friend Shaukat Aziz received by Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon
Join World Bank: Hamid Chattha Emerging Consensus Leader
M A Siddiqui and Shaheen Sehbai
July 29: The World Bank corridors in Washington are humming with
whispered expectations and corporate speculations that Pakistan’s
Prime Minister, Citibanker Shaukat Aziz, a long time buddy of
WB President Paul Wolfowitz, is soon going to join the world body
as Managing Director.
is understood to have offered Aziz the top job because the World
Bank needs to fill in one of the two vacancies of MDs, the one
from Asia. The other MD comes from Africa. Wolfowitz believes
Aziz would be the right candidate as big Asian players including
China and India will not have any serious objection to Aziz, who
has lived in the US for 30 years before joining the Musharraf
team as Finance Minister in 1999 and later getting a promotion
as Prime Minister.
since Musharraf has not allowed any real powers to the Parliament
or the PM, Aziz wants to get out of the Pakistan mess with his
honor and image intact and the WB job may be the best chance he
to a well informed Islamabad analyst, Nusrat Javeed of “The
News”, the sudden cancellation of the Aziz visit to
the White House and the way the Pakistan Foreign Office dismissed
the cancellation as of no importance, hurt Aziz deeply as he was
expecting some glory in the world limelight as a guest of President
Nusrat wrote recently: “The
spokesperson of our Foreign Office has not helped either by spinning
the story that the US visit of Shaukat Aziz was never “finalized.”
It is a laughable excuse, only helping the doomsayers, who keep
insisting that prime ministers working under the praetorian wings
always ask for trouble with their desire of getting ‘direct’
with American leaders and decision makers.”
Zafarullah Khan Jamali began rushing to his fall by publicly asking
for the pat on our back during his call on President Bush. The
flight of Shaukat Aziz in the same context could not be allowed
as well," Nusrat wrote.
This news circulating in the World
Bank coincides with behind the scene maneuvers in Islamabad to
break the political logjam to induct the mainstream liberal political
parties in the system and isolate the radical religious right
which is now becoming a threat not only to the country but to
the Army itself.
Musharraf met Shaukat Aziz, one on one, for the second time within
a week on Wednesday, July 27, for what was publicly presented
as a routine meeting with one briefing the other about his foreign
trips and a general discussion on the country’s political
and security situation. But analysts say these meetings may be
more than what meets the eye. The two leaders may be discussing
their future association.
backdoor moves involve a longtime Benazir Bhutto ally and politically
trusted leader Hamid Nasir Chattha who has been actively meeting
the various relevant players in and outside Pakistan. Chattha
is currently in the PML-Q and Chairman of the Kashmir Committee,
enjoying a Minister's status. Interestingly in all Kashmir Committee
meetings, PPP parliamentarians including Makhdoom Amin Faheem,
are regular participants and they go along well with Chattha.
this background, Chattha is being tipped as the head of a National
Government in which both Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, or their
nominees and parties, are substantial stakeholders.
In a moment when he revealed more
than he should have, PPP’s top ranking leader Makhdoom Amin
Faheem was heard saying that such a deal under Chattha was possible
and people were working on it.
Even in his recent analysis, Nusrat
Javeed posed the all-important question: “Where is Hamid
Nasir Chattha these days and does he really have anything to do
with the grand government of national reconciliation, many people
in Islamabad have been waiting for since months?”
Under the proposed arrangement
the basic concessions to Benazir and Nawaz Sharif would be the
withdrawal of the Swiss cases and end of exile, or a time table
to end the exile, much shorter than the stipulated 10 years.
to many political analysts and observers, all these possibilities
and proposals appear to be part of the pattern of psy-op games
which the Pakistan Army has now become quite good at playing.
games grow in intensity whenever there is some pressure on the
Generals, either because of their double games on terrorism, or
their secret alliance with the Mullas who always do something
to bail out the Army, though apparently it may appear that they
are in opposition, or if the pressure from the West to induct
mainstream political parties in power sharing increases.
part of this pattern, political analysts recall, the highly disruptive
talk of “national reconciliation” was coined and feelers
were thrown in that Army was talking to the PPP and Benazir Bhutto
through Asif Ali Zardari. The PPP got caught in that trap and
started believing that the Generals were sincere in a deal.
the PPP took a very soft line when Asif Zardari returned to Lahore
amid unprecedented enthusiasm and excitement not seen for years
in the PPP cadre. But the return of Zardari, instead of building
up on that momentum, defused the situation through some soft statements
of Mr Zardari himself as well as admission by the PPP that secret
negotiations were going on. Nothing however came out as the Army
was playing its games and the moment pressure was off, all talk
of concessions or a deal was off the table.
Likewise these psy-ops games have
also played havoc with the Sharif family when through calculated
moves the impression was created that Shahbaz Sharif was moving
away from his elder brother and was being preferred as a possible
option under a re-united Muslim league. Nawaz Sharif, however,
understood the games much better and stood his ground.
Then the passport issue of Nawaz
Sharif was used to create further confusion in the Opposition
ranks when suddenly PPP was forced to seek clarifications from
the Sharifs on what was going on. That issue also created some
confusion but failed to make a serious dent in Opposition unity.
The latest move of the Mulla-military
alliance is the Hasba Act which was thrown into the political
arena by the MMA at a critical time when all main Opposition parties,
including the PPP, PML-N and MMA were about to reach a consensus
and announce a joint strategy against the Army rule.
Hasba Act derailed the Opposition talks and both PPP and PML-N
started criticizing the MMA for something which took the focus
off their joint target. It helped the Army in a way no friend
could have helped.
such a situation and with the Local Bodies polls round the corner,
the talk of a National Government is, to many analysts, one more
ploy of the Army to divert attention and confuse the players.