Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has pushed Pakistan to wield a “very solid” civilian control of its armed forces in what appears to be a dramatic shift from the US policy of backing.
It is one thing to express the desire for “successful engagement” with the new democratic dispensation, but quite another to discredit Musharraf’s military regime for the services it rendered unflinchingly during the past eight years by blindly cooperating in the ongoing War on Terror.
General Musharraf did everything he could do to prove that a strong military control of the country was the best way to eliminate the factors that fed extremism. There was no one to block him when he agreed to join the global coalition against terrorism on a one phone call from the White House. It didn’t take him too long to offer the Americans air bases and all sorts of logistic support for launching attacks on Afghanistan. No political government could have acted so promptly and saved Pakistan from being bombed back into the Stone Age.
Never had our army fought so valiantly as it did against its biggest enemy, the unarmed civilian population, under General Musharraf’s command. Pakistan was at war with itself. It was perhaps the only battle our sacred saviours fought without facing the humiliation. Full marks to the Generalissimo for bolstering up the confidence of the army that had emerged deeply demoralised from the Kargil misadventure.
This time around it was a win-win situation. Most of the time the troops deployed in the restive tribal region were seen doing the cover-ups for American attacks on madrassas training ‘terrorists’. It was indeed the biggest service to the country to purge it of the elements posing a threat to its stability. A few dozens civilian casualties is not too huge a collateral damage to get hold of foreign terrorists operating in the area. Musharraf has the advantage of being answerable to none when it comes to ordering the massacre of his own people or unilaterally breaking the peace agreement with tribesmen to appease the Americans.
And while he kept himself engaged in the tribal conflict he didn’t have to look over his shoulder to see how well the Military Intelligence was trying to cleanse Balochistan of the ‘traitorous sardars’. The commandos who killed Nawab Akbar Bugti were summoned to the Army House and given a pat on the back for carrying out a successful operation. It’s no use pardoning the ‘miscreants’ playing havoc with the province’s stability by raising voice for the protection of their rights and resources. The military regimes face no risk in fighting their weakest enemy, their own countrymen.
Political leaders are supine enough not to take such bold decisions even when they know that fighting the American War on Terror is in Pakistan’s own interest. This is where Musharraf dwarfs the whole lot of tiny politicos who are now back into power once again. Terrorism spread on his watch. But he was not seen dithering about his commitment to obliterate the menace. A multitude of citizens was kidnapped by the intelligence agencies on the suspicion of their links with extremist networks and bundled off to Guantanamo Bay for a thorough investigation by the Americans. This was part of a long-term strategy to curb militancy gradually spilling over into the country’s settled areas.
It stands to reason when General Musharraf gets irked by the sort of judicial activism challenging his authority to give the intelligence agencies powers to violate the people’s fundamental rights. It was distressing for him to find the superior judiciary overstepping its jurisdiction and taking suo moto congnisance of the incidents of mysterious kidnappings. Deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry probably couldn’t comprehend how much damage he would be causing to the ongoing War on Terror by pressurising the Interior Ministry and the intelligence agencies to produce without further delay the missing persons. Pity their lordships who sacrificed their jobs as well as freedom to secure the release of a handful of “anti-state elements” kept under ‘protective custody’.
The president proclaimed emergency and issued provisional constitutional order on November 3 with a heavy heart. It was not aimed at preventing himself from being thrown out of power by the defiant judiciary. He had no lust for power: Evidence: His repeated assertions that he would step down the day he felt that the people of this country wanted him to do so. This feeling hasn’t crossed his mind yet. But then he has every right to stay in power until the new ruling leadership learns to run the country independently.
Musharraf is the one man who can advise the Americans to review their call for solid civilian control of the armed forces, lest the resurgent democracy and sovereign parliament should become an impediment in its war on terror.
Courtesy: The Nation, 20/4/2008