Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Lal Masjid: The Way to Dusty Death

The US is now openly holding out the threat of airstrikes on Pakistani territory as a deterrent to its interests in Pakistan being compromised.

The negotiations with Benazir are stalled as Benazir wants to come home with enough money from the Army that she will be able to bale Musharraf out and ensure her hold on her own party. I am not sure the beleagured Army Chief has that much money to spare. Benazir probably believes that dictators may come and dictators may go, but she will always remain popular in the West, as a woman who was once the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan - a woman who defied the Mullahs. What status that can bring, no British or American can take away from her.

Quite openly Maulana Fazl ur Rehman has asked the Pakistani parliament to allow General Musharraf to be elected for another term. In his words, this will help prevent a repeat of 1971, he is pretty explicit that no general will be allowed (by the US) to remove Musharraf, and that Benazir's return has been adequately scripted to the point where he has no objection to it.

Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman's speech is an acknowledgement of the fact that none of the Deobandi top brass have a clue as to how to deal with this peculiar situation: a dictator they have legitimised is bent on debasing Islam and humiliating them in the most direct and visible of way.
And the very students, they have trained, are proving harder and harder to control.

Despite what dreams may come to those who sleep peacefully in the US, there is *no* way in which actual US airstrikes will aid in stabilising Pakistan. It is pure fiction to think that unrest will pave the way for legitimising Musharraf's dictatorship. The failure to protect Pakistan's borders from US intrusion despite all the effort Musharraf put in ... will not be recieved well. Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman is right - 1971 will repeat.

In that sense supporting Musharraf's re-election and Benazir's return seems like the easiest thing to do. Neither will make the slightest bit of difference to the situation in Pakistan. The progression towards a 1971 type scenario where the military has lost its legitimacy is relentless and no amount of American pressure can change that.

10 Comments:

At 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that Bush is under severe pressure from republican party as well as hawks within his own administration.
the perception is that bush's bungled policy in Iraq has dented republican candidates chance in 2008.

he has to show something for his war on terror. what better than heads of some very senior AQ leaders..??

Who cares if mush regime is toppled or there is instability in pakisan? All Pakistani politicians
and generals of some standing are in unkil's pocket anyways.

 
At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maverick,

For the sake of argument, lets suppose that Musharaff steps down as COAS but then continues on as a civilian President and Benazir is installed as PM. How will power be divided in the new setup?

Benazir will not want to be Shortcut's replacement and will demand a significant share of power. Musharaff will not want to be reduced to a mere figurehead like civilian Presidents of past.

Then there is the Army hovering around in the background as usual. I am afraid we might see a return to the political instability of the 90s.

On a related note, who do you think is going to be the COAS if Musharaff steps down? My money is on Nadeem Ijaz.

 
At 2:33 PM, Blogger maverick said...

Anonymous,

I feel that if I was President Bush, I would be beyond caring. I would have no political obligation to anyone.

Anonymous,

What you say is true about Benazir wanting a bigger piece of the pie but with regards Ijaz, I suspect he is too young.

Musharraf will have to position him quickly, but if he gives him an out of turn promotion now, it will draw too much attention. If he retires now, it should be Hyat or Haq. My money says right now, it will be Haq.

If it is later (after Haq/Hayat retire), I would say one of the existing corps commanders, possibly Sajjad or Tariq or Afzal.

If you had asked me six months ago, I would have put my money on Hamid Rabnawaz, a real quiet fellow.

 
At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maverick,

I admit Ijaz is a bit too young. But apart from that, in every other way he is the ideal man for Musharaff to choose as his replacement as COAS. Don't you think so?

If the rumours going around in the Pakistani press are to be believed then Musharaff is going to step down not now but sometime around Dec-Jan. That gives him around six or so months to position Ijaz. There is also supposed to be a round of promotions and reassignments coming up sometime soon. If Ijaz is promoted to Lt Gen and made DGISI, then come Dec-Jan, he is in a somewhat decent position as a Corps Commander equivalent for Musharaff to elevate him to COAS without arousing too much resentment among the senior brass.

However, if Ijaz stays a Maj Gen and DGMI for too long then his chances are shot. His promotion to Lt Gen has to happen now. I will also admit that Ijaz is somewhat of a long shot but in my opinion very appealing and worth looking into from Musharaff's perspective.

 
At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
why is everyone so much against Musharaf continuing as COAS. His tactical success has transmuted to India gaining strategic victories!
Look where pakistan is under Musharaff! On the way, he had to shut down kashmir jehad too!

 
At 6:35 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Anonymous,

I have lately made it a point not to publicly discuss my views about the line of succession in Pakistan, it is no longer seen as a good thing to do. The situation in Pakistan is rather delicate, and there is a fear or sorts that giving out even normal opinions may cause events that one does not anticipate. The carefree days of my youth are now gone, so I have learned to keep my mouth shut.

That said, you are correct when you point out that Ijaz has all the credentials but for seniority. You have also correctly pointed out that anyone who stays on as DMI for too long gets shunted out of the line for the top post.

The Americans have already pointed out that they will prefer Gen. Hyat. If General Musharraf stay on in power until Gen. Hyat retires, or perhaps even tries to promote Ijaz out of turn, then there is likely to be nepotism charge laid at his door. This will reduce the credibility of his administration even further and likely expose Ijaz to assasination from within competing factions within the Army.

If I recall correctly, then Gen. Hyat had some sort of family connection to Musharraf too? talk of it had surfaced after the assasination attempt on his life in Karachi. If there is a need for a family member to be on top, then something can be arranged I am sure, but Musharraf like Zia is not this "family business" type of person. He is more "middle class" and "service" oriented.

On a related note, Gen. Musharraf may finally be earning the sympathy he so desired from his Indian detractors. Though to be perfectly honest, I personally feel that apart from any logical opposition to his policies (necessary given the complete lack of debate inside the Army itself) most of his detractors found his flamboyant style really annoying. Perhaps this flamboyant style was necessary to project an image of change, but to most eyes Gen. Musharraf behaved more like a contestant on Kaun Banega Crorepati, than a President of Pakistan.

It is too late to fix such problems but it is too difficult for a lot of people to imagine Gen. Musharraf transitioning from being the hands on ruler that he is to a more benign and distant president who exerts a benevolent and paternal influence on the state.

This is ofcourse completely different from any problem - at the technical level - that he may in transitioning to such a position, but... since I have resolved to keep my mouth shut about anything that really matters I am going to insist on talking about this other thing that is irrelevant.

 
At 6:36 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Anonymous,

India can claim to have benifitted from Gen. Musharraf's rule but it is also true that there was much hostility on account of Gen. Musharraf's reliance on militaristic image building - something that perhaps would have been less prevalent with a civilian leadership? who can say... truthfully atleast?

 
At 11:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

maverick,

Have you noticed a repeating pattern in all these post LM attacks by neo taliban?

Predominantly, they seem to be hit-and-run kind of operations and not many suicide bombings. Looking at the reports coming out from Waziristan (DG-ISPR rather)a large no of militants would attack a position, kill as many soldiers as they could, and flee with their casualties.

The latest attack in Waziristan is typical of what i'm trying to say.

Any deductions?

 
At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maverick,

Since you do not wish to openly discuss the issue of who will succeed Musharaff as COAS, I will not pursue that topic any further.

Zooming out a little, do you think that Musharaff stepping down as COAS within the next few months is a done deal? I still have some doubts.

 
At 2:24 PM, Blogger maverick said...

Hello Anonymous,

I think it is too early to say, there are rumours of a reshuffle.

Lets see what that brings. After Haq - Kiyani was the other big name in the pool.

I think the rest are "also-rans"

 

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