ISLAMABAD: The dark cloud of despair rising again

By Ansar Abbasi

Country’s security establishment, often working quietly behind the scene and more often working at odds with elected political power players, has started raising serious doubts about the competence and even credentials of the present ruling set-up, implicitly warning that things may not go on for long if they do not improve.

Signs of disapproval of many things that the present regime has done or is doing are thus adding to the fears that the system may be under threat again, hardly weeks after it was born and is still trying to find its feet.

Circles close to the establishment say President Musharraf is no more relevant. Neither are his conspiracies. Now the establishment is worried for what the country has seen during the last few months of the civilian rule.

In his background interaction, a trusted source and a politician from the ruling coalition shared with this correspondent discussion of a senior Member of Parliament (MP) with some key players of the establishment.

Without identifying these key players, the source said that the MP was asked to advise his influential top political leadership that the things as they are today could not prolong if not corrected.

The MP’s encounter with the establishment’s players had occurred before the recent ISI fiasco, which has further eroded the credibility of the present regime. Bad-governance, highly objectionable appointments made during the recent months, growing corruption etc are causes of concern for the establishment but more worrying is the loss of trust between the ruling leadership and some important players of the establishment.

Some strange and almost unbelievable accusations are also being made against key players of the present set-up. One of them is suspected to be an MI-6 agent while a non-career diplomat is alleged to be close to CIA. And what has really been a disturbing report, shared by the source, is the alleged visit of a RAW agent to a top coalition leader’s overseas residence.

While we have already heard the rejected Chaudhries of Gujrat and the badly defeated Sheikh Rashid of Rawalpindi issuing warnings that the present system would collapse in a few months’ time, these sources in the ruling coalition do not think otherwise.

“The situation is really scary now,” a ruling MP said, admitting that things had not been properly handled by the present regime and now possibly there were little chances to escape the fate that was now like writing on the wall.

In his view and on the basis of his “educated guess”, the exercise of 58(2)(b) is not a distant possibility. He said that President General (retd) Musharraf had lost his charm for the establishment and he too would be shown the exit door but only after he invoked the constitutional provision that empowered the president to dissolve the National Assembly and dismiss the government.

The source believes that a national government comprising representatives of different political parties would be set-up and ruthless accountability system would be introduced and launched.

The source assured that there was already a lot of remorse for the controversial NRO. It is relevant to mention here that some of the PPP ministers are already expressing similar fears in their off-the-record discussions while many of the government representatives also admit serious failings on their part for the golden opportunity that they got after Feb 18 to give a new direction to this country.

A senior colleague in The News has already reported on July 28 how President Musharraf now feels about Asif Ali Zardari. Quoting an unnamed PML(Q) source, the president was cited as using harsh words against Asif Ali Zardari in his meeting with Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the PML(Q) President.

“Hearing Musharraf speak in a highly disparaging tone against Zardari, not only Chaudhry Shujaat was buoyed up but other top PML-Q leaders, who got a briefing from him about his deliberations with the president, were also thrilled,” the report quoted a PML-Q stalwart as saying.

PPP think tanks, if there are any, are trying to use the pat on the back of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani given by President Bush in Washington but support of a leader who himself is a lame-duck and immensely unpopular in his own country could mean very little in the Pakistani context, specially if the PM and his party cannot deliver.

Source: The News, 30/7/2008

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