A GIANT LEAP BACKWARDS Wasn’t Pakistan better before Mush took power?

Pakistan was not stunned to see Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s last-ditch effort to cling to power last week as the civilian rule has been crushed several times by over-ambitious military generals in the past.

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SYED TAUSIEF AUSAF

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Pakistan was not stunned to see Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s last-ditch effort to cling to power last week as the civilian rule has been crushed several times by over-ambitious military generals in the past.
Previously, the army sacked democratically elected governments citing political anarchy, law and order situation and a failure of the state machinery as reasons behind their antics. But the clamping of emergency and the promulgation of a provisional constitutional order (PCO) by the military ruler is a bit hard to digest as Gen. Musharraf himself has been at the helm of affairs ever since Nawaz Sharif was dethroned, jailed and forced into exile. Then whose failure was it that led the president to take such a disastrous step?
One need not be a scientist to understand the real motive behind introducing the new draconian law. It was almost certain that the apex court’s verdict on petitions challenging Gen. Musharraf’s election as president would not be in his favour. Sharif’s case was also very strong and the chief justice had indicated that the final verdict would eventually order the government to let the ex-premier return home. That is why the general was under pressure from cunning hawks like Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Sheikh Rashid and Chaudhry Pervez Ilahi to take extraordinary measures in the extraordinary situation.
The Chaudhry mafia in the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) and a new crop of hand-picked English-speaking politicians from Sindh and NWFP have no political future once Sharif and Bhutto are allowed to contest elections. The Bhutto magic still works in the interior of Sindh and Punjabis still say how high if Sharif says jump.
Sycophants around Musharraf knew that the emergency would be declared ultimately, but in order to fool people they kept parroting on TV that no such move was under consideration. Because of those fears, Benazir postponed her travel plans several times and no one knows if Gen. Musharraf will let her in again in the present circumstances.
This is the second time Gen. Musharraf has not kept his word. A couple of months ago, the president had assured the supreme court in an undertaking that he would quit the post of army chief immediately after his re-election and take oath as a civilian president. Before this, about three years ago, he hoodwinked people into believing that he would shed his uniform by December 2004. Nothing of that sort happened, thanks to the bad advice he gets from self-servers and self-seekers.
Now the country is at a crossroads with the judiciary suspended, constitution in abeyance, and the media muzzled. A crackdown against movers and shakers has started. Key figures are being put behind bars.  The transmission of private TV channels has been banned and it will be mandatory now for the newspapers to get contents approved by the ministry.
Waziristan and Swat are burning. Militants have been parading captured Pakistani soldiers and seizing police stations and controlling traffic. The government’s use of excessive force against its own people could not yield desired results. A soldier was quoted as saying: “I surrendered because I realised that I was only fighting fellow Muslims.” So much for the government’s conviction to root out terrorism!
It has been the one-man show for eight years. What will the emergency possibly achieve now? Will the suicide bombers stop after hearing the news of emergency? Will Swat and Waziristan be resolved automatically now? Will the suspension of basic human rights change people’s desire for genuine democracy?
The draconian move, in fact, vindicates critics of “Busharraf” and his police state. Commonwealth might again suspend Pakistan’s membership. Eyebrows will be raised in the US over the continuous flow of aid to Islamabad. European Union might think of bringing trade sanctions against the country.
It appears after eight years that Pakistan under Sharif, no matter how corrupt, was better. There were no suicide bombings, attacks on the army and the massacre of fellow countrymen before Musharraf came to power.
[The writer can be reached at tausief@hotmail.com]