Protests in Pakistan

The following is a transaltion from arabic of an analysis on the current turmoil in Pakistan

PkdemoWhen a ruler [Musharraf] severs his link with his Creator (swt) and the Ummah, and maintains relations only with the Kafir colonialists who are led by the United States, he is no longer concerned by the resentment of the people. His fear of their anger unseating him from power is overcome by his friendship with nations like the US whose interests he has been serving. The ruler would dwell in the fantasy that such countries will protect his power. He fails to realise that this is merely an illusion and those countries will ditch him as soon as he overstays his usefulness, like they have done to his predecessors. He will be a loser in this world and the hereafter which certainly is a clear loss.

Musharraf’s arrogance is due to the support of America which enabled him to come to power in a most perilous manner;  he amended the constitution, postponed elections, played with the judiciary etc., and yet he is apparently safe.

In the October 1999 coup, he toppled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and thereafter suspended the constitution and placed himself as the President. Musharraf consolidated his power after the 1999 coup by focusing on the following three issues:

Firstly, he established links with the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) of Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of Benazir Bhutto and formed a political party allied to him in order to serve the American interests. Secondly, he increased the powers of the President and weakened the authority of the Prime Minister. Finally, he institutionalised the role of the armed forces in Pakistan’s politics.

He frustrated the efforts of the opposition, who are the agents of the British, when they petitioned the Supreme Court to challenge the legality of the military coup. But the Supreme Court, reluctantly and under pressure from Musharraf and the US ruled in his favour. In its judgement, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the military coup was necessary and indeed a national interest! It recognised the pre-coup situation [i.e before 1999] as one which could not have been solved by constitutional means. The court also said that it was necessary to hold general elections within 2 years, but allowed delaying them until October 2002.

When the court legitimised the coup, Musharraf took concrete steps to consolidate his hold on power as President and chief of the army. His term as chief of the army was to end in 2001, and could then only be extended by order of the President (Rafiq Tarar). But since he feared that the President would not agree to it, Musharraf overthrew Rafiq Tarar as president in June 2001 and thus occupied the two posts of army chief and President simultaneously.

With the help of his secret service and by threatening the opposition he formed a political party, the Pakistan Muslim League, with the leaders of the PML (Nawaz Sharif) and followed the same process to wean away leaders from the PPP of Benazir Bhutto and some independent politicians. During this period, Musharraf prevented both Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto from returning to Pakistan and participating in politics.

In the October 2002 elections, his party won the majority and gained power in the provinces of Sind, Punjab and Balochistan either on its own or in coalition with other parties. But in the North West Frontier province (Sarhad Province), it was the Muttahida Majlis that gained power. To counter its effect, Musharraf used his position as head of the state to appoint army generals as the provincial governors of NWFP. This was because the US saw the Muttahida Majlis as too closely allied with the Pashtoon movement which is opposed to the secular policies of Musharraf which he implements in the name of modernity and development.

Because Musharraf did not command a two-thirds majority necessary to amend the constitution in order to increase his powers, he sought to strike a deal with the Muttahida Majlis in December 2003 under which he would forsake his position as chief of army in return for the Majlis’s vote to increase the powers of the president. Thus Musharraf overcame the crisis to garner two-thirds of a majority to bring about amendments to the constitution; concentrating all the powers in the presidency and eroding the authority of the prime minister.

Musharraf was able to carry out these actions without either consulting the people or the constitution, nor was he concerned with the accepted convention on the issue, because he is one who is neither afraid of Allah (swt) nor His (swt) servants.  Further, he supported the American attacks on Afghanistan and confronted the Mujahideen in Kashmir and tightened his noose on them. And because he was not harmed all the while and was propped up by America, he became arrogant.

This is why he boldly sacked the Chief Justice in March this year and referred his case to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) charging the chief justice with exploitation of authority, exceeding his jurisdiction and of behaviour inconsistent with his position. In doing so, Musharraf was not at all concerned with the resulting consequences of such an action because of his arrogance.

As to why Musharraf ventured onto such a course of action, consider the following:
As per the constitution of Pakistan, the election of the president follows the general elections, and the members of the National Assembly along with the members of the four provincial assemblies form the Electoral College that elects the president of Pakistan. Now, because the election of the members of the assemblies is scheduled to be held before the presidential election, and the Electoral College consists of members elected under the previous election wherein Musharraf enjoyed a two-thirds majority, this means that if an election of the president were to be held currently the president would enjoy another term in office.

However, since the people resent his ugly policies Musharraf cannot be assured of a the two-thirds majority in the Electoral College of the president in the next elections, especially because of his  launching of attacks in the frontier province of the Muttahida Majlis. This clearly means that in the next elections, Musharraf cannot be sure of returning to power. He therefore feels that this is the opportune time to hold the presidential elections ahead of the general elections under the emergency powers which he has assumed as head of the state.

For Musharraf to carry out this, he needs a chief justice, who will concur with and legitimise such a change, and also support him in the face of a challenge by the opposition. Since the sacked chief justice,  Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, is unlikely to allow Musharraf a free run and is seen as close to the opposition, Musharraf has thought it fit to sack and bring charges against him and consequently appoint a loyalist as successor to the post of chief justice. Having done this, Musharraf would bring a presidential order to hold the presidential elections prior to holding the general elections in order to get elected by the current Electoral College which was elected under the previous elections and where he enjoys a majority as a result of the deal with the Muttahida Majlis.

But it appears that the US and Musharraf have both misjudged the opposition’s reaction to the sacking of the chief justice and did not anticipate the mass protests in its aftermath. If the SJC fails to substantiate charges against Iftikhar Chaudhry and the protests continue on a large-scale and Musharraf fails to calm them down, it may be conceivable that Musharraf is forced to reinstate the sacked chief justice.

In such an event the elections may well have to be held as scheduled. Then, as certain sections of the media have indicated, Musharraf may strike a deal with  the PPP of Benazir Bhutto, instead of Muttahida Majlis to prop up his presidency. In this situation, it is likely that Musharraf may allow Benazir Bhutto to return to Pakistan in order to consolidate the situation and restore civilian rule. That is Musharraf holds on as the president and appoints one of his supporters as chief of the army and Benazir Bhutto as the Prime Minister.