Tick Tock VII

Nawaz SharifThe Supreme Court has ruled that Nawaz Sharif can return to Pakistan.

Nawaz Sharif, you may recall, was the Prime Minister who tried to kill The General by refusing to allow The General’s plane to land in Karachi and immediately succumbed to the coup soon thereafter. He then fled to Saudi Arabia clutching a suitcase filled with gold and agreed not to return for 10 years. That’s what The General said, at least. Nawaz Sharif, on the other hand, maintains that he was ousted, forced to sign an agreement at gun-point to stay in exile, and should not be denied his rights to return.

The Supreme Court agrees with Nawaz Sharif. Exile is bad.

In the meantime, Bhutto has given details of power-sharing discussions which include two elections, one with The General as The General and one with Pervez Musharraf as The Artist Formerly Known as The General.

Both exiled ex-PMs Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif will be back in Pakistan by October and running for re-re-re-election in December. And that, gentle readers, couldn’t be better news – the election, ie, not Bhutto or Sharif in power again! But as I have said many times, let the people choose.

What does it all mean? In terms of internal politics of Pakistan, this is tremendous news for the resurgent democratic movement in Pakistan. The full participation of the many political parties – including the Bhuttos and Sharifs – will guarantee that Pakistan start recovering from the despotic military regime. However, that is easier said than done. The military, under Musharraf, has become the largest land-owning, asset-controlling entity in Pakistan with ex- and current military officials serving across the civil and social landscape. How can that military be coaxed “back into the barracks”? It is quite probable that there are forces within the military eager to curtail their political vulnerabilities. The popular image of the military in Pakistani society has underwent tremendous change in recent years – from a highly valued and respected institution (the only “corruption-free” one) to a hegemonic and undesirable presence. I could argue that the military’s own interests lie in withdrawing from the political realm and re-burnishing its image and standing. Of course, the defense budget remains the highest expenditure in the country and no successive civil government will change that. By and large, the military cannot lose by “giving democracy back” to the country. That was, after all, what Musharraf claimed when he took control.

In terms of oft-mentioned “Talibanization” of Pakistan and the wider conflict with extremism, the answers are less apparent at the moment. Some certainties do exist: any civil government will continue to fully cooperate with the US efforts. In fact, the efforts in Waziristan would be strengthened by the participation of Baluchistani leaders at the Federal level [Baluchistan has always been a Federal/State controversy]. The elections will not result in any rise-to-power of Mullah Omar in Islamabad. And a democratic Pakistan will surely be a far valuable ally within the Muslim world. The uncertainties largely hinge on the nature of the elections – the participation of various groups and their freedoms to do so. It will also be a chaotic period which can make Pakistan vulnerable to further attacks and incursions.

However, the bottom line is that Pakistan needs full and immediate US support through the next six months. UN should take an interest in insuring fair elections. And the subsequent government should be cultivated and nourished throughout the full term.

See VI, V, IV, III, II, I for our journey so far.

Author: sepoy

what is the vertiginous chapati saying to me?

18 thoughts on “Tick Tock VII”

  1. Officer accused Sen. Craig of lying

    You’re not being truthful with me,” Karsnia told Craig during the interrogation. “I’m kind of disappointed in you, senator.”

    Karsnia later told Craig he was “sitting here lying to a police officer,” adding: “I expect this from the guy we get out of the ‘hood. I mean people vote for you. Unbelievable.”

    Associated Press

    My comment
    (so is this just one rotten apple product of democracy!)

  2. off course Mencken is talking about those 30 or so % of citizens who care to vote and the product/package (think Bush/Cheney) they chose.

  3. Over two hunedred years of elections and so on and so forth lead to Dubya(G.W Bush) and (Blair & now Brown) incharge and for future look at the assortment of US presedential candidates. It does not mean only alternative is dictatorship, but something is missing in this picture.( I start here because Pakistan being client state is being pulled in different directions rather forcefully.)

    As H.L Menchen,s prophecy comes true

    “When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost… All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

  4. Ah, but that is my point, exactly. Elected officials should provide good governance in Pakistan. And if not, others can be elected to do so. And so on. And so forth.

    Otherwise, there is a serious lack of groundswell for Dictatorships in US and UK.

    I do mean to express my profound thoughts on Pakistani ‘exceptionalism’ at some point in the future.

  5. For Pakistan, good governance is more important than some metaphysical need for “the people to choose” (I’d question how much choice even we have in the UK or US).

  6. My only minor disagreement with Mr Siddiqui is that USA has always been with “Generals and Crooks” so there is no question of joining at this juncture.

  7. United States Joins Generals and Crooks In Pakistan

    by Haroon Siddiqui

    One former prime minister in exile has been given permission to return home. Another, also in exile, is doing a deal with the military ruler to return. Both politicians hope to contest the election scheduled for spring but which could come this fall.The ruler himself, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, is on the ropes, abandoned by both the right and the left.

    Surely, democracy is returning to Pakistan. Not quite.

    Musharraf is not done yet, backed as he is by the U.S. And former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto are not the best of torchbearers for civilian rule.

    Bhutto was elected twice and dismissed twice (’88-’90 and ‘93-’96) by civilian presidents for corruption.

    Sharif’s own two terms (’90-’93 and ‘97-’99) were marred by crony capitalism and authoritarianism. He was jailed on several charges, including tax evasion. In 2000, he signed a deal to exile himself to Saudi Arabia (once the home of Idi Amin of Uganda). On Thursday, the Pakistani supreme court ruled that that deal was not legally binding.

    If Sharif does return, he may be led back to jail, a prospect he doesn’t seem to mind; it could help transform him from convict to martyr.

    Bhutto won’t return until Musharraf drops the corruption charges still pending against her, a matter the two discussed at a not-so-secret meeting in Dubai July 27.

    She and Sharif also want the rules changed to let a prime minister serve a third term.

    Musharraf, too, has his wish list.

    He was elected in 2002 by the National Assembly and the four provincial legislatures. His term ends in October, and theirs soon after. He wants them to re-elect him.

    Not kosher, say his critics; he should wait and seek a mandate from freshly elected assemblies after the election.

    But if he insists on a vote now, he’ll be challenged in the supreme court. His nemesis, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, may nullify the vote.

    To pre-empt that possibility, Musharraf summoned the judge to his house March 9. Four other senior generals were there. They said he should quit, for misuse of power – such as insisting on being driven around in a high-end Mercedes.

    He refused to be intimidated, launched a media-savvy campaign addressing protest rallies, and appealed to his own court. It reinstated him July 20.

    (The controversy at least proved that the judiciary is independent and the media, enjoying record profits under a strong economy, are free. In the current euphoria, people haven’t got around to asking whether the court has crossed the line into politics and why Chaudhry isn’t recusing himself in cases where he arguably has a conflict).

    Meanwhile, the Islamists have been nipping at Musharraf’s heels for being an American ally in the war on terrorism.

    Ironically, the Bush administration is not happy with him either. Not for his violations of human rights, such as the disappearance of nearly 300 people, but for not killing Al Qaeda and Taliban faster than America is making them.

    Besieged, Musharraf turned to Bhutto – with Washington playing matchmaker. It wants him but with a democratic gloss. In return for her becoming prime minister, her People’s Party can help him stay on.

    There’s only the issue of his uniform to be sorted out. A legal compromise allowing him to hold the posts of both president and chief of staff runs out Dec. 31. Justice Chaudhry may have a view on that, too. So, Bhutto and Musharraf are working on how to get around that.

    The exercise may yet backfire.

    Sharif could conceivably win. That might prompt the general to declare martial law. Or, his deal with Bhutto might demoralize pro-democracy forces, making the Islamists even stronger.

    Rather than the dawn of democracy, we are witnessing cynical ploys by several self-serving parties, with Washington right in the thick of it.

    Haroon Siddiqui, the Star’s editorial page editor emeritus, appears Thursday in World and Sunday in the A-section. Email: hsiddiq@thestar.ca

    © 2007 The Toronto Star

  8. I f you can tell me what is common behind the creation of following;
    1) Pakistan National Alliance (formed in 1977, agitated against rigging in election ,hence Zia,s Martial Law)
    2) Islami Jamhoori Ittihad (formed and won elections and Nawaz Sharif being elected their PM)
    3)All Parties Democratic Movement(created july 2007 in London minus PPP).

    Then I can tell you what is wrong with Pakistan,s politics!

    (For a brief overview of these three entities I have attached some cliff,s notes type web entries below but please do your own search.Again you can tell I am not that web savy)

    1)Pakistan National Alliance
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The Pakistan National Alliance was a nine-party alliance in Pakistan, formed in 1977 to overthrow the rule of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the first elected leader of that country.

    [edit] History
    The Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) manifesto was to bring back the 1970 prices. Implementation of Islam was its election slogan. They promised to enforce Islamic laws “Nizam-e-Mustafa”, the Shariah. They were a conglomerate of diverse views and of contradictory causes, such as Asghar Khan’s secularism, Khan Abdul Wali Khan’s Socialism and Maulana Maududi’s hardline Islamism united by common dislike of Zulfiqar Bhutto’s autocratic policies. The alliance decided to contest the elections under one election symbol “plough” and a green flag with nine stars as its ensign.

    Contesting the 1977 elections jointly the PNA launched a national campaign against the government after the controversial and allegedly rigged results showing the Peoples Party as an overwhelming victory in the general elections. The agitation caught the Peoples Party by surprise and after several months of street fighting and demonstrations Bhutto opened negotiations with the then imprisoned PNA leaders. Most PNA leaders, along with PPP leaders, believe that an agreement was reached; whether or not it would have been signed by all PNA parties or by Bhutto remains open to speculation.

    An agreement was eventually reached in june 1977 and Bhutto was to sign it on July 5. However despite the enthusiasm of the negotiating team other PNA leaders had reservations about the agreement. The absence of a formal agreement between the government and the PNA was used as an excuse by the armed forces under Zia-ul Haq to stage a coup in order to break the impasse. Those justifying the coup, argue that no agreement had been reached between the two sides.

    The Alliance split after the Army under Zia ul Haq ousted his goverenment, between elements (Muslim League and religious groups) that supported the martial law government and those who opposed it.

    2)Islami Jamhoori Ittihad ,ISI and Pakistani politics

    ( FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM Cowasjee,s recent column from Dawn)
    In 1996 a human rights petition was filed by Air Marshal (rtd) Asghar Khan in the Supreme Court of Pakistan (HRC 19/96) against the retired chief of army staff General Mirza Muhammad Aslam Beg, the former Inter Services Intelligence chief retired Lt-General Asad Durrani and Younis Habib of Habib and Mehran Banks, relating to the disbursement of public money and its misuse for political purposes.

    The case was initiated by the Air Marshal after Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s Interior Minister, another retired general, Nasirullah Babar, on June 11, 1996, announced on the floor of the National Assembly that the former COAS, General Mirza Aslam Beg had, in 1990, during the run-up to the elections held that year, withdrawn an amount of Rs.140 million from Mehran Bank, handed it over to the ISI chief, Lt-General Asad Durrani and asked him to suitably disburse the amount to a selection of anti-PPP politicians and thus rig the elections in favour of the ISI-tailored IJI and Nawaz Sharif.

    Shortly thereafter Justice Shah received a letter from Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan, copied to the then COAS General Jehangir Karamat, drawing his attention to the matter. On the basis of this letter, an attached press clippings and an affidavit signed by Asad Durrani listing the politicians to whom money had been paid, the Supreme Court decided to register a case under Article 184(3) of the constitution.

    The petitioner, Asghar Khan, requested that Beg, Durrani and Younas Habib of Habib and Mehran Banks be named as respondents. The ISI requested that the hearing be in-camera and the Court agreed to the request insofar as proceedings regarding the legal position of the ISI were concerned.

    Hearings commenced in February 1997 and continued through the year. On November 6, the statements of Babar and Durrani were to be recorded. The Court, under Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, was faced with the awkward question as to the law under which the ISI and its political cell had been set up. Beg’s counsel, Akram Shaikh, after fulsome praise of the agency and its great achievements – greater than those of RAW, the KGB or MI-5 – explained how the political cell had been established in 1975 under the orders of the then prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The Court asked the Attorney-General (Nawaz’s lawyer Chaudhry Mohammed Farooq) to provide the relevant documentation as to the scope of the activities of the political cell and to clarify whether, under the law, part of its duties was to distribute funds for the purpose of rigging elections.

    The AG, of course, wriggled out of that one by stating that the matter was of such a ‘sensitive’ and ‘delicate’ nature that it could not be heard in open court. Asghar’s lawyer, Habib Wahab ul Khairi, countered by saying that as the entire matter had been aired in the press, with all the names involved fully listed, there was little left to warrant in-camera proceedings, and besides, the people had every right to know how their money had been used and whether the use in question was permitted by law.

    The court, however, allowed the recording of Babar’s and Durrani’s statements and their cross examination to be held in camera , which they were on November 19 and 20.

    Seven days later, on November 27, 1997, the Supreme Court was stormed by Nawaz’s goons and shortly thereafter Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was sent home. We heard no more about this petition, filed, for once, truly in the national interest, until The Herald, the monthly magazine of this newspaper’s group, in its issue of April 2000 published a report by Mubasshir Zaidi (‘Forging democracy’) which made mention of it : “The case has since been heard and on October 11, 1999, just a day before the military overthrew the ‘heavily mandated’ Sharif government, the sitting Chief Justice, Saiduzzaman Siddiqui, announced that he had reserved judgment on the ISI case.”

    Almost three years later, after a deafening silence from the Court, on August 10, 2002, Asghar Khan addressed a letter to the then Chief Justice of Pakistan, Sheikh Riaz Ahmed, its subject “HRC No.19/96, Air Marshal (R) Mohammad Asghar Khan versus General (R) Mirza Aslam Beg.” It read : “I should like to draw you attention to my letter MAK/12/5 addressed to your predecessor on 8 April, 2000, requesting that the above case may please be reopened. I have received no reply to this letter and elections are due on 10 October, 2002.

    Many of the people who are guilty of misconduct will, if the case is not heard, be taking part in the elections and the purpose of those elections will thus be defeated. I would request an early hearing and decision in this case.”

    Again, nothing happened. The case has remained morgued amidst thousands of pending cases lying with the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

    Now, in this election year of 2007, and before this round of ‘free and fair’ elections takes place, before the ISI and its sister agencies once more get into the act, and before the main actors depart from this world, will the reinstated Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, take up the Retired Air Marshal’s petition and see it to its finality. It is of vital importance to the future political scenario as it should incriminate and disqualify many an aspiring public representative hoping to lord it over this nation yet again.

    And will the stalwarts of the Supreme Court Bar Association please help the retired Air Marshal – he needs legal representation.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2007
    All Parties Democratic Movement formed in APC sans PPP
    By host @ 5:02 PM | 64 Views | 0 Comments | | News, Pakistan, International, UK

    LONDON: All Parties Democratic Movement has been formed during the All Parties Conference (APC) in London today. However, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has decided to boycott this decision.

    According to details, the All Parties Democratic Movement has been formed and Nawaz Sharif said in this context that this movement is necessary for stopping Pervez Musharraf from becoming the president again, restoring complete democracy in the country and saving Pakistan.

    Nawaz Sharif did not explain that the ways of the PPP and the Muslim League Nawaz Group have now been separated.

    The PPP had boycotted the APC, being held in London, and the chief of its group had come out of the APC session.

    For introduction to All Parties Democratic movement , see informed comment by Professor cole on his weblog dated july 16,2007, he posts a review of editorials from news papers

  9. dismantling the feudal system is indeed what our land of the puritanical needs more than anything else (yes, even more than a (re?)vamping of the education system). and that invloves more than just declawing the so-called “feudals”.

    as long as it is perfectly ok for a benny-zero or a mian n’waaz to head up their respective parties without opposition, we remain in the grip of a feudal system. as long as it is ok for “sahib” log to be more equal than others and for non-sahib log to agree, we remain a feudal society.

    and as long as we remain a feudal society all we will get are leaders to whom we defer cos it’s their god-given right, so they may do as they please, to whom they please, whenever they please.

    it must be fun to rule a nation such as ours.


    It’s Good To Be The King
    Mel Brooks
    (from History of the World Part 1)

    Now get down people and listen to me
    Gonna tell you how I made history
    You can call me Louis, I’m the king of France
    Check out my story while you do your dance
    Now it’s seventeen hundred and eighty nine
    The peasants were starving but I was fine
    We were hanging out down in old Versailles
    That’s the weekend pad of my queen and I
    In the alleys of Paris they was eating rats
    But it was fillet mignon for the aristocrats
    There was Dukes and Counts and Barons and Earls
    I gave them the title but I kept the girl
    Blond, redhead, wild, brunette,
    Ladies in wait I didn’t wait to get
    There was truffles for breakfast
    Toast for brunch
    The line of the Follies Bergères for lunch

    Ooh yes it’s good to be the king
    Ooh la la
    Gee but it’s good to be the king
    (Say it girls)
    You can be sure about one thing
    Ooh la la
    Mais oui
    It’s good to be the king

  10. To tell you the truth Sepoy, I don’t know how I feel about Pakistan needing democracy. What I feel we need is some sort of benevolent dictatorship (not involving Musharraf necessarily) while we dismantle the feudal system and get some serious educational systems in place. But I’m a wishful thinker, and have also spent the last month hoping for a tactical meteor strike to wipe out BB, NS and AH in one fell swoop.

  11. Dr Sepoy:

    I agree that beneficence would be nice, but in an election during a time when Americans are extremely unlikely to support the idea of a nuclear-armed “Muslim” state “in chaos” (i.e. open politics), perhaps Pakistan would be better served by not hoping and just doing what it needs to do.

    Of course, I don’t have any family members that would get killed in bombing raids, so that’s easier for me to say.

  12. eteraz: If all you say holds, then Musharraf should easily win the election and be elected PM.

    I have no love for Bhutto or Sharif and I am well aware of the constant canard of corruption about Pakistan [look at the recent congressional scandals in California or Alaska for an apt analogy] – my point is simply that Pakistan must have democracy; it must have a choice; the people must have the freedom to choose; and the governments must finish their terms. I am sure in 4 or 5 election cycles the Pakistanis can be as free to elect a government of their choice as we were in 2004.

    Dr A.: I think we should all be skeptical but as a client state, Pakistan has little choice but to hope for a change of heart in DC.

  13. At the expense of sounding like a despot-mongerer, I have to ask you whether you really believe in these kuttar-corrupt “democratic” thugs will be of any service to Pakistan. I seem to recall massive anarchy, serial raping, and severe press crackdown during the democracy years. Aside from that GEO incident in Islamabad I don’t recall papers being made to print on gunpoint during the Musharraf years. He’s also brought development to a country which had no infrastructure during the democracy years.

    I’d like to believe in the democrats, but they don’t give much hope.

    We’re headed back to the MQM, Nawaz, Benazir cannibalism.

    Shouldn’t Pak consider the Singapore or Morroco model of government?

  14. Democracy will not come
    Today, this year
    Nor ever
    Through compromise and fear.

    I have as much right
    As the other fellow has
    To stand
    On my two feet
    And own the land.

    I tire so of hearing people say,
    Let things take their course.
    Tomorrow is another day.
    I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.
    I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.

    Is a strong seed
    In a great need.

    I live here, too.
    I want freedom
    Just as you.

    – Langston Hughes

Comments are closed.