Articles of the year 2007

Playing Fair
Published on October 06th,2007

In my earlier piece, I had highlighted the Pakistani penchant for the 'rigged' call to every election, and the 6th was no exception, with Musharraf winning by an embarrassing margin. He is to be congratulated, but for reasons other than the sweep of the vote.

His true achievement is in exposing the political elements for their true colours. As some political commentators observed, 'Benazir has effectively buried her Father's legacy,' and the PPPP along with it. The obituary would read, 'On October the 6th, Benazir Bhutto, Chairperson –for life PPPP in negotiating a secret deal with a dictator in uniform, has in fact betrayed the hopes, dreams of all her Party workers, who had sacrificed much for the Party, and in Bhutto's memory and the general public who considered the PPP to be one for them- the people. Now stand mute witness to the complete stripping away of the flimsy camouflage hiding the grubby monetary truth behind the support given Musharraf as the quid pro quo. While her Father chose the gallows rather than compromise on his principles, she chose the path of collaboration, for money. Her thirty pieces of silver have in fact cost Pakistan, the dreams of the masses. Here lies the Party in shreds indistinguishable from the days of its original glory.'

The Party is now ripe for a break from Benazir, with the redoubtable Aitzaz Ahsan who served the CJ movement so well and propelled himself into the frontrunners from the current crop.

Similarly the MMA has established that their political manifesto based upon the tenets of Islam is a sham, and the party swings to the highest bidder. This weakness for rewards on earth has left them as exposed as the PPP, with now the opening for secular parties challenging them in their strongholds. With the removal of the support of the angels, they may just realize their true numbers, and with Uncle Sam deciding to play a more determined role in the area, the new 'supported' members will emerge in the forthcoming elections. The US and the UK governments have made it very clear that they have a role to play, and they will exercise this option assiduously. This may be a lot cheaper than involving themselves in a war of attrition which will prove far more costly in men and money. It will be wiser to channel these funds through secular parties where the funds are less likely to go astray, into extremist hands.

The western leadership must have realized that Benazir's motives have now been exposed and the further backing of damaged goods will prove counter-productive, especially at a time that a new beginning is envisaged with the elections. The most important factor is that a five year stint is on the cards, and if the West does not choose right this time, then, it will be a nightmare, for all concerned, with the region already sliding towards Talibanization, the entire region will be overrun. It is not dissimilar to the Communist position in Vietnam, --- the consequences are much more sinister. In Vietnam there was no external target of value, here with the Oil riches in striking range, the world economy would come under threat. The Americans are in Iraq for the Oil. And they will protect it with all their might, and of course it positions Iran firmly in their crosshairs.They had better choose the right horse this time and back it. Fortunately, their first choice was unfit at the start, so they will have to move very quickly to cover their bets, while the books are still open.The Great Game has been going on in this region for over two hundred years, now it has taken on a much more menacing, with more destructive results. And higher stakes. As in the past the western powers are happiest when they dabble in troubled waters. They now have the opportunity to choose, we hope they choose well. The President-elect Musharraf, can now sit with a clean piece of paper, and draw up the best team and dump the garbage he has carried for the past five years, and really put Pakistan first.His protégé, given a new lease of life under the NRO, has firmly rejected the President's request to delay her visit, thereby indicating her resolve not to be a handmaiden to anyone, bringing the expected Troika and the carefully crafted 'working relationship ' into doubt before her arrival in Pakistan.