Pakistan’s predicament

NEWS reports circling the international press suggest, with good reason, that Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf has all but missed the chance of restoring genuine democracy in the country. Despite Islamabad’s politically correct outlook, and war-on-terror compulsions that keep it on Washington’s right side, the general has taken one step too far in stamping his muscle to perpetuate his authoritarian rule. Therefore, the rhetoric will not sell any further.

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Published: Tue 25 Sep 2007, 9:02 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:05 AM

The recent supreme court verdict allowing Nawaz Sharif’s return (before his embarrassing re-deportation) and the government’s dealing with Benazir Bhutto were greeted by most quarters concerned because departure from norm as they were, they did provide for the only opportunity of bringing all potential candidates in the court of the people. But now that Sharif is gone and the deal-talk with Benazir has seemingly tripped again, General Musharraf has quickly gone back to hard-line ways traditionally attached with Pakistan’s powerful military.

The crackdown on opposition workers and threat of imposing emergency and delaying polls for another year are, in fact, clear signals that the only maneuvering that will be tolerated is one that keeps the general at the top. And his promise (there have been previous ones) of finally quitting the army-chief post once he is re-elected president also, if anything, betrays how the slightest slip will see him retaining all power whatever the cost.

It is unfortunate that at a time when Pakistan can act as the test case in the fight for people’s verdict and democracy in much of the Third World, one man’s desire to prolong is stay at the top of everything is threatening to bring much hard work to naught. And his advisors have helped him bolster his position well.

Nawaz Sharif is in virtual house arrest in Saudi Arabia while Benazir Bhutto has had her credibility tarnished among opposition ranks for coming round to them only when her own personal quest for power has apparently hit a wall. But in playing poker, the centre resorts to dirty politics, which reflects poorly on itself and the country as a whole. General Musharraf is no friend of Pakistan’s if he lets this election go by without freedom and fairness.

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