November issue 2006

By | Editorial | Opinion | Published 18 years ago

Even before the dust had settled on the Nawab Bugti incident, the Musharraf government kicked up another raging storm. The missile attack on a madrassah in Bajaur, in which 83 people died, has drawn a wave of criticism and questions from various quarters. The government had no ready answers, and neither was it willing to allow the press into the area to carry out its own investigation.

What seemed to make no sense was the timing of the attack. A peace deal, on the pattern of the one in North Waziristan, was to be signed between the army and the tribal leaders. So who scuttled it?

Is it true that the American drones carried out the deadly mission in a show of displeasure against the increase in Taliban strikes against NATO forces following the deal. If so, to what extent are we going to compromise our sovereignty to serve US interests in the region?

Musharraf insists it was the Pakistan army that undertook the mission to eliminate the jihadis who were being trained to carry out strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If indeed that were the case, why is the army fighting shy of presenting the evidence to stop the rumours that are doing the rounds.

General Musharraf is finding it increasingly difficult to juggle his domestic and international policies, which often present glaring contradictions.

On the one hand, he does not wish to annoy his partners in the war on terror; on the other, his desire to secure himself another term will not allow him to totally sever his links with the mullahs, unless he is able to strike a rapport with his erstwhile enemies among the mainstream political parties.

The manner in which the General’s right hand man, Chaudhary Shujaat, continues to reassure the MMA that the Hudood Ordinances will not be amended, gives an inkling of the double game that continues to be played in the corridors of power. The General wants to keep his options open.

Meanwhile, Karachi is witnessing a game of another sort involving top guns and big bucks. Karachi’s coastline is being sold for peanuts, ostensibly in the name of public development and benefit. The federal government will reportedly be dishing out millions of dollars to provide the infrastructure for what are essentially elitist projects, which would make most public beaches off-limits for the general public.

The least the centre can do for a city that contributes 60 per cent to the country’s exchequer is utilise those millions of dollars to provide basic civic amenities to Karachi’s long-suffering masses.

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.