Abdul hafeez Pirzada still thinks he can save Musharraf

By Afzal Khan

ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf’s only friend left to advise him, Barrister Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, has told him he can prolong the impeachment proceedings indefinitely to allow the beleaguered president sufficient time to recoup.

Further, he has argued that all the “sins” counted against him by his accusers have been condoned by the Supreme Court of Dogar, which can be moved to rescue him again while the impeachment proceedings are in progress.

These pearls of advice from a former PPP stalwart follow a three-point plan, which he had suggested earlier but which failed miserably. The three possible rescue scenarios drawn included fomenting a rebellion in PPP Sindh through Makhdoom Amin Fahim to topple the Sindh PPP government, fight the impeachment till Zardari and Nawaz Sharif fall apart and rely on the handpicked Supreme Court to bring a rabbit out of the hat.

Musharraf’s other two legal wizards, Sharifuddin Pirzada and Malik Qayyum, have withdrawn from his defence. Pirzada considers his a lost case and is shunning him. Malik Qayyum is uncharacteristically lying low, which has brought Hafeez Pirzada to the centre stage.

This Musharraf loyalist recently met Makhdoom Amin Fahim in Dubai but the fiasco that ensued in Sindh Assembly, with Musharraf not getting a single yes vote, must have come as a rude shock. Not only could Fahim not deliver, the MQM retreated from its earlier high-minded “principled” stance of standing by its benefactor.

While Hafeez Pirzada has been telling Musharraf that the charges for impeachment are insufficient and flawed, PPP’s Farhatullah Babar is promising a solid charge-sheet that might go beyond Pirzada’s presumptions.

Analysts say unless Zardari again retracts and provides relief to him, Musharraf will only sink further as the process gets underway. The impeachment move has brought the PPP co-chairman up the ladder of public approval after touching rock bottom. If he reneges again, he will bring the PPP down along with Musharraf, who has little political backing left.

The King’s Party is in utter disarray. Apart from the Chaudhry cousins, Mushahid and Marvi Memon, hardly anybody else is visibly standing by or defending Musharraf. Without his second skin, the emperor finds himself denuded of even other apparels.

Circles close to Musharraf admit that he needs an NRO badly and his speech at the Independence Day event at the Presidency was nothing but a desperate plea to let him survive, politically and may be physically. He couched it in words of reconciliation and non-confrontation but his helplessness was evident from his body language.

These circles say all the talk about a fight back is nothing but bluff and bluster — the last gasp antics of an autocrat. Insiders say he wants to eke out maximum concessions before he makes his exit. A Nixon-like deal that provides him immunity from prosecution for all the crimes he perpetrated with impunity during the past nine years, raising himself above any Constitution, law and rules.

An astute observer of Pakistani politics, Ghulam Mustafa Khar made a prophetic observation about a year ago. “Musharraf has so much blood on his hands that he has no civilian life in Pakistan.” Another stalwart politician Khwaja Asif of PML-N says Musharraf’s continued presence on the stage is untenable, an anomaly and an aberration.

Musharraf has always considered himself a great strategist and often likened himself to Napoleon and De Gaulle (75 per cent strategy, 25 per cent leap in the dark). Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan once described him as a commando, who is trained not to avoid a crisis but how to wriggle out of it.

However, in civilian garb, the commando has probably forgotten most of his tricks. Mushahid Husain says he has proverbial nine lives of the cat of which he has spent eight and is still left with one. One wonders if Mushahid has lost his marbles or Musharraf is about to consume his last life.

Source: The News, 16/8/2008

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