happy to visit Dam-flooded Balochistan on Saturday, Feb 12
Plight of a General and His Clueless Army
February 13: If a politically enlightened crow flew South to North
non-stop across Pakistan today, entering the country on the Arabian
Sea coastline, it would see a picture that would contain the following
Balochistan is awash with a burst dam with hundreds missing and
thousands crying for help. Scared officials and administrators
are trying to mute demands to probe why the Dam gave in.
- Further North, Balochistan either is under darkness, with no
power supply. The frequent flickers of light are bombs and rockets
fired by angry tribesmen on railway tracks, electricity towers,
gas pipelines or other government or Army targets.
- In Quetta Corps Headquarters, Generals and their juniors are
wondering where the next billion will come from and what mark
up they can negotiate in their next real estate deal.
- The political coalition government with Mullas is wondering
when they may get the marching orders by the Governor and the
Chief Minister is losing sleep about who will succeed him in a
‘democratic’ shuffle ordered by Islamabad.
- The Tribal Sardars are gearing up for an Army assault and trying
to reactivate their links to foreign suppliers and supporters
in case they had to fight a long entrenched bloody war.
Common man in Balochistan is wondering what has hit him as it
is hard for him to survive the rising cost of living and growing
anarchy in the society.
- Enter Waziristan the first image is of total confusion in Army
ranks. It is handing out dollars by the million to rebel fighters
to repay debts of Al Qaeda’s “foreign militants”.
Until yesterday Al Qaeda and these militants were targets of helicopter
gun ships. Something has changed quickly.
Army Generals are again holding jirgas with tribes who go back
from their meetings and start firing at Army vehicles. In 9 months
of Army Operation, the child born is a half million dollar gift
to cash-strapped Al Qaeda.
- US troops across the Afghan borders are unhappy because Pak
Army has not rounded up those wanted. Pak troops are unhappy because
US marines routinely enter their territory to chase militants.
Neither of them publicly protests for fear of embarrassment.
- Rest of NWFP is Mulla territory and Talibanization is progressing
at a steady pace with latest law banning clicking pictures of
women. All signboard and hoarding are no longer heterosexual.
A junior Religious Affairs Minister of General Musharraf has already
accused the Mullas they are sexually assaulting children in madrassas.
But this is nothing new for NWFP.
- Common man in NWFP is wondering what has hit him as it is hard
for him to survive the rising cost of living and growing anarchy
in the society.
- Into Punjab and wow, we have the makings of an independent state
where every week a new head of state is paying an official visit
from India without the Islamabad Foreign Office having a clue.
It was Punjab CM, then Haryana, next Chandigarh, next Rabri Devi
because Phoolan Devi is already dead. Or whoever.
- Army is happy that Punjab is peaceful and so they have grabbed
all lands between Lahore and the Indian border at Wagah to be
turned into Defence Housing Societies, commercialized and sold
as plots making billions for the Generals and their cohorts. The
Choudhries running Punjab are more than happy to get their share
and not raise any objections.
- General Musharraf is using the peace in Punjab to run his 2007
election campaign in his uniform. Public meetings are new to him
and he gets so excited he may even accept to address a collection
of all the Lotas (utensils used for abulitions) left
behind after the Tablighi Jamaat congregation of 2 million Muslims
The Choudhries are death scared as Musharraf is talking to Benazir
Bhutto, Asif Zardari and Shahbaz Sharif. What will happen to their
kingdom if these heavyweights enter the ring.
- Basant was such a success for Punjab, even Musharraf forgot
his woes and made a surprise landing at midnight at the roof of
Crow Eaters Gallery, dressed like an Indian Film Hero, with a
long Mughul-style shawl. He was crowded instantly by cuties, rushing
to get closer to his bullet proof vest. Even Bapsi Sidhwa, the
writer had to wait an endless half hour to shake hands. Kite flying
is thus Musharraf’s favorite sports.
Common man in Punjab is wondering what has hit him as it is hard
for him to survive the rising cost of living and growing anarchy
in the society.
- Come Islamabad and here Musharraf is stuck deep in a pond of
what we daily excrete. He has announced elections for Local Bodies
and Nazims in April. He has started secret negotiations with Benazir
and Nawaz Sharif. He is paying Al Qaeda the ‘Khiraj’
(ransom). He has been physically attacked from within his ranks
and cannot move without ordering ‘Handz Zup’ to everybody,
wherever he goes. Even his own Generals are body searched and
stripped for hidden guns. It is a day to day existence.
- His problems begin where he thinks they will end. His talks
with Benazir and Asif are all on “her terms”. She
wants a guarantee that elections will be free and fair and not
engineered like 2002. As a test she wants the Local Bodies elections
to be made a sample.
- Musharraf cannot afford a free and fair LB poll as that would
mean BB and Nawaz would sweep away so many Nazims, the grassroots
seat of power as he says, BB will be firmly rooted for a late
2006 or early 2007 general election. He will end up in a situation
the US Army now faces in Iraq with the Shias in control of Parliament.
- If he does not concede, BB will not come on board and he would
be left with a disenchanted bunch of courtiers of PML-Q who would
know that they are there just about to be dumped. They are already
showing signs of mistrust and irritation. Poor turncoats now have
no place to turn to. But Choudhry Shujaat is smart and has reopened
his communication lines with Nawaz Sharif saying he was “one
- To find an easy escape route Musharraf is thinking, yes he thinks
for a couple of minutes whenever he has to take a U-Turn, to postpone
the Local Bodies polls until he can work out some other political
strategy to deal with BB and NS.
- BB and Nawaz have become smart as well and in their first meeting
in 17 years, talked of a Charter of Democracy and a Road Map to
real representation of the people. This is bad news for Musharraf
and his clueless men running around in circles. If BB and NS remain
united, all the Sheikh Rashids combined will not be able to escort
Musharraf to a safe landing.
- So the Musharraf camp is like a Tsunami hit beach. No one knows
where the road is. Who to talk to. What to say and what will happen.
There is debris all around.
- While Musharraf says BB and NS will not be allowed to enter
Pakistan, Sheikh Rashid says Musharraf and BB are talking about
‘seats adjustments’. What hogwash, but poor Sheikh
has to say something before the beehive of TV microphones.
While Khurshid Kasuri informs the Senate that three Prime Ministers,
including his own current boss, spent millions on Umra junkets
for their own friends and family, Choudhry Shujaat attacks Kasuri
for lying in the House. Poor Kasuri was only talking from the
files and may not even have seen the answers sent to the Senate
by some JS or Section Officer. But tempers are high and debris
- While Army is itching to launch an all-out assault on Balochistan
nationalist leaders, Choudhry Shujaat knows that this would destroy
the entire political house of cards and he is thus making noises
which keep hopes of a political solution alive. Or is at least
keeping the operation away for a few more days. Now he has given
10 days to resolve the issue and 3 have already gone.
- As Army tries to keep the Sui Rape Case investigation under
control, pro-Musharraf Balochi parliamentarians join the Nationalists
in demanding that the Army Captain be punished, or at least probed.
One junior Officer has become the super ego of General Musharraf.
He does not know whether to sacrifice a Captain or sacrifice himself.
Utter confusion marks the GHQ on the subject.
- While this confusion on domestic front awaits resolution, Musharraf
knows that US and the West are getting restless on other key issues,
like Dr AQ Khan, democracy and Musharraf’s own uniform.
The imprints of Condi Rice on US policy are emerging as patriotic
US media blasts Musharraf on AQ Khan issue and the Commonwealth
says he will have to quit his uniform by 2007.
To optimists, in terms of a time frame, 2007 is just 21 months
away and even PM Shaukat Aziz had to concede at the Davos Economic
Forum that the clock was ticking for Musharraf as 2007 will be
here in a whiff. (What Aziz got from Musharraf for that remark
in a one-on-one meeting later is a separate story).
Common man in Islamabad is wondering what has hit him as it is
hard for him to survive the rising cost of living and growing
anarchy in the society.
- Islamabad has many more dimensions of disaster brewing and more
debris flying but entering Sindh is another ball game. Here the
Chief Minister is acting like Jam Sadiq Ali reborn and has tried
to act snobbish with every one. Pir Pagara is angry and talking.
Largest party PPP is not helping. Karachi has five centers of
power: Corps Commander's Office, Governor's House, CM House, Altaf
Bhai's 90 Residence and Jamaat Islami Nazim's HQ. Each is over-stepping
In the interior a power tussle is on between Musharraf loyalist
Nazims and CM Arbab. His latest brush has come with Musharraf’s
wonder boy, head of National Reconstruction Bureau, Daniyal Aziz,
on the powers and elections of Local Bodies and Nazims. Arbab
is so angry he stated on TV he will complain to Musharraf against
Daniyal's interference. May be he will, but he will also come
back to his office in Karachi, cut to his size.
- The MQM is the biggest supporter and the strongest opponent
of General Musharraf and his Army at the same time. While sitting
in the Sindh and Federal Cabinets the MQM Ministers make pro-Musharraf
noises, they are at a loss to defend what Altaf Bhai utters in
London or New Delhi or on his phone.
Altaf Hussain's stand on Balochistan clean bowled Musharraf. By
joining the ‘rebel’ cause Altaf Bhai forced Musharraf
to back down from “they-will-not-know-what-hit-them”
boast. But for how long? Ever since Musharraf blew his misplaced
horn, insurgency in Balochistan has multiplied and snowballed.
Altaf Bhai is now quiet and poor Aamer Liaqat Hussain, the young
MQM junior Minister cum TV compere cum best debater cum show boy
was cut to pieces by a sober anchor of his rival TV channel ARY.
Dr Shahid Masood made Aamer look like what he is, a novice. But
he says and behaves as if Musharraf had ordained him to be Altaf
Bhai’s successor to take over the MQM, should anything happen
to Altaf Bhai. Aamer and Musharraf may have to wait as Altaf Bhai
is no amateur in protecting himself.
Rural Sindh is preparing to explode with its own Sindh Liberation
Army, a la the Balochistan Liberation Army, if Musharraf goes
ahead with the Kalabagh Dam announcement. Alas that has become
the only place where the Army and Musharraf will try to seek refuge
but again they need Benazir and Nawaz Sharif on board to get Kalabagh
- To deal with them, please refer to the section dealing with
Common man Sindh is wondering what has hit him as it is hard for
him to survive the rising cost of living and growing anarchy in