While tracking back the archives for the year 2012 of ‘India Today’ magazine, I came across some interesting ‘cover stories’ pertaining either to Pakistan or the relations between India and Pakistan. This post will provide a review of all those cover stories in series:
Cover Stories: * Pakistan Crisis, * Greed vs Guns, *Deliberate attempt to incite a Coup *It takes three to Tango, *Judge Dread
*Pakistan Crisis The cover stories begin by sharing the views of leading Pakistani journalist/columnist and anchor person Naseem Zehra and political anaylst, Farrukh Saleem. Both of them describe the tense political atmosphere among the judiciary, parliament and the army in the wake of memo-gate scandal and the US NAVY SEALs raid in Abbottabad. Farrukh Saleem relates this situation with the ‘Game Theory’ in which all the three entities (namely Supreme Court, General Head Quarters and the ruling Pakistan People’s Party) tend to look after their vested interests. Naseem Zehra, opines that the Judiciary and the Army are on the same page and the Parliament is being used by the ‘government’ against the ‘army-judiciary’ duo.
*Greed vs Guns This piece negates the idea that the meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani on January 14, 2012 was related to the security concerns. It builds the opinion that a military coup was warded off by the President on the condition that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani will not serve as the premier of Pakistan for long. The reason, as presented, lies in the resentment of the COAS against Prime Minister Gillani for his criticism on the army chief’s stance over the ‘memo-gate’ issue in the court. Interestingly, the author mentions that if there had been a ‘coup’, it would have been unique in the Pakistani context. Kayani would have brought a ‘national government’ consisting of ‘non-PPP parties’.
In a historical context, ‘Greeds and Guns’, refers to the perpetual rivalry dwelling in the way of army as ‘an institution’ and Bhuttos as a ‘family’. The narrative argues that Gillani had been following the orders of Zardari (on the Swiss bank case) instead of the Supreme Court and he deserved the notice of ‘contempt of court’.
Related to the reopening of graft-cases against President Zardari, the following statistics were found in the article:
- A report prepared by Pakistan’s secret agencies estimates that the Bhutto family allegedly stashed away more than $1.5 billion (Rs.7,500 crore) in Swiss bank accounts. Close aides of Zardari term him a person of “great lust” for whom “money is everything”.
- He owns mansions on either side of the English channel. The 365-acre Rockwood estate with a $6.5 million (Rs.32.5 crore) mansion and two farms in Surrey, Britain, and a 16th century chateau in Normandy, France. But it is two specific charges of corruption-a Swiss money-laundering inquiry and a British civil case-that continue to haunt the Zardari presidency.
- In 2003, a Swiss magistrate declared he had evidence against Zardari and Bhutto after pursuing a money trail from offshore companies in the Caribbean to banks in Geneva to a jewellery shop. The judge convicted Zardari and Bhutto of money laundering in absentia. He connected Zardari to a chain of corruption cases that began with two Swiss firms which funnelled $11.9 million (Rs.59.5 crore) in bribes to bank accounts in Geneva via three offshore firms in the British Virgin Islands.
The complex and intricate nature of governance in the country is due to the clash between the institutions. Sandeep Unnithan and Qaswar Abbas go further by attributing the collision of institutions with lack of credibility, governance- inefficacy of Pakistan’s establishment and Pakistan’s hand-to-mouth existence that too through the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
On the international fore front, authors state that the Pakistani public does not support the US-Pak relationship. The drone strikes coupled with the memo-gate issue escalated anti-American sentiments. As quoted in ‘Greed vs Gun';
A popular SMS doing the rounds reads, “America ka jo yaar hai, gaddar hi gaddar hai” (A friend of America is a traitor). The implication: Zardari had betrayed the nation by seeking foreign help. The overseas troika of China, US and Saudi Arabia, key players in Pakistan’s stability, kept a low profile. A US envoy who attempted to visit Pakistan during the ongoing crisis was snubbed, indicating Washington’s diminishing leverage with its ally. There are indications that Zardari’s frequent trips to Dubai may have to do with secret meetings with the powerful Saudi royals.
* Deliberate attempt to Incite a Coup
Imran Khan, Politician The government must step down and let the people decide.
Ahmed Quraishi, Defence Analyst The elected government was deliberately provoking a military coup and to come out as martyrs of pro-democracy.The PPP knows that it’ll lose the cases filed against it.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Ex-foreign minister Zardar’s obstinate and dictatorial approach has created a chance of ‘class among key institutions’. He should obey the orders of the Supreme Court.
Shireen M. Mazari, Geostrategist The Pakistani government should have implemented the Supreme Court verdict in true spirit; rather, it has ignited a fight with the army just to earn the sympathy of the masses in view of the forthcoming general elections.
* It takes three to tango
Madiha Sattar, Journalist Pakistan is seeing a 21st-century version of its lifelong problem of clash-of-institutions.
Aftab Khan Sherpao, Former minister The government was getting into a conflict with state institutions only to divert the masses’ attention from the National Reconciliation Ordinance implementation and Memogate case.
* Judge Dread
Memogate: Pakistan’s CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry puts the fear of judiciary into the executive, Qaswar Abbas.
Courtesy: India Today Magazine, January 30, 2012.