By K.N. Pandita
Former Pakistani army chief Pervez Musharraf has expressed apprehension of military intervention in Pakistan. British government has issued an advisory to its nationals in Pakistan to be prepared for any eventuality and withdrawal from Pakistan within four hour notice. Is military intervention round the corner in that country?
Devastating floods and its mismanagement, proliferating terror, corruption and bad governance are strong enough reasons for the alert Pakistani military to intervene. For earlier coups in the country reasons were less stringent.
Mismanagement of quick relief to the victims of flash floods computing to nearly two crores, has exerted great pressure on Pakistan military to intervene. Army chief General Kiani, with his clout in the Pentagon, is cognizant of precarious position of his country.
Add to it the situation in southern city of Karachi. It is torn asunder with ethnic and sectarian strife in which various elements are involved. Baluch insurgents have forced nearly hundred thousand Punjabis to quit the province and thus has begun the ethnic cleansing of Baluchistan. The situation in that troubled province is grave to the extent that Pakistani foreign office is repeatedly bringing the onus of trouble to the doorsteps of India. They can find easy escape in doing so despite India’s firm rebuttal.
The situation has become very grim owing to visible stand off between the judiciary and the government. If this stand off is not immediately and amicably resolved, military intervention is imminent. That is what General Kiani talked to President Zardari when he met him recently.
During the closing days of his regime, the former military ruler Pervez Musharraf had issued what is known as National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) which granted amnesty to politicians, bureaucrats and many others charged of various crimes like corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, murder and terrorism. A large number of high ranking officials, influential politicians and men of consequence became the beneficiaries of this ordinance. However the Pakistani public had not taken to it kindly.
On December 16, 2009 the Pakistan Supreme Court in a case lodged against the Ordinance declared it unconstitutional. With this historic judgement, some politicians and bureaucrats who were the beneficiaries, voluntarily resigned to escape the consequences of the supreme court verdict. But there were many who did not resign and continued at their positions. Recently Prime Minister Geelani urged those who were implicated but did not resign to quit the office. Interestingly included among the affected are the Interior Minister Rahman Malik and Haqqqani, his appointed ambassador to the US.
More pressure was built on Islamabad government when the supreme court asked it to reopen the cases against the beneficiaries included among who is no less a person than Asif Zardari the president. The court asked the government to open the case against him in regard to his Swiss bank accounts.
This led to a bizarre situation as the government defied the court order saying that no action could be taken against the incumbent president in terms of Pakistan’s existing constitution. But the supreme court has its own definition of the clause in the constitution. Ruling against Zardari can bring down the government and that is the apprehension lurking in the mind of government circles.
Pir Pagaro* , a descendant of the Pagaro house of spiritual leaders in Karachi with disciples and followers called Hurr, has always been supportive of Pakistan military in its wars with India. In the Pakistan-sponsored tribal invasion of Kashmir in 1947, it was the same Pir Pagaro who issued directives to the invaders. As the government-judiciary logjam developed, Pir Pagaroo’s residence in Karachi called Kingra House, became the political hub. The importance of the house will be understood from the fact that quickly after Musharraf’s coup, Sheikh Rashid, now opposition leader and then a cabinet minister in Musharraf regime was the first to visit Pir Pagaro. Other ministers followed him.
Chowdhury Shujaat Hussain president of Pakistan Muslim League (Q) announced merger of his party with Pagaro’s Muslim League (Functionality) and he expected cricketer Imran Khan** to merge his party also with Pagro’s group. Recently General Kiani, the army chief met at GHQ with opposition leader Sheikh Rashid, constitutional expert and former law minister S.M. Zafar and a former minister Amir Muqam. The links speak more than what may be presumed.
In another development, Pakistan proposes to raise its defence spending 61 % to 553 billion rupees (US $ 6.4 billion) to next June after adding further 25% or 110 billion rupees to amount already approved by the parliament for this financial year for which 343 billion rupees had been allotted. Why this whooping increase in the military budget is not without reason. The Dawn of 24 September made an insinuating remark, ” Neither the government nor the military has seen it fit to divulge any details, making it difficult to comment on the need for such an extraordinary increase.”
* some websites by search with Pir Pagaro:
** Imran Khan (disambiguation);
the National Reconciliation Ordinance NRO.