Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pakistan On The Brink: The Dead Man's Roll



Pakistan's President Musharraf has announced a `state of emergency' today that has all the appearances of a military takeover and the imposition of what amounts to martial law.

The Pakistani Constitution has been suspended, and Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, whom Musharraf earlier tried to oust was taken away with several other justices in an armed military convoy. Leading opposition politician Imran Khan was quickly placed under house arrest. Paratroops have taken over the state TV and radio, and no other stations are on the air. Telephone landlines were still dead after being cut on Saturday, while troops swarmed around the Supreme Court and parliament and government buildings and erected road blocks.

In an address to the nation, General Musharraf said Pakistan was at a "dangerous" juncture, its government threatened by Islamic extremists.

"The extremism has even spread to Islamabad, and the extremists are taking the writ of the government in their own hands, and even worse they are imposing their obsolete ideas on moderates," Musharraf said, wearing a black button-down tunic rather than his military fatigues.

He blamed the Supreme Court for obstructing law enforcement and postponing the announcement of his recent election win, saying it had "semi-paralyzed" government.

"Now the time for the action has come. I have carefully examined the situation to see how to stop this downslide. We have to create harmony among judiciary, legislative and executive ... This is how we would tackle the issue of terrorism in a better way," Musharraf said.

Musharraf also announced new ordinances that target the media including a ban on television channels broadcasting live "incidents of violence and conflict" and jail sentences for up to three years for broadcaster or reporters who "ridicule" the president, the armed forces, legislators or judges.

As members of Joshua's Army know, we saw this coming,and I predicted that Choudry and the Supreme Court might try and throw a monkey wrench into the deal between Musharraf and Ex-PM Benazir Bhutto to share power while Musharraf left the army under a long time crony and served another term as president.

Apparently,Musharraf found out that that Choudrey and the court were planning just that and moved first.

In Vegas, a move like this at the craps tables is known as the `dead man's roll', a last throw of the dice with whatever chips you have left to try and win - or lose it all. That's exactly what Musharraf is doing.

Musharraf's pals in Washington DC apparently voiced a certain amount of outrage publically - after all, there's still the tired, almost used up roach of the `Muslim democracy' spliff being passed around the White House and the State Department, and it wouldn't look good not say something- but I wonder how intense that was.

I'd be very surprised to see the US significantly cut aid, just now. They're hoping Musharraf manages to survive, given the alternative of a nuclear armed Pakistan ruled by jihadis. Of course, if Musharraf craps out, as he very well could, those same jihadis will use US aid to Musharraf as an excuse for renewed hatred of America.

Not that they need much of an excuse in a place like Pakistan.

One effect this will have, and an important one is on Pakistan's contribution on fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda. Musharraf is going to need every soldier he's got to prop up his regime in Islamabad, rather than having them take casualties shooting it out with the jihadis in Waziristan and the Swat Valley. Look for the Pakistani government forces to gradually pull out of the region and essentially cede it back to the Taliban and al Qaeda.

As a matter of fact, Musharraf might even decide to negotiate a new de facto cease fire with them as he did before. As a matter of fact, I'd almost bet on it.

Like it or not, the West is going to have to confront the problem of Pakistan one way or another. I said this before and the reality remains crystal clear with each passing debacle.

For the most part, these people are simply too unstable to have access to some of the dangerous nuclear toys they've got laying around.

3 comments:

Ivan said...

It's even worse from two points of view. Pakistanis abroad will try and get the countries they are living in embroiled in this. We have a large Pakistani population in the UK particularly Bradford where I live. There will be marches in the street, rallies in the city centre as Pakistanis demand the overthrow of Mushareff, return to democracy etc. They will be demanding to know what Brown/Miliband are doing to put pressure on the Pakistani govt. Every incident, every crime in which Pakistanis are involved they will claim it was a reaction to the situation in Pakistan. At a time when immigration and govt mishandling of it is becoming a major political issue in the UK a major part of the immigrant community is going to get involved in public protests, criminal activity etc because of what is going on back 'home' (virtually all Bradford Muslims I speak to, including those who were born here refer to Pakistan as 'home'). Talk about lighting the blue touch paper just before Guy Fawkes night.
The second point is even more serious. Pakistan has three neighbours/near neighbours who will be very concerned. One (China) has a massive population, substantial Islamic minorities in certain provinces, a centralised govt and nuclear weapons. They will not tolerate anything which threatens them or causes disturbance among the Muslim minorities. India has a massive populution, large Muslim minorities, a democratic govt and nuclear weapons. India will be worried not just about the Muslims in India reacting to this but also if Mushareff follows the tactic of many dictators of diverting attention abroad ie. promoting frontier incidents in Kashmir etc. Finally you have Iran. An oil producing country (China has a lot of Iran's production) with an Islamic govt which may have nuclear weapons. Forget the nonsense about Pakistan being all like the al-Queda/Taliban supporters in the Frontier Provinces. The vast majority of Pakis (not the temporary residents in the Frontier Provinces) are of the Barelvi sect. This sect does not get on with the Khomeini Shiite's in Iran. In other words Iran which has an oil weapon to use and possible nuclear weapons as well will feel threatened by Pakistan.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hello Ivan,
How are you?

You raise some excellent points. Most westerners are unaware of China's ongoing struggle with its Muslim Uigher minority. They will undoubtely be watching Pakistan closely, although I think their main emphasis will be on continuing their quest for domination of Central Asia's energy resources.

Remember the Shanghai Cooperation Organization,to which China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan belong and in which Iran, Pakistan and India have `observer' status.It's about the gas and oil, in the end.

You're also likely spot on about the reaction in Britain.
(BTW, for those of my readers who don't know,Guy Fawkes Day in Britain celebrates the infamous `Gunpowder Plot' to blow up Parliament, and is celebrated with bonfires and sometimes fireworks)

One thing...according to my info, the most influential and numerous Pakistani sect, especially in Britain is the Deobandis, a wahabi offshoot.

Am I mistaken?

I wouldn't think that even the Barelvi would be all that much against Shiite Iran, especially considering how much Pakistan has helped Iran with missile and nuclear technology.Even our supposed `ally' Musharraf won't allow Dr. AQ Kahn to be questioned by western intelligence on what Pakistan gave Iran.

And as you know, Iran has been helping al Qaeda for years, and the chief of operations of Hezbollah, Imad Mugniyeh ( a Shiite) was once one of Osama Bin Laden's chief lieutenants, as well as a member of Yassir Arafat's ( Sunni) Force 17.

I think we in the west exagerate the Sunni/Shiite divide, to our peril.

When it comes to jihad against the infidel, they have an historical tendancy to unite fo r`the common cause' and fight it out among themselves afterwards.

All Best,
ff

Ivan said...

Yes - deobandi are increasing particularly among the muslim authorities and mosque leaderships but among the general Pakistani population, those not holding high ranking positions, both here and in Pakistan the vast majority are still barelvi. A small number of deobandi because of the important positions they hold and having their hands on the levers of power get a lot of publicity but the mass population who do not get much publicity are barelvi.