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Musharraf the Out-smarter

26 September, 2007

By Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)


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A lot is being said and written these days for and against Musharraf who first introduced the concept of ‘Pakistan First’ (keeping Pakistan before self and all), in context to his seeking re-election as the President of Pakistan The general opinion is divided and on the surface of it, it looks to be more against him than for – thanks to the media hype, a few very vocal orators of the opposition and the legal fraternity all working hand in glove with each other.. However, a deeper look into the murky affairs might present an altogether different reality.

General Musharraf seems to have played his cards very well outsmarting all the opposition combined including the black coats. It was quite amusing the other day when one of the closest confidantes of BB in sheer desperation confided to me that the General had been taking them all on a big ride for the past eight months or so and that they could not see through his game. According to him there was never to be a deal of any kind and in the process the general not only managed to create an irreparable rift between NS and BB, but also that the BB’s graph had gone down considerably amongst her followers. The dramatic hush hush Dubai meeting between the two, which was kept secret and the media projected it as of General’s going on his knees, made the haughty BB lose all sight of prudence and basking in the false glory of her having the upper hand she went to the extent of giving 24 and 48 hour ultimatums for the acceptance of her terms. Terms for which the general and his team had during the negotiations managed masterly to bring her (corner her) to a point of no return where she could dictate them, much to the dismay of his party leaders and followers, turned out to be nothing more than her PERSONAL terms. (One) Take off uniform (so that she could boast to the world that it was she who made the General doff the uniform). (Two) Drop all charges of corruption and court proceedings against her and Zardari. (Three) Amend the rules for her to become the PM for the third time also!! This exposed her threadbare and it became known to all that what mattered to BB was her own personal interest and the country or the party were all secondary affairs.  That was the end of united opposition, the Charter of Democracy, the APDM and what not.

MMA, the next big threat was rendered impotent by none else than its own very Secretary General who was nonchalantly wooed by Ch. Shujaat and lured to be the ‘leader’ whom the Chaudhry Sahib would follow gladly. Maulana Fazal ur Rehman fell for the trap and humbly offered, “If the nation wanted him, he is prepared to serve it as its PM”. Maulana Sahib who has the knack of being out of the country at the crucial time of the meetings of the MMA, now started remaining incommunicado also of the MMA hierarchy.  Any decision taken by the MMA in his absence had no relevance for him. A simple matter of fact statement from him on his return, “I was not consulted for the resignations” was all that was needed to bury the question of the en bloc resignations of JUI members or the dissolution of the NWFP assembly or pulling out of the Baluchistan assembly.

ML(N) practically left leaderless in the absence of NS and Shahbaz Sharif is not considered much of a threat especially in view of the promised reverential  support of Pir Sahib of Pagaro - ML(F),   and the lukewarm support of the Chattas and others.  Imran Khan and his Tehrik have yet to find their roots and can hardly make a dent due to their feeble numbers in the assemblies. 

That leaves a newly introduced element of the Black Coats in the political arena. They came into existence recently ostensibly to fight for the ‘Independence of Judiciary” but have now taken upon themselves the ‘Restoration of Democracy’ as well. To them the hall mark and the epitome of the restoration of democracy is the ouster of General Musharraf from power. Though there is a fully functional elected democratic federal government at the centre under an elected PM - Shaukat Aziz, an elected National Assembly and the Senate, all the provincial governments are also elected with their own elected assemblies, elected Nazims, Naib Nazims at the grass root level of district and tehsil, yet the Black Coats consider the President is having a Military Rule in Pakistan. They do not have a political polity of their own though almost all of them have political affiliations of one kind or the other. As their such ‘struggle’ suits the political parties also, they expect support from them. Therefore, one could call it a natural ‘marriage of convenience’ between the two  However, of late there has been a distinct division in the ranks of the legal fraternity – whether of their own accord or manipulation – dividing them into a placid pro-government or the neutral faction and the proactive anti-government element. The anti-government (read Musharraf) element has fielded their own candidate in the exalted person of Justice ( R ) Wajih ud Din to oppose the General in the ensuing Presidential Elections to be held on 6th October 2007. However, what they have not realized and what is intriguing is that till very recently they were questioning the validity of the assemblies, who were at the brink of their term, to elect a President for the next five years when most of them may not be there. Their main argument for fielding their candidate is not to allow Musharraf a free hand of getting elected unopposed. But by fielding a candidate aren’t they conceding that the ‘dying’ assemblies were entitled to elect a president for the next five years, contrary to their previous stance. Also would it not grant legitimacy to Musharraf’s election who would now have to contest properly an opposition candidate? Their this act (whether of their own or ‘inspired’) has exposed the hollowness of their legal brains. Had they let him go unopposed they could have cashed upon it later by telling the world of their and the opposition parties boycotting the election rendering it to Null and Void.  But it looks they too have fallen in the Musharraf trap.

Under these domestic circumstances and taking the stock of the international political happenings and pressures near and around us, we need a person of clear perceptions and mind to be able to steer the country out of any potentially troubled waters.  A person, who sets an aim and works diligently with a single mindedness to achieve it, come what may and even if he has be to a Machiavellian in the process to achieve them. And, most importantly, his aim must coincide with ‘Pakistan First’ and all the rest afterwards. Is there anyone else around capable of out-smarting so many in so little a time?  I doubt.

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