For four of its six decades since independence Pakistan was ruled by its Generals. And every General had with him an agenda of ‘bringing peace and stability to his nation.’ If anything was never achieved by them it was the same ‘peace and stability’. Situation is no different in Pakistan, even today, under its current dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf, whom people have provided different adjectives including: ‘stooge of Americans’, ‘disguised fundamentalist’, ‘cunning opportunist’ and a ‘perfect chameleon’.
When a person in any nation rises to a level of dictator, he needs a reason to justify his takeover of that particular country by force. Gen Zia-ul-Haq, then, had a very simple logic for this: While he promised his citizens corruption free governance by instituting Shariah (Islamic law); he was also quick to convince the Americans of his being an ‘ideal ally’ to help them fight against their arch rivals – Soviets, then, in Afghanistan. The same logic was followed by Musharraf with little modification.
For those who are unaware: Musharraf and Zia are both products of British India. Both military rulers who suspended the constitution and banned political activity; both of whose armies remained their primary constituencies; both shunned by the Western world; neither of whose governments was doing well. Their economies were stagnant; international aid and investment ground to a halt; their governments were expelled from the Commonwealth. Then, as the phoenix rose from the ashes, both were reborn; now, Musharraf; then Zia, twenty years before, during Washington’s first Afghan War.
When Musharraf assumed the power, the world was beginning to feel the force of a ‘Militant Islam’. Hence he had to find a golden middle path. Adopting pro-Islamic stance, like that of Zia, in those circumstances could have been self-defeating to him. Hence, he had in front him a perfect dilemma, when he took over the reigns of governance from, then Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, to assume the role of chief executive – a misleadingly modest title created specifically for him – was, also, not really an easy one for him to adopt.
He was at that point of time uncertain as how should he project himself: Should he be the secularist, the bridge-playing sketch artist with two pet dogs? (As dogs are considered impure in Islam and Musharraf’s appearance for photographers with his Pekinese provoked a collective howl from the mullahs.) One of the last British-style, aristocratic generals trained in the West? Look like an ideological protégé of the founder of modern, secular Turkey, Kemal Ataturk? Or should he be the impetuous commando and architect of a 1999 campaign to infiltrate Indian-controlled Kashmir, a covert operation in and around mountain peaks of Kargil, which nearly led to a fourth Indo-Pakistani war? From the circumstantial circumstances I assume that he might have favoured to appear as the ideological protégé of Ataturk, simply because it would help him to gain momentum and build confidence for himself in the International circles and America in specific.
But though he convinced Americans and made them his new comrades, with this appearance, back home the mullahs were completely unhappy over this development – of his being an ally to Americans. The unhappiness grew to phenomenal proportions after he withdrew his support to then Taliban regime in Afghanistan under pressure from the Bush administration. His relation with the Mullah’s has remained sour ever since then.
To add more salt to his wound he had to forge an agreement with former Premier of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto, thanks to indirect American compulsion, for holding a Democratic Election. As we all know, there was a bomb blast at her reception rally. Whether the General orchestrated the entire situation is still a critical question waiting to be answered precisely with evidence. But a closer look at the situation, of Bhutto being target of the bomb and the recent imposition of ‘Emergency’, may seem that General expected the former premier to be dead in the blast (if he had it planned), to take from it an excuse to impose ‘Emergency’. It could be that when it failed, he might not have thought of a ‘Plan B’, in advance, paving way for the delay in implementation of emergency, which was declared a few days later.
Reports from Pakistan are confirming, increasingly, that General is hardly able to control any places in the country except Sind and Punjab provinces. While Baluchistan has increasingly admitted its intention of being a free nation, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) is today being dominated strongly by the Taliban Militia, from whom the General has faced several, though foiled, attempt on his life. Recently in NWFP Taliban raided a local police station and hoisted its flag by thrashing Pakistani flag.
If one more assassination attempt is staged and Musharraf is dead, then it is hard to believe that election would be held and a democratic government will be formed. There are more chances of Taliban taking over the country, as they had done in Afghanistan in 1990s. The difference between the two, i.e. of taking over Afghanistan then and Pakistan now, would be that: while Afghanistan never had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Pakistan has with it several weapons which may well be utilized for terrorist endeavours. The menace is then masqueraded not just towards India but to the whole world. Imagining world thereafter would certainly be beyond our understandings.
To imagine a situation like this is certainly scary but it may be very much possible in the very near future. It would also be unwise to say that Americans have not ascertained this possibility. To justify: In 2001, Marine Corps General Anthony C. Zinni, the Bush Administration’s peace envoy to Middle East and the retired head of the U.S. Central Command was found on record saying ‘My worry is that Musharraf may be the last hope for Pakistan,’ adding ‘The pressure he faces are extreme: the economic conditions in Pakistan, the tensions with India, the country’s relationship with the United States. If he fails in carrying out his reforms and putting Pakistan back on track, I can foresee three worst-case scenarios: the true military hard-liners will take over; the religious hard-liners will take over, and we’ll see a theocracy like Iran; or Pakistan will be faced with complete chaos and fall apart. Then we’ll have another failed stated in the region, like Afghanistan. And any of these scenarios will be extremely dangerous for the United States.’
Now that we know that Americans have ascertained this possibility, of Pakistan taking over by radicals, then they would even be prepared to invade Pakistan, this time around with a perfect reason ‘To secure Weapons of Mass Destruction and prevent it from falling into the hands of terrorists’.
History, time and again, has proved how Pakistan was transformed into a breeding ground for international terrorists. Intelligence Reports have confirmed the fact that: 128 military training camps now dot the valleys and mountains of Pakistan. More than a thousand eager young men through them each year, join the ranks of some sixty to hundred thousand Islamic militants who have fought or trained in Afghanistan and then, well armed, returned home to Pakistan. They were once proxies of various Pakistani governments that, since days of Gen Zia, have used and nurtured Islamic militancy for reasons of state. Thus far, Musharraf’s military regime had been unwilling, to rein them in.
Most importantly: if the world faces today a possible ‘Nuclear Terrorism’, i.e. acquiring and triggering of a nuclear devise by a terrorist outfit, it is certainly due to the efforts of Pakistani Nuclear Scientist, A Q Khan, who also called the Pakistani Bomb ‘The first Islamic Nuclear Bomb’. Khan under cover of Pakistan Army and other establishments travelled to various countries in the Middle East and Asia only to transfer hazardous nuclear- weapon technology to the countries against the world order including Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Libya. This also makes Pakistan ‘the epicentre of international terror.’
The Invasion of Pakistan by Americans is a possible outcome. It would be rather ‘when’ than ‘if’ from now on, thanks to the current imposition of Emergency in Pakistan – the face of international politics is sure to change phenomenally. Let us all hope and pray that it is for good.
The Author is Editor-in-chief of ‘Aseema: Journal for National Resurgence’
U Mahesh Prabhu| November 7, 2007 | firstname.lastname@example.org