What "Emergency Rule" Means for Pakistan and the US - Analysis of an Insider
By Mazdak II (writer has an intimate experience in power corridors of Pakistan; E-mail: mazdakNY@gmail.com)
A week ago I held the view that Musharraf must have learned from his failures in eight years at the helm and should be now looking for a safe passage that would be soon provided to him by the Apex Court in Pakistan. But I tend to forget that dictators are not made of ordinary clay and therefore, they have no common sense that saves a common man from many perils.
After going through the text of the Proclamation of Emergency it is noticeable that out of fourteen reasons forwarded for the justification of his action, eight explicitly state that General was upset with judicial activism and vindictive over his foiled attempt to bridle the judiciary. On the whole all arguments extended in the text, establish that the government had come to an impasse, not for any other reason else than the executive’s failure to deliver within the legal and constitutional framework. In a last resort attempt to establish his writ and fast vanishing legitimacy and authority General has unmindfully plugged the only valve that was acting to relieve the pressure of this boiling cauldron of 160 million people. On 9th March there was just an ordinary Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) but he turned into a hero for his courageous stand against a military dictator, and this shows a lot in itself. There is an old saying in Urdu that says “one is not doing it in love of Ali but in enmity of Muaavia” and this phrase truly reflects the state of affairs in lawyers agitation on Suspension of CJP.
On 9th March Pakistanis saw in Chief Justice an icon of bravery and lawyer fraternity led public through a battle that culminated in first victory against the dictator in eight years. At present the situation is further aggravated and probably it’s the first time in history of Pakistan a dictator has not been able to secure a simple majority with sitting members of judiciary to take a fresh oath under Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO), and his action has been validated by only a few and a number of those don’t enjoy a good reputation.
Ironically things are not as simple as they appear to be; Musharraf’s move to abrogate the constitution second time in just eight years is not only unprecedented but also demands a deeper analysis. No doubt first time he did that for himself, but this time he has been trapped by those aptly labeled, “political orphans” by Benazir Bhutto and they have not done it tacitly. Leaders of PML-Q have been vociferously supporting and calling for such an action, after failed attempt of recent past for imposing emergency, Ch. Shujaat Hussain on record said, that he advised the president to take such action.
Now the question arises, what leverage they would gain from such an action? Having enjoyed partnership in power for over five years, the ruling party stalwarts made little or no effort to bring any positive change in lives of ordinary citizens and their constituent. Most of the economic growth that has been reflected in official records has been shared by few politicians of ruling faction who colluded with corrupt people in civil establishment, remaining or PCO qualified judges and Army’s top brass to form a powerful Mafia. The country was actually run by these Mafiosi and their operatives that are content with fractions of percentage. These eight years have pushed the overwhelming majority further into poverty and they are struggling to make two ends meet. But deep inside the frustration has soared to the highest point and the current behavioral pattern of the nation is that of an untended flock waiting for a leader to take them into a head on with plunderers.
If on one hand these Mafiosi are depriving these seething masses of opportunity to prosper and live peacefully, on the other hand they are in perfect harmony with extremist factions for a number of reasons, for instance:
As good Muslims they are supposed to spend a fraction of their earnings in the name of God on poor and needy and none else is more worthy of generous charity/donations than those who fight in way of Allah and do jihad, if they feel the money is ill-gotten money they spend a little more to make it kosher. (This money is major source of sustenance for such elements and covers the other expenses of their operations, they need not buy arms and ammunition they have plenty of that since Afghan Jihad days).
By having such trouble-makers on their side they frighten and silence the peaceful and unarmed liberal force that is already economically crippled.
At times they obtain favorable and tailored edicts from the religious scholars of these factions to justify their immoral and illegal actions, and this helps them to maintain a religious image in general masses.
As far as general masses and local/national media are concerned, they have formed a habit of imputing USA for all their tribulations, and in their fondness of conspiracy theories they are quite convinced that it’s America more than Allah who is running their day to day affairs - even the Pakistan Army. Consequent to such irrational belief the extremist element is enjoying battle at home grounds against the Pakistan Army – perceived as nearby enemy.
Not wholly but to some extent this is true - with such a heavy reliance on USA if not impossible than certainly it is extremely difficult for Pakistan to take such extra ordinary steps without taking into confidence the US government and statements (after the imposition of emergency) e.g. State Department said that US won’t cut-off military aid and after deploring Musharraf’s action as “highly regrettable” and her spokesman saying US is “deeply disturbed” Ms. Rice hoped “that elections would be held timely thus democracy would be restored”, and “White House is hoping that emergency would be short lived”, are quite indicative of the fact they had to buy Musharraf’s story no matter how wobbly and effete it may sound. Even if he doffs his uniform by 15th November, the obvious maneuver of extremists has done its work, the fresh wound they have inflicted on already bleeding body has just not caused inexplicable trauma but also made transition to peace and democracy lengthy and difficult.
To mollify US Benazir Bhutto has been allowed reentry but it is quite unintelligible that how can a political leader run his or her political campaign, and encourage and motivate followers and liberal forces to play their role in a country, where extremists reign and their influence is so conspicuous, where media is banned, lawyers and dissenting political leaders/activists are either being rounded up or denied admission to their homeland.
A country with this immense strategic significance for war on terror is brain drained for last eight years, and has become a nightmare for its own intellectuals, academics, secular and liberal thinkers.
A big question remains unaddressed: How US would maintain its viable presence in that sensitive location if it becomes more expensive than keeping a mission at moon?