Special to Watandost
Not Just An Election But a Battle for Pakistan By Agha Imran Ali Khan
(Writer has served at Pakistan Prime Minister Secretariat in 1999 and at Chief Minister Secretariat Punjab from 2002-06)
February 18, 2008
So many things have changed in just less than a year that even the most ardent supporters of President Musharraf in West in general and in the US in particular are now reluctant to defend him or his policies. There has been so much clamouring about economic growth in Pakistan and by jugglery of figures our financial wiz. Prime Minister made the whole world believe that Pakistan has become so prosperous that soon it would be a member of the comity of most developed nations. Lack of transparency, hollowed institutions and malpractices of cronyism, fostering of monopolies to perpetuate authoritarian regime and control have been the hallmark of last government.
Advisers, counsels, analysts and experts in US and West despite their expertise and experience sans one important factor of personal identity, lack of this has such an adverse effect that with all pages of 60 year history of Pakistan open to them, they even fail to identify the real power players in Pakistan, however, the most concurrent lists contain the Politicians, the Mullahs and the Military. This is unfortunately not true that both Politicians and Mullahs (religious forces) have merely been pawns in the hands of real power player that has always been Pakistan Military Elite in collusion with Civil Bureaucratic Elite, eternally blessed with blessings from major foreign donors led by USA. To straighten the facts whenever in Pakistan any politician tried to seize the moment or assert or even attempted to assert he/she was deposed or removed and if that didn't suffice than silenced forever.
Second instance of miscalculation by these experts is that they attribute the rising of people -against Musharraf regime- to growth of middle class. Historically middle class has been most pliant and docile even fond status quo, this class that has always been a vehicle for major changes or revolutions prefer to remain silent until in extreme pain and in agitates only in face of worst plight.
Today's elections in Pakistan are unique in the sense as they offer only peaceful and viable option for transition towards road to stability from imminent chaos and destruction detrimental to regional peace and stability. In the words of John F Kennedy: "If you make peaceful revolutions impossible, you make violent revolutions inevitable."
Unfortunately situation in Pakistan is not at all encouraging, recent disclosure by Human Rights Watch of the recorded telephonic conversation of Attorney General of Pakistan and President Musharraf's statement, just 24 hrs before elections and after closure of election campaign, that "Pakistan Muslim League Q or the Kings party would bag most seats and will emerge as major party" shows that he is adamant and in his last ditch effort to bail himself out of current imbroglio, he'll resort to all machinations/ rigging to prop up a supportive and pliable parliament.
Minor but coalition of size able small parties All Parties Democratic Movement has constantly expressing and reiterating their reservations on transparency and legitimacy of these elections, but participation of two major and estimated as most popular parties lends some some semblance of credibility to current election, if not viewed with suspicion this is obviously an honest attempt by these two big and nationalist parties to salvage federation and strengthen national unity which has ebbed to its lowest after assassination Of Benazir Bhutto.
No doubt it is the people who decide and strive for their destiny but if the tyrannical and authoritarian regimes are recognized and viewed as legitimate by major powers in International arena the rules of game are changed and with whatever little education and awareness voiceless people of Pakistan has gained without empowerment they view west Particularly US with hostility for her antipathy towards their plight and continuous support to oppressor and usurper military regimes. With all such support in place would enable Musharraf to quell even most vociferous opposition and protest post elections quite effortlessly, but not permanently and without denting international peace and security. Like Hitler, Saddam or any other tyrant in history, most effective tool in Musharraf and his cronies hands today is only terror and they won't hesitate to unleash it and prove his inevitability for war on terror. In the words of Gen. Retd. Faiz Ali Chishti, spokesman and president of Ex-Servicemen Society, "It won't surprise me much to know that its Musharrafs hand behind major incidents of terrorism".