When Sheila Jackson, the woman co-chairing the Pakistan caucus in the US Congress applauds the PPP’s functioning and complains about the PML-N it is something of a giveaway. Imagine what policy of the party is being applauded when there is broad consensus in Pakistani civil society circles that the party seems unsure on every policy matter? The policy then being applauded is that of tolerance towards Pervez Musharraf and his machinations. Remind me what is a caucus (for more on topic see this wikipedia entry) and what is a Pakistani caucus doing in a foreign parliament? Lobbying? But lobbying for whom? Certainly not for us. When a party is actually arguing that this person is good for us and that one is not (ever wondered who is us in this case?), folks it certainly is not working for us.
The question then arises who doÂ we think is this caucus serving? Apparrently by us it means the US. But things are not absolutely as they appear. The services of a lobbying group are hired by states to bolster one’s cause. That essentially implies that the group essentially does what it is requested to. In this case this caucus formed during the days of Musharraf regime, meant to act for Pakistan’s cause, has been hijacked by a dictator. When an autocrat stays in power for eight years all the state’s institutions tilt towards him and hence his personal interest is misconstrued as the interest of the nation. The entire setup hence has started inhaling its own propaganda that not Pakistan but Musharraf is inevitable for the world peace. How does it sound to you? Eerie to us but perfectly normal for the world.
It was just to overcome this unnatural tilt that we had hoped Mohtarma Bhutto, a master lobbyist and diplomat, would rise to the top and salvage this nation. That couldn’t happen. It seems those who slayed the great leader knew well what they were doing to the nation. But that chapter has been closed. Now what we have in the name of lobbying is a tragic backwards trend. That we have to actually pay to be indoctrinated and shackled. If this trend continues it will wreck the entire nation. Have you wondered why the country’s establishment has all of a sudden fallen in love with Musharraf who was being treated as a liability until only recently? Because in his presence something unprecedented has been accomplished. When Zulfi Bhutto, the country’s first democratically elected Prime Minister, was hanged by the establishment in a cooked up case, it had hoped that the country’s only democratic party till then would vanish without a trace. But that didn’t happen. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and her mother rose to the occasion and saved the party. The establishment under dark dictator Zia-ul-Haq tried its level best to crush the party but did not succeed. Benazir to this establishment was an incubus that it failed to catch or finish off. Musharraf not only lured her back but also through lax security if not an extensive plot exposed her to a certain death. And now as a tainted man he wants to embrace the party into such a tight hug that it would most certainly destroy the populist party’s popular support. If he fails to shift the burden of blame of his personal failures in entirety to the party he would most certainly take the party along. By doing so he would help the establishment rid itself the perpetual threat in the shape of democracy.
Before I speak any further on this I must point out that before Zulfi Bhutto’s government the country was almost exclusively ruled by authoritarian rulers and managed through unrepresentative form of government. This myopia culminated into the fall of East Pakistan. But instead of being offended by the failure of the state, what this stupid and heartless establishment was annoyed by was the rise of Bhutto as a national leader. He was taken care of quite effectually. First the establishment shifted the blames of its own wrongdoings in East Pakistan to this leader, then used the moles in his own government to blacken his name and finally hanged him on flimsy grounds. You are facing such a conspiratorial clandestine regime which hangs its own people just to ensure that its monopoly over governance continues unabated. There is no bigger threat to this hideous mafia than that of a representative government. And since the People’s Party is the most popular party of the country, an end to it would sort out the problem for once and for all. That is exactly why this group is now almost worshiping Musharraf and trying its level best not to let the UN probe Benazir’s assassination. Here is the game plan for your comprehension.
I believe that with the help of some neo-cons in the western establishments, this mafia planned Benazir’s assassination. She was lured back to the country through a reconciliation bid. When she returned to the country she was subjected to slander campaign for signing a deal under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). The judiciary issue was also blown beyond proportion in such a way that the party was left utterly confused. And then came the election campaign and she was assassinated publicly. The state claimed that it was humanly impossible for anyone to protect her. Interestingly it is worth remembering that there were umpteen attacks on Musharraf but they failed to harm even his toenail. The attacks essentially were choreographed in such a way that remained unharmed and yet was projected as a hunted man. But the fact that none of the country’s corps commanders were hurt shows that there are ways to protect whosoever you want to protect. Now I am sure you’ll argue that none of these folks ever allowed himself to be exposed to a public rally and hence Benazir’s demise has nothing comparable to that. Unfortunately you need to think again. Musharraf only until fairly recently used to address a number of rallies managed by the establishment. Despite such a huge assembly of people around he was never attacked in those events only because of the tight security. Again when Musharraf was attacked while traveling back to his home and General Kiyani the then Corps Commander of Rawalpindi was tasked to investigate the authorities did not allow the entire area to be tempered with until all the necessary evidence was not collected to their satisfaction. This however did not happen in Benazir’s case. The entire place was hosed down within no time of the assassination. Why? This essentially was an attempt at hiding the real motives behind the assassination.
By killing Benazir Bhutto the establishment under Musharraf had gained what it had longed for, for such a long time. Now it was the turn of the People’s Party to be abolished. Hence in the elections a very careful manipulation took place. The mandate for the party which was expected to sweep the elections riding on the nationwide tide of sympathy generated by Benazir’s untimely death, was diluted substantially. On the eve of Benazir’s return to the country, which gave the establishment goose bumps, Musharraf rushed to Saudi Arabia and the next thing we learnt was that Nawaz Sharif had been allowed to come back to the country. Now here is an establishment dominated by the ethnic Punjabis and Mohajirs which did not want a Princess from a small province to return to the throne. The elections hence returned a hung parliament and the party entered into alliance with Nawaz Sharif’s party. Since then the establishment with the help of the foreign governments and the lobbyist/pressure groups has tried every bit not to let the party implement its progressive agenda. First the US leaned heavily on the party not to enter into an alliance with PML-N (Sharif’s party). Then the world leaned pressure it not to let the restoration of the deposed judges take place. Meanwhile the World Bank, IMF and other foreign donors are pressuring its government not to introduce package of subsidies for the general relief and to put an end to the widespread inflation. The establishment is also impeding the new government from seeking help from the UN in Benazir’s murder probe.
The regime which allowed the country to become a virtual foreign colony now reminds us that if the UN is consulted all the secrets of the country might be exposed as the world body may send an Israeli or an Indian as part of the probe commission. Nobody even bothers to mention that since the UN would form the commission on the request of the Pakistani government it is highly unlikely that it would form the commission without consulting the country and keeping in mind its sensitivities. If the party fails to push this matter it will add to its media trial. Years ago Benazir’s brother Murtaza was murdered by the state and when within a month her government was sent packing her husband Asif Zardari was arrested after being accused of his brother in law’s murder. This may happen again in this case too as Zardari is now heading the party. Meanwhile malicious financial activities have been witnessed in the country. We all know that the previous government’s financial policies were only myopic and damaged the economy in long term. Now all of a sudden there is a liquidity crunch. After a while the media trial of the government will intensify and then Musharraf will used powers to send the elected assembly back home. While the party’s government is trying to prove to the establishment that it really wants reconciliation, the establishment is letting any opportunity to frame it slip. What is the use of getting reprieve in politically motivated cases against the party if its best leader is killed and then new and stronger cases framed against its leadership. The Bush administration, especially the neocons supported by Dick Cheney and people like Zalmay Khalilzad in the UN are trying their level best not to let the People’s Party do anything which offers it to survive for long. Unfortunately by paying heed to their propaganda the world’s democratic forces are ensuring that the country will never again have fully thriving and progressive democratic order. Since the establishment is only concerned with its own riches, is always myopic in terms of the national interest and the nation is deeply polarized this may bring the country to a quick end. Now this country with a population of almost 170 million moderate citizens is reeling under the pressure of such retrogressive forces. If the world’s democratic forces instead of inhaling the propaganda do not work to strengthen the cause of democracy the world might be in for a terrible surprise. Maybe the emerging leadership of the US like Obama, Clinton and McCain can intervene to foil this sad plot of an establishment which cannot see beyond its nose and is supported by the neocons the world over. Sirs and madam, please save this country and democracy here. This country will always be thankful to you.
The author is a Pakistani television journalist, columnist and commentator on security, political and media affairs. He can be reached through his website www.pitafi.com