Musharraf meets PIA's ex-Chairman Ahmed Saeed, a key plotter against
Farcical Theater of the Absurd
May 14: What a farcical theater of the absurd is General Pervez
Musharraf of Pakistan presiding over.
day he says something and all the collections of scared political
mice around him think he has unleashed a cat in their midst. They
start running helter skelter as if the house of horror was falling
on their heads.
next day the General himself realizes his mistake and makes another
statement which throws the keen listeners of his 'Enlightened
Moderation' song into a spin but is meant to help the political
runaways reclaim their confidence.
double speak before a media unable, or unwilling, to question
him, or a helpless lot of unbelieving political allies has been
repeated time and again, as and when the General has found himself
trapped in either one corner or the other.
when his last minute salvaging act just barely stops the scales
from tipping over, he finds himself back in the middle of the
stage unable to determine the next direction he would proceed
Soon he starts drifting again,
from one untenable position to another, swinging from one end
of the spectrum to another and hoping that somewhere, somehow,
someone would deliver to him a formula which would resolve all
the contradictions of his personality, his thoughts and his ambitions,
setting his fears to rest and promising him a safe future.
That magic lamp has not yet been
found and the General keeps scolding and replacing his Aladins
desperately, ordering them to expedite their search to beat the
ticking political time bombs, approaching in shape of one election
date after another.
In the middle of this imaginative
picture, all what General Musharraf has been saying for the last
many days and weeks appears logical. Likewise all what his allies
and smaller co-sharers of power have been doing against his wishes
also makes sense.
What alternate explanation could
anyone give for what has happened recently. Both Musharraf and
PPP leaders say serious negotiations are going on behind the scenes
between “liberal, like-minded forces.”
But the same liberal PPP has been
beaten black and blue on the streets of Lahore and hounded grievously
in Sindh and Punjab where thousands were arrested.
When Musharraf says PPP and not
the Mullas are his logical ally, the PPP deserters and the ruling
PML coalition starts shivering. Willingly or otherwise, Musharraf
has to assure them quickly that Benazir Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif
will not be around in even 2007 elections.
while he speaks in definite terms about Benazir Bhutto, about
Asif Ali Zardari he keeps the window of possibility open by saying
Asif’s political fate would be decided by the Swiss court
cases, meaning that if Zardari was acquitted in Geneva, there
would be room to share the bed with him.
But whenever he talks in these
terms about PPP and Asif, the inflated political balloon of the
Choudhries of Gujrat and the coterie of self-seekers and turncoats
huddled together by the ISI, NAB and other agencies starts leaking
Somewhat similar is the case of
Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and his political party.
Musharraf and his men are desperate
because time is on the side of his political opponents. Choudhry
Shujaat Hussain has threatened more than once that even the 2007
elections could be put off by one or two years. That is where
the big Choudhry exposes his diminishing level of confidence in
the wizardry of Musharraf.
Because if Musharraf cannot coerce,
bait or co-opt the liberals into his fold quickly, keeping his
present allies into place as well, the entire chessboard may have
to be wiped clean. The failure to find the Aladin’s Lamp
may mean that the cleaning act may have to be done by some other
General and by that time Musharraf and his Ali Babas would have
made an unbearable mess of everything.
Benazir and Nawaz Sharif are sitting
tight and happy abroad. Benazir is more than happy.
Just imagine if General Musharraf
gives a clean chit to Asif Ali Zardari and is ready to talk and
share power with him, the date, time and the historic picture
of President Musharraf taking oath from Asif in the President’s
House may not be that far away.
that picture not be very similar to that Ministerial oath given
by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan to the same Asif Ali Zardari, who
had walked away with the Pakistan flag flying on his official
limousine. A similar picture would place General Musharraf in
the same category as the disgraced GIK and I would love to be
present on that occasion when the big mouthed General leads Asif
to his swearing in ceremony.
Benazir would be enjoying the
bigger picture. Is it not a fact that 90 per cent of all the charges
against her during both her tenures as Prime Minister were related
to Asif Zardari. He was called Mr 10 per cent. He was the bad
guy, the wheeler dealer, the friend of friends. He was kept as
So the day Asif is declared ‘Kosher’
by the Army, what would be left against Benazir Bhutto and who
would stop her and on what grounds from coming back and becoming
Pakistan’s Sonia Gandhi.
But any concessions that Asif
offers to General Musharraf or the Army, which are not publicly
and expressly supported by Benazir Bhutto would mean nothing.
That is Musharraf’s dilemma
and in this intricate web of intrigues, deceits, power plays and
machinations, the General has been forced to play on the wicket
of the politicians.
His own political cricket team
is unable to either bat or bowl without his non-political source
of power. His opponents are skilled Test players and the General
has no clue whether the next delivery he faces would be a leg
break, off break or a googlie.
It appears the time has almost
arrived when the General stops the match altogether, declares
himself a winner and tries to recapture the pavilion. The confused
state of his mind is saying much more than his confused words.