"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: Usman_Khalid
Full Name: Brig (R) Usman Khalid
User since: 20/Sep/2007
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Pakistan MUST have a Consensus President  

Pakistan is drowning as its people reach for every straw. Zardari can still save the situation by withdrawing from the contest and allow a consensus candidate, preferably with military background, to assume the high office.


Usman Khalid, Director London Institute of South Asia


Like every other Pakistani, when the PPP nominated Asif Zardari as its candidate, for President, my heart sank. Doom and gloom dominates all walks of life. We are so ecstatic over the unparalleled success of the lawyers' movement for the 'ule of law' until the irony hit us that it is to culminate in an "˜outlaw' becoming the President of Pakistan. Along the way, it would not only be Nawaz Sharif who is beaten at the game of politics; the entire nation feels beaten as its faith in "˜democracy' perished with it. Once again, it was proved that democracy in a country is as good as its political class. And Pakistan's political class is rotten to the core. It is so rotten that every election produces a worse government that the outgoing government. It seemed impossible to have a government less concerned with public opinion or national interest than the Musharraf Administration. But Asif Zardari is a league ahead of him in deviousness and lack of concern. During the six months he has been the de facto ruler of Pakistan, he has only been doing one thing "“ appointing his cronies everywhere.


Like every other Pakistani, I have been eager to find a silver lining in every cloud. When Javed Hashmi, announced his candidacy for President, I eagerly supported him. In politics, he is one of very few who is widely respected. But his party "“ PML (N) - did not even consider him. Then I endorsed the name of former Chief Justice Saeed uz Zaman "“ who was nominated by the PML(N). When the chances of his success evaporated with the JUI(F) and ANP supporting Mr. Zardari for President, I still hoped that Asif Zardari may withdraw in favour of his younger sister "“ Faryal Talpur. Yesterday, as she withdrew from the contest, that hope was also dashed. Clearly, the nightmare of Asif Zardari stepping into the shoes of Musharraf is upon us. I, like every other Pakistani, continue to look for a silver lining. But in the heart of my heart I know that our country is heading for a situation much worse than even that of 1971. 


Pakistanis are used to state that governs by rules and laws. But in the Tribal areas in North West of Pakistan and much of Baluchistan, the laws of the state do not apply and the writ of the government is feeble. Tribal leader and the Mullahs exercise authority in parallel with the state. With electoral process having been extended to these areas, the tribal leaders as well as the Mullahs became a part of the political class as the largesse of the state, they saw, was much bigger in comparison with puny reward of repressing and exploiting the poor and ignorant folks who placed faith in them. Electoral democracy consolidated the political unity of Pakistan. That was until the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Mullah began to get more money from the Arab states and the Americans than Pakistan could ever give them. With the Mullah also becoming a Mujahid, he also got respect and adulation. That started a process that extended to all areas of Pakistan. For want of a better word, I will also use the word in common usage for this process - Islamisation.


Alarmed by the Islamisation of Pakistan, the Soviet Union began to give arms and money to tribes in Balochistan, who they saw are more secular and immune to the charms of Islamisation. They did not succeed much but India took over their role after the Soviet withdrawal. Initially, their support was political but after 9/11, Afghanistan became available to them as their base, the proxy war of India in Balochistan was pursued as "˜counterweight' to what they perceived as Pakistan's proxy war in Kashmir. After General Musharraf sent his Qadiani aide - Tariq Aziz - to India to assure them that Pakistan would no longer give any assistance to the resistance in Kashmir and would henceforth be India's partner in America sponsored "˜war against terror' the decline and fall of Musharraf regime began. America and India started to think of replacing him. They got in touch with Benazir through their agent, Rehman Malik, and got her to agree to perform the tasks given by them to Musharraf i.e.: 1) sideline the struggle in Jammu and Kashmir, 2) commit the entire armed might of Pakistan to fight against the Tailban; 3) and continue to give USA information about the nuclear weapons of Pakistan.


Several "˜informed' columnists have since expressed the view that Benazir was assassinated because she had changed her mind; she was afraid to court the hostility of Afghan resistance that had formidable links in Pakistan. I believe it unlikely the Americans got her killed; it is more probable they connived by not stopping her being killed. Those still looking for a "˜silver lining' hope that after Zardari is formally anointed as the de jure ruler of Pakistan, he will be free and able to look after the interests of Pakistan. With all the minders placed around him by the USA "“ Rehman Malik in the Ministry of Interior, Hussain Haqqani (Pakistan's Ambassador in the USA) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and his predecessor as the National Security Advisor, it seems very unlikely Zardari would be "˜free'. Looking at his record of five months as the de facto ruler, he has single-mindedly pursued the objective of personal control over all the institutions of the state without any scruples or concern for public opinion. That has resulted in huge financial losses to the state, and precipitous decline of the economy and the stock market. The people hoped that the exit of General Musharraf would start a new era of stability and peace but all indication are that Zardari Administration would be a Government of the Criminals, by the Criminals, for Criminals with the USA having dossiers to blackmail all of them.


The armed forces are rightly alarmed that Asif Zadari, with his dark past and repute, would be the President with his finger on the "˜nuclear trigger'. He would already be looking for having cronies in the armed forces to patronize, corrupt and subvert. Highly respected General Ali Quli Khan, who was superceded and "˜playboy' Musharraf appointed as the COAS, addressed a press conference in Rawalpindi on 30 August to demand, on behalf of ex-servicemen (of who I am one) that the 17th Amendment should be repealed before the Presidential Election due on September 6. This should be taken seriously. Asif Zardari would have to regret if he set his press dogs upon him. There is still time for Zardari and his US patrons to prevent a crisis that no one would be able to resolve "“ with force or without it. The armed forces are at the end of their tether having to face death at the hands of their own people and ridicule from the press and the politicians. Pakistan's President is and should continue to be the Supreme Commander of the armed forces. He MUST be a reputable person, non-partisan and honourable, preferably with a background in the military.


I have been concerned with the choice of the next President for over two years because I have been acutely aware that it would be decisive in underpinning (or otherwise) the political stability of Pakistan. I have suggested two names over those two years. One is Syed Ali Geelani, leader of the All Parties Hurriyet Conference in Kashmir, and the other is General Ali Quli Khan.  I did not know two years ago that Kashmir would be on the front burner once again but it is. The two names are more relevant today than ever before. Syed Ali Geelani as President would underline that Kashmiris are a part of our nation and it is our duty to secure for them the right to become a part of country. At this point in time, there is no more important national interest than support for Kashmiri struggle for freedom. General Ali Quli Khan, who was a Corps Commander in Kashmir, also has impeccable credentials to be the President. Let us not forget the adage: those who put anything above national interest, end up failing not only in securing that interest but also what they put above it. Asif Zardari should keep that in mind. If he did become the President on 6 September, he will be the sole ruler and the most powerful person in the country. When those in power do not enjoy respect, the country is unstable. He will be hounded in Pakistan for his failure to honour agreements with coalition partners, and reviled abroad for the huge amount of tainted wealth that he owns. He could yet withdraw from the contest, postpone elections, and allow a consensus candidate to assume the office of the President. ++

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