Pakistani media and some people were expecting that after the election, President Pervez Musharraf would be removed and that the war on terror would be stopped. But the situation remains the same as it was before eight years ago.
The News International discussed the situation: Reports of a meeting between the new PPP adviser to the prime minister on internal affairs, Rehman Malik, and attorney general Malik Mohammed Qayyum, in which they discussed a number of hot-button issues, including the Red Mosque and Jamia Hafsa episodes, raise a number of intriguing questions. Malik Qayyum is a diehard loyalist of the old regime and his relations with the PPP have been anything but mutually tolerable. His arguments, public positions and official statements on the issues of the Nov 3 emergency, the PCO, the judges and the judiciary are no secret either. He does not hide his admiration for President Pervez Musharraf and had even publicly stated that if a PPP-led government took over he would quit his office. Normally all such political appointees automatically tender their resignations when governments change as a result of changed mandates. So why is Qayyum still in office and why is the de facto interior minister discussing his administration's policies with a man who should have been shown the exit door a long time back?
Even more intriguing is the fact that while senior appointments have already been made on key bureaucratic positions by the Yusuf Raza Gilani administration, no change has taken place yet in the interior and the law ministries which have to serve as the executive arms with critical roles to play for the new administration. In fact, without a change in this setup nothing on the ground would change. When will the new administration start taking control of vital organs of the state which matter in implementing critical policies? So far, all old incumbents of the previous regime continue to enjoy their positions and are very comfortable with Mr Rehman Malik and the new setup. Does it raise any red flags anywhere in the coalition?
Similarly an impression is fast gaining ground that 1988-type secret conditions are being imposed by the establishment, still being dictated by President Musharraf, to plant dependable players to shadow and monitor the ministries and policy-making institutions which serve the interests of the security and military establishment.
Reports that the outgoing Pakistan ambassador in Washington, a retired major general who was the direct conduit between Mr Musharraf and Washington DC, will now be placed as the prime minister's national security adviser, lend strong credibility to the perception that the PPP-led coalition has agreed to some such conditions before it was allowed to take over the administration. In 1988 a young and inexperienced Benazir Bhutto was forced to accept Sahibzada Yaqoob Khan, VA Jaffarey and many others as the establishment's nominees in her government to ensure continuity and keep a watch. She paid a heavy price for accepting such derogatory conditions. Is there any such deal this time around as well?
It has to be remembered that 2008 is not 1988 and the PPP-led government is not in a position to make any deal unless the other coalition partners, and the people, are taken into confidence. What must immediately be done is that all the discredited functionaries of the old regime including Malik Qayyum, senior officials of the interior ministry, heads of all law enforcement and intelligence agencies under the civilian government must be immediately replaced with men of integrity who can be trusted by the people who voted the new government into power. Any attempt to insult their intelligence will not work.