Monday, October 4, 2010

Return of Gen Musharraf to Pak Politics amidst Coup Rumours !

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                                                                                                            4 October , 2009



Return of Gen Musharraf  to Pak Politics amidst Coup Rumours !

The Parvez penumbra refuses to go away


Part I

               Former Pak President Gen Parvez Musharraf who has been announcing return to politics finally did so by ceremoniously reviving the old political vehicle, All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) on 1 October at a gentlemen's club in Whitehall, London. He has been in exile since 2008 , a hoary Pak tradition ; its rulers when overthrown flee the country .It began with President Gen Iskender Ali Mirza in 1958 , when Gen Ayub Khan sent him , the squabbling and incompetent politicians and civil servants packing .

Musharraf apologised for "negative" actions he took while in power, but he vowed to galvanise Pakistanis and fight a jihad against poverty, hunger, illiteracy and backwardness."I am aware of the fact that there were some decisions which I took which resulted in negative political repercussions, repercussions which had adverse effects on nation building and national political events, and my popularity also, may I say, plummeted in that last year. I take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to the whole nation. Ladies and gentlemen, only God is infallible."

Musharraf said he had learned his lessons and vowed not to repeat them , "I will go back to Pakistan before the next election whatever the dangers." "When there is a dysfunctional government and the nation is going down, its economy is going down, there is a clamour, there is a pressure on the military by the people."

The Commando is a charming rogue. How he had the gullible Indian editors for breakfast at Agra in 2001 .It showed little political acumen to believe that Moghul style hospitality and flattery could have changed the Indo-Pakistan matrix controlled by Western powers and China to India's detriment . Next time around in Delhi he claimed to have a new heart , for the better. He has made many contradictory pronouncements on many matters including his acts of omission aand commission against India. He is a smart bazigar aka conjuror but not to be trusted at face value.

Last May. Musharraf told CNN that "The question of whether I am running for president or prime minister will be seen later." Adding that because of security concerns he could not give a timeframe for his return, but it would be before mid-term elections in 2013.

The official launch of the APML party had taken place quietly in the Karachi in June with a proclamation that the party would be for "all Pakistanis" without distinction of religion, ethnicity or social class. The APML derives its name from the historical Muslim League party which under Mohammad Ali Jinnah was promoted by the British to partition the subcontinent in 1947 and create a weak Pakistan state, abinitio reliant on London as a subservient ally to safeguard Western oil wells in the Middle East from USSR . India under Gandhi and Nehru would never join any military alliance. So the West supported Pakistan on Kashmir also.The rest is history.

The latest pronouncement come in the backdrop of corroding corruption with accusations against President Asif Ali Zardari ( once known as Mr 10 percent) and others ,with Musharraf's own image somewhat  upright and the failure of the current civil administration to satisfactorily overcome the challenge of record floods in Pakistan which have devastated  more than 20 million lives ( The militants and terrorists will also benefit from the catastrophe.)The credible handling of the floods by Pak military ,the only coherent organization, has once again focused attention on its role in keeping Pakistan together and united. Except that in early 1970s its excesses in Bengal with political schemer Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, led to the breakup of Pakistan and emergence of an independent Bangladesh. And of course the situation within Pakistan, with extremists outside Pak ISI control and in Afghanistan have created a dangerous and unmanageable strategic environment in the region.


Musharraf's acts in London are being taken note of seriously because the current chain smoking Pakistan military chief Gen Asfaq Parvez Kayani , is an old loyal subordinate , personally selected by Musharraf for the job, when forced to relinquish, after a tumultuous rule, one of the longest and in this writers opinion a much better one than under that Mullah in uniform Gen .Zia ul Haq and even the self promoted Field Marshall Ayub Khan, who with Washington's encouragement had laid the foundations of  the military's arbitrary and arbitrator's role in direct or proxy rule in Pakistan and a long symbiotic relationship with the Pentagon , which now like in a marriage gone sour still exists.


The rumours of a coup by Musharraf were strengthened as Gen Kayani himself expressed his displeasure at the ways of the civil leadership after meetings with President Zardari and PM Gilani .Gen Kayani would perhaps feel much more at ease with Musharraf 's helping hand around in some key position. In any case since Musharraf has been entangled in many legal cases in Pakistan courts , his return is difficult unless supported by the military , since the judiciary , the legal fraternity and many other groups are his implacable opponents and hate his guts .

Musharraf  had consolidated his position internally before his 'peacemaking' visit to Agra , having rid himself of some of the extremist military comrades and promoting himself from the post of Chief Executive to the Presidency .But the 11 September 2001 attacks on the symbols of US economic and military power by Muslim terrorists brought about a paradigm change in the world and Pakistan and transformation in Musharraf  Presidency. It force changed Pakistan's policies making Islamabad the forefront of President George Bush's "war on terror" , when Islamabad policy and actions still remain part of the problem .But then the US objective is to stay put in Afghanistan ( Washington is building a new military base in Mazare-Sharif  near the Uzbekistan border , as a strategic threat to Russia, China and others )

Forced to join Washington in its war on terror in end 2001 enraged the extremists and terrorists close to the Taliban and Al Qaeda , leading to three serious attempts on Musharraf's life since then. In July 2007, he had to order  his security forces to storm the Red Mosque with its adjacent Islamic school in Islamabad, resulting in the deaths of more than 100 people. Clerics and students of the mosque were waging an increasingly aggressive campaign to enforce strict Sharia law in Pakistan's capital itself. Earlier clashes between soldiers and Islamic militants in the country's northern tribal regions got escalated with suicide bombings – not that common until then in Pakistan – becoming more commonplace.

President Musharraf challenged and was challenged by others too. His suspension of Chief Justice, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, in March 2007 boomranged badly and triggered huge protests across the length of the country against his flouting of the rule of law. He was forced to back down and reinstate Chaudhry in July 2007. His oft-stated demand to head of the army while remaining the president was then challenged in the courts. His re-election for a new term by the four provincial assemblies and both houses of parliament in October, was not validated by the Supreme Court. Faced with all around opposition ,Musharaff's  lawyers agreed  that he would stand down as army chief once he were re-elected.

President Musharraf was finally forced to leave power in August 2008 after nearly 9 years, when  faced  with the indignity of being impeached by the parliament. Hounded by his enemies in the political groups, the judiciary and civil society ,he first went on a pilgrimage to Mecca , then lectured around the Middle East, Europe and the US, and finally holed down in Britain, which has a big Pakistani Mohajir population. 

Beginning with weak grassroots civil society at the time of independence , Pak polity remains very fragile in facing up to military's pressure and power. The ruling elite still consists of military officers , civil servants , old landlords families and clans and industrialists related to and feeding on each other .So a visit a few years ago by an Indian grassroots politician Bihar Chief Minister Laloo Yadav , son of a poor  office chaprasi ie messenger , something unlikely to happen in Pakistan any time soon elicited much curiosity, attention , surprise and admiration among the common ruled people of Pakistan.

The major political formations which had suffered during Musharraf' rule oppose and pooh-pooh his projected return .President Zardari ( husband of late PM Benazir Bhutto spent long periods in prison) said that Musharraf has no room for his political ventures in Pakistan, and he will remain in exile till he is alive. "As long as we are in the president house, we will continue to avenge the deaths of our martyrs in the farm of democracy, which is the best revenge", added  Zardari .Not very excited with the prospect of Musharraf 's return , the influential Pakistani daily "Dawn" expressed its doubts in a recent editorial and warned him to be prepared to face possible judicial charges.

Another major leader opposed to Musharraf's return ,Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said sarcastically that he was welcome to Pakistan, so that the masses, annoyed with his policies, may extend him his due reception in a worthwhile way. Shahbaz , brother of former PM Nawaz Sharif , who was over thrown and exiled by Musharraf said that the dictator who now vowed to shift the country from darkness to light, did not generate even a unit of electricity in his reign of nine years. Let Musharraf return to see what he had left behind ;inflation, load-shedding, lawlessness, terrorism and dearth .These are  his gifts to the nation and now he apologized for the NRO only, rather than for other blunders. Shahbaz recalled how Musharraf had tried to subdue the most respected institutions of the country like judiciary with a Martial Law like action. The dictator now pledges to bring an end to family politics and nepotism, but the persons with whom he is developing political contacts, are in politics since posterity.

It was Washington led West , Saudi Arabia and other Muslim states , Pakistan and others , even China in the Jihad against Soviet Union in Afghanistan during 1980s who financed , trained and created the monster of terrorism in the region. India has become an unwitting victim of the collateral damage and Indians do not even protest to Washington, which still provides billions of dollars to Islamabad which follows anti-Indian policies and allowed 2611 rape of Mumbai, which with US double agent George Headley as a key planner Washington knew . But pensioners of Washington Consensus outfits are key decision makers in New Delhi. India's strategic policy tethered to Washington has annoyed Tehran , irritated Beijing and Delhi has drifted away from Moscow, unlikely to be an opponent. In nutshell it is a disaster which will become worse when the product of Chicago Jewish machine and a puppet of US banksters , who funded his $500 million election chest comes a visiting India .It is now clear that Washington wants India to make defense and other purchases , with strings attached .which will adversely affect India's freedom and interests .

Rise and fall of Gen Musharraf and his 2008 exile


The author , having spent 10 years in Turkey ,in two tenures as diplomat (1969-73 as number 2 and 1992 -96 as Ambassador ) and then two years as a freelance journalist in Ankara, before shifting to Bucharest, has studied the role of military in politics in Turkey and Pakistan .


After retirement in 1996 , the author had lectured on and written many articles on the role of military in politics and a comparative study of Turkey and Pakistan.


In this piece we shall not look at the declining role of  Turkey's secular military and judiciary , being enforced by Islamist AK party led by its hot headed PM Erdogan with many billions of dollars  of yesil surmaye aka green money provided by Saudi Arabia , where Turkish President Abdullah Gul had worked in its Islamic bank for 7 years before returning and joining politics .The current face off between the secular establishment and the Islamists is not a healthy development and reminds me of Turkey's politics in 1950s under an equally brash Adnan Menderes , who had tried to throttle the role of the military .It was the Turkish armed forces which at the end of  WWI battled to save the present day Turkey from Europe's evil designs to further break it up and succeeded in founding a secular republic under the leadership of Kemal Ataturk .They are vital stakeholders in the secular republic.


There is little possibility of Turkey joining the Europe Union after 119 and the negotiations are being exploited by AKP to dilute the military's role in the polity and humiliate it .This is a dangerous development in Turkey's progress towards democracy . Just look at how religion based policies and Mullahs ( financed and supported by Riyadh) are destroying Pakistan , with delusions of Taliban style fanatic emirates and caliphates in 21  century .Also remember the 1992 elections in Algiers and freezing of the electoral process to thwart the takeover by Islamists , who after almost came into power by ballot but declared the democratic system would be abandoned.


While stationed in Bucharest ,the authors interest was re-ignited in Pak military's reaction in 1998 , when an impetuous and arrogant Nawaz Sharif humiliated the powerful military by first forcing  the military chief Gen Jehangir Karamat resign on a silly pretext. Next year in an even more foolhardy action Sharif tried to replace the new military chief Parvez Musharraf , a Mohajir , whom he had appointed to replace Karamat believing that with little support from majority Punjabi and Pathan military brass , he would dare not carry out a coup .While Musharraf was away in Colombo in October, 1999 , Nawaz dismissed him and appointed a loyal general in his place .He ordered Musharraf's arrest if he returned to Pakistan .Instead the armed forces arrested Nawaz Sharif and thus began Musharraf era in Pakistan , which is unlikely really to end any time soon.


Below  is my very first article penned from Berlin in 1999 ,when Musharraf  took over as the Chief Executive ( verily the country of Pakistan is military property ).He appeared quite unsure and not that media savvy then as he is now , with halting command over Urdu but fluent in Turkish  ,which he had learnt because he had spent 4 impressionable school years as a child in early 1950s in Ankara where he father was posted as a junior diplomat.


I have also followed up with extracts from some of my other articles on Musharraf and Pakistan ; from Indian media like Pioneer,Hindustan Times, Telegraph, Calcutta etc and online media like Turkpulse, Asia Times, Saag,Uruknet .,Turkish Daily News, Ankara, Zaman,Turkey  and scores of others.

K Gajendra Singh, Indian ambassador (retired), served as ambassador to Turkey and Azerbaijan from August 1992 to April 1996. Prior to that, he served terms as ambassador to Jordan, Romania and Senegal. He is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies. Copy right with the author


TURKPULSE No:10 ............................NOVEMBER 21th,  1999

(Used by Delhi's Pioneer  titled 'Uphill task ahead ')

Below is an article by retired Indian Ambassador to Ankara, Gajendra Singh on the latest military coup in Pakistan. As a Turkey expert who has been in this country for over ten years in two different diplomatic assignments and now as a journalist/writer, Ambassador Singh has very interesting observations of the Turkish model in the Islamic world and especially in Pakistan.

Ambassador Gejandra Singh

Guest Writer

Delhi born Gen Pervez Musharraf, the new ruler of Pakistan, has taken upon a much harder task of rescuing his country from "rock bottom" than that faced either by FM Ayub Khan in 1958 or Gen Zia-ul-Haq in 1977. Ayub had taken over at the peak of the Cold War when the fight against Communism rather than the so-called crusade for democracy was the top priority with Pakistan neatly fitting into US strategy. Zia was a pariah until the 1980 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan fell like manna from heaven, allowing Pakistan to complete its nuclear bomb program. Now Pakistan's economic position is desperate and US is more focused on fighting terrorists, who last year bombed its Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, led by the likes of Ben Laden, ensconced among Pak nurtured and backed Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Unfortunately for Pakistan, now detained Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif used his 2/3rd  parliamentary majority to bully the President, bend the higher judiciary to his will and force Gen. Musharraf's predecessor Gen Jahangir Karamat to resign a year ago, but this time around found the Armed Forces united against him. In mooting a decision making National Security Council (NSC) with a say for the Armed Forces, Gen Karamat was only stating a political reality, which might have avoided the recent unsavoury confrontation and the ugly outcome.

The failure now of Sharif, a more representative leader than the professional feudal landlord types and of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto earlier, the two politicians who had the opportunity and political support to lay the foundations of democracy but instead chose despotic ways to steam-roller the check and balance institutions, highlights the inability of the Pakistani mind frame to accept the give and take of a democratic regime.

Gen Musharraf has made it quite clear that the generals are unlikely to let Sharif or Benazir Bhutto back in a hurry and it could be quite some time before another civilian gets a chance.

Gen. Musharraf, soon to visit Turkey, where he did his schooling, has publicly expressed admiration for Kemal Ataturk of Turkey, whom he would like to emulate. After the military take-over, the initial broad based choice of his team so far shows similarities with Turkey's situation after the 1980 coup carried out by Gen Kenan Evren who was shrewd enough to give charge of economy to technocrat Turgut Ozal who turned around Turkey's moribund economy utilising its talented expatriates. Sooner or later the self-styled Chief Executive should move over to the Presidency as did Gen Evren (for 9 years) and then take a couple of years to sort out the mess and usher in a referendum approved new Constitution institutionalising the role of the Armed Forces which cannot be questioned.

As members of Western Alliances Turkey and Pakistan have maintained close relations since 1950s and Pakistani military brass is well aware of the role of the Armed Forces in Turkey. Like Turkey in 1980 (and earlier in 1960) Gen Musharraf's first step was to create a National Security Council (and not a Revolutionary or Redemption Council).

However, proposals to create a NSC are not new and had been mooted in the past. President Gen. Zia ul Haq tried in the 1980s, it was opposed and hence dropped. Another by President Farooq Leghari on 6 January 1997 through a decree, inspired and patterned on the Turkish model, lapsed after the massive electoral victory of Nawaz Sharif. Therefore, Turkey's experience of military in politics is likely to influence the latest way to "real democracy" in Pakistan and has been so acknowledged by Gen. Musharraf himself.

Article 118 of the 1982 Turkish Constitution provides for a ten member (5 from the military) NSC, chaired by the President and in his absence by the Prime Minister. In Turkish Protocol, the Armed Forces Chief of General Staff (CGS) comes next to the Prime Minister and the two along with the President form the triangle, which rules the country. The agenda of the Council meetings is proposed by the Prime Minister and the CGS and only matters of prime importance are discussed. Though not institutionalised like CGS, the position of the Army Chief in Pakistan, originally based on the British colonial pattern but modified by 52 years of experience since independence, half under military regimes, is not so different. In practice his position has remained decisive and certainly more arbitrary.

The Turkish Armed Forces, rooted in a mixture of Ottoman army traditions, modernised and westernised by French and German staff officers were forged into a nationalist fighting force during the War of Independence by Turkey's founder Kemal Ataturk and later to uphold secularism and guard against any tilt either to the left or the right. But Ataturk had ensured that the military men gave up the uniform before joining civilian duties.

After Turkey joined NATO in early 1950s, its Armed Forces have been influenced by the Western practices. Following the first intervention in 1960 when the Prime Minister and two of his colleagues were hanged (as was Bhutto by Gen Zia), in 1971 the Military members of the NSC, egged on by radical junior officers, had forced Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel to resign. A National Govt to carry out radical reform was formed. By the time Army was forced to intervene in 1980, the country was at the edge of an abyss, with more than 1000 people having been killed in left right violence in the previous 6 months. The politicians had literally abdicated their responsibility by refusing to even elect a President of the Republic for months.

Gen Evren sent the discredited political leaders packing and had debarred them from politics, but almost all returned to politics by 1987. It is the general consensus that the Turkish Armed forces have interfered only when things have spun out of control in the Turkish experiment with democracy and after setting things right, have always gone back to the barracks; the Turkish masses also expect them to do so. The Armed Forces enjoy almost total autonomy in their affairs and even the Islamic PM Erbakan had to endure Army's annual (1996) cleansing of officers with suspected religious linkages or proclivities.

Since the 1960 coup, the politicians have slowly worked out a modus vivendi with military leaders with incremental assertion of civilian supremacy. Barring President Celal Bayar, ousted in 1960, most Turkish Presidents had been retired Military chiefs, but first Ozal (1989 to 1993) and since then Demirel have strengthened civilian ascendancy by getting themselves elected Presidents, but have to take note of Military's views in regular NSC meetings.

Unlike the secular Turkish Armed Forces, the Pak Military, though starting with British colonial traditions have become politicised and now Islamised specially at the level of junior officers (as was evident by the bearded soldiers manning the Govt buildings in Pakistan after the latest intervention) with its involvement with Afghan Mujahaddin and terrorist groups and nurturing and bringing up of the Taleban organisation. Many observers fear that instead of the Turkish model Pakistan might end up closer to the Sudanese model with a Turaibi like figure from Jamait-e Islami as an ideologue (Jamait leaders have already expressed their opposition to Musharraf's liking for Kemalism).

Having stoked the fire of Islamic fundamentalism, with its fighters now active all over the world, Pakistan may find that the monster at home can now no longer be contained. In contrast Turkey perhaps closest to the Western perceptions of democracy in the Islamic world had had a long tradition and history of modernisation and westernisation, first during the last century and half of the Ottoman decline with constant interaction and rivalry with European powers, ideas and non Muslim millets. And after the inception of the Republic in 1923 though forced reforms by Ataturk against tremendous odds and religious and conservative opposition. And certainly Muslim religion is an important determinant; for except for Turkey, democracy as understood in West and India has not really taken root in most Islamic countries.

Pakistanis may vehemently deny but the Hindu cultural influence over Pak Islam and psyche is undeniable, i.e. converts from Hindu castes continue to marry among themselves. With a dynamic and aggressive Punjabi (nearly 60 % of Pak population) core personality, in sibling like rivalry, Pakistanis believe that they can do anything better than the Indian Hindus across the border, even in having a democracy. How Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had crowed when Emergency was declared in India in 1975. This remains an important factor in Pak's endeavour to bring back democracy, not withstanding the fact that the movement for Pakistan and certainly the leadership of Pakistan has not emerged from the grassroots like India's Lals and Yadavs. The oligarchy of feudal landlords, bureaucrats, army officers and businessmen still remains the ruling elite, for many massive drug trade profits provide a major source of income from opium grown in Afghanistan and the border provinces of Pakistan (a major chunk of world production).

A complicating factor for Gen. Musharraf is his Mohajir origin (Pakistanis born in what is now India and their descendants, now mostly confined to Karachi and Sindh, persecuted and treated as second class citizens) which coincidentally was a major reason why Sharif had picked him over others. Gen. Musharraf 's two brothers and son have opted for careers in USA and his own father, a former Pakistan diplomat, has become a naturalised US citizen.

Mohajirs in power must appear to be more loyal than the King. An anti-Indian stance if not an obsession, inborn with the creation of Pakistan itself, cultivated and encouraged during the Cold War, should therefore be expected. A silver lining perhaps is Musharraf's greater acceptability by other nationalities of Pakistan, which have felt the heavy hand of Pathan leavened Punjabis.

But Gen Musharraf is no Ataturk, the Gallipoli hero of the First World War and the leader of War of Independence, who after expelling the Ottoman Sultan and abolishing the Caliphate, had concentrated on building a modern nation, totally eschewing all foreign adventures.

 Amb (Rtd) K.Gajendra Singh 6 November 1999, Berlin,