Christmas comes early for President Musharraf


by Fe'reeha
14th December, 2007 at 8:40 pm    

It seems as if with the Christmas season in full swing, everyone is looking at the world with Santa Claus eyes. Things are not much different in Pakistan either apparently!

The state of emergency bought the government of Pakistan much needed time. While some may have foreseen that one day the President would magically disperse into thin air by the strong wave of anti-Musharraf rallies which started with the removal of Chief Justice of Pakistan in March, the Washington-backed officials in Islamabad were writing a different thawing agenda for the winters in Pakistan.

As December kicked in, the seemingly civilianised President is presenting a democratic picture to the world as he gave up his post of the Chief of Army staff.

Yet, the uniform and tear shedding ceremony does not seem to have changed much. The retired general continues as the president with the support of the armed forces, confident in their unfaltering dedication.

In addition, he continues to enjoy not only the blessings of the gurus in Washington, a subdued political opposition, a dispersed judiciary but also a very disciplined media.

With the big sack of these gifts on the back, it seems like the Santa has decided to shower the President long before Christmas time. So much so that even the music reviews / political writers have decided to join the bandwagon of ho-hoing the embattled President Musharraf of Pakistan.

Nadeem Farooq Paracha, a seasoned writer form Pakistan, mostly known for his in-depth features on music and Pakistani club scene (if there is such a thing) joins the new found support group for Musharraf.

In a feature published in Dawn, he terms Musharraf as the “good Monster”. How he terms a monster “good” is a separate debate. More amusing is how NFP compares the lawyers and civil society movement during President Musharraf’s time to that of the labour class movement during the legendary Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s.

Thanks to the patronage given by the Musharraf regime to mostly youth-oriented art forms and activities, and owing to the relationship that developed between this and the open media policies of the government, cultural policies of the regime eventually gave birth to an interesting phenomenon. However, just as Z.A. Bhutto’s cultural policies had managed to attract widespread engagement from the masses, only for this new consciousness to ironically play itself into the hands of those wanting to pull Bhutto down, Musharraf today is faced with a similar quandary.

To say the middle class movement is a legacy of Musharraf is about as accurate as saying environmental protection is the legacy of Tony ‘Bliar’.

While I may agree to the point that indeed President Musharraf succeeded in bringing the middle class in Pakistan’s politics, this is no way indication of their support for him. What it shows in reality is that the extent of disapproval with the military government is so massive in Pakistan that even the vast silent majority who have never before played a part in Pakistan’s politics have now decided to come on streets and protest against the establishment.

However not all packages in Santa’s bags are reserved for the government. The fact that we will be having election under a civilian President and that the state of emergency maybe lifted tomorrow as announced by the President is still something to rejoice for. At least for the time being!


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Filed in: Current affairs,Pakistan,South Asia






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    [...] removal of Chief Justice of Pakistan in March, the Washington-backed officials in Islam source: Christmas comes early for President Musharraf, Pickled [...]




  1. Desi Italiana — on 14th December, 2007 at 10:51 pm  

    I am amazed at how smoothly the whole crisis was averted in terms of international support (or lack of resistance) of Mush’s stay in power in the face of Pakistani national opposition.

    In the beginning, the mass media went bonkers with the emergency. Then, they slowly started saying that Musharraf needs to go. Western administrations, namely the US, said that the Emergency (aka martial law) was bad, and Mush must lift it. Now, suddenly, Musharraf is president!

    If that’s not deft, I don’t know what is.

  2. Saleh Sabeeh — on 15th December, 2007 at 2:59 pm  

    Unbelievable. Musharraf’s handling of the event shows you cna do anything, just about anything if you have the back of the wstern powers. We saw same during the Marsha Law of Zia ul Haq.

  3. Sarah — on 15th December, 2007 at 3:19 pm  

    I cannot buy the debate about Musharraf doing good for the country or being the only option. We have all heard this before. Army is pure bad for any country if it gets involved in politics. In the words of Imran Khan, why did we fight for independence if we still had to live under army rule and had still to listen to the western powers. We may as well have remained a colony.

  4. Cover Drive — on 15th December, 2007 at 3:27 pm  

    There’s been much discussion about the Mughal Empire on this website in recent times. It amazes me how almost every discussion relating to the Indian sub-continent or the South Asian diaspora has alluded to it in some way. The Economist once described Pakistan as the land of Aurangazebs. Its children are taught in school that Aurangazeb was the greatest ruler the Indian sub-continent had ever produced. Lurking inside every Pakistani ruler, military or politcal, there is an Aurangazeb.

    How many times in the past has the chief of army become over-ambitious enough to overthrow the president or prime minister? Musharraf is quietly trying to make his safe get-away. He has handed control of the military to General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani who has so far been a trustworthy and loyal general under him. Will he one day stab Musharraf in the back? Only time will tell.

    The elections next month could see a weak coalition government or Bhutto come to power. Whatever happens the military will remain the most powerful force in Pakistan. It will stay on the sidelines closely watching every move the new government takes and if things go wrong or the militants get stronger it can always stage a comeback at the centre.

  5. Sarah — on 15th December, 2007 at 3:37 pm  

    He has handed control of the military to General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani who has so far been a trustworthy and loyal general under him. Will he one day stab Musharraf in the back? Only time will tell.

    Very good analysis here.

    Look at the way the PResident Musharraf assures of the Army bcking in the video. I only dread this will come to haunt him some day.

  6. Sarah — on 15th December, 2007 at 3:40 pm  

    On second thought, he almsot looks like a terrorist here. Oh Army is behind me, you better not be on my bad books. A dictator thourgh and through.
    I am amazed how can this guy ever be compared with Bhutto as in the feature linked on Fereeha’s post. But the very fact that Bhutto’s daughter is ready to srike a deal with him is testamount to low standard of ethics in Pakistani politics.

  7. Tariq Siddiqui — on 15th December, 2007 at 4:23 pm  

    Its always been hunky dory before christmas, Musharaf has to look for post christmas days as it brings worries with the credit card statement.Has he left anything in his account to make himself credible till the next christmas?

  8. shzad hussainah — on 15th December, 2007 at 6:54 pm  

    President Musharaf is just brilliant for our country, as donot have any worth mentioning political leader with us. Look at Imran Khan, the dictator at field and what not he has done around the world with women and now champion of democracy and fighting for our rights. Allass.

    God bless all of us

  9. Desi Italiana — on 15th December, 2007 at 8:43 pm  

    “He has handed control of the military to General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani who has so far been a trustworthy and loyal general under him.”

    And he has installed loyalists in other posts as well, like the Supreme Court, which flies in the face of having any independent branch which exercises independence and a check and balance. Mush’s octopus-like reach into every institution in Pakistan, while putting a lid on those who have protested against him (NGO’s, human rights activists, lawyers, judges, journalists, etc) is going to be hard to remove.

    But look at it this way. In India, the Emergency was similar (though the difference that has to be pointed out is that there wasn’t an army hold over India as it is in Pakistan) but somehow, people were able to supercede that to certain extents. And even then, all that happened under Indira the dictator hasn’t been rectified today.

  10. Desi Italiana — on 15th December, 2007 at 8:56 pm  

    Cover Drive:

    “Its children are taught in school that Aurangazeb was the greatest ruler the Indian sub-continent had ever produced. Lurking inside every Pakistani ruler, military or politcal, there is an Aurangazeb.”

    I agree with your critique, but I do think it’s important to point out that Pakistani children are taught extreme patriotism, uncritical religious acceptance, and exams testing their “respect” and “reverence” of Pakistani leaders and the army. There are Pakistanis who have studied the content of curriculums and written about what I just stated above. So while I agree with you that it’s a gross generalization to say something like “Lurking inside every Pakistani ruler, military or politcal, there is an Aurangazeb,” and even a politically charged statement, it’s not incorrect to say that what there isn’t some level of indoctrination about the military mixing in politics, religious nationalism, patriotism, chauvenism, and yes, the glorification of the Mughal Empire in the subcontinent. It should be noted that in India, you see a mirror like movement in education as well, w/r/t to Partition, Mughal rule, Muslims, etc (this includes the secularists’ contribution to education, ie “Partition was a mistake!” which is something most Pakistanis do not agree with, and the Hindu Right as well, with their “saffronization” of history and reading of contemporary events).

    And even in spite of all of this, you have Pakistanis, who have thought for themselves, gone above and beyond, and are critical of the flawed and deeply ideological instruction they have received. That these Pakistanis exist proves your critique that there isn’t an Aurangazeb in every ruler, politicians, leader, or anyone of influence in Pakistan.

  11. Desi Italiana — on 15th December, 2007 at 8:58 pm  

    “It should be noted that in India, you see a mirror like movement in education as well,”

    Silly me, I forgot to add how the Mughal Empire is demonized and continuously portrayed as “alien” and “foreign” in India.

  12. Desi Italiana — on 15th December, 2007 at 9:03 pm  

    Surprisingly, Wikipedia has a good list of criticisms re: Pakistani education:

    - K.K. Aziz. (2004) The Murder of History : A Critique of History Textbooks used in Pakistan.

    - Nayyar, A.H. & Salim, Ahmad. (2003) The Subtle Subversion: The State of Curricula and Text-books in Pakistan – Urdu, English, Social Studies and Civics. Sustainable Development Policy Institute.

    - Pervez Hoodbhoy and A. H. Nayyar. Rewriting the history of Pakistan, in Islam, Politics and the state: The Pakistan Experience, Ed. Mohammad Asghar Khan, Zed Books, London, 1985.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Pakistan

  13. Cover Drive — on 16th December, 2007 at 7:11 am  

    Desi Italiana:

    And even in spite of all of this, you have Pakistanis, who have thought for themselves, gone above and beyond, and are critical of the flawed and deeply ideological instruction they have received. That these Pakistanis exist proves your critique that there isn’t an Aurangazeb in every ruler, politicians, leader, or anyone of influence in Pakistan.

    I am just trying to make a point specifically about the presidents, prime ministers and army chiefs we have seen in Pakistan. All have been extraordinarily hungry for power to point they want to control every institution in the country including the judiciary. Both Zia-ul-Huq and Musharraf were made chief of army mainly because the prime minister at the time felt they would be completely subservient to them. When the Shah of Iran visited Pakistan, Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto who was the prime minister at the time was reported to have remarked while introducing Zia ul-Huq:

    “Meet my new Army Chief. He is totally loyal to me. If I ask him to stand, he will stand. If I ask him to sit, he will sit. If I ask him to salute, he will salute. With him as the chief, the Army is in safe hands.”

    Little did Bhutto know that his new compliant military leader would turn the gun on him and have him executed. History repeated itself with Nawaz Sharif and Pervez Musharraf a few decades later.

    I’m not saying that there aren’t informed Pakistanis who raise objections to this kind of bahaviour; obviously there are as we have seen them make their protests over the last few weeks. I wonder if history is going to repeat itself again. That remains to be seen.

  14. Safraz — on 16th December, 2007 at 7:31 am  

    Rallying for Democracy in Pakistan!

    PUBLIC RALLY -SUNDAY 16 DECEMBER 2007, 1pm

    Norton Hall, Ralph Rd, Alum Rock, Birmingham 8

    Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf has announced that he intends to lift the state of emergency on Saturday 15th December 2007 and call elections in January 2008. President Musharraf was forced to step down as army chief amid mounting domestic opposition and international pressure.

    Members of Birmingham’s Pakistani and Kashmiri communities have called a rally On Sunday 16th December to debate the current crisis and show their support to the people of Pakistan in their struggle for democracy. The recently established Pakistani Solidarity Campaign has organised the rally and invited representatives from human rights organisations and prominent leaders of Pakistan’s political parties. The rally will also be addressed via live telephone links from Pakistan by Imran Khan, leader of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf, Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Ayesha Siddiqa, distinguished author and critic of Pakistan’s military, Nusrut Javed, a banned journalist who currently conducts his show on the streets. The rally will be chaired by Naeem Malik (Pakistan Solidarity Campaign) and will include the following invited speakers:

    WAJID SHAMSUL HASAN, Pakistan People Party (Former High Commissioner to UK & Advisor to Benazir Bhutto), RAJA JAVED, Pakistan Muslim League (N) (Secretary General – West Midlands) SIBGHAT KADRI Q.C, Chairman of UK Lawyers Committee for Human Rights and Justice in Pakistan, KHALIL AHMED, Tehreek-e-Insaf (President West Midlands Branch), MUKHTAR DAR, South Asian Alliance and SALMA YAQOOB, Birmingham city councillor for Respect,

    Naeem Malik Chair of the Pakistani Solidarity Campaign said:

    “We are very concerned by current developments in Pakistan and want to show our solidarity with our families and friends back home. The PSC is non aligned to any political party and is seeking to support the people of Pakistan in the struggle for freedom and democracy. The rally gives an opportunity to our communities to discuss what’s happening and question the respective parties about their manifestoes for change”

    The Pakistani Solidarity Campaign is seeking to build the widest support possible for democracy in Pakistan by campaigning around the following demands:

    * Restoration of the constitution as of 3 November 2007
    * Restoration of the Supreme Court judges
    * Release of political prisoners
    * An end to media censorship

    -Ends-

    PRESS & MEDIA CONTACT:

    Naeem Malik on 07721427690 or Mukhtar Dar on 07736923865

    e-mail: pakistansolidaritycampaign@yahoo.com

  15. Desi Italiana — on 16th December, 2007 at 8:40 am  

    Cover Drive:

    “I am just trying to make a point specifically about the presidents, prime ministers and army chiefs we have seen in Pakistan.”

    I fear we have miscommunicated :) I get the feeling that you think that I was disagreeing with you. I wasn’t. I just wanted to add that there is ideological indoctrination (which, again, I add, is not specific to Pakistan but everywhere). But even with that fact, I agree with your comment.

  16. Pinkie — on 16th December, 2007 at 1:23 pm  

    I think every leader panicks towards the end of regime and President Musharraf is showing all the classic signs of a deteriarting dictator.

  17. Tash — on 16th December, 2007 at 1:25 pm  

    By the way the emergency has been lifted now

  18. Jasir Waqar — on 16th December, 2007 at 1:28 pm  

    I dont know who is wrong here, the Musharaf’s Govt or the Nation? same things have been happening in the time of BB and Nawaz.
    Unfortunately we are not a Nation We are Just a Population.

  19. Nabeel A Awan — on 16th December, 2007 at 1:29 pm  

    My dear sir, the idea is not to fix responsiblity for this particular criminal transaction; or for that matter, say that this never happened before. I think, instead, the idea is to highlight the fact that never in our national history of 60 years, the rule of law and general public perception of jutciability of a public wrong has been at this low ebb.
    And the government just cannot absolve itself by saying “this also happened in 1960,1970 or 1998, so what’s new?”.

    And further, sir, I agree, we are a population. But even populations have rules and values. I think, we are only a herd of sheep and the shepherd just doesn’t give a f***.
    (and this is only an English translation of what JC said in the last few lines of his instant article)

    Cheer up, sir.

  20. ww — on 17th December, 2007 at 6:01 am  
  21. ww — on 17th December, 2007 at 6:01 am  
  22. Mariana — on 17th December, 2007 at 11:45 am  

    The emergency may have been lifted but it has not made much difference on the grass root level. If Musharraf’s motives were benevolent for the country as he seemed to have promised while imposing it, what really has changed in Pak now? The only thing changed is that the media is saying what he wanted them to and he is indeed the new president.
    What a big deception!

  23. Simply Confused — on 20th December, 2007 at 12:30 pm  

    Nawaz Sharif the champion od democracy removed as a corrupt leaderstays in exile, people pine for him whilst in exile, Musharraf in the meantime a hero, BB proved to be a corrupt leader with swiss cases pending in foreign courts, Musharraf continues to go up in the polls, he makes a couple of blunders like the supreme court, and the emergency episodes, both leaders return, under an understanding and pretend to be the saviours of the nation. if this is not hogwash what is. a military man no matter wo when he comes in (although wrong and unacceptable) is more focussed because he has no agenda, while the politicians who are drooling for power have nothing in sight except power, question is wher do we stop sir????

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