When politicians on disarray, the generals will enter. That is the show unfolding in Pakistan. Two most important mainstream political parties are in a disarray as the Generals roped in the judiciary and media to sows the seeds of mistrust and confusion. Army’s old loyalist, Hafiz Saeed, has been tasked to raise a political front which he has promptly done and his candidate even contested the by-elections to Lahore recently, and came third. Since then he has been consolidating his position. Dr Sakariya Kareem analysing the political crisis in Pakistan for Asian Lite News
The Generals have already declared the election season. Two most important mainstream political parties are in a disarray, thanks to how the Generals roped in the judiciary and media to sows the seeds of disarray and confusion. Old loyalist, Hafiz Saeed, has been tasked to raise a political front which he has promptly done and his candidate even contested the by-elections to Lahore recently, and came third. Since then he has been consolidating his position.
Now old, loyal mullahs have been dusted and brought out. There is now the talk of reviving the dead horse, the MuttahidaMajlis-e-Amal (MMA), for the elections next year. Going by the feverish behind-the-scenes machinations, the Generals are making doubly sure that when the elections happen, they should be holding all the cards. They don’t really trust their agents—the mullahs who are all highly ambitious and can, if given a chance, upset the Army’s apple cart.
The objective of the Generals is quite simple. They want to let the mullahs out into the street, create a scare not in Pakistan but outside, in Washington, in Beijing, in London or other places where there is considerable expertise on Pakistan but hardly any wisdom. They would be too willing, and content, to have the Generals control the mess called Pakistan. What they don’t want is a coup or a General taking over the country. The patrons of the Generals won’t like it. As long as the Generals keep themselves to their headquarters and not move into the National Assembly, everything is status quo.
The Generals are now adept at this game. This time, they are planning their moves a little in advance. This planning is nowhere more visible than in Islamabad which, for the past one week, has been under siege with the followers of a new favourite mullah, Khadim Hussain Rizvi. Known for his highly vitriolic sermons, Rizvi had set up a new political outfit by the name of Tehreek-Labbaik-Ya-Rasool Allah, or TLY. Rizvi came into prominence when his group began eulogising Mumtaz Qadri, a rogue policeman who shot former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer for his opposition to the blasphemy laws. Rizvi’s main plan in the coming elections would be blasphemy laws.
The Generals should be worried about this new rabid mullah but going by the freedom with which Rizvi and his groups are holding Islamabad hostage tells a different story. A journalist wrote: “While the clerics blast the civil and military leadership with their highly inflammable harangue, inciting their supporters to violence, there is no sign of the government moving against them. Seldom has one witnessed such a state of inertia with the security agencies unable to act against even a small group of zealots paralysing the seat of government.“
It is not the first time that Rizvi and his rabid group has been allowed to lay a siege across Islamabad and then let off lightly. They had occupied Islamabad’s D Chowk for several days and had to be persuaded to vacate the capital; there was no question of Rizvi or his men being punished. This only emboldened the group which, this time, decided to march into the capital from Lahore and found that they were literally welcomed back—there was no one to stop them.
Noted columnist, Zahid Hussain commented that “It is a tragic commentary on our state policy which gives such leeway to a group that glorifies a murderer and exhorts its supporters to follow his example. The siege of Islamabad gives some insight into the shape of things to come.“
Rizvi and his men are not the only monsters who are being raised and fed for the general elections, the mothballed MMA is also being revived feverishly. This is apparently being staged to pit one extremist group against another while the Generals run the show. Hafiz Saeed and his terrorist group are already in fray. The Daily Times, a well-known English daily, asked whether there was any “hidden factors at play“ in making “ leaders of these and other parties agreed to work towards forming an alliance out of nowhere“.
One such indication was given by PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar who said that the MMA was being resurrected as part of project to revive Taliban and who else but `establishment` –Pakistan Army–was behind it.
There is enough heft in Babar’s statement as unfolding events show. For instance, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak recently met the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana SamiulHaq Haq is a known Taliban sympathiser and has worked closely with Pakistan Army since the Afghan Jihad days. In fact, seminary at Akora Khattak run by him acted as a nursery of `mujahideen` and later the Taliban. More significantly, Khattak’s meeting was preceded by a meeting between Haq and a former ISI officer, Major Mohammad Amir. A former head of ISI’s Islamabad office, Amir has a strong network of seminars which his father, Maulana Tahir, had set up in the north-western frontier areas of the country. Many Taliban and terrorists operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan are followers of Tahir. Major Amir has not been shy of disclosing his agenda either—he told the media that “this is the time to put our heads together and work collectively for the rights of Muslims and against those who want to harm this pious religion”.
How these developments would evolve is too early to state but it is clear that the Generals are going to toss the people of Pakistan to the wolves again, to prove that only they can save them. This move will not only endanger Pakistan but also the region and the world as a whole.