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Are Rulers Committing Crimes?

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The war of words among the coalition partners in war against terrorism has been causing more death and destruction. There are still crucial matters, which have to be resolved. The United States and Pakistan still have many differences on some matters.

According to a statement issued by an official news agency, President Musharraf has showed some reservations over the US official statements. President General Pervez Musharraf said on Thursday that only Pakistani forces would conduct operations against suspected militant hideouts in Pakistan.

Talking to a delegation led by Commander of Special Operations Command Admiral Eric T Olson, and US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W Patterson here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, President Musharraf expressed concern at statements in the US media that conveyed an impression that NATO forces had the permission to operate inside Pakistani territory.

“The president re-emphasised that all operations that are required to be undertaken in Pakistani territory will be executed by the Pakistani forces,” said a statement issued at the end of the meeting.

Admiral Olson, who had seen exercises by Pakistani Special Services Group commandos, told President Musharraf that he was impressed by their professional abilities. He also assured the president of intelligence and operational coordination between the Pakistan Army and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

According to the tribesmen, the matter of tribal areas should be discussed and whether or not the tribal areas are a part of Pakistan.  If the tribal areas are seen as part of Pakistan, then Pakistani rulers have the responsibility to provide security to people of these areas. The US should take up this matter with Pakistan.

The situation in Pakistan is also fluid. In the present circumstances, Pakistan cannot play a role in the tribal areas. In an insight of political writer Ejaz Haider the political situation of Pakistan has been discussed. He stated that Pakistan’s politics today, to put it broadly, is divided between two camps: transitionists and transformationists. But it is not an equal division, with the transformationists far outweighing the other camp. Why?

The quasi-democratic regime has worked hard at discrediting itself and lost support across the board. There is a sense among people that this is the time to deliver the coup de grace; that nothing less will, or must, do.

Implied in this thinking are several strands. Consider.

Anyone who opposes the final solution is undemocratic, perish the thought that there might be no a priori connection between advising caution and being opposed to democracy (consider, for instance, religious parties that are in the forefront of this campaign to rid the country of the current dictatorship!).

The principal contradiction for the transformationists still resides in the civil-military divide. According to them, the argument that extremism may pose a threat to this country is misplaced. Indeed, those who consider otherwise, the liberals — let’s lump various categories under this generic rubric — are a greater danger to the future of this country than the so-called extremists.

This particular argument is made in a very interesting manner: since the military has been using these groups for pushing its security agenda, it is naïve to think that it would move to put them down. The argument does concede the existence of extremism and possibly the need to eradicate it, but refutes that this can be done without throwing out the military. For this, it visits the original sin.

But that is not all. It then, in most cases, goes on to link the threat to President Musharraf’s policy of allying Pakistan with the United States. The implication here is that with Musharraf and the US gone, extremism will simply vanish.

Leaving aside the debate over whether the current literalist threat is reactive or pro-active, the problem is that while Musharraf may go or be sent home, the US may not be amenable to leaving on our advice. So, unless the new dispensation can take on the US, which requires careful policy analysis rather than mere venting of spleen, extremism is likely to stay and threaten the polity. And just in case another implication has been missed out, this argument also nullifies its own earlier premise.

The transformationists also wonder what is so important about Musharraf given his dossier. This argument ignores two facts: no one is trying to save Musharraf; it could well have been another army chief; two, it is the presence of the army chief in a particular position at a particular point in time which is of essence — not Musharraf’s person.

Are the transformationists right? Yes and no. They are right in emphasizing civilian supremacy; they are also correct in blaming the army for creating this bedlam. But that is where it ends. No one denies that the army should be subservient to the civilians; neither is there any dispute about who is to blame for the current mess. Running the country, however, is not about being right about the ideals. It’s about tackling a situation as it stands and working within the given. And the given goes as under.

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Muhammad Khurshid, a resident of Bajaur District, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border is journalist by profession. He contributes articles and news stories to various online and print newspapers. His subject matter is terrorism. He is (more...)

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