards plots to homeless in cities.
  • Adoption of several austerity measures, including cut in the budget of the Prime Minister House by 40% and ban on renovation of government buildings and residences.
  • Hundred days after the unveiling of the above-mentioned ambitious plan the government’s performance does not appear up to the mark in making progress towards the achievement of most of its goals.
Let us see where the government actually stands:
During the election campaign all the parties except the MQM and PMLQ, had declared their support for the lawyers’ movement. Before her assassination Benazir Bhutto had publicly demanded the ‘restoration’ of the pre-PCO judiciary and visited the Judges Colony as a gesture of support. BB’s wish notwithstanding, the ‘restoration’ of judiciary has not taken place. The PPP has backed out from the Murree Accord / Bhurban Declaration concluded by Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif which contemplated ‘reinstatement’ of ‘deposed’ judges within a month through a resolution of the National Assembly followed by an executive order.
The PPP has assumed the position, (ironically rightly so), that this can only be done through a constitutional amendment, which it has made a component of its proposed ‘constitutional package’.
The PPP has taken the stand that the individuals are not important and it wants to ensure the independence of judiciary as an institution.
However, the PPP’s proposed constitutional package provides for restriction on the Supreme Court’s power to take up matters of “general public importance” suo motu.
It also provides for fixation of the tenure of the Chief Justice of Pakistan.
By making it conditional that the ‘restoration’ of judiciary and that too after retaining the post- PCO judges can only take place if the constitutional package is passed by the Parliament, the PPP has betrayed its intention of not reinstating Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry as the Chief justice of Pakistan.
The payment of salaries to the pre-PCO judges and budgetary provision for 29 Supreme Court judges, appears to be an ad-hoc measure to cool down the lawyers’ movement and gain time.
But this policy has put the PPP-PML (N) coalition in danger. The PML (N) has withdrawn from the federal government creating uncertainty about the future of present dispensation.
The PPP’s proposed constitutional package provides for giving validity to the Proclamation of Emergency of 3 November 2007 and actions taken under it, including the Provisional Constitution Order.
Under pressure of public opinion the PPP leaders claim that they do not consider Musharraf as lawfully elected President but are not prepared to do anything to remove him. The PPP does not want to jeopardize its ‘deal’ with Musharraf under which it had agreed to accept Musharraf as President and Musharraf on his part promulgated the so-called National Reconciliation Ordinance to clear the PPP leadership of all corruption charges.
On the issue of ‘war on terror’, it seems that some qualitative change has taken place because of the policy of the NWFP government led by the ANP and due to the fact that the cost of military operation against the Taliban has proved to be unbearable. Otherwise there is not an iota of difference between the approaches of Musharraf and the PPP on the issue.
In his address of 29 March 2008, Prime Minister Gilani had stated: “The war against terrorism is our own war because countless of our innocent children and jawans have fallen martyrs as a result of it.”
He conveniently forgot that these jawans were killed while fighting the American war. The premise that the so-called ‘war on terror’ is our war is reflective of the policy which was categorically rejected by the people on 18 February.
The Prime Minister had promised in the same speech that his government would announce a new package for the tribal areas as an “important pillar of our strategy in the war against terrorism”; however, to this date it has failed to come up with any such package.
Hailing the announcement of the Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani that the army personnel would be recalled from civilian departments, Gilani had stated: “It is necessary for the solidarity and progress of the country that every institution fulfils its specific responsibilities.” He had added, “Governance is the responsibility of only the people.”
However, with regard to FATA, the Democratic Government has abdicated or conveniently passed on the ultimate authority, (one may say the buck) to deal with the militants, to the army chief.
  • No repeal of the Frontier Crime Regulations has taken place. The FATA is still subject to this colonial and archaic piece of legislation.
  • No repeal of Industrial Relations Order 2002 has taken place. The restrictions on trade union activities exist as before.
  • Although ban on student unions has been lifted, the conditions do not appear conducive for holding of elections in educational institutions.
  • No progress has been made towards the formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The idea derived from South African experience would have enabled the nation to realize its past mistakes, in particular in dealing with the Balochistan situation. Although the government has released some Baloch leaders, much is needed to be done.
  • The PPP has proposed renaming of the NWFP as Pakhtunistan and included this proposal in its constitutional package, but the matter rests there.
  • Virtually no debate is going on concerning the abolition of the Concurrent List of subjects. If there is sincerity of intention, it is not necessary that every amendment should be made through a ‘constitutional package’.
  • Except for Eighth, Thirteenth and Seventeenth Amendments which were packages, all other amendments to the Constitution of 1973 were issue specific. Constitutional matters on which a general agreement is forged can be isolated from the proposed constitutional package and passed as separate amendments.
  • Although the Pemra laws have been amended, there has been no freedom of information law on anvil.
  • NAB has not been placed under the control of judiciary.
  • There has been no visible progress towards creation of Employment Commission or Literacy and Health Corporation. No launching of National Employment scheme is in sight.
  • The energy conservation program is not working satisfactorily. The construction of more power plants and dams is a long term issue. The government has announced it would not proceed with the construction of the Kaka Bagh dam.
  • The Madressah Welfare Authority has not been set up. The ulema have already rejected the idea of any such authority.
  • On the positive side, the government has only taken some austerity measures, including a 30% cut in the budget of the PM House. It has raised the minimum salary in public sector to Rs 6000 and given a 20% increase in running basic salaries and a 100% increase in conveyance allowance of the public sector employees which is a joke in the face of inflation that has gone out of control.
The cost of energy and food items is rising without respite, whereas the value of rupee is steadily declining and $ is now worth Rs 73. Due to a 30% increase in gas price, the textile mills have threatened to shut down and the transporters are clamoring for a rise in fare.
The internal security situation is grave. The law and order has nearly collapsed. The FATA and NWFP are in turmoil. There has been no let up in the insurgency in Balochistan. The stock exchanges are on a downward slide.
There is a constant outflow of capital to foreign countries. Industrialization is on a standstill. Poverty is on increase, abject reality all around.. Unemployment is rampant. Suicide rates have doubled over the last couple of months. Pakistan will become a hell for the poor if subsidies on fuel and food are withdrawn by the end of the year as envisaged by the government.
On a different note, in the absence of a serious repair job, through political means and immediate substantial economic inputs \ from the Government in the Tribal Area and FATA, Pakistan is fast heading towards radicalization of vast parts of its society, leading to societal conflicts, erosion of writ of the State, chaotic conditions and collapse of established order.
At the end of its first hundred days in power, the PPP-led coalition gives the impression of a ship adrift in the high sea without a sense of direction.
At a time when the dire need of Pakistan is to have a strong leadership, it has a President who has fallen from grace, a Prime Minister who lacks authority, a Parliament that has chosen to remain insecure and a Judiciary, waiting to be resurrected. 100 days shows, how people have been empowered to be the beasts of Burdon.

The people are aghast to see the ship without a captain. They are clueless as to whether someone is steering the ship or it is being remotely controlled from Washington, DC, or is headed in the dire straits.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pakistan: The state Of the federation

Pakistan: The state Of the federation

By amicus • Oct 17th, 2012 • Category: Lead Story •3 Comments

Faced with multiple challenges and crises, the state of Pakistan is passing through the most critical phase of its history since 1970-71.
The performance record of the present government is abysmally poor. But it is also difficult to be optimistic about the future.
One wonders:
Will the law and order situation allow the general elections to take place by or in the spring of 2013?
Will the political leadership and/or military establishment consider it appropriate to proceed with the holding of free and fair general elections regardless of what are the poll-results?
Will the outcome of the general elections, if they are held, strengthen the federation or prove ominous for the country?
What option is likely to be availed if the general elections are postponed indefinitely?
These are some of the questions that agitate the mind. There are so many aspects and dimensions of the current situation and so many perspectives to look at it from that one finds it quite difficult to speculate about what is in the store. At times state institutions and government functionaries are seen working at cross purposes. Nevertheless an attempt to understand some of the complex issues is worth making:
The year 2008 seemed a watershed in Pakistan’s history. A fresh beginning was made after the general elections and exit of General Pervez Musharraf from the corridors of power. Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani pledged not to interfere in the politics of the country and let the politicians perform their job. The civil society appeared assertive and strong. On the restoration of pre-November 2007 Supreme Court, it appeared that at last a new era of the supremacy of constitution and the rule of law might dawn in Pakistan.
However, slowly and gradually it became clear that Kayani had failed to fulfill his solemn promise. Be that the issue of Raymond David or Memogate, meteoric rise of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) or alleged formation of the Defa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC), disruption of NATO supplies after the Salala incident or resumption of these supplies in disregard of the conditions framed by the Parliament, behind the scene maneuvering of the military establishment was visible. It proved that the military’s national security paradigm had not changed.
Whether one likes it or not, though in somewhat diluted form, the reality of the army’s omnipresence is very much there. Bribing the politicians or threatening them with dire consequences is a small thing. It seems the military establishment defines certain objectives in ‘national interest’ and in order to achieve them adopts all means at its disposal, including extra-judicial killings. One is bound to suspect the security agencies’ hands in some of the ‘terror’ incidents that are attributed to particular groups or elements to bring bad name to them. In the age of electronic media it has become easier to mold or give a particular direction to public opinion. The military establishment has sufficient funds and some implanted personnel in media groups to fulfill its agenda. But then there are also people in the media groups who seem to receive funds from foreign powers and are vocal in.
What hurts the military establishment is that the United States wants to rein in the ISI that is the architect of the policy of hunting with the hound and running with the hare. It seems there are also people in the media groups who receive funds from foreign powers to paint the security agencies in extremely bad color.
One of the most serious challenges faced by the Pakistani federation is how to deal with the insurgency in Balochistan province, a region which has become the hotbed of foreign powers’ rivalry because of its geopolitical and strategic significance.
Balochistan has the potentials to serve as a transit trade route and energy corridor to and from the Central Asian Republics via Afghanistan. The development of the Gwadar Port and the prospect of Chinese presence on the Arabian Sea near the mouth of the Gulf is a source of much discomfort to the United States. As long as the NATO/ISAF forces are stationed in Afghanistan, Balochistan offers one of the important supply routes to cater to their needs. Obviously India and the United States dislike involvement of China in Balochistan, particularly in Gwadar Port. Perhaps there is sufficient evidence with Pakistan’s security agencies to suggest that India and the United States are fomenting trouble in Balochistan to hinder progress on mega projects underway with Chinese cooperation.
The Baloch people have a long list of grievances which are mostly just and well-known and need not be repeated here. Lately the issue has started getting internationalized. A few months ago some US Congressmen raised it and condemned Pakistan government and law enforcement/security agencies for their high-handedness in dealing with the Baloch people.
Recently a UN working group was here on a fact-finding mission. It visited several Pakistani cities and held meetings with politicians, government functionaries and the family members of the missing persons who have allegedly been picked up by the military-controlled security agencies. There are also cases of the persons who were allegedly taken into custody by these agencies and whose death bodies were later found under mysterious circumstances. The UN working group is to submit its report to the UN Human Rights Council.
To political observers’ utter surprise, Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal returned to Pakistan in September from self-imposed exile to depose before the Supreme Court in the law and order and human rights violation case. His Six-Point Charter which he presented on the occasion is virtually an indictment of the military establishment and representative of Baloch people’s perception. Mengal’s Six-Point Charter says:
1. All covert and overt military operations against Baloch people should be ended immediately.
2. All missing persons should be produced before the court of law.
3. All proxy death squads operating in a manner like Al Shams and Al Badar operated (in Bangladesh) allegedly under the supervision of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) should be disbanded.
4. Baloch political parties should be allowed to function and resume their political activities without any interference from intelligence agencies.
5. Persons responsible for inhuman torture, killing and dumping of bodies of Baloch political leaders and activists should be brought to justice.
6. Measures should be initiated for rehabilitation of thousands of displaced Baloch living in appalling condition.
Although Sardar Mengal compared his Six-Point Charter with Sheikh Mujib-ur Rehman’s Six Points on the basis of which the Awami League had contested the general elections of December 1970, this comparison is not valid because Sheikh Mujib’s Six Points had provided for a constitutional scheme that would have safeguarded the political and economic interests of erstwhile East Pakistan whereas Sardar Mengal’s Six points lack any such content.
According to Sardar Mengal, “general amnesty, development packages and apologies” would not work and Pakistan Government should negotiate with true representatives and not “manufactured” representatives of the Baloch people.
Although in the eyes of neutral observers Mengal’s indictment has much substance, Pakistan Government and the military establishment have rejected them in totality, implying that non-state actors and/or foreign agents are responsible for killings and forced disappearances in Balochistan or that some of the missing persons have actually left their homes to join various anti-state outfits like Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).
It is clear from Sardar Mengal’s statement that the devolution of power under the Eighteenth Amendment, the Seventh National Finance Commission Award and the Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan Programme are not sufficient steps to settle the Balochistan issue. Some bold initiative needs to be taken.
The ISPR quoted Chief of the Army Staff as having said: “Army fully supports any political process as long as it is within the Constitution.” It is said that the ISPR wanted to dispel the impression that the army was an impediment in a political solution of the Balochistan issue. Thanks to the Army Chief. One could have asked: Is it the business of the Army Chief to comment on a political issue? Is patriotism the exclusive monopoly of the armed forces? Is it not that the Army Chief had to clarify his position because the army is very much involved in the matter? But then, as stated above, the army’s role is a hard reality of Pakistani politics which one has to admit perforce. By making this unguarded comment the Army Chief has also accepted by implication that Pakistan’s territorial integrity is at stake.
The security agencies’ misdeeds in Balochistan have been thoroughly exposed during hearing of the law and order and human rights violation case in the Supreme Court. The Interim Order of the Supreme Court issued on October 12, 2012 admits that the situation in Balochistan is extremely grim. It says that the provincial government has failed to establish the writ of law and has lost the authority to govern the province in accordance with the Constitution.
The Order adds that except for deploying the Frontier Corps troops, the Federal Government has not taken any effective measures to protect the province from internal disturbances. The Supreme Court has referred to Federal Government’s responsibility under Article 148 (3) of the Constitution. This article says: “It shall be the duty of the Federation to protect every Province against external aggression and internal disturbances and to ensure that the Government of every Province is carried on in accordance with the provision of the Constitution.”
Apparently the Supreme Court is exhorting the Federal Government for some type of direct intervention in Balochistan.
Now if free and fair elections are held in Balochistan, allowing the Baloch nationalists/separatists or their nominees/proxies to participate in them as demanded by Mengal, it is very likely that they would secure majority in the provincial assembly and acquire the status of legitimate representatives of the Baloch people. What if after winning the elections they become reluctant to arrive at a settlement within the framework of the Constitution and announce to part ways. (Remember Awami League’s mandate of1970-71) This is not an unlikely scenario considering the fact that the United States and India are opposed to China’s role in Balochistan and may seek its secession by encouraging the separatists.
In view of the seriousness of the situation, it is necessary that some viable understanding is arrived at with the separatists/nationalists before they are allowed to contest the elections. Sardar Mengal is relatively moderate and may serve as a mediator between Pakistan Government/military establishment and the separatists/nationalists or his party may be facilitated during the elections.
It is also important that the limits of tolerance of the United States and India should be taken into consideration while giving any foothold to China in Balochistan. When elephants fight grass is crushed.
If no steps are taken, the Balochistan issue would continue to haunt the country. Pakistan Armed Forces would continue to confront insurgency. The Baloch nationalists would continue to target armed forces personnel and Punjabi settlers. The mega projects would remain unimplemented. The foreign powers would have a fertile ground to interfere and Pakistan’s territorial integrity would remain at stake.
Another serious problem in Balochistan is that of sectarianism. It is the fault of Pakistan government that it did not take proper and timely cognizance of the turf war between Saudi Arabia and Iran on its soil. Soon after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the conservative Arab Kingdoms and Sheikhdoms had made it incumbent upon themselves to contain the impact of revolutionary and populist ideas from spreading to neighboring countries and to prevent emergence of any Shia bloc under the leadership of Iran in the Middle East.
Since early 1980s, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates have been funding Sunni militant outfits to counter and suppress Shia community in Pakistan. The Hazara of Balochistan, who profess Shia version of Islam, have become regular victims of target killing. The sectarian conflict has virtually divided the areas of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, between Sunni Pakhtuns and Shia Hazaras.
It is the responsibility of Pakistan Government de jure and of the military establishment de facto to address the issue of sectarianism with heavy hand and simultaneously communicate to the governments of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iran that interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs is unacceptable.
Before the Musharraf government took U-turn in Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy in September 2001, the situation in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and FATA was stable. Despite the presence of a large number of local Taliban and foreign militants, including Al-Qaeda elements, the tribal belt was peaceful. The Taliban were supposed to play an important role in Pakistan’s push for strategic depth and one could recognize the friends and foes.
By the end of 2003, Pakistan Armed Forces were at war with Al-Qaeda and some Taliban groups based in the tribal region. Since then there have been no respites – barring the intervals when peace agreements were in place in FATA – for Pakistan Armed Forces whose personnel and installations have become coveted targets of the militants. These militants view Pakistan Armed Forces as an ally of the infidel power – the United States – and therefore a legitimate target of attacks.
The people of Pakistan were vehemently opposed to the post 9/11 occupation of Afghanistan by the US-led coalition forces. To be in the camp of the United States was against their ideological moorings. In order to turn them against the Taliban, it was necessary that the image of the Taliban be distorted and the Taliban should be made to adopt policies that alienated the people of Pakistan. The Taliban who had been shocked by the treachery of Pakistan Government and faced the fire-power of the Pakistan Armed Forces, whom hitherto they had considered a reliable friend, became an easy prey. They failed to maintain their unity and the CIA and RAW agents within their ranks were able to create staunchly anti-Pakistan Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The anti-Pakistan factions of Taliban have undergone a change of character. The Deobandi influence has subsided and the TTP is infested with Khwarij and Takfiri elements. They attack Pakistan Armed Forces personnel, Barelvi and Shias. They target mazars and imam bargahs without qualms. They consider those who oppose their brand of Islam as kafirs, muhsriks and murtads. They are responsible for suicide attacks and bomb explosions at public places. They are the ‘bad’ Taliban, nay terrorists. But it was the U-turn in Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy that led to the stage where Pakistan faces what is a ‘fitna’ in religious parlance
But then otherwise ‘moderate’ Muslims are also getting radicalized due to regular US drone attacks inside Pakistani territory that kill a lot of innocent people including women and children. The US policy in the Middle East, inhuman treatment meted out to the inmates of Guantanamo Bay and erstwhile Abu Gharaib and Bagram prisons, publication of blasphemous caricatures, disrespect shown to Holy Quran by US soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, production of blasphemous film “Innocence of Muslims” and the like events that recur to infuriate common Muslims. Some of them are influenced by international Islamic movements and consider it their religious obligation to cooperate with the anti-US militants. No surprise that militants who attacked the GHQ, the Mehran base and the Karma base had their supporters within these installations.
The Taliban are not a monolithic body. The Afghan Taliban still demonstrate admirable restraint and want to be on friendly terms with Pakistan. The Haqqani group is unmistakably pro-Pakistan. But the end to militancy by the TTP is not in sight. Pakistan needs to open negotiations with them. They may be assured that Pakistan Armed Forces would cause no harm to them. Peace agreements should be concluded afresh with solemnity. Otherwise the blunder committed in September 2001 will take indefinite toll. Military operations will further radicalize them and swell their ranks. They may declare establishment of an independent Islamic Emirate in the region. The Pakistan Armed Forces would be sucked into a protracted and unwinnable war.
If general elections are held in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and FATA, the Awami National Party (ANP) is likely to be routed because of its pro-military establishment posturing and due to rampant corruption that has marred its government. The PTI may emerge as the largest party because of its anti-Americanism and consistent opposition of drone attacks, provided it is able to properly organize itself before the polls.
In Sindh, it is essentially the nature of relationship between various ethnic groups, in particular the Sindhis and Mohajirs that deserves special attention.
One very sensible thing that the Musharraf government had done was the formation of Karachi City District Government (KCDG) which was a compromise between outright subordination of Karachi’s administrative set up to Sindhi-dominated provincial government and creation of a separate province likely to be dominated by the Mohajirs.
Although under an arrangement the Muttahida Qaumi Movement had remained on the side lines when first elections for the KCDG were held, it showed restraint and Karachi became a peaceful city. After the induction of MQM-led KCDG, a lot of development work was done and it seemed that the good old days of Karachi might return back.
In the aftermath of the general elections of 2008, the MQM became a coalition partner of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) at the federal and provincial levels but could not save the KCDG. Karachi as the hub of country’s commercial activities has a unique charm. Its prime and costly land attracts those who have opportunity to grab it by fair or foul means. The PPP was not prepared to leave Karachi in the hands of the MQM. It planned to have a strong foothold in down town Karachi.
Cornered by the PPP’s tacit understanding with the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) not to wean the MQM, and faced with a continuous influx of Pakhtuns that strengthened the ANP in parts of Karachi, the MQM failed to influence the PPP’s policy with its usual tactics. Under the patronage of the PPP Provincial Minister Zulfiqar Mirza, the People’s Peace Committee began encroaching upon the areas in old city where previously the MQM had its sway. Simultaneously the PPP government ignored the ANP’s growing power in areas where there was substantial Pashtun presence.
During last four years, the MQM’s hold on Karachi has got somewhat diluted. Karachi has become a theatre of target killings in which workers of the MQM, the PPP, the ANP and others lose their lives regularly. Simultaneously, sectarian killings also continue side by side which is particularly disturbing for the MQM because its appeal on the basis of Mohajir identity transcends sectarian divide. Any Sunni-Shia conflict is bound to weaken the MQM more than any other party.
The MQM understands that the population of Pakhtuns and Punjabis is swelling in Karachi to the detriment of the Mohajirs. It realizes that a perpetual Sindhi-Mohajir alliance can help the two communities – they have no other place to go – to protect Sindh’s interests otherwise the continuous influx of the Pakhtuns and Punjabis would become a threat to domination of Sindhis also.
It is only recently that as a part of its electoral strategy the PPP changed its stance and agreed to promulgate Sindh People’s Local Government Ordinance 2012. The new law provides for establishment of metropolitan corporations in urban Sindh: Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkhana and Mirpur Khas. This has provided some solace to the MQM.
However, the Sindhi nationalists – most of them are on the pay roll of Punjab-dominated security agencies – have started a campaign against the SPLGO 2012, representing it as the harbinger of division of Sindh, and vilifying the PPP as a party which is working against the interests of Sindh. The way they incite the Sindhis and appeal to their emotions is a threat to the peace and tranquility of the province.
The PPP public meeting in Khairpur was attacked leaving seven persons dead. There have been threats and grenade/cracker attacks on the houses of the PPP legislators. Who could have been be the master-mind, less said is better. If there is any further breakdown of law and order in the province, it would become difficult to hold fair and free elections in some parts of Sindh.
Although the Sindhi nationalists have considerable nuisance value, the vote bank of the PPP is quite solid. Some erosion in it would be compensated by the support of the Mohajirs if the PPP and the MQM are able to form an electoral alliance.
Allah forbid, if centrifugal forces become strong or at any stage in future the PPP irreclaimably loses support base in Punjab to get restricted to Sindh, the MQM-PPP alliance may pose yet another threat to the territorial integrity of Pakistan. It is in the interest of the country that the parties that have some base and support in all units of the federation survive rather they thrive as connecting link between provinces.
At present, Punjab poses least problem. The PML (N) has governed it in a far better way than any other provincial government. Considerable development work has taken place. Had there been no power outages and gas shortages, Punjab would have flourished remarkably. The PML (N) has foresight to facilitate business with Indian Punjab. Obviously security agencies are on board as if only Punjabis own certificate of patriotism.
The PPP was reluctant to hold general elections in September-October to avoid backlash as a result of energy crisis. The PPP has now concentrated on improving supply of electricity to Punjab on priority basis. Reportedly there has been some improvement in electricity supply.
As an electioneering plank, the PPP has called for creation of a Saraiki or South Punjab Province. Probably it had thought that the PML (N) would be embarrassed. But the PML (N) came up with the idea of making Bahawalpur, which was once a Princely State, a province. Still the PPP is likely to reap benefit for its slogan of Saraiki province.
In the general elections, the PPP and PML (Q) are likely to field joint candidates. The PPP has considerable support in Saraiki region. In other parts the PML (N) is quite strong. But the main challenge to both the PPP and the PML (N) is likely to come from the PTI. Overall the PML (N) seems to have an upper hand. Much depends on Jamaat-i-Islami (JI). If it forms alliance with the PTI, the PML (N) would be in real difficulty. Ultimately, Punjab would decide who wins Islamabad.
Getting cue from the past one feels that the Civil and military establishment would like the general elections to be postponed for at least three years. But presently the army is not in a position to take over the government directly. Leaving aside constitutional niceties, it would prefer a government of technocrats in the saddle in Islamabad that is amenable to its advice and directions.
The politicians, in and out of parliament, would like the general elections to take place by March 2013. But what is expected is a hung parliament with the PML (N), the PTI and the PPP getting major slices of the cake.
May be a better solution is to have general elections on time with, if at all necessary, then formation of a national government with the backing of the Pakistan Armed Forces.

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