Pakistan Coup Part Deux

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007 @ 1:25 pm | Foreign Policy, Middle East, Pakistan, Politics

As the title mistakenly suggests, this is not a second installment of a previous post.

Pakistan has been all over the news lately, and provides the US with cannon fodder for their exploits, I mean war in Afghanistan.

So here I am a Pakistani American, offering my analysis of the situation.  I apologize in advance, for the length of this post, but, it’s as short as I could make it.  I could go further in length, on any of the issues or subjects brought up here.

The first was to topple the democratically (fairly?  Well as fair as a US election….) elected gov’t, a few years ago.  It was a bloodless coup, and without much protest. The democratically elected prime minister at that time, was a political and religious conservative.  He privatized many industries in the country and improved general infrastructure.  However he also allowed the religious fundamentals to prosper and grow into the 9 headed hydra we see today.  So during the first coup, Musharraf played to the hearts and minds of those that did not want Pakistan to become another Saudi Arabia. 

Musharraf started off good and set towards a path of actually reviewing what the madrassahs (Islamic religious schools) were actually teaching.  For example were they teaching ballistics training or transcendental meditation?  Or….  How to behead a white devil vs. learn to read and write Arabic.

To his credit, the first and only female Prime Minister in a Muslim country, Benazir Bhutto did nothing to reform these institutions, and actually supported the Taliban regime whilst she was ruler of Pakistan (TWICE).

Fast forward to today.

Musharraf’s current coup is against a supposedly independent branch of gov’t that offers checks and balances to the other branches, the judiciary.

Why?  You might ask?

Where the first coup went wrong……

First of all, please understand that Musharraf is the head of the army and has access to the military at his disposal.  Musharraf really didn’t make good on his promises.  All those mullahs and madrassahs that were picking up poor disenfranchised youths and turning them into suicide bombers, that Musharraf promised to do away with.  He didn’t.  Instead, they became his friends too and maybe he gave them some money and other support.

He claimed to be helping their US in their fight against Al Qaeda and Taliban.  Under Musharraf’s watch, for the first time in Pakistan’s history, in the most secular city in the country, militants held the city hostage, undeterred.   I’m talking about the Red Mosque scandal.  Where for almost a year, it was being used as a safehouse for Al Qaeda.  No one in the country, believes for a second, that Musharraf didn’t know what was going on.  It was only after they kidnapped a Chinese national, did the Chinese pressure Musharraf to take care of it.

Secondly, 50% of the country which borders Afghanistan has become a safe-haven for Al-Qaeda and Taleban.  Mountainous areas in the north which were tourist and vacationing spots, known for their peace-loving and docile people, are falling under the oppressive yoke of militants kicked out of

Afghanistan.  All under Musharraf’s watch.
So back to the Why?

Musharraf’s answer:

I’ll paraphrase from what I’ve seen and heard through various news outlets.

Basically he claims that the judiciary are to blame for the current lawlessness.  He also accuses them of allowing militants and religious extremists to operate undeterred.

Based upon what I mentioned about, you be the judge.

All the judiciary can do is pass judgements, they have no way of enforcing any edict or law or ruling.  He’s the head of the army.  If there are militants running amok, he has the wherewithal to at least try and stop it.

What I believe are the 3 main reasons:

1) The Supreme Court was questioning the legitimacy of Musharraf’s rule, and whether or not he can even stand for elections as President of Pakistan without giving up his position as Chief of Armed Forces.

The backdrop for this is that the Bush Administration has been pressuring Musharraf to have “free and fair” elections.  He finally agreed, but also put himself in as candidate.  The Supreme Court is trying to block his candidacy, as being unconstitutional.

Also for the first time in history, the judiciary has grown some balls.  Under all previous coups and dictatorships, the dictators have altered the constitution and coerced the judiciary to claim their regime as legitimate.

Basically, Musharraf tried the same thing that other dictators before him tried.  That is, to get the blessing of the Supreme Court for the legitimacy of his rule.  No such luck.  They were actually “debating” the legitimacy of his rule and the legitimacy of his candidacy for President. Well, if they were actually debating it, rather than giving him a carte blanche, that meant they were going to come to an unfavorable decision.

2) The Supreme Court was getting ready to repeal the amnesty offered to Benazir Bhutto.  They have several charges of corruption against her, as does Interpol.  In addition the Government of Switzerland already found that she had looted some billions of Rupees from the people of Pakistan.

This ruling doesn’t suit Musharraf’s or the US interest.  Benazir has always been a golden girl for the

US.  Brought up in the US and educated in Harvard, she is someone that is easy to talk to, for the US gov’t.  They pushed Musharraf to pardon all the crimes she committed and allow her to come back to Pakistan.
The people of Pakistan have suffered for 2 terms in the past under Benazir.  They don’t want a repeat of that.  However, hers is the most organized political party.  She can draw crowds.   Incidentally, Musharraf served in the army while she was Prime Minister.  Their relationship goes way back, they supported terrorists in Kashmir, and were 1 out of 2 nations that supported the oppressive Taliban regime.

3) The third and final nail in the coffin was an actual ruling by the Supreme Court.  They ruled the exile of former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif as unconstitutional, and that he be allowed to return immediately to Pakistan.

A small footnote to this, is that there were several cases pending in the Supreme Court where they were investigating the “disappeared” of Pakistan.  The prisoners of conscience.  This also works against Musharraf’s interests.

Below are links to the analysis of the situation by Pakistani scholars and journalists based in the US. 

A more eloquent and concise writer than myself, is the Pakistani Scholar/Novelist/Historian, Tariq Ali, an infrequent guest on Democracy Now.  He sums the situation up pretty nicely here:

http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=79015

Another analysis is by Liaquat Ali Khan, a professor in Kansas:

http://www.counterpunch.com/alikhan11062007.html

-aa

2 Responses to “Pakistan Coup Part Deux”

  1. Matt W Says:

    Great post!

  2. Ali Says:

    thanks.