The formal launching of Bilawal Bhutto in the politics
Few days back finally, Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, landed in the plains of the Punjab, ostensibly to console the victims of devastating floods, which had washed away thousands of villages and mass level displacement of population, but actually his much-awaited formal political launching in the province had taken place.
The veteran party leaders and activists from the province had almost lost hope of party’s revival in the province particularly after the crushing defeat the party had met in last general election and in the face of the docile policies adopted by the party’s high command and their continuous indifference toward the revamping and restructuring of its Punjab Chapter.
In this atmosphere of pessimism and hopelessness the sudden landing of party’s Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in the province to show his affection and moral support to the flood victims, was no less than a whiff of fresh air and a pleasant surprise carrying with it a lot of hopes for them.
On top of it, the followers of Bhuttos saw the reflection of late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Ms Benazir Bhutto in the person of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who entered into the makeshift living arrangements of the flood-hit areas and hugged poor people mingled with them to boost their morale like his grandfather used to do so.
A party activist in downtown Rawalpindi, a comrade of late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was beaming with joy on seeing the third generation of Bhuttos moving into knee-deep flood waters and sharing the woes of the people in hot and humid weather.
Tears were rolling down his wrinkled cheeks searching the reflection of both Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Ms Benazir Bhutto in him with the hope that the young Bhutto would take the party to new heights and moving ahead with Bhuttos’ legacy.
Although former president Asif Ali Zardari, spouse of Ms Benazir Bhutto, had kept the party intact after her assassination during election campaign in 2007 and also managed to complete the mandated term of the PPP led coalition government for the first time in the party’s history, but the fact remained that he failed to win over majority of the party workers and activists whose hearts throb with Bhuttos.
Being the Co-Chairman and President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari had accomplished so many political tasks widely acclaimed by the friends and foes of Pakistan People’s Party like passage of 18th Constitutional Amendment and bringing National Finance Commission Award. But the fact remained that he could not win over the hearts and souls of majority of party workers who were enslaved by the charisma of Bhuttos.
Though many in the Pakistan People’s Party held the poor and dismal performance of PPP led coalition government responsible for their crushing defeat in the 2013 General Elections but some of the key party leaders considered that had Bilawal Bhutto Zardari lead the election campaign of the party, as earlier decided, the results would have been much different.
But serious security threats had kept Bilawal Bhutto Zardari away from the election campaign and he remained confined to video addresses to a few party rallies across the country which failed to garner some respectable tally for party in Punjab and the party which had completed its five years mandated term was virtually reduced to Sindh, still party’s stronghold.
The formal launching of Bilawal Bhutto in the politics, especially in Punjab was kept on delaying since 2013 General Elections on one pretext or the other but mainly he was kept away from political arena and practical politics owing to serious security threats to his life and he remained confined to a limited political activities that too in Sindh alone.
Lately, the politics of reconciliation and amity with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League(Nawaz) came in the way of his entering in the plains of Punjab for revival of the party and former president and Co-Chairman of the party Asif Ali Zardari delayed the move to facilitate Mian Nawaz Sharif for the sake of continuity of incumbent political dispensation.
The Punjab Chapter of Pakistan People’s Party was critical of Asif Ali Zardari’s way of politics and in a number of high-level party meetings the issue was raised by the party’s stalwarts from the province cautioning the leadership that if this politics of amity and friendship would continue then Pakistan People’s Party would meet its natural death in the province.
Bringing him in the politics in Punjab during the floods was the smart move on part of Asif Ali Zardari, known for his political shrewdness. Because in this way he had formally brought Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Punjab in the circumstances wherein he have no political opposition from any quarter.
Political observers and analysts considered that his visit to Punjab would definitely create ripples in the already troubled political waters of the province.
It was hoped that he would be leaving great impact on the party politics and would be able to woo back the estranged party workers and activists provided he would play a smart moves, which he definitely would, because a very sharp and shrewd political brain in shape of Asif Ali Zardari would be standing at his back.
And obviously with reflection of both Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his mother Ms Benazir Bhutto oozing out of his person, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would surely be a crowd puller politician. Whether he would leave any major impact on the political horizon of the country or not only time and his political moves on the chessboard of this tricky game will tell.
By: Syed Abid Gillani
Seeking an unconstitutional change – a political turmoil.
Tension at political horizon is touching the zenith with government and protesting parties digging their feet deep in the ground with no flexibility on either side to resolve the issue through negotiation and ultimately paving the way for ‘third force’ to intervene and save both sides from colliding head on.
Keeping in view the developments taking place since the besieging of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) people at Model Town before August 14 and then the granting of permission to both Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf (PTI) to continue with their Inqilab and Azadi March and finally their landing in front of Parliament House it was revealed that all this had happened due to the intervention of some hidden powers.
Background interviews with the political players both within and outside the Parliament revealed that some invisible powers had helped secure both these parties permission to kick-start their marches from Lahore.
Again when the government had worked out a plan to block their entry into the Federal Capital and fortified the security of the capital by placing huge containers on the entry and exit points of Islamabad some invisible forces intervened and both the parties landed in capital with comfort. And now finally the same hidden hand facilitated their entry into ‘Red Zone’ where the crowd would surely become unmanageable for the incumbent government led by Mian Nawaz Sharif.
There is not even an iota of change in the demands of both PTI and PAT and now both these parties are sitting in front of Prime Minister’s Office and the Parliament with threats of running over the Parliament and Prime Minister’s House, only a few hundred yards away from the place, coming from PTI chief has further shaken the things.
With civil administration already putting off their hands from the capital’s security and stepping in of Armed Forces to take hold of the security of the sensitive buildings including Parliament House, Supreme Court of Pakistan, Cabinet Division, Prime Minister’s Office, the democracy and democratic institutions seemed vulnerable and fragile in the face of this precarious situation with nobody in a position to say something with certainty.
Although ISPR (Inter-Services Public Relations) came up with a statement that the security of all the sensitive buildings, symbol of federation, is taken over by Armed Forces so everybody must keep its sanctity intact, but in the face of huge crowd already gathered there, how a few hundred soldiers of the Armed Forces could guard these buildings if the emotionally charged crowd would turn violent.
Political analysts are of the view now the crowd, which had crossed into the Red Zone with great ease or like conquerors, it would swell at fast pace because the followers of both Allama Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan would rush in taking the impression that the victory of their missions is not far away.
So in the face of this rapidly increasing crowd at Constitution Avenue it would become extremely difficult for any force to contain them or at least force the leaders of these demonstrators to slash down their wish list.
On the other hand in his day-long meetings with party leaders and military establishment on Tuesday (August 19) Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif has made it loud and clear that he would neither step down nor would accept any unconstitutional demand of PTI and PAT including formation of broad-based government and mid-term elections. While on the other hand PTI Chairman Imran Khan was not ready to accept anything less than the resignation of Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, his younger brother Chief Minister Punjab Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif, audit of the elections and punishment to all those who allegedly had played role in the massive rigging in the 2013 General Elections.
So in this situation where the stakeholders are not ready to show any flexibility the deadlock could ultimately turn into clash between them and the result would be total chaos and anarchy, opening the doors for the third force to intervene.
It is time for the saner elements in the Parliament to reinitiate and double their efforts to get the country out from current chaotic situation by bringing the stakeholders on negotiation table as it is the only way to block the intervention of third force and wrapping up of the system.
Some veteran political players are of the view that it is time to utilise the forum of Parliament to get out of this quagmire and save the system for which all the stakeholders have to give sacrifices otherwise the fate and future of democracy in the country would be doomed.
They suggest that both the government and PTI should sit in the Parliament and look for the solution to their problems.
By: Syed Abid Gillani
Azadi March – One could only pray for lesser loss
The rejection of the 2013 General Elections audit offer by a three-member commission comprising sitting judges of Supreme Court of Pakistan and demanding resignation of Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif ahead of any such audit Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan has virtually closed all doors of dialogue and opted the path of confrontation, which would surely land the country into chaos and destruction, and one could only pray for lesser loss to the people and democracy.
Contrary to the soft-worded address of Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, who talked sense and besides announcing the comprehensive examination of alleged rigging charges in 2013 General Elections and inviting all the political stakeholders to resolve issues through dialogue, PTI Chairman Imran Khan was harsh and emotional in his tone and failed to give reasons for his ever-changing demands which had started with scrutiny of four constituencies and ended up with the complete audit of the general elections 2013 and now the resignation of Prime Minister and removal of whole Election Commission.
Political analysts termed it the second big blunder of Imran Khan by outright rejecting the audit of the elections announced by Premier Shairf and invitation of dialogue to address rest of his concerns regarding revamping of the electoral system in the country to make future elections free, fair and transparent in nature.
In his press conference at Banni Gala residence on Monday (August11) before leaving for Lahore to lead his ‘Azadi March’ on August 14, public at large and his supporters expected Khan to dissociate himself from Pakistan Awami Tehreek Inqalab March but instead he embraced Allama Tahirul Qadri with no political standing and agenda.
Political analysts said that the merger of Azadi and Inqalab marches had virtually torpedoed the political agenda of Imran Khan who wanted to bring reformation in the full of flaws electoral system prevalent in the country, because Allama Tahirul Qadri was against the incumbent political dispensation and wanted to wrap up the system.
This dichotomy on part of Imran Khan had discredited Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf in the eyes of a large segment of society who judge the things on basis of rationality.
Some of the senior political leaders belonging to mainstream political parties including ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) were worried about this merger of marches and feared that joining of PAT activists in Azadi March of Imran Khan could turn it violent and now the chances of the PTI protest to remain peaceful are thin.
The people who are standing with Imran Khan and supporting his stance for making the electoral system free of anomalies and loopholes have distanced themselves from him after his embrace with Allama Tahirul Qadri who wanted to bring revolution by warping up the incumbent political dispensation.
On the other hand the flexibility shown by Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif toward the negotiated settlement of the issue and his acceptance of the Imran Khan’s major demand of audit of 2013 general elections by announcing a commission comprising apex court judges has put Imran Khan in a tight corner and eventually his smart move seemed to bear fruits as he has given a clear message to the public at large that for the sake of democracy and continuity of the system he could lean to any level.
This move on part of Premier Shairf, political analysts consider, would distance the neutral populace from PTI protest plan, who earlier has soft corner for Imran Khan, hence breaking the momentum of his march.
In a late night development after his refusal of acceptance of fresh offer of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the central leader of Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf Makhdoom Javid Hashmi has dissociated himself from the Azadi March and left for his hometown Multan.
It is a big blow to Imran Khan and in coming days more leaders of Tehreek-I-Insaf would be leaving the party for what many considered the undemocratic handling of the things by the party top hierarchy.
It is high time for the political leaders belonging to various political parties to play their role in defusing the tension and on top of it PTI Chairman should refrain from ditching the system and he should accept the offer of audit of 2013 elections by the commission and let the system roll on, because the derailment of the system as a result of the clash between the political forces which seemed imminent in case PTI would carry on with his planned march, would pave the way for establishment to step in and take hold on the reins of government.
So the stigma of derailment of democratic order would stay with Paksitan Tehreek-I-Insaf for times to come, which would neither be good for the emerging political force as well as democratic order in the country.
By: Syed Abid Gillani
Modi‘s “goodwill gesture.”???
Bharatiya Janta Party had proved wrong all the political analysts and pre-polls surveys predicting split mandate and a fragile government as a result of Indian general elections 2014, by coming up with clear simple majority single-handedly securing 282 seats and convincing strength with the coalition partners at 336 in Lok Sabha(Lower House of Parliament).
It was for the first time in past almost three decades that any government in India is formed with such a convincing mandate and that too by BJP which itself come up with record historic win both by the party as well as with the coalition partners in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Now once again the Muslims across India are frightened to see such a heavy mandate with the party known for its Hindu extremist views, particularly the extremist tendencies in Narendra Modi, which he had spelled out in his public addresses and through his acts as chief minister of Indian Gujrat. Now he is going to step in the office of Prime Minister of ‘secular India’ and political analysts feared that if he would continue treading on the same path he would definitely land the biggest democracy in the world in great trouble, which is amalgamation of so many cultures and religions, with around 25 crore Muslims alone (more than the total population of Pakistan) inhabiting the country of over 1.25 billion people.
But many a political analyst and those tracking Modi’s political voyage, from a tea boy to the Prime Minister’s House, are of the view that he would not do anything which would dent the secular face of multi-religious and multi-ethnic India, because he knew it well that his party and its allies are given such a big mandate by Indian public, including a large number of Muslims, in the hope that Modi would replicate the economic success story of Gujrat in whole of India and help end the vows of the people who are groaning under burden of blatant corruption under the Congress rule and the overall in shambles national economy.
Under his rule Gujrat had seen unprecedented economic growth and when the national economy was nose-diving the economic growth rate in Gujrat was 11 per cent. It was the pivot on which Modi had built his elections campaign pledging the people of India to replicate the economic growth model of Gujrat in whole of India and change the plight of common people if voted to power.
Political and economic experts said that without bringing peace in the region and de-escalating tension with Pakistan New Delhi could not meet such a high economic growth rate targets and unless and until Pakistan would provide it with safe economic corridor to Central Asia the dream of revival of Indian economy would remain a dream.
Now with these targets and aims in mind Modi could not afford to fan ethnic or religious hatred in India or land in any controversy, which could derail and distract him from his real goal of economic revival.
Keeping in view this thing in mind when Government of Pakistan strongly reacted to one of his elections campaign address wherein he had threatened hot pursuit against Indian enemies hiding in Pakistan, Modi had sent his personal emissary to Pakistan to pacify things to avoid any damage to him in the elections.
Now once again he (Modi) reciprocated Mian Nawaz Sharif’s goodwill gesture of greeting him on his elections by inviting Premier Sharif to his swearing-in ceremony due on May 26 giving the signal that he wanted to live like a good neighbour with Islamabad.
On the other hand Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) government also wanted to have good relations with India and besides restarting the composite dialogue Mian Nawaz Sharif seemed inclined not to make Kashmir dispute hurdle in enhancing trade links with India.
PML-N government is also striving for the revival of national economy facing many odds right now and opening up of trade with India would provide breathing space to them and that is the reason soon after assuming office of Prime Minister in June 2013 PML-N government hectically took up the economic agenda with India and was almost prepared to grant most favoured nation status to India but the matter was deferred on the intervention of some ‘hidden powers’ on the pretext that let the new government in India come.
Now with the same agenda of both the governments in India and Pakistan the chances of tension between the two nuclear weapon carrying neighbours reduced to minimal and both the sides would move forward to help each other in promoting regional trade setting aside the contentious issues for the time being.
Many a Political analysts are of the views that in days to come both the countries would likely restart the composite dialogue with main focus on fortifying the trade relations for the collective benefit of the peoples of both the countries. And in the process the resolution of some of the contentious disputes between the two sides could not be ruled out.
By: Syed Abid Gillani
May11- Sanity must prevail
It was a landmark achievement on May 11, 2013 when the political elite in the country had manage to complete a smooth transfer of power from one political government to another on completion of five years mandated term, for the first time in country’s political history by Pakistan People’s Party led coalition government.
This feat on part of politicians on one hand have given the impression that now the political parties and its leadership have grown up and on the other hand that democracy has taken roots in the country and in years to come its position would strengthen further.
But the decision of Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, an emerging political force in the country, to stage sit-in at D-Chowk almost in front of Parliament on May 11 with the support of over half a dozen so-called political parties known for their anti-democracy credentials and dubious role in the past, has once again cast dark shadows on the future of democracy in the country and it seems as if the things are slipping into the hands of anti-democracy forces and non-state actors.
It is time for all the democracy loving forces in the country to rally round Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) lead government to provide it with adequate strength and support to frustrate any attempt by these elements, who behind the democratic face of Imran Khan, could cause irreparable damage to the democratic institutions.
Frustrated by the infructuous judicial system, which failed to address their petitions against rigging in a few constituencies, Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf was entrapped by the non-democratic elements like Allama Tahirul Qadri led Pakistan Awami Tehreek(PAT), All Pakistan Muslim League(APML) and other such elements, which have no or negligible role in Parliamentary politics in the country, to use his shoulders in wrapping up the whole democratic system obviously to benefit the forces of status quo.
Nawaz Sharif after assuming the office of Prime Minister of Pakistan had acted smartly and so did the main opposition Pakistan People’s Party, and to some extent, Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf to the collective good of the system.
Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif setting aside all the grey patches in his relations with Asif Ali Zardari, Co-Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party, gave him assurance at the time of oath-taking ceremony to jointly work with him for the strengthening of the democratic order in the country.
PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari reciprocated with equal warmth and things seemed to be heading for better prospects both for the democracy and the people of Pakistan.
The policy of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) to respect the mandate of the political parties and doling out of Balochistan Chief Minister slot to a nationalist party head despite having the strength to have their own CM also went well with the democracy loving people. Similarly denying meddling in the affairs of the provinces despite having push from one of its coalition partner in Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa, Mian Nawaz Sharif had set a very good example.
PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s role throughout the past one year of PML-N government was quite positive and encouraging, especially in the face of ostensible fissures in the civil-military relations his visit to Prime Minister’s House and showing allegiance to the political government was act of a statesmanship which gave message to all and sundry that political forces are there to defend the system.
All these things have given great hope to the people that future of democracy is bright here and they would be reaping the benevolence and fruits of strong democracy very soon.
But the events of past couple of months with some hidden hands trying to create misunderstandings between the institutions and activating people like Dr. Tahirul Qadri and Hafiz Saeed, and even managed to engage Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, an emerging political force and acquiring the position of even replacing the two major political parties in the country, to come out on streets for wrapping up of the system rang alarm bells and has raised many a questions.
The mainstream political forces should look behind the wall and identify those holding the strings of these people as any lapse at this stage could once again derail the democratic order and push the country in the darkness of ‘undemocratic rule’ which could not be in shape of Martial Law this time.
It is time for Imran Khan and Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf to review their decision and should better adopt the democratic and constitutional way of getting their grievances regarding polls rigging addressed while on the other hand Pakistan Muslim League(Nawaz) government should also show some flexibility and accept the demand of rechecking of votes through thumb impression and if not possible should address the complaints of Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf as per their satisfaction for the sake of system. And in the process if Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has to forgo a few National Assembly seats to save the system it is not a bad bargain because the political parties and their politics would only thrive when system keeps on rolling.
By: Syed Abid Gillani
Fate of dialogue with TTP???
The shaky start of government-Taliban negotiations gave credence to the apprehension of people in the know of the situation that the peace parleys could not see the daylight and would culminate in deadlock between the two sides leaving the door open for ‘other options’ to settle the imbroglio.
The negotiating teams of two sides have their introductory meeting in Federal Capital on Thursday (Feb. 7) with both sides coming up with queries on each other’s mandate, besides agreeing to the broader contours of the negotiations.
The team representing Tehreek-I-Taliban comprising Jamiat-I-Ulema-I-Islam(Sami Group) Moulana Samiul Haq, Khatib(cleric) of Lal Masjid Moulana Abdul Aziz and Jamaat-I-Islami Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa Amir Prof. Ibrahim raised questions about the powers and scope of government’s committee and also expressed their wish to have meetings with Prime Minister, Chief of Army Staff and Director General Inter-Services Intelligence, hence showing tacit no-trust on the four-member government team, and to have the assurance and guarantee of these powerful people on fulfilment of their demands.
On the other hand the government team comprising Special Assistant to Prime Minister Irfan Siddiqui, Rustam Shah Mohmand, Maj(retd) Amir and Rahimullah Yousafzai also sought explanation from Taliban team about their mandate and how they would get their decisions implemented from the defunct Tehreek-I-Taliban Pakistan.
They also sought explanation whether the government team require meeting with the nine-member TTP Shoora committee, especially constituted to monitor the talks process.
Publicly the government was upbeat about the ongoing dialogue process but in private or off the record comments the key government people saw little chances of success of these dialogues because of the complexities associated with this lingering problem.
Political and defence analysts commenting on the subject said that it was premature to comment on the situation because the fate of the dialogue could be judged in the light of the wish lists from both sides and the will power, particularly of government, to implement the basic points agreed upon by both sides.
Tehreek-I-Taliban Pakistan is a loose conglomeration of well over 50 groups and there are not adhering to some strict discipline and the some of the splinter groups in the alliance averse to the dialogue process could torpedo the move by launching suicide attack or attacking the military conveys moving in the troubled areas.
Since the initiation of the contacts between the government and TTP, a few terrorists’ attacks were launched and despite TTP central Shoora’s dissociation from these attacks it would definitely have negative impact on the peace parleys.
At the same time defiance of truce announced by TTP would definitely damage their reputation as the sole body controlling the troubled areas. Similarly, the Military establishment had also made it loud and clear that in case of attacks on their personnel or installations they would hit back at the terrorists abodes, hence jeopardizing the peace process.
On the other hand the demand of TTP nominated team’s demand of seeking meeting with Prime Minister, Chief of Army Staff and DG ISI sound rational, as TTP top notches knew it well that any commitment from any quarter about some measure sans the backing and approval of Armed Forces was meaningless.
Similarly, knowing the vulnerability and weak points of the TTP in the restive Tribal Areas where some of the groups under its umbrella are having the patronage of CIA and Raw, the four-member government team had raised some pertinent questions demanding certain assurances on part of TTP from the TTP backed team.
On top of it the TTP backed team was holding these talks from a weaker position and the government team rightly asked them of their mandate and power to get the decision agreed upon in the government-TTP team meeting as neither they were part of any of the TTP groups nor the TTP leadership was under their influence.
The TTP backed team faced another blow as after the refusal of PTI Chairman Imran Khan and JUI-F central leader mufti Kifayatullah’s refusal to be part of the team another member of the committee Khatib(cleric) Moulana Abdul Aziz would disassociated himeslef on the pretext that there was no mention of Shariah enforcement in the country in the initial talks agenda.
But the real test of both government and TTP teams would start after placing of their respective wish lists on the negotiation table and then agreement on a set of demands from both sides and getting it effectively enforced from the people who really matter in the troubled areas—the TTP militants and the Armed Forces of Pakistan.
By: Syed Abid Gillani
Peace talks with TTP shredded into pieces!
The key to negotiations with Tehreek-I-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Federal Interior Minister Ch. Nisar Ali Khan was searching for, was shredded into pieces in the recent attacks by the militants on military personnel in Bannu and Rawalpindi, ostensibly nailing the last nail in the coffin of negotiated settlement of the imbroglio. One can’t doubt the sincerity of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) led government to bring Taliban on negotiation table and broker some settlement to the lingering issue of terrorism across the country, which had devoured hundreds of innocent lives besides causing enormous damage to the national economy.
Though from day first Taliban were suspicious about the olive branch shown by the government to them but at the same time there were some indicators showing inclination of TTP ranks toward parleys. The things went Topsy-curvy with the killing of former TTP chief Hakimullah Masud in a drone attack bringing to a complete halt the whole exercise of negotiations initiated by the government with great pomp and show.
PML-N government from the day first was claiming that all stakeholders, including the Armed Forces, are on same page vis-à-vis holding of negotiations with Taliban and in this connection the All Parties Conference held a few months back had given mandate to the government to roll on the talks process with TTP, but beneath the apparent calm and unanimity there was a sharp disagreement within the Army toward this option of securing lasting peace in the country
. Though on face of it Armed Forces of the country had bowed to the political government’s plan to go for negotiations with these militants, but there is a strong realization within the Army that some of the groups within Tehreek-I-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) would never sit on negotiation table as their strings are in the hands of country’s enemies and they would not let them negotiate with Government of Pakistan. But tactically Army had supported the government’s initiative knowing the fact that the desire of the negotiated settlement with these militant groups would remain a desire and the things have transpired or made to transpire as they (Army) expected.
The infighting and friction within the TTP is another major hurdle in the way of dialogue as whenever both sides came a little closer to sit across the table to workout peace modalities, some of the group from within the TTP come up with some massive terrorist attack like the one executed in Bannu and a day after on January 20 in Rawalpindi inflicting heavy human loss to civilian and military personnel. The recent surge in the attacks, mainly targeting the Armed Forces of the country, and the overt acceptance of the responsibility of these attacks by TTP has virtually torpedoed all the efforts being made to have negotiations with these militants for securing lasting peace in the country.
The people in the know of these developments are of the view that the Ch. Nisar led initiative of dialogue was over following the killing of Hakimullah Mahsud and ‘Plan B’ was put in motion to draw a wedge in the loose coalition of militant groups operating under the Umbrella of TTP, the plan mainly envisaged by the Armed Forces of the country and known as the ‘good and bad Taliban divide in military jargon.’ The defense analysts said that the killing of Hakimullah Masud and appointment of Mulla Fazlullah, a non-Masud as TTP chief, has further opened the cracks in the already divided coalition of the militant groups in the Tribal Areas and Armed Forces of the country wanted to take advantage of these differences within TTP. So, taking advantage of this divide in the TTP the government have initiated negotiations with some of the groups within the TTP, which are dubbed as good Taliban, with the aim to dwindle the strength as well as writ of the TTP in the Tribal Areas.
This game of deception had flared the TTP and in retaliation they had stepped up attacks on the Armed Forces because they believed that the political government led by Mian Nawaz Sharif was just a puppet and the real wheeler-dealer in the whole affair is Armed Forces, and that was the reason the TTP had also brought shift in their earlier position and now their spokesman came up with the statement that their target are Armed Forces personnel and not the civilian population.
People in Armed Forces believed that some of these militants groups, operating from the Tribal Areas against the Armed Forces and people of Pakistan, are being controlled by the country’s enemies and these groups are not even under the influence of TTP. But TTP owned some of their activities only to give the impression that they are in full command of the things in Tribal Areas. These groups, which are being patronized by the country’s enemies, could not get into any sort of negotiations with the Government of Pakistan because of obvious reasons and they could only be dealt with iron hand.
So it is high time for our political and military leadership to readjust in this changed scenario, instead of indulging in the blame game for the failure of negotiation plan, and go for some quick fixes in the restive Tribal Areas to bring normalcy and establish government writ in the troubled areas, be through negotiations with those who wanted to sit across the table with government or by launching controlled military action against them. As by end of this year United States and its NATO allies are going to leave Afghanistan so Pakistan must put its house in order and bring the country’s restive Tribal Areas under complete control so that it could handle the fall out of some unrest in post withdrawal scenario in Afghanistan into the bordering areas of Pakistan.
By: Syed Abid Gillani
Will Musharraf be convicted for Treason?
Anybody who is related to high treason case against former commando general Pervez Musharraf is on tenterhooks. The whole state machinery and people of Pakistan are focused on this case, dubbed by many, as mother of all cases. But many a people who are in the know of background developments taking place regarding the case are of the view that the case would not see the day light and would fizzle out even before take off.
The critical analysis of the developments regarding the high treason case initiated against former Army chief Gen.(retd) Pervez Musharraf supported the premise that something extra-ordinary would happen during the course of trial and things would be brushed under the carpet, leaving behind the people to speculate and carve out stories based on their figment of imagination. But at the same time the legal and constitutional status of the case also showed a grim picture and keeping in mind the lacunae in the whole exercise—right from the framing of the case and constitution of three-member special court comprising high court judges—the confidence of Gen.(retd) Pervez Musharraf’s legal team seemed genuine because they could tear apart ostensibly weak case. And at the same time they could create so much mess by implicating other people in the matter, which the incumbent government could not afford and that is the reason they also wanted some out of box solution to Musharraf’s saga.
The legal and constitutional gurus are of the view that the current trial against former military dictator is primarily based on July 31, 2009, nullifying Nov. 3, 2007 emergency imposed by Pervez Musharraf in his capacity as Army Chief and not on Article 6 of the constitution wherein held in abeyance of the constitution was not a compoundable offence because ‘held in abeyance’ of constitution was inserted in Article 6 through 18th Constitutional Amendment adopted by the Parliament in 2010. So, the law will not apply in retrospect and it will become extremely difficult for the prosecution to prove their case, which is instituted on apparently flimsy grounds.
Similarly the singling out of Pervez Musharraf in the case from those who collaborated and supported him in imposing emergency has also weakened the case and it would become extremely difficult for the government to establish that he had done all this all alone and keep all those who supported him in execution of Nov. 3 2007 emergency out of it.
The first two clauses of Article 6 of the Constitution read; “1-Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason. 2- Any person aiding or abetting [or collaborating] the acts mentioned in clause (1) shall likewise be guilty of high treason.” Legal and constitutional experts are of vies that first two clauses of Article 6 made it loud and clear that all those consulted by Musharraf before clamping the emergency in the country were equally responsible for subverting the constitution and if proven guilty would be awarded punishment under high treason charges.
In the Proclamation of Emergency issued on Nov. 3, 2007 Pervez Musharraf had consulted Prime Minister, Governors of all four provinces, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Services Chiefs, Vice-Chief of Army Staff and Corps Commanders of the Pakistan Army. The people at the helms of affairs in Pakistan Army are also perturbed and wanted to safe their former chief from humiliation, which many in Armed Forces, particularly the younger lot, considered as the disgrace to the institution. They wanted to save him but not at the cost of their public image, which has already declined a lot in past couple of decades. But even then the Army had went extra mile to save their former chief and took him to Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in a dubious fashion on the day when he was due to appear before the special court hearing the high treason case against him for formal indictment.
Indictment of the accused in the case is actually formal starting point of the case and the ‘men in khakis’ had successfully aborted the move by taking him to hospital, a legal expert commented on the move. A retired Army officer commenting on the situation said that Army would not let its former chief humiliated, quickly adding that when they had not let Gen. Yayha Khan, considered as the bad man of Armed Forces, humiliated and when he passed away he was buried with full military protocol then how they would let Gen.(retd) Musharraf at the mercy of civilians. Background interviews with the close confidents of Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif showed that government was half-heartedly contesting the case and it is the strongest desire of Nawaz Sharif that Gen.(retd) Pervez Musharraf would leave the country on health grounds and would not return back to face the high treason case.
But the problem with the government is that they don’t want stains of sending him abroad on their hands and desired that judiciary would come up with some direction for sending him abroad for treatment and removal of his name from exit control list. PML-N government wanted the winding up of the issue before the indictment as they feared that once the case will progress then nobody know which course it will adopt and there are imminent chances that it will drag in all those who Musharraf claimed were consulted before clamping of Nov. 3 2007 emergency in the country. But if commando general will fly-out of the country, as desired by many, the Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Shairf will definitely be the happiest person and new Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif would also have a sigh of relief, paving the way for the problem ridden democratic dispensation to move forward to bring some solace to the people of Pakistan who are the real and ultimate stakeholders.
By: Syed Abid Gillani Emai:
“Tamsha”Words Matter, Attitude Matters More
Otherwise he is Parliamentarian par excellence. But it is the attitude of Federal Interior Minister Ch. Nisar Ali Khan, which is creating problems for him and his party, and providing an opportunity to his opponents within the party’s fold to pour venomous whispers in the ears of party chief Mohammad Nawaz Sharif against him.
Ch. Nisar Ali Khan stepped into the Parliament of Pakistan after 1985 non-party basis elections and since then he has been the part of all the Parliaments and hence holding the record of longest serving member of National Assembly. Ch. Anwar Chima, who had been sharing this record with him, was left out of the race after losing his seat from Sargodha in last general elections.
Being a journalist I know Ch. Nisar Ali Khan for past couple of decades but I had an opportunity of closely and critically watching him working as Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly as well as Chairman Public Accounts Committee, and found him an excellent Parliamentarian who had set high standards for both these slots he held during the previous government led by Pakistan People’s Party.
As an Opposition Leader his aggressive and assertive attitude was admired by all and sundry. He never let the treasury benches loose and put them on mat wherever he found them going astray from the defined Parliamentary norms and rules. He used to point out vociferously the flaws and lacunae in the handling of governmental affairs. Sometimes even he even had top move the apex judiciary to get the wrongdoings of the rulers ratified.
As Chairman Public Accounts Committee he had set new records by clearing the huge backlog of audit of various government departments during the reigns of several governments of the past and also presented its detailed report in the National Assembly, which in itself was a gigantic task, only a dedicated and committed person like him had led it to completion.
But things have altogether changed after the last general elections, bringing PML-N into power, and obviously the roles have been swapped bringing the rulers of yesteryear’s into opposition and the opposition into power making them answerable to the opposition.
But Ch. Nisar Ali Khan seemed failing to adjust in his new role as Federal Interior Minister, the slot he had picked for himself by choice. His hostile and aggressive posture, which is admired by all when he was Leader of Opposition, has become his negative and a point of criticism on him. Incumbent opposition in both the houses of the Parliament dubbed him as an arrogant and snobbish person who has little respect for his fellow Parliamentarians and it seemed as if he wanted to see the Parliament functioning as per his whims and wishes.
Although in both the bad encounters he had with the Opposition first in Upper House of the Parliament and then in National Assembly, Ch. Nisar Ali Khan was not wrong at all but on both these occasions his demeanour had flared the things and forced the Opposition to over react and take extreme step against him.
In the first incident Ch. Nisar Ali Khan’s stubborn and non-flexible behavior annoyed the Opposition members in the Upper House of the Parliament to the level that they had refused to come back in the house till the tendering of apology by the Federal Interior Minister and when Ch. Nisar Ali Khan refused to oblige they had started a parallel Senate session outside the House.
The matter was resolved on the intervention of Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and the party leaders including Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed considered as doves in the ranks of PML-N somehow managed to bring the Opposition back in the Upper House, but Ch. Nisar Ali Khan had refused to show even a little flexibility which he should have done being the senior minister in the cabinet of Mohammad Nawaz Sharif.
Reluctantly, the Premier has to appoint a state minister for Interior to attend to the questions and queries of the Parliamentarians sitting in the Upper House of the Parliament.
At the time when the standoff between the government and Opposition in Senate was resolved, one of the Pakistan People’s Party Senator Moulla Bux Chandio said that they were returning back to the Senate on the request of their colleagues from treasury and for the supremacy of the Parliament and democracy but regretted that both government and opposition had failed to scale an ego of an individual.
Now once again there was a standoff like situation in the National Assembly and ironically this time too the reason of tiff was what many terms the scathing attitude of Ch. Nisar Ali Khan, otherwise the objection of the Opposition on the word ‘Tamasha’ used by Federal Interior Minister in his speech on the floor of the Lower House of the Parliament was unreasonable and out of place.
Some senior Parliamentarians in their private conversation with media admitted that the word ‘Tamasha’ is neither derogatory nor un-Parliamentary and the actual problem of opposition members was with the rude and scornful attitude of Federal Interior Minister with the members sitting on Opposition benches.
Many an Urdu poetry maestro like Ghalib had quite often used the word ‘Tamsha’ in their poetry so the word is also not below the standard Urdu
Ch. Nisar Ali Khan, as expected, has put his foot down and refused to take back the word ‘Tamasha’ and came down hard on opposition to further deepen the tiff and reluctantly the Opposition was on boycott of the National Assembly proceedings when it was adjourned sane die and the matter of protest would likely resurface when the National Assembly would meet again sometime in January next year.
An Opposition MP, who had been part of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), in lighter vein commenting on the situation said that now Premier Sharif has to appoint another state minister to respond to the queries of the MP’s regarding Interior Ministry in National Assembly as well to respond on behalf of Federal Interior Minister.
Political analysts said that it is high time for Ch. Nisar to readjust himself in his new role and get out of the trance of Leader of Opposition and the sooner he would do it the better it would be for him and the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, because being the senior minister he would be representing Prime Minister of Pakistan in the Parliament in his absence, which is quite frequent
By: Syed Abid Gillani
Deterrence of Article 6 could be Deterred??
Finally the cat is out of the bag—-Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif led government has put in motion the high treason case against former commando general Pervez Musharraf by constituting a three-member special court.
On one hand the initiation of high treason proceedings against any former Army chief under Article 6 of the constitution for the first time in the history, the PML- N government would definitely be in an advantageous position at least on political ground, but in case if the fall out of the case would be contrary to the general expectations, the chances of which are quite strong, then the government would be at a complete loss and the deterrence of Article 6 would also evaporate in thin air.
Many a political analysts are of the view that the motives behind the whole exercise seemed more political and the will to establish supremacy of constitution seen nowhere and perhaps that was the reason the special court was constituted in haste and proper homework was not done before for this historic trial, on which, undoubtedly, the country’s future depends.
On one hand the Attorney General of Pakistan Munir A Malik in a media chat said that they have sufficient evidence to try former Army chief Gen.(retd) Pervez Musharraf for high treason charges while in complete contradiction to the chief law officer of the government the four-member FIA team dealing with the investigation of the case under said that so far they have nothing concrete against former Army chief.
If this is the preparedness of the government to take on what many call ‘mother of all trials’ then only some miracle could save the PML-N government from humiliation and the fall out would not only disastrous for their political future but would also eliminate the deterrence of Article 6.
In background interviews and discussion with those who matter in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and directly linked to this sensitive matter the confusion about the whole saga further dips in more confusion as about many a pertinent questions about the case they have no answers.
So in the light of these interactions with responsible people in the ruling party one could develop an impression of non-seriousness on their part and it seemed as if the whole exercise is aimed at securing political mileage and no roadmap for getting some exemplary punishment to the person guilty of abrogating the constitution is the target.
In Nov. 3, 2007 proclamation of emergency the then Military leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf had held in abeyance the constitution and technically it was not abrogated or subverted.
As the word hold in abeyance is included in Article 6 of the constitution through 18th Constitutional Amendment and there was no mention of it in the Article 6 prior to this Amendment, so how it would be quite difficult for the government to prove Gen.(retd) Musharraf guilty of high treason.
Before the 18th Amendment the wording of clause of Article 6 was: “Any person who abrogates or attempts or conspires to abrogate, subverts or attempts or conspires to subvert the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.”
While after this Amendment the word ‘hold in abeyance’ is inserted in it and now it is: “Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.”
In clause 2 of this article the word ‘collaborating’ is added after abetting and now it is: “Any person aiding or abetting [or collaborating] the acts mentioned in clause (1) shall likewise be guilty of high treason.”
Another clause under (2A) is added barring the superior judiciary from validating the act of high treason and it reads as: “An act of high treason mentioned in clause (1) or clause (2) shall not be validated by any court including the Supreme Court and a High Court.”
The legal wizards of the government are not clear how to prove that Gen.(retd) Pervez Musharraf had subverted the constitution whereas in the Nov. 3 proclamation order it was clearly mentioned that the constitution was held in abeyance and at that time there was no mention of ‘held in abeyance’ in Article 6, which was later inserted in at through 18th Constitutional Amendment in 2010. So it was also not clear whether these changes in the constitution would have retrospective application or not.
On the other hand it is clearly mentioned in the article that the abetters and collaborators in subversion of constitution would also be guilty of high treason.
In the proclamation of emergency issued by Gen.(retd) Pervez Musharraf on Nov. 3, 2007 it was clearly mentioned that the then prime minister, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Vice chief of Army Staff, Governors of all the four provinces and Corps Commanders were consulted before clamping of emergency and they were all agreed to the decision.
The excerpt from the Proclamation of Emergency issued on November 3, 2007 by Musharraf; “And whereas the situation has been reviewed in meetings with the Prime Minister, Governors of all four provinces, and with Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Services Chiefs, Vice-Chief of Army Staff and Corps Commanders of the Pakistan Army. Now, therefore, in pursuance of the deliberations and decisions of the said meetings, I General Pervez Musharraf, Chief of the Army Staff, proclaim Emergency throughout Pakistan.”
The question whether Military’s top brass was on board or not is not clear but some senior political party leaders are of the view that they (Military elite) have no objection to the whole exercise while some hawkish elements in the party are of the view that government is fully competent to initiate trial under Article 6 of the constitution and they need not approval from any quarter.
Now the coming days and months would allay fears and confusion shrouding the whole saga and conduct of trial would resolve so many riddles, which are unresolved so far and the real motives of the rulers whether they really mean business and supremacy of constitution or it is another political gimmick aimed at gaining public support. But the peculiar calm and confidence in Musharraf’s camp is meaningful and telling a lot.
Syed Abid Gillani