Tag Archive: Pervez Musharraf


Nobody is sure if Prime Minister Gillani’s government will survive the current political crisis but everyone wishes him well because no one, particularly those sitting in the Parliament can afford an early election. At this critical juncture, the largest opposition party does not want any political instability because for them PPP’s government means “system” and “democracy” and they say they would not derail either the system or the democracy. But there is one gentleman who sees his chance in Gilani’s looming dismissal. He is accused of many crimes including dismissing the heavy mandate and bringing Pakistan’s economy back to stability. According to media reports, former President Pervez Musharraf on Monday said his newly formed party was prepared for possible early elections as the government in Islamabad scrambles to save its ruling coalition. Musharraf, who launched the All Pakistan Muslim League APML in October, said he will return to Pakistan “before the next election”.

“We are ready to contest elections,” Musharraf told reporters at his apartment in Dubai.

“A little more time would be useful, as we are a new party. However, we will definitely try if the elections come early.”

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s government lost its parliamentary majority on Sunday when the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) announced it would sit on opposition benches over fuel price policies. The opposition has not yet sought a no-confidence vote against Gilani in parliament but analysts say that is the biggest worry for the government.  The next election is not due until 2013.

“For the government to survive, the PML-N or the PML-Q (parties outside the coalition) have to support them. Such support will have a lot of consequences,” Musharraf added.

Musharraf said: “I must return (to Pakistan) well before the next elections, whenever that may be. I strongly believe the real momentum for my party will start once I reach Pakistan. So we are trying to create an environment for me to reach there.”

Musharraf claimed he did not rule out alliances with other political parties in the future.

“Many parties want to be with us. But I want my party to get a simple majority in the next elections so that we do not have to rely on others.” He said he had made “mistakes”, including actions against The judiciary and imposing a state of emergency, but dismissed the possibility of another military takeover, saying he wanted to come to power with “the mandate of the public”.

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Would Pakistan be any different today if the tragic incident of December 27, 2007 had not taken place? It certainly would be a different country even if Benazir Bhutto was in opposition. She had the benefit of having first-hand experience of dealing with the power-brokers and the real stakeholders of the country’ politics and she knew exactly how to deal with each of them. Some scenario-builders have developed various scenarios with BB still alive. They have different scenarios to conceive but the most interesting estimation of the country with BB in power has been written by Mr. Khaled Ahmed which appeared in the latest issue of Express Tribune.

According to this account, BB’s pre-election politics would have been aimed at not threatening to upset the Afghanistan strategy, a strategy with which she clearly did not agree. She would have talked to the Americans constantly through their ambassador but would have also realized that the Democrats were certainly going to win the 2009 election and that pressure on the next incumbent for US-NATO withdrawal would increase. She wanted to prevent the ‘political memory’ in Pakistan from dropping her party from the popular radar. She would have been cautious rather than rash in the country’s changed environment. But her relationship with Musharraf and the PML Q would have run into rough waters — as she had indicated in her last book and her letter to Musharraf in which she feared that certain members of the PML Q and elements in the intelligence agencies would plan to get rid of her.

Once in Pakistan, she would have taken a stance closer to the PML N– there were signs of this after the attack on her in Karachi. Her relationship with the MQM would have remained sour because of the latter’s close working partnership with Musharraf, but she would have applied pragmatism to her handling of the ANP. Returning from the wilderness and seeing all the changes in Sindh, she would have learned, however, to accept the MQM’s own ‘realism’ in not provoking the dominant Sindhi party.

Her post-election presence in the government would have been dicey because the 17th Amendment debarred both Nawaz Sharif and Benazir from premiership. In case the 17th Amendment ban was removed, Benazir as coalition prime minister would have worked, but it would have been ‘overbalanced’ by Musharraf in the presidency, calling all the shots as far as foreign policy was concerned. The coalition would be rancorous and unstable. She would have therefore relied on her counterbalancing alliance with Nawaz Sharif on the basis of the 2006 Charter of Democracy.

Nawaz Sharif, of course, would have been back, his return forced by the Saudis. Benazir would have persuaded him to take part in the elections. The post-election government in Punjab would have belonged to PML Q, but would have been harassed by the two big parties in opposition. The Mumbai attack in 2008 would have caused a political earthquake, giving Benazir more leverage over Musharraf and the army. It would have been a very divided and internecine coalition over which Musharraf would have had to preside.

Benazir would have quickly realized that Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had erred in not passing on the oil price hike the world was hit by in 2007. The Indian summer of the economic boom under him would clearly have been at an end when the 2008 worldwide crisis broke and found Pakistan with its pants down, with a circular debt overhang of 300 billion rupees. She would have severely rocked the coalition boat and worked for a mid-term election.

Pervez Musharraf boasted himself to be a tough commando who would not bend and change his decisions under pressure. He may have been right; it may not be easy to pressure him to take decisions but it now seems that it was not difficult to make him change his mind. You only needed right arguments to convince him; a respectful letter, a bottle of premium whisky and a pack of Havana cigars are convincing enough arguments to melt the “man of steel”. If it was from a tabloid, the authenticity of the story could be questioned. But this has come from a respected journal like Foreign Policy.

In their article in the latest edition of the magazine, Duane Baughman and Mark Siegel narrate that the story of Benazir‘s life includes hijackings, corruption allegations, unsolved murders, and countless conspiracies. In deciding to translate her life to film, they  came in contact with Musharraf but convincing him to appear on film was not easy. The effort took a respectful letter, followed by a bottle of Chivas Regal and Cuban cigars delivered to his hotel suite in Philadelphia, where he was speaking on a tour of the U.S. to rehabilitate his image. With much flattery and a bit of arm-twisting, he was ready for a short interview.

While narrating the film-making, they list down a series of serendipitous events which contributed to the making of Bhutto. While filming the convent where Benazir was educated, the filmmakers unexpectedly stumbled upon her teacher, an elderly nun who charmingly described Benazir’s rarely examined early years. When Karachi’s chaotic streets prevented the film crew from reaching the airport to catch the only daily flight to Benazir’s mausoleum, they were saved at the last minute by a phone call from President Zardari, who held the plane — and its agitated Sindhi passengers — on the tarmac for over an hour until the film crew was safely aboard.

One of the sponsors of the film and the co-author of the referred article is a close friend of BB. The image being projected in the film, therefore, is of Benazir who was a rare and gifted leader who bridged religions, genders, and continents. She inspired millions of women to stand up against oppression and reject illegitimate restrictions on what they could achieve and who they could become. She built the first women’s police department in Pakistan, establishing for the first time a safe space where their legal grievances would be heard. She opened up the country to the international media, empowering Pakistan’s domestic media to be more vigilant. Agree or not with her politics, her story helps us better understand her country, how we got here, and why our relationship with South Asia is inextricably tied to the future of Pakistan.

We often say that Pakistan’s problems can be solved through drastic measures and such decisions which are unpopular. It is a fact that no government elected by the people and brought to power by greedy coalition partners can take such unpopular decisions, be it Zardari, Sharif or anyone else. There is, however, some ray of hope. There is one leader who is known for taking unpopular decisions. In fact the only decisions that he takes without consultations subsequently turn out to be unpopular. But he is out of Pakistan and trying hard to be able to come back and remain untouched by those who want his head to be on the chopping board. The Express Tribune has reported that the Government of Pakistan is said to be under unprecedented pressure from the rulers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to pave the way for a safe, secure and honorable homecoming for former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.

They are also said to have asked Islamabad to initiate steps to build a favourable political image of the former military dictator and ensure that upon his return home, he will not be harassed by court cases and the police.

According to an understanding reached between the UAE and Pakistan several months ago, it was decided that the Pakistani government would facilitate Musharraf’s return as soon as the two-year bar on his participation in politics ends, sources said. Official sources claimed that the pressure had already forced President Asif Ali Zardari to curtail his visits to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

This extraordinary interest of UAE rulers in Pakistan’s internal affairs, especially in Musharraf’s political future, was thrown into light once again due to UAE’s foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed al Nahyan’s covert visit to Islamabad within three days of the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) announcement that Musharraf has been included in the investigation of former premier Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. He spent a mere 30 minutes with President Zardari before heading back home but, immediately after his visit, Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the media that the government did not intend to question Musharraf. Rehman, on November 27, categorically said that the government had not taken any decision to include Musharraf in the probe.

 

Pakistan’s former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif who paved the way for another martial law due to his misplaced adventurism with the military in 1999, will be free to take part in active politics in next 11 days. It is widely believed that he secured freedom from jail through an agreement to stay away from politics for ten years to be able to leave, lock stock and barrel,  the country, the party and people of Pakistan. The period of ten years will expire in early next month. During this period of ten years, he tried to defy the agreement and land back in the country on a popular wave of sympathy with the judiciary but was forced out of the country again, of course with the support of a more powerful party to the agreement, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In return for his undertaking to stay away from active politics, all criminal charges against him were dropped by Musharraf government. And the country is agog with speculation as to what steps the PML-N strongman will take once his commitment is over.

Sources said the pact will end on December 2. It was following this pact in 2000 that former President Pervez Musharraf dropped the charges leveled against the PML-N chief and allowed him and his family to go into exile in Saudi Arabia. Musharraf had seized power in a military coup in October 1999 by ousting the government headed by Sharif. Though Sharif and the PML-N have denied the existence of such an agreement, sources said that the PML-N chief’s taking a backseat in recent years were indications that he was influenced by the commitment he had made to the Saudis. Sharif returned to Pakistan in late 2007, when Musharraf’s regime began losing its grip on power.

Sharif chose not to contest the 2008 general election and subsequently withdrew his nomination papers for by-polls to a parliamentary seat in Lahore this year. The sources said this was a clear indication of his “commitment to the pledge he made to the Saudis”. Once the agreement expires next month, the two-time former premier will be eligible to take part in elections, they said. The ruling Pakistan People’s Party has been criticizing Sharif for “deliberately” not taking part in the electoral process.

As the expiry of the agreement is nearing, Nawaz Sharif started talking tough and seems all set to put up a real stiff opposition to Zardari government whom he accuses of corruption and risk to democracy. On the other hand, President Musharraf has accused that Nawaz Sharif elections were funded by OBL. The most interesting statement came from US envoy Holbrook who expressed his frustration about possible Musharraf comeback by saying that he has no chance in Pakistan politics. No doubt, he will not win unless cleared by the establishment which, in Pakistan’s case, is now the US State Department’s South Asia desk.

Please also read:

Osama funded Nawaz for polls: Musharraf (The Nation)

Holbrook dismisses chances of Musharraf comeback (Daily Time)

Pakistan’s former president, Pervez Musharraf is accused by his opponents of giving in to the US pressure in 2001 and going out-of-the-way to accept those demands which even the Americans were not expecting that he will accept. Musharraf, as his opponents suggest, joined America’s War on Terror at the slight “provocations” and failed to negotiate the terms of his cooperation. As a matter of fact, the very first of his demands was that the Taliban regime should be replaced with Pashtuns and not the Northern Alliance which was never heeded to the USA. This was a sensible demand and if US could install a Pashtun regime, Afghanistan, and indeed Pakistan, would have not been in difficulties they are facing today.

Musharraf claims to have given another, apparently unsolicited advice, to the Americans not to fight Taliban. This also seems to be consigned to the trash bin. Talking to NDTV, Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has said that the US could have avoided the nine-year long war in Afghanistan, had it recognized the then Taliban regime there.

“I always proposed that we need to have a different strategy. We need to recognize the Taliban and try to change them from within,” he said adding that had there been US and other foreign missions in Afghanistan “maybe we could have resolved this Osama bin Laden tangle. (It) may not have erupted even.”

Pakistan’s former military ruler said the acceptance of Taliban by the global community could not only have prevented the war in Afghanistan but would also help in saving the Bamiyan Buddhas. “Had we had 18 missions there, including the US mission, with the Taliban I think we could have saved the Buddha statues,” he said at the Asia Society’s Texas Centre. Defying global pressure, the two colossal 1,500-year-old statues of Buddha, carved into the sandstone cliffs of Bamiyan, were demolished by the Taliban on March 2001 as part of a campaign to rid the land of all un-Islamic graven images.

Musharraf pointed that the US-backed talk-process with Taliban is “from a position of weakness” and an attempt to end the war in Afghanistan, but said that he supports the dialogue with “moderate Taliban”. On his plans to return to Pakistan politics by fighting elections in 2013 and launch of a party called All Pakistan Muslim League in London, Musharraf said “I personally feel the environment in Pakistan at this moment is absolutely right for initiating a new party.”

He is counting on Houston’s 75,000 Pakistan origin people to help him lead to the victory by giving financial support and political support. A longtime political observer Kamran Riaz said “One of the reasons Musharraf is here is to gain some financial support. He thinks the US thinks of him as an ally, so in addition to getting financial support he can also get some political support.” The former Pakistan President has a set of Houston meetings planned this week with wealthy Pakistani-Americans and corporate leaders.

US communities do not play a visible role in Pakistan elections, but Musharraf could stand to gain from his current North America tour, Jamal Elias, an expert on contemporary Pakistan and chairman of the religious studies department at the University of Pennsylvania, said. Musharraf is also going to campaign in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Toronto. He visited Dallas last week. Many Pakistani-American elites have in the past contributed financially to political parties in Pakistan and will likely do so again.