Friday, July 27, 2007

Lal Masjid: An "honourable exit"?

The Supreme Court's decision on the CJP's reinstatement is being seen by some as a possible road block to Gen. Musharraf's re-election. There are now rumours floating around that General Musharraf had a meeting with his top military aides. This is most likely a euphemism for the CJCSC Gen. Ehsan ul Haq and VCOAS Gen. Hayat. There are others, but these two have the most to gain immediately from his departure. This kind of talk is code for the army saying that it will not support "martial law".

I feel the Army is being realistic, it simply does not have the ability to sustain both a strong campaign against the now-disaffected Islamists while enforcing "martial law". It is difficult to ignore that this level of maturity has emerged only after the reports of fatal attacks on Pakistan Army officers who were travelling civilian clothes, but then "this is Pakistan"... so it really shouldn't be that surprising.

There has been a suicide bombing at the Lal Masjid complex and the newly appointed khatib of the facility has fled after crowds of "students" surged into the complex and seize it again. This strongly suggests that there are people at Aabpara that are not happy with the way things have proceeded so far or the direction which this is taking. They attempting to recreate the elements of a drama that scared the country and put so much pressure on Musharraf.

The trip to UAE is allegedly to meet Benazir Bhutto who hopes to gain re-entry into Pakistan. To that end she is being very supportive of President Musharraf even if it means alienating her own party which wants to lead the charge against the General. This act of courting Benazir has effectively checked the possibility of action by the PPP to counter Musharraf.

The trip to Saudi Arabia is interesting, if Musharraf is refused in Saudi Arabia, then perhaps I will say it may be time to think afresh about the "honourable exit" issue, until then.. where is the rush?

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