Power struggle in Pakistan
29 November, 2007
By Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
After seven years of exile in Saudi Arabia and Britain, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has landed in Pakistan on Sunday for the second time within a month after the unsuccessful landing on September 10 from London when he was sent back to Saudi Arabia from the airport. Sharif has now come back to a rapturous welcome from his supporters in Lahore. “I am here for the sake of democracy and the people of Pakistan,” a visibly jubilant Sharif told an emotionally charged crowd outside Lahore airport. Sharif claims that he has trust in people of Pakistan and is confident that he would return to power.
It is interesting to see that Musharraf has now allowed Sharif back into the country and there are reports that he is the “likely” candidate for the prime ministership. But, Sharif had been saying that all along Musharraf is unacceptable to him “with or without uniform,” but his younger brother said on Friday that they have no grudge against anyone and, without naming Musharraf, said they would be working together for the betterment of the country.
Some media say that Sharif is coming back after a deal with Musharraf, who was recently in Saudi Arabia, and would be contesting the elections against Benazir Bhutto who came back October 18 ending her eight years of self-exile. Media also have come out with fresh information that Sharif had not met Musharraf recently in Riyadh and he has no such understanding with him. Accordingly, Sharif told that his return was “not the result of any deal” with Gen Musharraf, referring to reports that he had come home under an arrangement with the military ruler. Sharif, as per the reports available afterwards, later said the deal was only for five years. Media reports have thus confused the people as much as it is possible. Sharif has filed his nomination from Lahore, but says he would boycott the poll, if emergency is not lifted by 9 January.
Benazir Bhutto also has filed papers in her Larkana constituency for a regular seat, apart from other nominations for two more seats. She, too, has left open the possibility of a boycott. Both state that they would boycott elections to be held on 9 January, if emergency is not lifted. Bhutto has now filed papers for two more parliamentary seats.
Both are demanding an end to the emergency and other steps they say are essential for a fair vote. They also want to see sacked judges reinstated. “The issue is those actions he took on November 3 have to be reversed if we are to hold free and fair elections,” Sharif said.
Musharraf reiterated that military rule in Pakistan would continue until the country gets back to stability and peace. He imposed emergency rule on 3 November in order, he said, to rein in the judiciary, nuclear weapons and deal with a growing threat from Islamist militants. Lifting emergency or shedding uniform would further destabilise the nation. The West and its allies are looking forward to Musharraf shedding his uniform and lift emergency. That would, considering the tense atmosphere in the country and region, revert the county back to chaos.
Reports suggest that Musharraf’s party might have an edge over the rival parties in the fray. The most likely outcome could be even a hung parliament with no party winning a clear majority, analysts say. Musharraf would then need the help of religious parties or one or other of his old rivals.
The West that has invaded Islamic nations under the “terrorism” pretext, applies constant pressure to appease the opposition. The most serious pressure on President Musharraf to give up his uniform has come from the United States, his main international backer. Washington has grown concerned in recent months at the army’s inability to rein in pro-Taliban militants and by Gen Musharraf’s growing unpopularity. It had been backing talks between President Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto for a power-sharing deal. US-led Western media harp on the themes of democracy and rule of law and say that as a civilian leader, President Musharraf would still have considerable powers, including the power to sack a civilian government. And, hence, they want Musharraf to lift the emergency.
Benazir considers Sharif as a serious threat to the prospects of her party and an imminent contender for the premiership on which she also eyes. Both are keen to recapture the reign in Islamabad at any cost. It is believed that Gen Musharraf is hoping that Sharif will be able to dent Benazir Bhutto’s prospects in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Certainly both don’t think in terms of genuine service to nation.
President Musharraf, who sufficiently delayed clamping emergency in the first place, should now ponder seriously over the future scenario once emergency is lifted and uniform is shed only to appease the opposition, the West and countries like India and the anti-Islamic media. The opposition-cum-lawyers-cum-media, supported by the global anti-Islamic forces are waiting impatiently in the wings to ransack the nation and disturb or falsify the polls. Have the real reasons disappeared so as to cater for the needs of those sections that seek to destabilise the nation, brutally terrorise it and loot and squander the resources again? It has become a sheer habit of the USA to deliver lectures on “democracy” without understanding or hiding the goals of genuine democracy in the world! Russia and China, two UNSC-5 veto members don’t buy that, but Pakistan can be bullied easily! Is it not funny?