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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Role reversal and the long march
T K Sheikh
A calm yet resounding Musharraf broke his month-old silence the other day before selective media persons, when during an unprecedented long interaction with them he spelled at length his frame of mind on different issues confronting the nation in the post February 18 election scenario. His body language has left many of his critics breathless and may have jeopardised their future game plans since they had successfully convinced a vast majority of the people that Musharraf is moribund and only a small push was needed to throw him out of the presidency. Musharraf has been under tremendous pressures and trying hard to strike a bargain for the safe passage that the president has certainly denied with confidence and authority. Time and space is amongst the major principles of war, may it be political or military. It is timely and judicious utilization that enables one to regain the initiative from the adversary and entangles the opponent in self preservation and compels him to retreat from the earlier gained goals. Musharraf’s timely pre-emptive strike before the start of the forthcoming long march that is apparently fully supported by the PML-N and the Punjab government has once again driven many of its supporters into the wilderness. What has exactly prompted Musharraf to select this timing is a million dollar question but there already exist clear signs that its results would perhaps be no different from the ones carried out earlier. Shahbaz Sharif has been sworn in as an unchallenged new Chief Minister of Punjab, breaking the myth that the goddess of fortune smiles once in a lifetime. No one could imagine that Sharif brothers would be able remake their fortune so smoothly into the post-election developments to the parliament without the interference of presidential camp. The recent statement from Shahbaz Sharif that he would maintain working relationship with the president and the absence of Mian Nawaz Sharif from the much-awaited long march designed to reinstate the deposed judges and through Musharraf out of the president house has already impinge upon its validity. The absence of Nawaz Sharif from the proposed long march has also created doubts within the lawyers’ community about the PML-N’s sincerity over the reinstatement of the deposed judges after becoming the younger Sharif became the new chief minister of Punjab. The softening stance of the Sharif brothers against Musharraf at the defining moments of the lawyers’ struggle is exactly what Mr Zardari has been saying that politics is the art of the possible. The statement from Ather Minhallah that the absence of Nawaz Sharif from the long march has raised many apprehensions within the lawyers’ community is perhaps a well-founded comment with serious impacts on their future course of actions. Henry George said that he who sees the truth let him proclaim it without asking who is for it or who is against it. The young Pakistani generation has been lucky enough to witness for themselves the role of the powerbrokers in Pakistan. A role reversal is instinctive since everyone desires to be amongst the loved ones. In social psychology, people who intentionally play a new role sometimes try to empathise with people whose roles differ from their own. It is a psycho-drama, a form of psychotherapy. But the fact remains that they always end up with what was real. The recent interview of the former Commander 10 Corps, Lieutenant General (retd) Jamshed Gulzar Kiyani on a private television channel has been a psycho-drama to be amongst the loved ones in any future political dispensation in Punjab. The retired general should have known that in the last sixty years of Pakistan’s history no general was able to reverse his role as a democrat in the public opinion. President Musharraf has also failed to reverse his role in the public eyes in spite of his best efforts. General Kiyani’s blatant assault on the president and military functioning has exposed his myopic and self-centric approach. It would have been appreciable if the retired general had resigned from the coveted appointments and privileges then. His belated statement that he had developed differences with the President and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) after 9/11 is ridiculous at least to those which know the functioning of the Pakistan army. What barred the President/COAS to post him out from the 10 Corps if at all he had developed differences with him? His callous interview has done more good to Musharraf in the army circles than harm. Some sympathy for Musharraf has started creeping in within the ranks. Kiyani’s unfounded blame of using chemical weapons during the Lal Masjid operation by Pakistani troops will have far reaching consequences for the military and its hierarchy that may be branded as rouge force in future by the enemies of Pakistan. It would certainly be extremely hard for the diplomatic mission to voice against the Indian high-headedness in the Indian held Kashmir due to such unscrupulous statements. What a payback the general has given to the organisation that had nurtured him. Ex-servicemen society has announced to be a part of the long march scheduled for June, 10 in order to reinstate the honourable deposed judges and have also demanded for the setting up of a commission on the Kargil operation. It is good to be answerable to the public. That is the real essence of democracy. We must appreciate that at last their conscience has woken up. But may I also add that a judicial enquiry may also be held for scrutinising their roles as Martial Law Administrators during Ziaul Haq’s dictatorial regime, when they willfully impinged upon the judicial system of Pakistan to gratify their boss and the conspiracies they have been hatching to derail the democratic process in Pakistan. There are many living political legends and workers who were targeted by their dictatorial orders during Ziaul Haq’s time. Therefore, it would be prudent for them not to pull wool over the people’s eyes since their love and respect for democracy and for political leadership is well-known to the people of Pakistan. In the last one year or so, every Tom, Dick and Harry has tried to use the judicial crisis to its own advantage, irrespective of the fact that the respect they carry for the judicial system is highly questionable. Everyone out of them has a fabulous history in preserving the freedom and independence of the judiciary during his own times. The present quagmire from which the nation is passing through is the common gift of these proclaimers of judicial independence and justice. Let’s not allow anyone to exploit the legal fraternity further to secure political mileage from Musharraf since every beneficiary has already complicated the matter further and has driven it away from an amicable solution. The exploiters have already had enough of their shares in the past. The role reversal methodology will lead the nation nowhere and at the end of the day the nation will once again come across with their real charters. The writer is a member visiting faculty National University of Modern Languages and Sciences (NUMLS) Islamabad

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