Articles of the year 2007

Through Peaceful Means
Published on June 09th, 2007

According to the daily newspapers, the situation is becoming more ominous. It seems that the President's stance is hardening. According to the well orchestrated past plans of the establishment, we can safely count on the arrests of the lesser lights of the political parties, followed by arrests of lawyers, and maybe some journalists, who will be faced with transportation to some of the more infamous (and less comfortable in this heat) jails in Pakistan such as Mach, Sibi (which boasts of the highest temperature of 140 F degrees (in the shade) in the world. These are options that have been chosen by many of our past rulers including the democratically elected Zulfiqar Bhutto, and are the options being put forward for consideration to the President, by the hawks that surround him at present. The hawks will insist that any movement in Pakistan can be halted by some of the steps mentioned above, including the calling out of the army - if all else fails. This has indeed worked in the past, but only for a very short time.

In the four months since the removal of the CJ, so much has been lost, including 45 precious lives, not to mention the effect on the economic wellbeing of Karachi. I had written in my earlier pieces that the 12th May episode was a carefully laid trap, which had been set by enemies of the President and of the state. However both sides are now proclaiming to be defenders of the state, with the judiciary lined up against the presidency.

Not surprisingly, our politicians notably Benazir are calling on the US to assist in the removal of its support of Musharraf. Why must she turn to the US always? Or for that matter any foreign power to meddle in what is a strictly a Pakistani matter? Does she not realise that the United States has its own agenda, and list of priorities? The support to Musharraf came not for his asking, but for the events post 9/11. How can Benazir hope to suppress any anti-west feeling in the North, with which magic wand? Surely the Americans already know of the players in the region, and the PPP does not figure in that context.

The situation in Karachi is important to both Musharraf and to the MQM. The two are now inextricably linked, with the events of 12th May looming over their combined future. The MQM has had a very comfortable ride on the coattails of the President, which has been looked at askance by the Punjabi establishment with most believing that the MQM had indeed put their misguided past behind them, and were part of a civilised political setup. This whole framework has been destabilised with the removal of the CJ, and the 12th May. The entrance of Imran into the fray to launch a direct challenge to the leader Altaf is bringing about a new dimension in the politics of Pakistan. No longer is the UK passport seen as a safety net. The British have kept a close watch on the activities of the MQM in England. In the past they ensured that these activities stopped at the Pakistani border, now they will ensure that no untoward incident occurs in Pakistan that can be 'seen' to originate from Millhill. If the protection by Musharraf is withdrawn, then the times could be even more difficult.

The President must now play the trump card, and announce the elections at the earliest, maybe for September. This would involve all the hopefuls into campaigning for their respective constituencies, and necessitate the requests for patronage still in the hands of the President. The isolation the President now feels is because the incumbents feel their future, looming ahead, elections have not been given top priority, and the President is devoting his time on a non-issue, the CJ, or grappling with the media. They are right for the coming elections will decide the future of the country, and perhaps the political demise of many incumbents. With this announcement they would also be amenable to a snap Presidential election. All energies of the politicians could be channeled into the elections leaving no time for destabilisation of the Republic.