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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.



Abbottabad does not quite add up

May 11, 2011 2 comments
The difference between 'civilized' West and 'barbaric' Islamic world. (Cartoon by John Cole; courtesy - caglecartoons.com). Click for original image.

The difference between 'civilized' West and 'barbaric' Islamic world. (Cartoon by John Cole; courtesy - caglecartoons.com). Click for original image.

Things go bump in the night

In the early hours of 2nd May, 2011, an obscure twitter-user started tweeting  about the US raid on Osama Bin Laden’s safe-house – 35 km from Islamabad, 200 miles south of the Afghanistan border, in Abbottabad. In a city, which houses Pakistan’s equivalent of Indian Military Academy.

But Pakistan’s police, para-military, military forces claimed ignorance, showed surprise, feigned outrage. Par for the course. Was it abject failure or a cover-up in Pakistan , by the powers-that-be?

US triumphalism is misplaced. But then Osama's death will surely get Obama many votes. (Cartoon courtesy - http://jeffreyhill.typepad.com). Click for larger image.

US triumphalism is misplaced. But then Osama's death will surely get Obama many votes. (Cartoon courtesy - http://jeffreyhill.typepad.com). Click for larger image.

Afraid of the mullah-madrasa-mujahid combine, predictably, Pakistan started denying any role in the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Truly Pakistan ‘doth protest too much, methinks’. Secret deal or not, in the past or post-facto, a deal around killing Osama could have been easily hammered out between Pakistan and USA.

It suited both the leaderships.

It is election time in USA

Pakistan was not alone in using Osama. Osama alive was source of US funds for Pakistan. Osama dead is an election ticket and a feel-good factor for the a USA being battered by the Great Recession. As Rajiv Dogra points out, on the opposite side of the world,

The timing suited Obama well. It had long been speculated that Osama would be killed around the time Obama’s re-election campaign kicked off.

Predictably, the US made a song-and-dance about the annual aid of US$3 billion that they dole out to Pakistan. Compared to the US$3 trillion that the US Department of Defence is unable to account for, this talk of US$3 billion makes for poor form.

Pakistan's soldiers patrolling the tribal area of Ditta Kheil in North Waziristan for militants and al-Qaida activists in March.| Photograph by Mohammad Iqbal/Associated Press | Picture courtesy nytimes.com /Click for original image.

Pakistan's soldiers patrolling the tribal area of Ditta Kheil in North Waziristan for militants and al-Qaida activists in March.| Photograph by Mohammad Iqbal/Associated Press | Picture courtesy nytimes.com /Click for original image.

On a lighter – and logical side

Famous for the song केम छे ‘kem che, kem che’ from the film जिस देश में गंगा रहता है Jis Desh Mein Ganga Rahta Hain, a Bollywood songwriter confidently predicted, soon after 9/11, that Bin Laden would be found near the White House or Islamabad!

Coming to India

Memories dimmed, history forgotten, India draws wrong conclusions from these Western adventures in our neighbourhood.

After WWII, as British, French and Dutch colonialists were being thrown out of Asia, in country after country, the West was in real danger of losing markets and raw material sources.

To make war palatable, Desert Bloc invented religion. (Image  source - loonpond.com; artist attribution not available at image  source)

To make war palatable, Desert Bloc invented religion. (Image source - http://loonpond.blogspot.com; artist attribution not available at image source).

A new power, fueled by a growing migrant population, USA, took the place of tired, old powers – Britain, France and the Dutch. Instead of the openly exploitative system of European powers directly running colonial governments in these Asian countries, the US installed an opaque system – which is equally exploitative. To impose its writ on the newly independent Asian countries, the US simply destroyed their  economies by war. The USA, then instituted the innovative USCAP Program and ‘helped’ these countries. These countries (Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, et al) were now ruled by overtly independent regimes – but covertly, client states of the USA.

US multinationals and home-grown oligarchs (keiretsus, chaebols, etc.) took over the economy – and sidelined British, French and Dutch companies. To impose this economic model, US armies, using nearly 1 million troops, killed 50 lakh Asians. The takeover of European colonial possessions by the USA was handled over 3 regimes of Eisenhower-Kennedy-Johnson seamlessly.

Between a rampant USA, behind biggest terror spots of the world, and a nuclear-armed, imploding Pakistan, India’s choices are difficult – and reactive policies inadequate.

Once more, Osama’s death and Obama’s antics bring out India’s policy inadequacy in sharp relief.

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