Articles of the year 2007

What Opposition?
Published on November 24th, 2007

Musharraf has proved himself to be the most outstanding Politician in Pakistan, and while he has shown nervousness at times, he has nonetheless emerged as the outright winner in the political sweepstakes. He could not have achieved this without the greed and stupidity of his adversaries.

Benazir was offered the Prime Ministership for Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the leader of the PPP in the National Assembly, three times by Musharraf. She refused all three times, and would settle for none other than herself. The cost to her Party cannot be calculated. The Party standing in the Punjab has been eroded, and today it is non existent. She has absolutely no one she can blame except herself. Somehow the spell she has on the Americans holds her in good stead, but even that was shattered when Negroponte refused to meet with her on his recent trip. The PPP hierarchy is still in a state of shock, but none dares to ask Benazir why she has brought the Party to such a state. It is almost as if she deliberately set about destroying the position of the PPP in the political games that are being played out. The street power in Sindh was shown as hollow. And completely nonexistent in the Punjab. After the initial reception at Karachi, the numbers just vanished, and try as she did, nobody showed up. In Larkana her home it was worse, and after spending just one day she rushed back to Karachi. The Western Media also packed their bags, and went back to seek other more sensational spots, for the excitement of an adoring mob failed to materialize. In a word she was passé. After Lahore and Islamabad, the picture was clear. The Chief Minister of Punjab had done his homework, and Benazir had played into Musharraf's hand by her confrontational stance. This proof was laid before Negroponte, along with the NRO, which showed the US that Musharraf had indeed kept his word by pardoning her considerable corrupt practices. This pardon may prove extraordinarily expensive for Musharraf in the end. She however had no cause for her obdurate stance. Will the PPP consider the damage to her party? Her insistence on a short date for the elections has brought a date of the 9th January 2008, a scant six weeks away. When I asked some PPP stalwarts, they were not hopeful of putting together a proper fight in such a short time, nor do they have the funds. It is unlikely that she will open the Bhutto Accounts for them!

At the same time Nawaz Sharif is holding out in Jeddah for an equally rigid stance in refusing to even speak with Musharraf. While this maybe a principled position, he must allow Shabaz to lead the Party in his absence, and continue the struggle within the Country. To carry on in this manner will be a disastrous handicap for his followers, and will diminish the showing of the N candidates. He also prevented Shabaz from becoming the Prime Minister, which position was offered to him twice. Both Benazir and Nawaz have refused to allow leadership to alternates, and both the PPP and the N have suffered hugely. Of course the main beneficiary has been the Q faction, and Musharraf, After his verification by the Supreme Court, we have the current scenario of the Q League and the MQM, with the MMA sweeping the Votes, and the PPP trailing miserably. In politics it does not pay to be an also ran. This nightmare is becoming apparent to the PPP and the N group by the day. Losing in Politics in this part of the world has serious consequences. Politics is a source of livelihood, and in the rural areas, survival without, is next to impossible. So we have the members of the two largest suffering at the hands of their own leader ship.

It is time that both Nawaz and Benazir stopped playing their dangerous selfish games, and thought of the Party and the country. They should realize that the Q and the MQM and the MMA are ready for the election. To boycott now, the PPP and the N could be marginalized forever.In the final analysis, it is also important to have an effective opposition. To counter a rubberstamp Parliament, an opposition is essential to the well-being of a Nation.With Aitzaz, AminFahim, Shabaz, all upright, outstanding, capable gentlemen, it is indeed a pity that they were not given the chance to lead. Perhaps their time has come.

History will surely place the blame solidly on the PPP and the N for not placing their Prime Minister when the offer was on the table, directly resulting in the removal of the Supreme Court Judges, the Abeyance of the Constitution, and now the Emergency. The Nation is paying a very heavy price.