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Elections In Pakistan: Why Arresting Pervez Musharraf Is A Mistake

April 23, 2013 1 comment

How does removing a candidate from the election fray promote democracy?

Pakistan Electoral Alliances  |  Comic Wisdom - by Zahoor on December 3rd, 2012 – The Express Tribune

Pakistan Electoral Alliances | Comic Wisdom – by Zahoor on December 3rd, 2012 – The Express Tribune

Judicial vengeance is dish that is best served cold. It should never be served hot and steaming.

One Big Mistake

Pakistan‘s judiciary has made this, one fundamental mistake. Especially at a time, when restraint was needed. Remember, Pakistan is living up to the fact that for the first time an elected government has completed a full-term.

All the confusion in Pakistan is best captured by a confusing and ill-thought post in the WSJ.com. By my favorite journalist – Sadanand Dhume.

I especially favor him, because no other journalist of any globally or nationally relevant publication writes from a position of such ignorance and lack of understanding.

For one Dhume has not learnt that …

Well Begun Is Half Done

The post starts off with a contradiction.

How does removing a candidate from the election fray promote democracy?

The lesson from Indian democracy is that any one can stand for election. Dacoits, transgenders, actors, filmstars, mobsters – the full range of social strata.

Unlike most of the world’s democracies, especially in the West, that have just 2 parties.

It is only in India that the 2 main parties tend towards towards an arithmetic mean of 40%-60% of the parliamentary seats. The rest are controlled by various regional and fringe parties. Left, Right, Ruralist (Bharatiya Kisan Union), Urbanist (Shiv Sena)

This trend has become even more accentuated in the last 30 years. Remember that after 1980, no party has won an electoral majority on merit. Rajiv Gandhi’s 1984 electoral victory was clearly a sympathy vote.

This promotes a vibrant clash in ideologies, programs, values, actions. The resultant clamor leaves India’s English speaking urban chatteratti very dis-satisfied. Not to forget foreign observers.

India’s English speaking urban chatteratti would like to replicate 2-party system like the West.

Dhume asserts

Pervez Musharraf’s recent legal setbacks are Pakistan’s gain. Since Saturday, the country’s former military leader has found himself confined by police to a bedroom in his farmhouse on the outskirts of Islamabad. (via Sadanand Dhume: At Home With Pervez Musharraf – WSJ.com.).

What is it that Parvez Musharraf is accused of?

Like how George Bush subverted the SCOTUS which stopped the recount of votes that would have declared Al Gore as the President – and not GWB, Jr. Every Pakistani politicians (and in all other parts of the world) have at some or the other subverted the judiciary.

Appointing pliable judges; cooperative judges who were elevated; ideological conformity, would all count as subversion. Has any politician in any country of the world not done this?

Going by this standard, no politician would be qualify to fight an election.

A smug Dhume continues

He faces charges ranging from complicity in the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007 to wrongful dismissal of judges in the waning days of his unpopular rule, which stretched from 1999 to 2008. (via Sadanand Dhume: At Home With Pervez Musharraf – WSJ.com.)

Being practical, since Musharraf was not going to win the election anyway, why not arrest him and throw the rule book at him? A sarcastic Dhume intones

Meanwhile, his quixotic hope of once again leading Pakistan was dashed after courts rejected his attempt to run for parliament. Pundits don’t expect Mr. Musharraf’s political party to claim a single seat in elections scheduled for May 11. (via Sadanand Dhume: At Home With Pervez Musharraf – WSJ.com.)

Have You Thunk Of This?

Is it a crime, for any hack with any US publication to dream of winning the Pulitzer? How is it a crime for Musharraf to dream of winning the election?

Misplaced or otherwise?

Dhume has ‘thunk’ about this. And he determines that

A two-week house arrest is far from the welcome Mr. Musharraf expected on his return to Pakistan last month after more than four years of self-exile. In a stream of tweets and Facebook posts, the former commando had painted a picture of a grateful nation waiting to sweep him back to power with a popular mandate. (via Sadanand Dhume: At Home With Pervez Musharraf – WSJ.com.)

The only delusions that exceed Musharraf’s are those of Western media outlets, who have written anything on Pakistan. All those well-trained, untrained, first-rate, third-grade journalists who have come, few have made sense of Pakistan.

Musharraf is not alone. Dhume repeats.

In addition to serving as a case study in political delusion. (via Sadanand Dhume: At Home With Pervez Musharraf – WSJ.com.)

More than Islam, the problem with elections in the Islamic world is the US of A.

Countless cases of US agencies, NGOs, diplomats have indicted, identified responsible for subverting election processes. Starting with the murder of Mossadegh in Iran to the latest cases where US NGO bureaucrats were arrested in Egypt.

A memory-challenged Dhume pronounces

Should next month’s polls go off as planned, Pakistan will join Turkey, Bangladesh and Indonesia as countries that have defied those who doubt Islam’s compatibility with democracy. (via Sadanand Dhume: At Home With Pervez Musharraf – WSJ.com.)

Does the US select mentally retarded people as generals, bureaucrats or Presidents. After 50 years of propping military dictators in Pakistan, Dhume thinks it is a lesson that US polity is yet to learn?

For the U.S., the general’s arrest should underscore a central lesson of the Musharraf era, that backing military leadership in Islamabad never pays off. (via Sadanand Dhume: At Home With Pervez Musharraf – WSJ.com.)

After stopping Musharaff from electioneering, after fixing the ballot by engineering cases, the Pakistani establishment gets support from Dhume.

Only when Pakistan’s politicians grow confident that they won’t be jailed, exiled or executed for crossing the military will they be able to decisively reorient their country. (via Sadanand Dhume: At Home With Pervez Musharraf – WSJ.com.)

Musharraf is an ex-general – and now a civilian politician. He deserves the same freedom that other politicians have, to contest elections.

House arrest for a once grandstanding general is one large step in this direction. (via Sadanand Dhume: At Home With Pervez Musharraf – WSJ.com.)

And in case, he wins the election, vox-populi, vox dei.(Voice of people is voice of Gods). In case, he loses the election, proceed with the prosecution of the case.

Judiciary Finding Its Feet

Judicial vengeance against Musharraf must wait. Just when Pakistan seemed to making this election work, they have gone ahead and shot themselves in their foot.

Pakistan’s judiciary and establishment must honor the promise of freedom that they gave Musharraf.

Any democracy that does not allow full freedom to contestants, is no democracy.

What is to stop other officials and rivals, tomorrow, from engineering cases against important (or otherwise) candidates.

Dhume seems to be clueless on how democracies are sustained. Instead of teaching, he should sit at the feet of some Indian Election Commission official.

And learn.



Boston Marathon Bombings: Did AQ Khan ‘Celebrate’ The Rise Of ‘Hindu’ Terrorism?

April 20, 2013 2 comments

Did AQ Khan cheer the hoax ‘identification’ of Sunil Tripathi as the Boston Marathon Bomber?.

Twitter - DrAQ_Khan- @yaqubimmegret @qasimaskari ... 2013-04-20 07-58-59

Twitter – DrAQ_Khan- @yaqubimmegret @qasimaskari … 2013-04-20 07-58-59

Wpparently, some who spread the hoax story of Sunil Tripathi as the Boston Bomber are India (+Hindu) haters.

Some like Pakistan’s nuclear scientist, did this for amusement – as he clarified early and clearly.

Some may question AQ Khan’s taste, but it was sarcasm.

Probably, PEW should do a Pakistan study again, using a different questionnaire. The clarifications and questions that came his way, were from Pakistanis.

Probably, this twitter exchange show that as neighbours, it is not essential to love each other.

Civility can be an adequate, even necessary and lone condition.



Elections In Pakistan: What Can, What If, What’s Up?

March 31, 2013 2 comments

Pakistani media and polity seem to be addressing mostly urban issues. How will the rural voter respond?

Phuttt, phutt, phut ...! This is a make or break election for Pakistan. Probably the best organized  |  Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on March 30, 2013; image source & courtesy - tribune.com.pk

Phuttt, phutt, phut …! This is a make or break election for Pakistan. Probably the best organized | Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on March 30, 2013; image source & courtesy – tribune.com.pk

Pakistan attracts stereotypes to the mind like a swarm of flies.

Inviting Images

Among others, civil war, terrorism, bomb blasts, fundamentalist Islam are common stereotypes about Pakistan. Some of these stereotypes are valid – and some are downright irrelevant.

For instance, more people die in the US due to gun-related violence compared to Pakistan. For another, it is worthwhile to remember and understand that Pakistan has never (in its limited election history) elected a fundamentalist party.

The different sides of Pakistani Polity  |  Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on August 25, 2008; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

The different sides of Pakistani Polity | Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on August 25, 2008; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

This will be the first time in Pakistan’s troubled history that an election will pave the way for transfer of power – and not a coup or martial law. For the first time in nearly seventy years, Pakistan has evaded the ritualized murder of Pakistani polity by the Pakistani army.

The short-shrift given by Pakistan’s power centres to orderly elections and transfer of power is not a stereotype.

This Sauce is Different

The three most significant differences in this election, compared to previous elections are in the manner that Pakistan’s polity has acted to protect the poll outcome. It seems unlikely that there will be any significant post-poll dissonance due to three measures.

Who will do the electioneering for PPP - with Bilawal out of the country?  |  Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on March 28, 2013; image source & courtesy - tribune.com.pk

Who will do the electioneering for PPP – with Bilawal out of the country? | Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on March 28, 2013; image source & courtesy – tribune.com.pk

It does seem like this will be an election that Pakistan will be proud of.

One – is the appointment of a non-competitive caretaker administration at national level – headed by retired Justice Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, and at the provincial level in Punjab with the appointment of Najam Sethi.

Two – Voter lists have been rigorously updated. Some 3.5 crore voter records were found invalid and deleted – and some 3.9 crore new voters added.

Three – The centre of debate is Pakistan’s economy. Nawaz Sharif is talking of an economic explosion – unlike the nuclear explosion last time. PPP is depending on an income-support scheme for the poor that they have implemented. Imran Khan’s 6-promises are all about bringing peace back to the nation. It has been speculated that the Iran-Pakistan oil pipeline agreement signed by the ruling-PPParty, is to reassure restive voters that it has a solution for electricity shortages plaguing Pakistan.

Pakistani media and polity seem to be addressing mostly urban issues.  |  Cartoon by Zahoor on February 03, 2010; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

Pakistani media and polity seem to be addressing mostly urban issues. | Cartoon by Zahoor on February 03, 2010; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

Is Popularity Enough?

Imran Khan is by far ahead of all other leaders in Pakistan in terms of personal popularity. His first rally after elections were notified, attracted 1-lakh people – closer to 1.5-lakh people according to some other estimates.

Will Imran Khan’s popularity convert into votes?

In India, for decades, election rallies by Nehru-Gandhi family, starting with Indira Gandhi could attract voters for election rallies – but after 1989 elections has not been able to convert voter turnout into votes.

Is Imran facing a similar challenge? Equally, many popular leaders have converted their personal popularity to votes – especially in South India.

Look Who’s Talking

Radio Pakistan seems to be giving good coverage to Imran Khan going by these tweets.

Print media and Pakistan’s huge satire ‘industry’ however is quite dismissive of Imran Khan. Including the like of MajorlyProfound (now probably under the handle of majorlyp).

https://twitter.com/InvincibleHeart/status/317651280866721792

Many from the English-media are quite dismissive of Imran Khan

Apparently, Musharraf has lived up to his earlier threats. He has returned - to what? A nation that cannot imagine a role for him?  |  Cartoon by Zahoor on August 15, 2009; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

Apparently, Musharraf has lived up to his earlier threats. He has returned – to what? A nation that cannot imagine a role for him? | Cartoon by Zahoor on August 15, 2009; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

Gear Ratios In A Democracy

PPP may get more women’s votes due to BISP income support scheme. Imran Khan has connected to Pakistan’s youth. Nawaz Sharif is appealing the mature male voter who wants the Pakistan economy to do better. None of these constituencies form a majority.

Finally, the winner may be the party that can get its constituents to come and vote at the polling booth.

The Players

Ex-general Musharraf seems to be n0n-starter and non-entity in Pakistan.

Pakistanis sought to drive home the point that Indians held the former Army chief in greater esteem that his own fellow nationals.

The kind of media coverage his return got in India, and the frequency with which he appears on Indian television channels and gets invited to conclaves organised by the media across the border has raised eyebrows here often enough

via Proud of Kargil operation, says Musharraf – The Hindu.

Which political unit is connecting to this Pakistani?  |  Cartoon by Zahoor on March 03, 2006; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

Which political unit is connecting to this Pakistani? | Cartoon by Zahoor on March 03, 2006; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

Interestingly, Imran Khan’s campaign is well-funded according to some reports.

They were drawn from all over the country through a well-financed and heavily advertised campaign. But they were also drawn, they said, by a simple yet nebulous message. “We want change,”

via Pakistan: Ex-Cricket Star, Ex-President Kick Off Election Campaign | TIME.com.

Imran  Khan’s acceptance by Pashtuns, FATA, Pakhtunkhwa makes him a rare leader with acceptance across various segments.

There are concerns among some of Khan’s supporters about his attitude to the Pakistani Taliban – wanting to negotiate with them – and the decision to work with the Jamaat-e-Islami, a hard-line religious party. But the mere fact that he represents a political force that hasn’t been compromised by power works in his favor — as does Khan’s celebrity. “He won us the Cricket World Cup,” says Shah, “he built us a cancer hospital, and he’s really good looking.”

via Pakistan: Ex-Cricket Star, Ex-President Kick Off Election Campaign | TIME.com.

Will this man get taken in shiny projects?  |  Cartoon by Zahoor on November 22, 2005; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

Will this man get taken in shiny projects? | Cartoon by Zahoor on November 22, 2005; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

Numbers talk you know …

After 2ndlook called the 2009 Indian election correctly, among many other correct calls, encourages 2ndlook make an attempt at reading Pakistan’s election.

Sixty and seven months ago, when Musharraf was on rampage in Pakistan and Imran Khan was no one in Pakistan’s politics, 2ndlook examined the idea of Imran Khan’s rise in Pakistan.

  1. It is worthwhile to remember and understand that Pakistan has never (in its limited election history) elected a fundamentalist party – unlike say, Egypt.
  2. Since none of the three main players are making a fundamentalist Islamic pitch, this factor will affect no one – except some fringe parties.
  3. What if Imran-PTI consolidate the fringe-parties vote banks – and eat into PPP+PMLN? To me this model of voter behaviour, seems more likely than the static vote bank of PPP+PMLN theory.
  4. In this election, the main contenders, as per opinion polls in descending order are Nawaz Sharif’s PMLN (32%), Imran Khan’s PTI (18%) and Zardari’s PPP (14%).
  5. Not many have tried to make a model for opinion polls in Pakistan – which remain unreliable and have limited value. With this caveat made, raw data seems to suggest that PMLN-Nawaz Sharif are in a pole position for this election.
  6. Most of election analysis stops at Pakistan’s urban centres – while 60% of Pakistani voters are rural. Nawaz Sharif’s Lahore Metro Bus implementation in 11-months has made many political parties nervous. But will the rural Pakistani be impressed?
  7. Will PPP’s BISP attract more rural voters than Imran’s tsunami? Remember, how Chandrababu Naidu paid a price for ignoring the rural voter.
  8. After the fresh voter enrollment, nearly half of Pakistani voters now listed, have not voted before. Since most of these young voters are young, they are likely to be drawn towards Imran-PTI.
  9. Will the Lahore Metro make a difference to Nawaz Sharif? Outside Lahore? Seems unlikely.

Keeping the above factors in mind, what are the likely outcomes.

In the name of the poor and dispossessed ... |  Cartoon by Zahoor on September 02, 2008; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

In the name of the poor and dispossessed … | Cartoon by Zahoor on September 02, 2008; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

Scenario-1

Imran-PTI emerge as the single-largest party, with a thin majority – or miss becoming the single largest party by a few seats. Imran dithers. Announces that he will sit in the opposition, as he does not have a clear mandate. PTI MPs defect or PTI splits. Most likely PPP wins over the defector faction. Makes a claim to form government. Zardari agrees. Protests engulf Pakistan.

Scenario-2

As per opinion polls, PMLN emerges as the single largest party. Wins over MPs from PTI-Imran and others. Forms government.

Scenario-3

Opposite of opinion polls, PPP emerges as the single largest party – riding on women’s vote. Wins over MPs from PTI-Imran, PMLN and others. Forms government.

Senario-4

One of the three main parties gets a parliamentary majority – and forms the government. Seems like the most unlikely scenario.

Seemingly, Imran is preparing for a narrow victory. Most importantly, is Imran preparing for a narrow loss?


Without Comment: Pakistan general warns civilians not to ‘assume more than one’s due role’

November 6, 2012 1 comment

The Army that ‘owns’ Pakistan has to be weaned away from believing that Pakistan is their fiefdom.

The Tragedy In Pakistan  |  by Zahoor (August 2011). – The Express Tribune

The Tragedy In Pakistan | by Zahoor (August 2011). – The Express Tribune

Pakistan’s powerful military on Monday issued what analysts said was a warning to the country’s civilian institutions not to push their authority too far, after the country’s high court issued a series of rulings holding the armed forces to account for human rights abuses and political meddling.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the chief of army staff, issued the warning in a statement that also seemed to be aimed at the government and the news media.

“As a nation, we are passing through a defining phase,” Kayani said. “Weakening of the institutions and trying to assume more than one’s due role will set us back.”

The current civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari has been in power since 2008, when military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf handed authority to it.

The transition from military to civilian rule has not been smooth, with the government, the judiciary and the military all jockeying for the levers of power under the new democratic setup. In particular, the judiciary, led by activist Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, has challenged the authority of both the government and the military and aggressively tried to hold them to account.

Elections are due in the first half of next year, which could see an unprecedented transition of power from one elected government to another.

In a country where the military previously has claimed the right solely to determine the “national interest,” analysts here were unanimous in their assessment that Kayani’s statement, issued by the army’s public relations arm in English and Urdu, the national language, was highly significant, even if its language was indirect and oblique.

“No individual or institution has the monopoly to decide what is right or wrong in defining the ultimate national interest. It should emerge only through a consensus,” said the general, whose term in office ends in November 2013. “Any effort which wittingly or unwittingly draws a wedge between the people and armed forces of Pakistan undermines the larger national interest.”

Last month, the Supreme Court issued a withering judgment on the “illegal” role played in the 1990 elections by the army chief and the head of the military’s Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency at the time, who had helped form a political coalition that won that election. The court ruled that the two retired generals must be prosecuted.

In recent hearings on hundreds of citizens who have disappeared into the presumed hands of the armed forces and their spy agencies, the court has humiliated the military, hearing evidence that it was behind the abductions and subsequent extrajudicial killings.

Coincidently (sic), the chief justice also made a speech Monday in which he said that Pakistan was evolving. “Gone are the days when stability and security of the country was defined in terms of number of missiles and tanks as a manifestation of hard power available,” Chaudhry said.

via Pakistan general warns civilians not to ‘assume more than one’s due role’ | McClatchy – Some links supplied.


Saving Private Pakistan: Can it be Saved? Why and for Whom should Pakistan be saved?

July 29, 2012 4 comments

 

Pakistan has become the private club of the perverse military, conspiring secret police, battling Taliban warlords, scheming politicians and a regressive mullah community. Each wants Pakistan for their own faction. What of the Common Pakistani?

Back to do what, Parvezbhai? Loot again?  |  Zahoor cartoon of May 4, 2010; source & courtesy - paksir.blogspot.in  |  Click for image.

Back to do what, Parvezbhai? Loot again? | Zahoor cartoon of May 4, 2010; source & courtesy – paksir.blogspot.in | Click for image.

No! Pakistan cannot be saved.

Unless you save Pakistanis first. A Pakistani life is the cheapest in the world today. Every power-centre in Pakistan is waging war against Pakistanis.

To gain control and influence Pakistan for their own benefit.

Why should Pakistan be saved?

  1. So that its sad military can continue with its fun and games?
  2. To let mad mullahs drive Pakistanis into a regressive ditch?
  3. Or, that the Taliban warlords can become modern clones of ancient raiders and looters like Mohammed Ghori or Mahmud of Ghazni?
  4. Maybe for rich oligarchs to stay feudal, own the land, control the labour and economy for their private benefit?
  5. At the mercy of rich politicians and bureaucrats who promise a modern state. A modern State that will be able to do deals with Western Masters. Deals that ‘benefit’ Pakistani – but not Pakistanis?

Pakistan’s intellectuals, of late have become very protective about social media. See the future of Pakistan in social media. Nothing less than the capacity to ‘save’ Pakistan.

Tied to the West, but is that helping the Common Pakistani?  |  October 29, 2009, by ZAHOOR; source & courtesy - paksir.blogspot.in  |  Click for image.

Tied to the West, but is that helping the Common Pakistani? | October 29, 2009, by ZAHOOR; source & courtesy – paksir.blogspot.in | Click for image.

They claim

Social media needs to be protected because it is the only safe space for intellectual discussion in Pakistan.

Imagine that you are a person of independent thought in Pakistan. Now imagine further that you would like to discuss your thoughts with other people. Where can you go?

In the real world, the short answer is ‘nowhere’.

The liberation of the electronic press by General (retd) Pervez Musharraf changed everything. Prior to the advent of cable television, the entire English press in Pakistan probably had a combined readership of less than 100,000. The Urdu press probably accounted for a million people more. Compared with the population of the country, print circulation was nothing. On the other hand, the audience for cable television was in the tens of millions. Suddenly, people were no longer getting their news just from PTV but also from Geo and ARY.

At the same time, the liberation of the electronic press changed very little. The same talking heads that wrote columns in the press started fulminating on talk shows. At the end of the day, the number of people actually involved in public conversation remained very limited. If you weren’t a talk show host or a talk show guest, then your options for expressing or discussing opinions remained nil. It was all extremely parochial and elitist.

The arrival of social media is revolutionary. Back to the example I started with. The young independent thinker out in the virtual world, it’s a different story. As a cartoon in The New Yorker once put it, “On the Internet, no one knows you are a dog”.

Pakistan’s sharpest wit at this time is an anonymous individual who delivers one-liners under the name of “majorlyprofound”. If the good major were to present his one-liners before a physical audience, he would probably require medical attention. But (on) the internet, he is free to deliver his barbs.

More importantly, social media not only provides true freedom of speech but it also allows a public space where people with ideas can not only present their ideas to acclaim but also to criticism. In a country like Pakistan where decision-makers live their lives in cocoons of silence and sycophancy, this is incredibly important.

Obviously, social media is no panacea. Members of the social world are reasonably polite. The result is that people are not just talking to one another in the virtual world, they are getting to know one another as well.

Many people — even people who should know better — think of Facebook and Twitter as time wasting fripperies. That is why periodic efforts to ban either Facebook or Twitter are met normally with a shrug.

Unable to handle either Islam or Westernization, Pakistan's leadership should think of the people more - and less of the State  |  Cartoon on March 7, 2004 by Zahoor; source & courtesy - paksir.blogspot.in  |  Click for image.

Unable to handle either Islam or Westernization, Pakistan’s leadership should think of the people more – and less of the State | Cartoon on March 7, 2004 by Zahoor; source & courtesy – paksir.blogspot.in | Click for image.

We all hear about how Pakistan is sinking into a Talibanised abyss of enforced ignorance. If we are to avoid that awful future, it is vital to preserve intellectual freedom. And at this point, there is nothing more essential to that quest than embracing and protecting social media.(via Saving Pakistan, one tweet at a time – The Express Tribune; original text edited for brevity. Linking text in parenthesis supplied).

Every one is trying to save Pakistan for his own faction.

But where does this leave the Common Pakistani.

As usual Nowhere.

With Nothing!


 

Can Imran Khan Win the Coming Election in Pakistan?

June 19, 2012 1 comment

Four years ago, it may have seemed even silly to talk of Imran Khan as a political force in Pakistan? Any different now?

Between Imran and the Mullah, who will win?|  Cartoon by Zahoor on December 12, 2008; dailytimes.com.pk  |  Click for image.

Between Imran and the Mullah, who will win?| Cartoon by Zahoor on December 12, 2008; dailytimes.com.pk | Click for image.

Silly notions

Four years ago, when Imran Khan was was a non-starter in Pakistani politics, it seemed foolish to talk about him seriously.

Especially when it came to India-Pakistan relations.

Like this small video excerpt (below, with transcript) from Julian Assange-Imran Khan interview shows, Imran is not wet behind his ears.

And Indian Foreign Policy management now has at least one more admirer.

Imran Khan has got me thinking …

But still …

What can a retired cricketer do? What role could he have? Does he have the intellectual depth? Would the five Pakistan’s accept him?

Death threats

Why is it that there no death threats to Imran Khan?A google search revealed none. Though the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital he established, was blown up.

Is he too small a target? Completely irrelevant, is he? Is it that he is big only outside Pakistan – but is a nothing in Pakistan? Is he a English-language media creation? Maybe the death threats have not trickled down to India? Or google? Was his Karachi rally, which attracted crowds in tens-of-thousands, more of money-and-organization than people power?

But, I am curious … this is nagging me.

Even Jemima Khan, his ex-wife, now in London got threats.

Factions in Pakistan

What do the five Pakistan’s think of him?

Many think that Imran Khan has no ideas. For instance,

his strategy for dealing with the Taliban and other Islamic militants has led to charges that he is soft on extremists. His plan is to order the Army to withdraw from the unruly tribal areas and start a dialogue with the militants. To him the war in Afghanistan and on the Pakistan border conforms to “Einstein’s definition of madness: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result … The Pakistan Army is killing its own people. It’s the most shameful period in our history. We created militants through collateral damage, and we are creating more militants through collateral damage. It’s a ruling elite which sold its soul for dollars.” (via Imran Khan May Become Pakistan’s Next Prime Minister – The Daily Beast).

Among the competing groups in Pakistan are, first the army and the ISI combination. Then there are the popular politicians who participate in elections. Add the third element – mullah-madrasa-mujahhid combine of fundamentalist clergy, various terrorist groups – like JeM, LeT, Al Qaida, various Taliban factions et al.

The economy and wealth is in hands of the fourth element – the 22 families that matter in Pakistan. Mahbub-ul-Haq’s “22 families” speech in Karachi in 1968 highlightedthe power and wealth of a few families in Pakistan.

And bringing up the rear, is the fifth part of Pakistan, who don’t matter.

The Rest of Pakistan.

How do they perceive Imran Khan.

Newsweek’s online edition, The Daily Beast thinks he is going to be the next PM of Pakistan? I have no idea how good the statistical model for opinion polls in Pakistan is? For whatever it is worth, he is sitting on a 68% approval rating. That should make him a shoo-in come March.

Whaddya think?

More importantly, what do Pakistanis think?

Julian Assange: How would you reconfigure the Pakistan relationship with the United States? Would it be a complete severance? What would you do? Permit them (unclear) strikes? What kind of intelligence cooperation? What would you do in practice?

Imran Khan: Eh … Have a relationship based on dignity self respect. So, it should be (thinking) … a relationship like (slight pause) … US has with India. It should not be a relationship about client-master relationship. And even worse here, (pain) Pakistan as a hired gun. Being paid to kill America’s enemies. It’s not … It is a relationship that has failed. It’s niether delivered to the people of Pakistan nor has it delivered to the Americans.


Chicago Summit on Afghanistan

Chicago summit between Obama, NATO, G8, Afghan stakeholders was seen as a pre-election exercise. NATO passage through Pakistan was one of the items. The inside story.

Obama needs to show some 'successes' before election day  |  Cartoonist Sabir Nazar; source & courtesy - pakistantoday.com.pk  |  Click for image.

Obama needs to show some ‘successes’ before election day | Cartoonist Sabir Nazar; source & courtesy – pakistantoday.com.pk | Click for image.

Probably unprecedented, but 4 of 5 UN-Veto members will go through a government change process in April 2012-March 2012 period. In the same period, of the 8 nuclear powers (P5+India, Pakistan and Israel), 5 will see a government change process. In this process, some amount of uncertainty has been injected in global affairs.

Analysts seem to think that the recent NATO+G8+Afghanistan summit in Chicago, called by Obama was an election exercise. The NATO paasage to Afghanistan through Pakistan was a one of the items on this list. A former Pakistani diplomat ‘reveals’ all.

Pakistan is

a country whose leadership – of any stripes, civil or military – has traditionally taken great pride in being the most steadfast ally of the US. Pakistan’s first military dictator and “Bonaparte”, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, boasted in his autobiography Friends not Masters that Washington would never find a friend more trustworthy than Pakistan.

However, relations between the two “all-weather friends and allies” have been in a deep chill since the fateful US raid and there are few signs of a warming. All the same, being scripted out of Chicago was deemed, in Islamabad’s power corridors, as an ultimate insult that could doom relations forever.

So the Pakistanis went scampering to their Turkish friends – with whom bonds of camaraderie and fraternity pre-date the birth of Pakistan in 1947. The Turks are also cozy with the Americans and have been part of the NATO brigade in Afghanistan. There couldn’t be a more effective and credible middleman than Turkey to bail Pakistan out of the very tight corner in which they seem to have painted themselves.

Frantic phone calls to President Abdullah Gul, who led the Turkish team to Chicago, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is in Pakistan as these lines are being written and who is receiving a rapturous welcome, melted the ice in Washington and Brussels – Zardari was given the green-light to board a plane for Chicago.

The ice, however, didn’t simply melt because the Turks had waved a magic wand. The Pakistanis assured their Turkish interlocutors – who then relayed the message to Washington – that the Pakistanis were ready to play ball and revive transit facilities for NATO. This was interpreted as a conciliatory gesture and enough for the welcome mat to be rolled out.

It was anticipated that Pakistan would have lifted the ban before Zardari boarded his flight to Chicago. But that wasn’t to be, and he landed without bearing the gift everybody was expecting.

In obvious pique, Obama refused to meet Zardari one-on-one, while he bestowed that favor on Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai. That was like rubbing salt into the Pakistani wound.

NATO secretary general added his own insult to the Pakistani injury when he, too, wriggled out of a planned one-on-one meeting with Zardari claiming “scheduling problems”. (via Asia Times Online :: Pakistan hoist by its own petard).


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