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Are They Deserving To Be Rulers?

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Kidnapping of soldiers in Waziristan tribal region has jolted the whole tribal belt, but the rulers of Pakistan, instead of taking notice of this serious matter, are busy in power games.

Those personnel, who were kidnapped by Taliban and terrorists, are from tribal areas and while they could fight with terrorists, they are not aiming their guns as they have orders from the high-ups not to fire on Taliban and terrorists.

Actually, terrorists and Taliban are friends of the rulers of Pakistan so they have the "right" to establish a state of terrorism. There are two opinions in the tribal areas: Either terrorists and Taliban are the friends of rulers or they are more powerful than the state.

According to a report, a grand jirga of Mehsud tribes left on Friday for an undisclosed location in South Waziristan to discuss the “kidnapping” of more than 100 soldiers with the Taliban, as security forces launched a crackdown and arrested dozens of Mehsud tribesmen, officials said.

“We are leaving for a meeting with the Taliban after a briefing by government officials,” key tribal negotiator Senator Saleh Shah saidTimes moments after he and several other elders emerged from a meeting with South Waziristan Political Agent Hussainzada Khan. Military spokesman Maj Gen Waheed Arshad said the troops could not reach their base because of a “standoff” between two tribes. “They are neither kidnapped nor missing. They are stranded,” he said. Militant commander Baitullah Mehsud said he was holding the soldiers but gave no details. “There are 72 FC paramilitary jawans and eight army officers among the kidnapped soldiers,” security sources said.

A tribal source in Ladah said that Taliban militants had split the soldiers in small groups and were holding them at different places. Meanwhile, reports said that security forces have arrested dozens of Mehsud tribesmen from various locations.

Pakistani newspapers instead of giving attention to this matter are busy in discussing the power game.  The lust for power have made many angry. A newspaper editorial discussed the issue of who will lead Pakistan in the days to come. It stated that Nawaz Sharif says he will be back in Pakistan on September 10 after a seven-year exile. He has dared the government to stop him when he lands in Islamabad and leads a caravan of buses and cars down the GT road to Lahore. His top partymen have convinced him that he will get a better reception than the one Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry got after getting fired by President General Pervez Musharraf in March this year.

There is no doubt that if he is allowed to make the journey, the PMLN will manage to bring out crowds on the Islamabad-Lahore route. Mr Sharif will make his thundering speeches and salute the newly-gained independence of the judiciary and promise a bright future for democracy in Pakistan without the interference of a “military dictatorship”. He will also arouse public passions that President Musharraf fears as a factor of instability to his own re-election and the general election he prefers holding later this year.

The alignment of opposition forces that the president wished to counteract politically had centered on the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM), comprising the PMLN and the MMA as its core members with the capacity to challenge the Musharraf government in the streets. He was negotiating with the PPP when the APDM was created, which resulted in the PPP declining to agree to the rejectionist agenda favoured by MMA’s president Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Mr Sharif. Qazi Sahib has since announced that his cadres will participate in the welcome given to the Sharif family on September 10.

Meanwhile, the “deal” with the PPP has hit another hurdle. It appears that this one may derail the entire process of aligning the government with the country’s largest political party. Just a day after the nation was told that almost 90 percent of the “deal” was finalised, PMLQ chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain announced that the deal had moved forward only 9 percent. This “minimisation” of what the president was doing through his emissaries clearly indicates the intensity of the anti-“deal” sentiment which the ruling PMLQ has displayed in its sessions with the president.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, came on TV Thursday to roughly belittle the PMLN campaign. He minced no words in expressing his determination to deal with all the consequences of Mr Sharif’s decision to return. He also reiterated his party’s resolve that President Musharraf would be re-elected in uniform and that there would be no withdrawal of the constitutional ban on Ms Bhutto and Mr Sharif becoming prime ministers for a third time. Echoing Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, he also defended the retention of Article 58-2(B) that empowers the president to dismiss any elected government.

The PMLQ is not a monolithic party. It has its rebels who pronounce their anti-Musharraf or anti-Chaudhry opinions quite freely. But there are many who don’t speak up and may have a mind to jump ship if things get too rough for the party in the coming days. There is, of course, some truth in the claim by the PMLN that many government members of parliament and assemblies have pledged to “rejoin” Mr Sharif. Yet the party’s top leadership is aggressively anti-“deal”, including the religious affairs minister, Ejaz-ul Haq, who also thinks President Musharraf has climbed-down in his dealings with India. So the deal has to be signed and sealed in the next day or two.

But if the “deal” is scuttled, what will the political scenario look like? Has the president an alternative? Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has gone — as if to point to an old direction — and met Maulana Fazlur Rehman. It seems very unlikely that the Maulana will be able to deliver an “alternative” to the support which the PPP might have offered in case of a “deal”. For the Maulana to come forth, it will mean breaking ranks within the APDM and the MMA both. He may be able to soft-pedal on the APDM agenda but can’t afford a break from the MMA which is still the trump card of the Pakistani clergy in the coming general elections. Even the Shia parties, whose leaders have been killed by terrorists belonging to the school of thought that dominates the MMA, insist on staying within the fold of the alliance.

It is not known how the PMLQ has negotiated with the Maulana’s stated position, which is pretty close to what Ms Bhutto demanded: presidential re-election without uniform. The Railways Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, is supposed to be the presidential oracle on TV these days and he now says that martial law “is still possible if the PPP-government talks fail”. This points to a realisation in the president’s house — as opposed to Chaudhry Shujaat’s — that taking on Nawaz Sharif and Qazi Hussain Ahmad in the streets of Pakistan, with the PPP equally jostling for an anti-Musharraf profile, is not an option. The new post-September 10 scenario will of course unfold with, according to Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, a “much changed” Supreme Court looking on aggressively.

If confrontation is in the cards, the PMLQ government will also have other elements to contend with. On top of raw “people’s power” on the streets, it will have to contend with the much-emboldened Taliban-Al Qaeda combine. This may bother President Musharraf a bit more than Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, but it will seriously undermine the environment needed to hold elections which are seen as legitimate by all the parties concerned, unless the street power of the opposition can force the president out of office and put in place a “national” government of its choice and a “consensual” election commissioner.

Ironically, few politicians are worried about what will happen to the national economy if the country is engulfed by popular and institutional confrontation. Politicians and the professionals in the services sector are for a revolutionary transformation of governance, but the captains of the national industry with links to the global economy are greatly perturbed by what raw people’s power might do to their production and export targets. There is no doubt that Pakistan is at a crossroads, but this time, because of a better performing economy, the cost of confrontation is higher than ever before.

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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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