Jun 012008

One could concoct a tale out of anything. Here’s one. The president explained to me the other day the sort of generator or UPS I should put in my house. How could a president know such things? Conclusion: he must be thinking of shifting to his private home soon and is therefore studying alternative electric supply options. Scoop!
What a shameful last three days we’ve had. Our friends were wondering why we’re so suicidal. Now they wonder why we’ve also reduced ourselves to a joke. A daily comic that passes for a newspaper and the Comic TV channel associated with it deliberately started the rumour last Thursday that President Musharraf would be leaving in hours.
It ran a ticker in its UK broadcast that the president was under “protective custody” when he was actually hosting a dinner at which the army chief was also present. The next day, The Comic ran three more “scoops”. One: a former army chief said on a private TV channel that Musharraf “had decided to step down.” How does he know? Does he have revelations? Two: To create the impression that Senate Chairman Mohammedmian Soomro was required in Pakistan to become acting president, The Comic asserted with the confidence that only a con artist can muster, that he “has been asked to return home, cutting short his visit.
Mian Soomro [sic] is on his way to Islamabad.” Soomro was in Germany and went to London the next morning instead for four days, which puts paid to that lie. Three: The usual ubiquitous “highly placed sources” (good cover when concocting a story) also told The Comic that, “a wide-bodied Airbus A-310 plane had arrived here at Chaklala base. It will take special passengers to a close neighbouring country. Packing at an important house in Rawalpindi is in full swing as the modalities have also been finalised for the exit of the significant family.” (Note the wooliness). If you go to Islamabad Airport or Chaklala Airbase (same thing) you will see many private aircraft parked there. Wonder which “significant families” they are here to take away?
Some of our media have become unique. Times were when they used to exaggerate and embroider. Now they invent – totally. When a news channel phoned to interview me, I said, “You people are incredible. First you invent news and then you hold discussions programmes on it. This is a unique new way of news programming. You should get a Press Award for Innovative Journalism.” The rest of the media, which are very good, are going to suffer because of the few when our politicians inevitably land us back in the Combined Military Hospital. The new doctors could be surgeons who might just switch the lights off.
What’s really going on is that Nawaz Sharif and the Musharraf-hating gang is getting desperate. Chances of taking revenge from Musharraf by using the hapless sacked chief justice as a weapon have all but receded. Zardari has cleverly got them mired in a 62-point draft constitutional amendment bill that could take months if not years to come out of the committee.
June 7, the budget (which inevitably will be unpopular), and June 10, the day of the Long March (Mao wept) of the so-called Lawyers Movement that Sharif has hijacked are looming. If there is a right royal beat up on June 10, the last tenuous thread that holds the Zardari-Sharif coalition together will decompose and it will become untenable for Sharif to remain on the treasury benches. If a new PPP-PML-MQM coalition emerges, it will suit America, the president and the establishment perfectly.
They will see to it that it lasts five years. Five days is a very long time in Pakistani politics. Five years? Anything could happen. Revenge and the sacked CJ will become history. In their desperation these desperados are trying to force the president’s exit before June 10, so it doesn’t come to break up with Zardari. They are playing with fire and could again end up burning themselves and the country they are ostensibly “struggling” for.
Consider Thursday’s tales of The Comic. “Kayani Looks Musharraf in the Eye,” said the headline. Was the cartoon reporter of The Comic there? According to The Comic, Army Chief General Kayani had a meeting with Musharraf that “continued till after midnight lasting more than three-and-a-half hours” at the Army House. Army House? Did Musharraf go to visit Kayani or are they referring to the President’s Lodge? It’s unlikely that the president went to meet the chief.
He often meets people till late at night, nothing new or unusual. “Sources said that the president’s official spokesman denied this impression…” Incredible! Why would his spokesman talk indirectly through “sources” when his function is to talk directly to the media? “Brigadier Fahim Rao has taken over command of the Triple-One Brigade in place of the president’s loyal commander Brigadier Asim Bajwa.” Asim is considered to be loyal because he was on Musharraf’s staff. But so was Fahim.
It was known for months that Asim was due to go to the National Defense University. The change took place in the normal course. An officer has to command, do a course and a staff job before he becomes eligible for promotion. If Asim hadn’t gone to the NDU it would have affected his career. In bandying about their names the Musharraf haters are ruining the careers of two young, professional officers. In any case, if Asim is loyal to Musharraf, Kayani should be even more loyal.
As to the commando unit guarding Musharraf, it was simply replaced by another commando unit when its tour of duty was up. What’s the difference? Nawaz Sharif never understood the limits of power. He overreaches when he should under-reach and under-reaches when he should reach beyond. Don’t imagine that he is trying to extend his reach beyond his grasp to get to the stars.
Even before Thursday, The Comic had it that America has asked Zardari to shed Musharraf. Is this convoluted way they best they could find? Then why did Bush telephone Musharraf Friday to reaffirm his support? Then, Musharraf is considering replacing Kayani with his “cousin” Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj, obviously to create a misunderstanding between the president and the army chief.
Next the Sharif’s Javed Hashmi changed tack, from “conspiracies being hatched in the presidency” to “conspiracies being hatched in the Army House,” knowing full well that there is a brand new Army House in which General Kayani lives and the 75-year old bungalow that used to be Army House off and on is now called the President’s Lodge and the president will soon shift to the President’s House in Islamabad once it has been upgraded from YMCA Hostel to habitable.
Would Kayani give up the new purpose-built Army House for that decrepit old bungalow? Bhutto and Junejo lived in the old Army House as prime ministers where many a conspiracy was hatched, like the arrest of an army and an air force chief. Why was it not called Army House then? Even a fool can see that this is a dangerous ploy to drive a wedge between the president and the army too. This lot never learns. They fooled around with the army once and got away with it. They tried again and got burned. Now they are trying again. This time there will be no US president or Saudi crown prince to the rescue.
They insist that Musharraf is not the legal president. One asks: what is the legality of those who have been convicted twice over, have run to foreign governments to broker deals, get presidential pardons and take them into comfortable exile, come back after doing more deals also brokered by foreign governments, and got off Scott free under the guise of “reconciliation”? When a shark uses the morality argument in a sea of amorality, it sinks. If Musharraf must exit on this argument, so too must these pardoned dealers. We can then go back to our past in search of our roots to understand our genesis.
Impeachment? Sure, go ahead, it is your constitutional right, if you have the numbers. “We will try Musharraf for sedition.” Be careful boy, it works both ways. It was only the good sense and patriotism of the PIA pilot that saved Sharif from unwittingly committing possible sedition in his hysteria. If he had taken his commercial flight carrying some 280 innocent passenger to India and delivered Pakistan’s army chief into enemy hands as ordered by Karachi’s Air Control Tower, Sharif was done. What would you call pitting the office that symbolises the continuity of the state against the army chief and the army? Patriotism?
Only God permanent, nothing else. Musharraf will definitely go one day. But this is not it.
E-mail: hgauhar@nation.com.pk

Source: The Nation, 1/6/2008

 Posted by at 11:14 am

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