Democracy, Cynicism, Cronyism in Pakistan
Proving my credentials as a cabalist, a few days ago I predicted that Benazir Bhutto would be detained. I figured that Musharraf needed to stop Botox Bhutto from leading a massive protest in Rawalpindi, sister city to the capital, Islamabad. … Read More
Proving my credentials as a cabalist, a few days ago I predicted that Benazir Bhutto would be detained. I figured that Musharraf needed to stop Botox Bhutto from leading a massive protest in Rawalpindi, sister city to the capital, Islamabad. When the old gal just didn't listen to the barely veiled threats about suicide bombings that Musharraf's people were giving her, Magnanimous Musharraf didn't have a choice — stay at home little lady!
With the threat of the scheduled protest over, she was then released.
What do I make of this whole thing? Well, people (bloggers) are now starting to speculate that all this machination is just a big sham.
After striking a deal with Musharraf, and after getting hundreds of innocent people blown up in suicide attacks, while she was safe in her fortress of a truck, Benazir bolted to Dubai just before emergency, and then came back after being assured from her masters in the West that all is well and its just part of the game.
Lawyers, political workers of all the opposition parties, former and suspended judges, human rights activists and other civil society members were beaten, tortured, arrested and abused by the Police in all the cities of Pakistan, but only PPP remain untouched. When people again started raising fingers at Benazir and deal and the dheel, they hastily started posing as tough against emergency and Musharraf. She also started a mock campaign against government, and now threatening for marches.
Rationally speaking, it is in Musharraf and Bhutto's interests to not allow the old supreme court to return. The reinstated supreme court would
a) get Musharraf out of office,
b) bring back the criminal charges against Bhutto
and c) bring back Nawaz Sharif, the Islamist Feudal Lord from whom Musharraf took power (and who has a long legacy of befriending Bin Laden). [Fn1, below]. In fact, the Supreme Court already brought Sharif back once before, only to have Musharraf throw him out.
Not surprisingly, the three petitions that the Supreme Court was getting ready to hear right before Musharraf sacked the court were going to address precisely these three questions. Now, fact is, Botox Bhutto has called for the old Supreme Court to be reinstated, but to a realist, that is probably just an act. As I've pointed out before, Musharraf realized — at the urging of the foreign officers in the US and UK — that if he wanted to survive the crusade the lawyers and judges were waging against him, he needed to become General Mubhutto.
When Bhutto was asked if she supported bringing the Chief Justice back – a critical part of affirming democracy – she evaded the question repeatedly (because she is aware that reinstating the Supreme Court would mean that criminal charges against her would be reaffirmed and she would be forced into exile).
International experts can pontificate all they like about an ideal world where Bhutto allies with the lawyers and journalists, but it is against her self-interest to do so, and she will not. Bhutto is part of Musharraf's junta.
Bhutto wants to be Prime Minister, and the fastest – and easiest way – for her to do so is under Musharraf's plan. With Bhutto not taking to the streets it is hard to think that Musharraf will have to budge. Together, the two of them will play the anti-terror card…
So, at the least, I am advising everyone to look at the entire situation from the vantage point of a conspiracy theorist, because, wackily enough, that might lead you to the truth.
You are then really just left with two questions.
1) What do the people of Pakistan want?
2) What do the people of Pakistan need?
The answer to the first is that while Pakistanis are pissed at the decree, it doesn't look like they are going to the streets.
Instead, on people's minds was the economy, already beset by spiraling prices. The mix of views outside the Lucky garage on the outskirts of Rawalpindi on Thursday night was typical.
Of seven young men – most covered in grease – almost all had a junior high education and made roughly $200 a month. Two had never attended school and were illiterate.
Six criticized General Musharraf's declaration, but all cited a drop in business as the main reason. Police checkpoints and uncertainty had kept customers at home, they said.
Muhammad Imran, a 24-year-old with a fifth-grade education who managed the garage, said the emergency had worsened the most important reality of his life: poverty. He was unaware and unconcerned about democracy, but wanted more customers. "We lose every day," he said angrily. "People won't come here."
As to second question I'll let you guys speculate on that, but here is one opinion.
[Fn 1] – While I hate Nawaz Sharif — and in fact would burn an effigy of the man — I should at least clarify that his "Islamism" is not the I-gotta-take-over-in-the-name-of-Islam variety. Its more of the I-gotta-use-the-Islamist-base-to-get-elected so that my brother who really controls his mind can rape farmers and lower income people and make billions. In fact, if there is a proper analogy for Nawaz, its that he is civilian version of the Saudi Royal Family (who are pernicious sure, but in a structural way, and not anarchic way like Bin laden). In fact, when he was exiled, Sharif went to Saudi Arabia, where he is making merry.