Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Tale of Two Countries - Part II Pakistan

To read Part I see : A Tale of Two countries - Part I Myanmar

In Pakistan, Currently, the dangerous war of institutions (triangle one) is going on. Three sides of the triangle are occupied by all powerful army, civilian leadership and the Judiciary. The immediate future of the nation depends on who will come successfully out of this battle?

The recent crisis started with the US air raid of Abbottabad (located in the Hazara region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province) which killed al-Qaeda chief. In fact it was not started all of a sudden, the pressure was always there. Judiciary becomes more assertive after sailing along with the anti-Musharraf protests; Army, after facing a fatal blow to its prestige because of Abbottabad air raid, PNS Mehran naval attack, restive western borders, continuous bomb blasts in Pakistani cities wants to regain its old image; civilian leadership after passing through close to a decade long military regime want to prove themselves.

Well, the battle field became ready when Mansoor Ijaz (a Pakistani origin US business man) claimed that, he was asked by Pakistan's then ambassador to US 'Husain Haqqani' to deliver a secret letter to US admiral Mike Mullen seeking protection from a possible military coup (after death of 'Bin Laden' on May 2 the fear of coup was running high in Islamabad). In return for the protection, letter offered to abolish a part of Country's powerful spy agency - ISI. I am still curious, why Pakistan's ambassador selected a middle man to deliver the letter? After all the relationship between the Pakistan and US is better than that of Iran and US. Anyway 'Haqqani' lost his job.

Pakistan's president's immediate visit to Dubai raised the speculation of an immediate coup further. It is not clear whether Army was trying for a coup. According to Ijaz, DG ISI Lt. Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha visited Persian Gulf countries around the same time seeking support for the coup. An interesting part Army omitted when dragged the government to Supreme Court in the now famous 'Memogate' episode. This incident was followed by war of the words between civilian and military leadership of the country.

In December, Pakistani PM warned that he would not tolerate a 'state with in a state'. Later army chief Gen Kayani clarified that military is not planning any coup. Later Premier Mr. Gilani removed Defence secretary - a three star general and a traditional intermediate between government and army - for alleged misconduct. This action led to an emergency meeting of top level army officials. It is interesting to see that the civilian leadership is putting a brave stand before the mighty army. On the day of ousting the defence secratary military issued a release saying that government’s statements could have "very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country". They stopped short of elaborating what these consequences are.

So what will happen next? Pakistan already went through a number of coups in 1958, 1969, 1977, 1999 - the most recent one. Will history repeats itself?

Supreme Court's recent order asking government to co-op with a corruption investigation against the president Mr. Zardari only made the situation worse for the civilian government. It didn't stop there, court accused Premier Mr. Gilani for 'Willful disobedience' and issued a contempt of court notice for implementation of NRO and asked to appear before it on January 19.

For Army

Will Army try to stage a coup? I guess no, when the country is passing through economic turmoil and increasing attacks in the western border a coup may be disaster for army. Moreover, after Mushraff era both people and judiciary are very much active. Above all, whatever be the case current government was elected by people, pulling down it may not go down well both internally and externally. It may not only invite sanctions but also cut down the aid significantly. At this stage, when the date for pulling out from Afghanistan approaching faster, a coup may be the last thing Washington can imagine. Another possibility is cutting down the extension of 3 years given to General and DG ISI's, which will force both of them to retire. I guess, government may not go for any such drastic steps.

For Civilian Government

Memo scandal and its handling badly hit administration. Even though government hit hard against army, the foundations of government is getting weaker day-by-day. Cases against the president are still in court, economy is in crisis, cities are rocked with bomb explosion every now and then, government is not able to sell the importance of relations with US to people. In such a situation only a fresh elections can improve the situation. Will the ruling party go for fresh elections? After all, there is no guarantee that people will re-elect PPP back to power.

For Judiciary

This is leading to a dangerous clash of institutions which can set wrong precedents for future. So it is important for Judiciary to intervene at correct time without crossing the marks between executive and Judiciary. At the same time they have to make sure that nothing is going against constitution. They should not over act, out of three institutions only the executive is directly elected by people.

For India

In such a situation, we can serve ourselves best by keeping quiet. We don’t have to say anything; Indian officials should strictly refrain from adding any extra or unwanted comments. At this point of time we should not take any radical actions in Afghanistan theatre also, apart from the one’s which are necessary for protecting the interest of the nation - that too not overtly. Any such actions will be perceived as survival issue on other side of the border.

This is Pakistan's crisis, a crisis which country needs to sort out own its own. This provides one of the biggest opportunities in the recent times for Pakistan to build and strengthen their institutions. It’s their battle; let them solve it. We call can hope that the country will come out of the crisis successfully.


Both Myanmar and Pakistan are passing through some of the critical moments. Their future is depending on the actions they will take now. In Pakistan, it’s the struggle of the institutions and the fate of her neighbour – Afghanistan. In Myanmar it’s about opening a closed country to the world of opportunities. As Indians – India shares a long border with both countries – we also have a stake on the development of and progress of both countries. If the countries are taking right decisions it will bring stable peace to South Asia and South-East Asia.

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