Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

What the war is about? (Part 3)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

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Courtesy: Daily Jang (08-Oct-2009)
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War on Terror – Part 2: Political Parties and Media in Pakistan

Sunday, September 28, 2008

In Part 1 of this article, I talked about public support in Pakistan for our role in “war on terror” and gave reasons for which Pakistanis – in general – do not confirm Pakistan’s role in this war. Today, I will talk about our Political forces and role of our media and its support to Pakistan’s war on terror.

Political Parties

Our political parties throughout the history of Pakistan have exploited this nation in the name of democracy – just to get into the power. They were never able to get public support but supported public anger, frustration and hatred (for rulers at time) to get the support. No political party has ever given an agenda to work on but just the popular slogans to bag the votes or to destabilize the government at time. Unlike in civilized countries – where “democracy” is implemented like a democracy, where political parties survive based on their policies rather personalities, where public issues are crucial  to win votes, where parties are not political dynasties – our  political parties ( generally) are like group of people who fight with rivals just to hang on to power or to get into the power. They do this in the name of democracy, in the name of “public interest” and yet there is no democracy in Pakistan and “public” fighting over “aatta” (flour). Our political leaders are creation of our hatred for others.

In 2001, the leadership of major political parties was in exile and – as we have parties based on the personalities – there was a political vacuum. However, the political forces – that were present in the country at that time – did not approve of Musharraf’s “u-turn” in our foreign policy – and those who did were insignificant. These political forces opposed our policy on this “war on terror” not because they had a better foreign policy but they wanted to get popular; as its normal for political parties to get popularity by opposing the government. For these political parties, there was no argument of being responsible or being patriot or being principled– though they claimed; their resistance to Pakistan’s policy was because of their hate for a dictator and to get support of angry public. It was time when they all should have got together and forgot their personal grudges, when they all should have thought about “Pakistan First”, when they all should have stopped scoring points against each other, when all should have shown the facts to the public rather sparking more anger inside them; unfortunately that did not happen. In their hatred for a dictator, they supported – intentionally or intentionally – those elements who are, today, challenging writ of the govt. everywhere in this country. 

Even today, after 7 years since 2001, these political parties are not in agreement for on policy and everyone is calling its own shots – mostly with motions only. It’s a shame. 

Media

About a year ago, I wrote “Pakistani Media, Freedom and Responsibility”, where I discussed about the responsibility of Media and its powers. I talked about how irresponsible our Media is and today, after a year, I still have the same opinion.

We talk proudly about our media for being “free” and “vigilant” but we forget that freedom and vigilance does not mean bringing distress to people, it does mean to demoralize the public.

If you do not understand what I am bragging about then watch this video clip that will put you in deep anxiety and may make you insomniac. And then watch this video that talks about the same situation – that first one does or may be worst – but still leaves you hopeful and optimistic.

That’s the difference a media can make, media can pull the morals high in worst situations, media can unite a divided nation on one issue and media can make people to take on their responsibilities. Unfortunately, our media doesn’t do any of this; all we see on our TV screens is that sparks anger in public, makes them more frustrated and depressed, makes them more divided and make them more violent. If you read newspaper, just looking at the reporter’s name, you can tell what the report would be? Who it would be against? Who would have been criticized? How sensational it would be? It is hard to find an unbiased opinion from these reporters (off course there are few exceptions). 

Media could have led us to unite on this “war on terror”, media could have presented the facts to people rather selling emotional videos and talk shows to the public, media could have done intellectual debates to set an opinion rather gathering a bunch of emotional people who were just against govt. policy on “war on terror” – and then calling it public opinion. In these 7 years in “war on terror”, all media did is to criticize our policy and to promote people’s anger and emotion; why wouldn’t they have done this, after all it was the selling product. They sensationalized every aspect of “war on terror” to sell it more to the public and a little importance was given to “being responsible”.

Whether you agree with govt. foreign policy or not, interviewing people like “Molana Fazl-ullah” (a militant leader in Swat) was never supposed to help in reducing militancy or in helping Pakistan to deal with militancy. Only a responsible media can ascertain as to showing what on TV can be of assistance in handling with terrorism that Pakistan is facing today. 

Conclusion:

With the aim of fighting crises that Pakistan is facing today – be it “war on terror”, economic or any other – both political parties and media will have to change their current policies.

Political forces need to sit together putting all their personal grievances back and devise a common policy to fight with current issue – if this goes against public emotions then so it is, explain people with facts and they will understand. Politicians need to come united to fight all these challenges that we face today – even if this demands a change in their “principled” stance on certain issues. 

On the other hand it’s time for media to start taking things with responsibility. It needs to start showing both sides of the pictures rather showing only what people want to see or only what sells best. Media needs to rise above any political party, group, movement, institution or anything and needs to start looking at things with an unbiased eye.

What’s next:

In the next part of this discussion, I will talk about Pakistan’s Policy (read: Musharaf’s Policy) and role of Pakistan army in this ”war on terror”.

Pakistan: Why PML(N) left coalition?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

When writing my previous post, I feared – like many others – that unnatural alliance of PML-N and PPP will break apart soon. Though it was expected to fall since its birth yet everyone wished for its success, hoped that those who were voted for change will bring something positive in this country, believed that these politicians – not leaders – have learned while in exile. Coalition breaking apart and two major parties going their own ways has started politics like 90s –politics with full of hatred and vengeance.

Apparently, restoration of judiciary was the main issue between two parties – PMLN and PPP to part ways; this is what PMLN is advertising to get more fame and to score against PPP – one must admit PMLN’s tactics to use the power of media. No doubt Nawaz Sharif’s stance on judges’ issue has earned him great fame and popularity but this doesn’t mean that PMLN is a party of principles. It also doesn’t mean that PMLN decided to sit on opposition benches because judges were not restored.

Judges’ issue would have been resolved long time ago if both parties wanted; both PMLN and PPP needed it to be unresolved for other reasons. It never has been an issue of principles for Sharif and Zardari. However, today’s post is not about judiciary or judges issue – I will write about it some other time.

Since February 18th – to be more accurate, since March 22nd – both Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari are following two different outlines. Asif Zardari, with a script from America, was busy in strengthening its govt. and getting things in his own hands; reconciliation with MQM, alliance with PMLN, JUI and ANP, Musharraf’s impeachment and not restoring judges was all milestones for his long term plan. He has played his card very cleverly – though at the cost of his and his party’s popularity. On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif, surprised by his party’s surprise victory in February 18th elections, kept his eyes on the next elections. His all moves, including his stance on judges’ issue, alliance with PPP – without sharing responsibility of govt. failures – and his statements against Musharraf and America, were all to be in-cashed in next election.

After getting Musharraf out, electing a non-PPP president and restoring Iftikhar Chuadhary – not judiciary necessarily – Sharif’s next move would have been call for early election but Asif Zardari had different plans. Zardari gathered parties together and mounted pressure on Musharraf – with approval of foreign stakeholders – and got rid of him. Once Musharraf is out, it was logical for Zardari himself to claim presidency; considering his plan to grab power in his hands and powers that still reside with presidency AND considering PPP’s experience with Farooq Laghari in 90s. However, PMLN could not accept Zardari (or PPP nominated) president unless the president’s powers are clipped – especially 58-2(B), the power to dissolve assemblies.

Letting PPP to get a grip at presidency – with so much powers – was in direct conflict with PMLN’s plan – the plan for early elections.

How?

Zardari – (Co-?)Chairman of PPP – becoming president will make sure that PPP govt. will not be dissolved using 58-2(b) – President’s power to dissolve assembly. And with Army recently getting out of politics, America’s support for PPP and Zardari sitting in presidency will make it almost impossible for PMLN to get into election before year 2013 – when current assemblies completes five year term. On the other hand, if – somehow – we go into early elections and PMLN wins, as it is expected with growing popularity, to a majority to forms the govt., it will be under constant threat by president house. Zardari sitting in presidency, with 58-2(B) powers to dissolve the assembly will not let PMLN play easily. This is why least acceptable option for PMLN was to clip 58-2(b) off before PPP installs its own president. So it will be like a catch-22 for PMLN if Zardari is elected as president with all the powers remaining with him as they were with Musharraf.

Understanding this catch-22 for PMLN, it is not hard to believe that judges’ issue is nothing (or least) to do with fall of coalition but it was about a president who can or cannot send current govt. home – when PMLN will be looking for it. If independent judiciary was ever important to PMLN, Supreme Court would not have been attacked under Sharif’s govt. – and by Sharif’s folks. If Chief Justice Iftikhar was any important to PMLN, it would not have nominated a Judge – Justice Siddiqui – who had thrown his own Chief Justice, Sajjad Ali Shah, out of office in 1997 – again under Sharif’s govt. Zardari’s broken promises also have nothing to do with PMLN parting ways from PPP as Sharif himself has a long list of his own broken promises – if one starts counting.

For people like us, it is all about politics of principles and about broken promises – that made coalition fall. And funny as it is that we – well, most of us – believe that.

Having said all this, nothing in this post justifies that Zardari is the right person for president to be elected. It also doesn’t justify any of the wrong doings of PPP – in present or past. This just to unleash PMLN – image that is hidden under untrue campaign of “principles”.

Pakistan: Why Musharraf was made to Leave?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Finally, he is gone; Musharraf announced his resignation in his televised address on 18th August. Since then people are celebrating his departure; many are dancing on the streets and distributing sweets – the very same people who did the same when he came into power in October 1999. The same people, who were cursing him for not resigning, for being confrontational and for destabilizing the country, are now calling him coward for resigning and not facing impeachment. Some hypocrites, who are supporting current Military Operation in tribal areas, are also accusing him for launching a War against its own people in FATA. Those, who have personal scores to settle, are calling shots for his trial. There is much have been said and much more will be in coming days but mostly with hatred, emotions and vengeance.

Only events in next few weeks (or days) will show if Musharraf was the reason for instability and only history will tell us if he did any good to Pakistan.

The question for now is, if he was indispensable and a strong American ally in “War on Terror”, if he turned Pakistan into a U.S. colony (as he is accused for) then why America let him go? If he was doing everything to achieve America’s objectives in the region then why he was gradually isolated and then shown the door? Why America did not want him in power anymore? If history is any guide, America never suspended support to their allies until the job was finished – like they supported Zia despite his all wrong doings until Soviets were defeated. Why this time Americans abandoned support for their best ally before the job is finished? (i.e. War on Terror)

As “War on Terror” is nowhere close to finish and America’s regional objectives are still not met, then there could only be two reasons that can make America to let Musharraf, their best ally, go (or make him leave):

  1. America found a better ally in Pakistan who can deliver more than what Musharraf was doing.
  2. Musharraf was providing resistance in meeting some of US objectives.

America would not need another (or better) ally in Pakistan if Musharraf was delivering all what they wanted. They would not have bothered dealing with many politicians when one man was giving them all they asked for. Finding a better ally only makes sense when the new ally can do better than what Musharraf was doing; though it will involve dealing with many people – people who are not sole authority either like Musharraf was.

However, if Musharraf was a resistance to some of American objectives then we need to understand those objectives first as Musharraf was not a resistance in “War on Terror”. America’s other strategic goals in the region are:

  1. Get strategic control in Afghanistan – to gain access to former USSR territory and its natural resources.
  2. Control China –Its economy is getting stronger and is capturing bigger international markets where US has (or had) control before. Also, China is increasing its fire power remarkably. China is widely seen as a new emerging power that can challenge America’s sole authority on this globe. America can keep an eye on China after getting control in Afghanistan.
  3. Promote India – India, that shares a long border with China, is only country in the region that can challenge China before it gets strong enough to challenge US.
  4. Neutralize Pakistan (or at least decrease its Military power) – To make Pakistan not able to challenge India and for India to focus on China ONLY. Pakistan has to be neutralized from its nuclear assets and its military strength has to be decreased in order for India to focus on China.

And these were the wider US objective to which Musharraf was not willing to cooperate. He was not willing to change Pakistan’s “Indian-focused” defense policy, he was not willing to corner China in the region and promote India for America’s regional interests. And for stability in Afghanistan, he has been accused many times for playing double game with America – for spending money to improve Pakistan’s “Indian-focused” defense; money that was given to fight with militants in Pak-Afghan border areas. New York Times, in this article says:

“Yet he also displayed a taste for military adventurism and sometimes reckless pursuit of Pakistan’s own goals, which were sometimes at odds with American interests.”

And also the same article mentions Musharraf as:

“Though Mr. Musharraf forged a personal bond with President Bush that assured American support for him even as his public standing declined precipitously, he produced only mixed results for Washington, increasing suspicions that he was playing a double game.”

“Yet for every decision that Mr. Musharraf calculated would help the United States, there were many that did not, leaving policy makers in Washington to wonder which side he was really on.”

Here it talks about him like this:

“For seven years, the Bush administration enabled Mr. Musharraf — believing that he was the best ally for the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. He never delivered on that promise. And Pakistan’s people deeply resent Washington for propping up the dictator.”

Musharraf’s downfall started in 2004 when he refused to hand over Dr. Abdul Qadeer to Americans and then denied any kind of access to Pakistani nuclear scientists by international agencies. Since then the situation in Pakistan started getting worst and pressure started mounting on Musharraf; in FATA militants started re-grouping, in Balochistan an armed uprising was launched, Civil Society got active, NGOs started to assemble, Media turned against Musharraf etc. Since then, any mistake committed by General did not go unnoticed – like they did before – and we witnessed huge protest rallies where civil society, NGOs, student unions, media played a gigantic part – and intentionally (or unintentionally?) helped US plan to isolate Musharraf.

“A plan to Topple Pakistan Military” provides in depth analysis of America’s objectives in the region and details as to how events took place in Pakistan to isolate Musharraf.

While Musharraf was being isolated, Hussain Haqqani’s long efforts in US to get Washington’s support for Benazir Bhutto started to flourish – Hussain Haqqani was a close ally to Benazir and her prime lobbyist in US . America, having decided to replace Musharraf with Benazir Bhutto, started to pressure him to start negotiations with Ms. Bhutto, provide her clearance from corruption charges and let her come back to Pakistan. Many believe that Musharraf went for a deal with Benazir in 2007 because he needed support to stick to the power but actually it started back in late 2004; when Asif Ali Zardari was released by Musharraf govt. after spending 8 years in jail (five of those were under Musharraf regime), when people first started talking about a deal between Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto, when Musharraf did not need to go into any deal to stick into power. It was in 2004, when America first started pushing Musharraf to negotiate a deal with Benazir Bhutto. In late 2006, after resisting America’s pressure since 2004, Musharraf started to break a deal with People’s Party (PPP) and it was long before Musharraf’s apparent downfalls started i.e. March 2007, – I said apparent because mostly Pakistani analysts link his downfall with his action to remove Chief Justice on March 2007. When PPP was secretly brokering a deal with Musharraf, through General Ashfaq Kyani – then ISI chief – and Tariq Aziz – a close Musharraf ally – the frequent un-resting events started happening in Pakistan in early 2007- Musharraf dismissing Chief Justice in March 2007 worked as catalyst towards his isolation. It was November 2007 when Musharraf’s popularity reached to its lowest.

Musharraf remained in power with immense pressure from America to bring democracy and was forced to doff his uniform and hold the elections. This time Musharraf was not allowed to get his favorable election results, like he did in 2002; rather these results were much favorable for America’s new ally – PPP.

After coming into power, PPP started to present itself as a strong ally for America, started to distance itself from China, issued an Indian favorable trade policy. Pakistan’s Military budget was openly discussed in the National Assembly for the first time, Beijing (China) is left without a Pakistani Ambassador, Prime Minister’s visited America before visiting China – opposite to all past ruler of Pakistan who visited China after they came into power – presenting a shift from China to America. Munir Akram- Pakistan’s representative in United Nation, who has been vocalist about Pakistan’s interests internationally and critical to US and Indian policies – has been replaced because India and US showed concerns about him. Hussain Haqaani was appointed as Pakistan Ambassador to US and “Business Recorder” reported his appointment as:

“In a clear indication to strictly follow Pentagon tailored-policy to keep on playing the role of frontline fighter against war on terror, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani government has called back Major General, Mahmood Ali Durrani (Retd) from Washington and appointed Hussain Haqqani as Pakistan’s ambassador to the USA”.

All this happened without any resistance (or little resistance) from Musharraf, however, when PPP govt. tried to clip ISI’s wings and brought it under Interior Ministry; a strong resistance was provided from Army and Presidency forcing PPP to de-notify its early notification.

This was when it was decided to remove Musharraf from the scene; an impeachment move was started and Musharraf was made to resign.
Soon after Musharraf left, New York Times quoted an American official saying, “Now as Musharraf has gone, there should not be any ambiguity about ISI’s role”.

And also, U.S. (and Britain) made sure that he is not trialed for any of his actions. If trialed, a whole new Pandora box will open revealing many facts and secrets that none of the stakeholders in America’s regional interests would like to be disclosed. Providing safe passage to Musharraf is in America’s own interest – it’s not just that America does not want Musharraf to be humiliated; after all he was not their best ally.

It is no coincidence that reports against Pakistan’s intelligence agency -ISI, Military, Pakistan’s nuclear assets, about militants getting stronger in Tribal Areas are continuously published in American media. It is also no coincidence that American warships are moving (or moved) from Gulf to Arabian Sea.