What next?

Turmoil in Pakistan making of its own

VIEWPOINT

ANIL ANAND

Pakistan in turmoil cannot escape India’s attention. Like the inseparable twins, developments in Pakistan, as always, have a direct bearing on India’s domestic affairs including the security aspect. The happenings on the LoC, the brutal killing of two Indian soldiers, and the present political turmoil in Pakistan are intertwined and cannot be viewed in isolation.
Pakistan is literally on the boil. The political scenario there is much more fragile than ever before. The national elections are round the corner and all the stakeholders particularly the army and the ISI have suddenly become proactive with a view to ensure their share in any formation that comes on to govern the country if the elections are held as scheduled in few months time.
Who will govern Pakistan next? In the answer to this question perhaps lies the secret behind what is happening in the region currently. There is no doubt that there is a perceptible change in the thinking of the political class in terms of their anti-India agenda particularly the Kashmir factor. The silver-lining is that the mainline political parties and leaders want to break free of this image and the army stranglehold, and look forward to a more meaningful political agenda. But do they have any other option?
Yes the political parties such as the Peoples Party of Pakistan and Pakistan Muslim League are undergoing a churning. But so strong is the hold of Pakistan army on the national affairs that such moderate political groups are unlikely to have a smooth sailing.
Also, elections are due in a few months and President Asif Ali Zardari hopes to lead the first civilian government in Pakistan's 65 years as an independent nation that will complete its full term. But power struggles will distract the unpopular government from tackling an array of problems - a Taliban insurgency, economic stagnation and growing sectarian tensions triggered by bomb attacks and tit-for-tat shootings.
Pakistan's powerful army has a long history of coups and intervening in politics. These days generals seem to have little appetite for a coup but many believe they still try to exert behind-the-scenes influence which has given credence to the reports of army’s hand in creating the present turmoil in order to keep its relevance intact in the governance of Pakistan.
The army and the ISI combine in Pakistan are known for their back-seat driving skills in running the country’s affairs with India being their favourite whipping boy. With both PPP and PML almost out of their grip, the deadly duo is out creating new political alternatives who could ultimately dance to their tunes. And hence the present turmoil!
On platter is the cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaf Party who has been seen and heard soft-peddling on them. A new phenomenon called Thairul Qadri, a Canadian citizen, has suddenly descended in Islamabad and is posing grave challenge to the redoubtable Khan and his outfit. A religious bigot, he is laying siege on the streets of Islamabad, the Pak capital and demanding immediate removal of the present PPP-led Government and is threatening to uproot the established political parties of the country.
Sudden emergence of Qadri from nowhere has taken the Pakistan’s ruling dispensation by surprise. Ostensibly, propped up by the army-ISI combine, he has been catapulted into the situation to ensure that no future Government, in the aftermath of coming national elections, is formed without their interference. The cleric has been able to extract his pound of flesh with the ruling dispensation and other political parties agreeing to his demand to hold elections under a caretaker Government.
Is it the beginning of yet another political innings under the tutelage of the army? The above development is a strong indicator in this direction. But the final verdict will be delivered by the people of Pakistan and it will be in the interest of the entire Indian sub-continent that they give their electoral verdict in a real pragmatic fashion wherein the only role for army should be stay in the barracks.
And the worst was still to come. Pakistan Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on corruption charges.  The timing of these development coupled with happenings on the LoC has led one to believe that the worst is still to come.
The political parties such as the PPP and PML might have seen the reality and are trying to change their perspective about India particularly with respect to Kashmir, but it remains a fact that in the absence of any other agenda, India bashing still remains to be best option available to the army-ISI combine, of course with the help of the terror outfits, to keep their hold intact on the national affairs.
The attack on India soldiers and frequent violations of the decade old ceasefire on the LoC is an off-shoot of this thinking. A strong attempt is being made by these forces to whip up an anti-India sentiment in the run up to the national elections in that country. The architects of this theory will certainly like India to fall in the trap. The rabble rousing and war mongering resorted to by some sections in the India polity and media has raised the danger of New Delhi gradually biting the bait.

Lastupdate on : Mon, 21 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 21 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 22 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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