Monday, September 1, 2014

Turmoil in Pakistan again; A soft Military Coup a possibility!



Turmoil in Pakistan again; A soft Military Coup a possibility!

A tale of three cities; Islamabad, Ankara and Cairo


According to media reports (31August midnight) political turmoil in Pakistan has further intensified with strong likelihood of the intervention of Pakistan Army as violence is increasing in political standoff with police who took action against protesters who stormed Parliament building last night.


Pakistan Army has a long history to destabilize democracy and parliament in Pakistan .It is claimed that the army is playing a positive role this time to shun off political crises because the government of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and the opposition in Parliament believe that Pakistan is becoming victim of an international conspiracy to destroy institutions in Pakistan like certain powers did in Libya, Egypt and Syria. (This is one view)


"Thousands of protesters of Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) ransacked boundary wall of the Parliament House with a crane and one truck and entered into premises after their leaders Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri directed them to take over the control of Parliament House and the Prime Minister House. Around 450 persons were injured including 380 protesters and 70 policemen. Police and protesters clashes are still underway outside Parliament House in Red Zone since last night. At least 3 persons were killed.


The fighting continued Sunday between police in riot gear and a few hundred protesters. Many protesters came armed with batons and slingshots loaded with marbles.


Shipping containers were set ablaze, several vehicles were torched, and hundreds of tear gas canisters lay strewn on the ground on Islamabad's normally pristine Constitution Avenue after almost 24 hours of battle. By nightfall on Sunday protesters were preparing for fresh clashes, breaking up the road to use chunks as missiles and preparing crude gas masks from cloth and plastic bottles.


Opposition groups marched to the capital on August 15 demanding Sharif's resignation, triggering a crisis that has raised the specter of military intervention.


Pakistan's top military commanders convened a special meeting Sunday night .They reviewed the situation in Islamabad "with serious concern" and reaffirmed their support for democracy, according to the ISPR. "The conference reviewed with serious concern, the existing political crisis and the violent turn it has taken, resulting in large scale injuries and loss of lives. Further use of force will only aggravate the problem," it said in a statement issued after the meeting. According to the ISPR, the military has urged the government to resolve the situation "politically without wasting any time and without recourse to violent means."


The prime minister has also convened an extraordinary joint sitting of Parliament on Tuesday after presiding over a high-level meeting, a cabinet minister told AFP. "The meeting strongly condemned the desecration of state institutions and declared it undemocratic and unconstitutional," the minister said.


Opposition leaders claim the 2013 elections that swept Nawaz Sharif to power were rigged, though local and foreign observers rated the polls as relatively fair and credible.


Speaking from the roof of a shipping container Sunday, Khan said: "Now I ask all Pakistanis: rise up against this government. This is not a constitutional government—they are killers. We will continue until our last breath. I urge all Pakistanis to come out." The cricketer-turned-politician added that he would file murder charges against the prime minister over the violence.


The security situation has deteriorated in the capital.


It appears that the climax being built up by Imran Khan, former cricketers and Qadri has obviously been allowed to happen by the Pakistan military, which has ruled directly the British midwifed state then taken over by USA, for 38 years since its independence in 1947, and indirectly through most of the rest of the time.


It would be useful and necessary to look at the tussle between military and civilian political parties from the angle of overall changes which have been happening in the Islamic world, especially where the military has played a controlling or a major role. Thus, developments in Pakistan should be looked at along with the developments in Egypt and Turkey, all three Sunni countries.

Historical background of Revealed Religions and parallels
Of the oldest of the three revealed religions, Judaism's only state since ancient times , Israel , founded on leftist tenets has since morphed into a rule by Zionist-Military oligarchy. Christians after centuries of warfare in Europe managed to create secular polities which are still underpinned if not haunted by sectional religious ideologies. In the last of 'the Book' based polity Islam, the lines between the Mir and the Pir ,the temporal ruler and spiritual ruler still remain blurred ,contested and changing.
After the 1979 revolution in Iran, Shias created the ideal but mythical office of Imam in the person of Ruhoallah Khomeini. The status of the Imam was evolved into the doctrines of intercession and infallibility, i.e., of the faqih/mutjahid .But the Iranians have since found that a system based on the concepts of 7th century AD was inadequate to confront and solve the problems of 21st century. Nevertheless, like the first Imam Ali, Iran is ruled by the supreme religious leader, Ali Khameini, who incidentally is Azeri Turk .The cement keeping Iran united now is its common heritage and Islam.

Prophet Mohammad was both the religious leader and military commander. But the Arab Caliphs lost out on power by 10th century to the Turkish slaves from central Asia who formed the core of their fighting forces .The Turks raised the minor title of Sultan to a high rank who literally became a protector of the Caliph, left with only spiritual powers. Even this role was seized by the Ottoman Sultans ruling from Istanbul.

After the defeat of Byzantines near lake Van in 11th century, the Seljuk hordes established a Rumi Caliphate at Konya in the centre of modern day Turkey But they had to brutally suppress religious leaders' rebellions many times .To keep out the energetic soldiers and freelance militias instigated by fanatic religious leaders, Konya sent them out as Ghazis to harass neighboring Christian Byzantine territories. Out of these freebooters emerged a small band led by Ertugrul, whose small principality was expanded by his son Osman (Othman) and descendents into Europe right up to the gates of Vienna and along South Mediterranean up to Morocco and east up to Iran border and Oman on the Indian Ocean.

Since the turmoil brought by U.S.-led West and Saudi Arabia led Muslim countries, who used Pakistan under its fanatic dictator, Gen Zia ul Huq to push out Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1980s, the people of Afghanistan have paid a very heavy price, which have been mirrored in Pakistan as well .In Islamabad Saudi Arabia and USA play an important role. In fact, I have maintained that the axis between Washington ,Riyadh and Islamabad have brought mayhem and destruction in West Asia and South West Asia with neighboring countries like India, Iran and others suffering from collateral damage. To these three countries can be added US poodle United Kingdom directly, which misguides Washington and picks up the remains of vulture kill, and Israel indirectly.


In Egypt, in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring, after a spell by Muslim Brotherhood, the army, which has ruled Cairo, has come back to power. Once again, the brotherhood has been outlawed and its leaders imprisoned. Only during Gamal Abdel Nasser regime people's welfare was looked after and it was a proud nation. Since then military has joined the rich and wealthy. It has very little resources to maintain its massive population unless pro-development investment by Russia, already promised and or one day tens of many billions of dollars by China pull this nation out of misery.


As for Turkey, Islamist parties first under Necemettin  Erbakan, slowly increased its influences and power though coalition governments with secular parties , and finally his true disciples Erdogan and Abdullah Gul, with massive monetary support from Saudi Arabia, where Gul worked in an Islamic bank for many years, obtained a massive majority in the 2002 November  elections, winning two third of seats with only 34% of votes, because of a crooked threshold system, which deprives parties getting less than 10% votes from getting any seats in the parliament. The other party Republican People's party which got 16% of votes, won rest of the seats. Nearly 50% of votes polled went waste.


Since then, AKP, under the authoritarian Islamist leader Erdogan has gained in strength. He has moved away from his partner Fatheullah Gulen, as soft Islamist leader staying in USA .Erdogan is trying to sideline moderate Abdullah Gul, from whom he has taken over as the President on 29 August.


In the meantime Erdogan has humiliated scores of senior military officers, including chiefs of armed forces even those who had served under him. I do not think that the armed forces will take it lying down and after some time try to redress the balance. Almost all the internal and external policies being pursued by Erdogan are slouching towards turmoil and unforeseen developments and results


I am sure Erdogan is watching what is happening in Islamabad. He was quite cutup after Field Marshal el-Sisi banned  the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt and jailed its leadership. The likely changes in Islamabad are not going to make Erdogan very happy.


I was in Berlin in 1999 to see my grandchildren when I watched the overthrow of Nawaz Sharif by Gen. Pervez Musharraf... I am reproducing below that article to remind readers what happened nearly 25 years ago.


The tussle between the spiritual/civilian /Islamic leader and the military commander will see many ups and downs in major Sunni Islamic countries before some kind of balance is struck and powers separated. The change in Ankara has been too fast and abrupt. Before AKP bulldozed its way to the presidency, the earlier secular leaders had slowly worked out a modus Vivendi and the President before Abdullah Gul was retired Chief Justice of Turkey's highest constitutional court, which still has been able to maintain its integrity and impartiality, in spite of all the efforts by AKP.


Watch for this space.


K.Gajendra Singh 1 September, 2014

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 Gajendra 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 Minister 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 unsavory 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 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 utilizing 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 institutionalizing 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,