September Issue 2007

By | Opinion | Viewpoint | Published 14 years ago

The Musharraf government is desperate and determined to make it to the winning post with or without his uniform — and in any which way.

The manner of its deportation of Nawaz Sharif smacks of total contempt for the Supreme Court, which had ruled that Sharif had an “inalienable right” to enter and remain in the country.

Moreover, to fly in the Saudi intelligence chief to wave the purported deal of the exiled former prime minister before a group of mediamen to exert pressure on him, and to allow the US to allegedly dictate the composition of the future Pakistani dispensation (plus Bhutto minus Sharif), raises disturbing questions about Pakistan’s sovereignty and the lengths to which this government is prepared to go in order to keep out anyone who poses a potent threat to its power base.

Drawing sustenance from the centre’s intimidatory tactics, the MQM, its coalition partner, which was lying low after damning evidence of its involvement in the May 12 carnage, has begun to flex its muscles yet again. In a move reminiscent of the Sharif episode, it sent Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief, Imran Khan, back to Lahore and banned his entry into Karachi, for the second time, on the grounds that his presence would disrupt public peace.

So, will Pakistani citizens now have to secure visas or permits for inter-city travel within the country?

The MQM has not learnt any lessons from its bloody past. In yet another show of strength, it ordered hundreds of its activists to storm the Sindh High Court when it was in session on the events of May 12 — ostensibly to scare away the judges and force adjournment of the hearing. But that was not the end of the story. An anti-government lawyer was shot dead, and others were reportedly threatened with dire consequences. Is there a plan on the anvil to rein in the judiciary?

The MQM is back to its old tactics, but the centre is not unduly concerned. It is preoccupied with battles of its own. While Musharraf attempts to strike a deal with Ms Bhutto, the PML(Q) is struggling to keep its MNAs from flying the coop.

And as for the general himself, he, too, is engrossed in juggling the demands of Ms Bhutto with the demands of the Chaudhrys and lotas and the orders of his masters in the war on terror.

Meanwhile, the situation in the country is spinning out of control. Security personnel are being kidnapped or blown up by 13- and 15-year-old suicide bombers; beauty parlours, barber shops and video outfits are being targeted — and in one of the most chilling incidents in recent times, two women were beheaded in Bannu on charges of being involved in immoral activities. In short, the law of the jungle prevails. So why would anyone want to vote for the present dispensation, with or without uniform?

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