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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/24/09

The "Pakistani Power Pendulum" (The Real "3P's") - Military to Civilian....and Back - Again

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Message Brock Novak

The 3P's in Pakistan are most commonly associated with the "Pakistan Peoples Party". The author would argue the PPP acronym more relevantly and appropriately be re-cast as the "Pakistani Power Pendulum".

The reason being that it is not President Zardari's (and deceased wife Benazir Bhutto's) PPP political party or any of the other major warring civilian parties PML (N) and PML (Q),  which fundamentally dictates the "swinging" government power base between military to civilian and back. Rather it’s the systemic inbred power pendulum, which predictably swings like clockwork.

This power pendulum has swung violently throughout Pakistan's 60 or so years of independence, and despite all efforts and hopefulness for a stable western style democracy, will continue to do so. Pakistan is not the U.S. Pakistan is not Western Europe. Pakistan is Pakistan. It requires a different approach. Not “Jammed Democracy”. Rather, “Phased (in) Democracy”.

Under Musharraf, Pakistani government power swung wide to the military side, before violently swinging back just as pronounced to the civilian side with Zardari. Zardari riding in on an anti-Musharraf rather than pro-Zardari vote. On that note too and exacerbating Zardari’s ever loosening grip on power and public resentment to his Presidency, is the fact he was not elected by the people but rather by parliamentary representation, where the PPP was the majority party. 

Zardari predictably and increasingly exposes the inherent weakness of Pakistani civilian rule. That is it/he lacks the critically needed dedicated and unwavering underpinning support of the powerful Pakistani military leadership and ISI intelligence services. The result being the country continues to unravel and destabilize, causing the power pendulum to unfortunately swing back towards a need for a strong arm military regime to (re)stabilize. This coming power turn back too military rule then both completing and renewing the power pendulum cycle swing.

As the popular saying goes in Pakistan, "Power in Pakistan flows from the uniform".

Simply, Zardari (and civilian rule in general) is too small to hold a position which is too big for his size. The attached article highlights the Zardari government’s challenges and why it is teetering on collapse; further fed by insurrection stirring from his main civilian competitor Nawaz Sharif, positioning himself to pick up the pieces.

U.S., U.K. Try to Avert Political  Collapse in Pakistan

Adding to Zardari’s woes was his recent (bad bet) decision to sign a regulation legitimizing strict Islamic, or Shari'a, law in the Swat Valley, in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province...arguably a stepping stone in Bin Laden's broader plan/strategy to destabilize the entire subcontinent.

This naive abdication of authority by Zardari was supposedly a compromise with Taliban and Taliban-like zealots terrorizing the valley. Instead, the Taliban not only didn’t lay down their arms as Zardari expected, but instead opportunistically seized upon Zardari’s now shown weak hand, and moved aggressively further into mainstream population centers.

This further evidenced in a recent AP report which noted “Taliban militants from Pakistan's Swat Valley are tightening their grip on a neighboring northwest district closer to the capital of Islamabad — patrolling roads, broadcasting sermons and spreading fear in another sign that a government-backed peace deal has emboldened the extremists to spread their reign.”

An opportunistic Sharif, aided by his brother, sensing a wounded Zardari and intoxicated with the ego driven prospect of a return to power, would fare no better after 6 months (i.e. if he even lasts that long, which he likely wouldn’t, given a complete militant takeover of the country an increasingly real possibility without military intervention, as uniquely this time, a publicly supported military coup) in office given the country’s destabilized and rapidly deteriorating situation, which he too is equally ill equipped to stop. Like Zardari, Sharif lacks the necessary dual military and intelligence services allegiance to ensure sustainability of his Presidency and a restoration of “Pakistani-style” socio-political stability. Therefore, if he succeeds Zardari, his prompt downfall is equally inevitable.

That said, the following article outlined a scenario which becomes more likely with each passing day, with Zardari's power (i.e. civilian government) declining and militant power rising. And not just the tribal areas, but scarily now working its way to the Swat region and throughout the entire country, like cancer metastasizing throughout the human body. A key marker confirming this burgeoning threat and portending country collapse can be seen in the overnight about face change in the attitude of the mainstream moderate Pakistani public towards U.S. drone operations. They’ve abruptly gone from condemning to endorsing these attacks on Taliban/Al Qaeda leadership, nesting in the frontier tribal region.

Pakistan Presidency: The Musharraf (I'll Be Back) Resignation

Just like the movie Hancock, when the main character Hancock prudently chose to do his self imposed exile time rather than fight City Hall and the public who (for the moment) did not want him, Musharraf astutely too voluntarily chose the doghouse. Like Hancock, Musharraf is waiting for the public, Pakistani military (i.e. General Kayani – staunch ally of Musharraf and his hand picked Chief of the Armed Forces, because he has no political aspirations), and international leaders to (re)call him to end the march towards a chaotic and frightening Pakistani collapse. One predictably resulting in Pakistan becoming a de-facto pre-911 Afghani-like Taliban/Al Qaeda militant/training stronghold, made even worse by an uncontrolled inventory of nuclear weapons, falling into those same unstable threatening hands. In fact, Pakistan becoming the most dangerous country on the planet…..if it isn’t already.

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The cleverest of all, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month - Fyodor Dostoyevsky It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously...Some cause happiness wherever (more...)

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