Issue No 96, June 13-19, 2004 | ISSN: 1684-2057 | www.satribune.com

The First Book based on Articles and Forum Discussions of South Asia Tribune has been published in Pakistan. It is a compilation of articles written for the SAT by Dr. Zafar Altaf, former Federal Secretary and Ex-Chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board. It includes most of the Messages and Comments posted on these articles on SAT Forums. The Book will soon be available through the Internet Book outlets. It is already on sale in Pakistan.

 

 

Tariq Aziz Ditches Jamali, Shujaat and Joins Humayun in Bizarre Power Games

By M T Butt

ISLAMABAD: Three cheers for Pappu, the Lahore Race Club Bookie, who has suddenly become the king maker in Pakistan’s political circus where the game of musical cheers is killing many careers behind the scenes, prematurely.

Pappu is the man who fronts for Tariq Aziz, the political, administrative and diplomatic trouble shooter of General Musharraf, officially the Secretary of the now constitutional National Security Council.

But Pappu stays in Lahore and operates for Aziz who is also the Chairman of the Lahore Race Club, with immense interest in thorough bred horses, even more than Asif Ali Zardari. Recently Aziz imported a large number of horses and got the Customs Duty assessed at heavily discounted rates.

Last week Tariq Aziz remained busy with Pappu and Humayun Akhtar Khan, his new-found friend from Lahore, the hot favorite of General Musharraf to replace Prime Minister Jamali.

Aziz is supported in the deal with PIA Chairman and long time rival of the Choudhries of Gujrat, Ahmed Saeed who is brother of PPP old timer and once Commerce Minister Ahmed Mukhtar. A third key coordinator is Musharraf’s Bridge buddy, a retired Brigadier, Niaz.

The trio of Niaz-Aziz-Saeed have now ditched the Choudhries of Gujrat and selected Humayun Akhtar Khan as their next horse, thanks to Pappu who is said to be at least 3 million dollar richer and may acquire another 3 million dollars when his new horse wins the race. The dollars are coming from aspirants who have enough dollars to spare.

In this scenario last week, embattled Prime Minister Jamali paid three unscheduled visits to the Choudhry House and met Shujaat Hussain, an on-again-off-again supporter of Jamali because he and his clan cannot afford Humayun Akhtar in the PM’s slot for strategic political reasons.

Jamali’s situation was so pathetic he seemed to have no other official business to perform except paying visits to the Choudhry House. “Mr Jamali is suffering from political diarrhea these days and the only wash room available to him is located in the Choudhry House,” a reporter quipped in Islamabad.

These long meetings between Shujaat and Jamali were followed by repetitive statements to the media that there was no threat to his government but the Master of the situation, General Musharraf, did not utter a single word in favor of Jamali, even when asked directly in several TV interviews. He was content with “no comments” which compounded Mr Jamali’s diarrhea.

General Musharraf finally met Jamali on Friday and quietly told him to pack up after the budget session, insider reported.

They said the Choudhries of Gujrat had also been told that they may lose their special protected status against corruption cases if they did not support Musharraf’s candidate, or precisely Tariq Aziz’s horse, in the race.

For the moment the Choudhries seem to be running out of options and Shujaat is reported to have said he would support whoever is nominated by Musharraf.

As predicted in the South Asia Tribune last week, the hot favorite as Jamali’s replacement was the son of General Akhtar Abdur Rehman, Humayun, a 49-year old smart Actuary from Canada who was left with a multi-million dollar fortune by his father, killed in the famous C-130 crash at Bahawalpur in August 1988 with General Zia ul Haq.

But massive intrigues were still going on as the entire political equation is about to change in Islamabad with the Choudhries of Gujrat losing their clout and thus influence over General Musharraf.

Jamali’s precarious situation was evident from a meeting of the coalition parties held on Friday in which more than half of the MPs were absent, some fearing that they may be bracketed in the Jamali camp if Musharraf wanted him removed.

Local newspapers in Islamabad also picked up the scent of the on-going intrigues, focusing on the removal of Jamali. Leading columnist of The News, Nusrat Javeed reported that a good number of journalists with acknowledged access to the presidential quarters were making some claims (of a change) with all the confidence on Friday evening.

“The operative line of the stories, they told, revealed that during his one-on-one with the president Friday Jamali was conveyed in unambiguous words that he should prepare for leaving the prime minister’s office, immediately after passage of the budget by the end of this month,” Nusrat reported.

“One finds it extremely difficult to believe that on the eve of the budget, a prime minister should get the marching orders. Staying put in the office for almost another month, he can always spring surprises with delicate political moves. The dispassionate observers of our power games, however, insist that Jamali fully knows his limits.”

He added: “He (Jamali) was a mere individual from an establishment-friendly family of Baluchistan, but reached the prime minister’s office, thanks to the votes painfully gathered and manipulated for him by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and “agencies.” Even with some political strength of his own, he would “hardly dare asserting after closely witnessing the fall of Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister with a heavy and historic mandate.”

But The News hinted at a possible trade-off between Musharraf and Jamali under which Jamali may quit the PM’s post but his brother may be made the Chief Minister of Balochistan, where the Musharraf coalition includes the Opposition and religious MMA.

“In this context, you have to take those rumors somewhat seriously, which also claim that a tradeoff could be there for assuaging the hurt heart of Jamali. The rumored deal refers to some problems, Jam Yousaf had supposedly developed with the security and accountability masters of this country. That hints at the change of the chief minister of Balochistan as well. If that happens, Rehman Jamali, the younger brother of Mir Zafarullah Khan, might get the vacant office as reward of the smooth surrender of his brother.”

Another newspaper, Daily Times wrote that changes are expected to take place late September or early October. All this, depending on the internal security environment, can also happen earlier than the retirement dates of two four-star generals, with some other major changes at the level of corps commanders.

”The reason(s) for the president’s displeasure with the Jamali government, as the prime minister’s detractors say, is that he annoyed the president on the National Security Council (NSC) issue and could not deliver on the domestic front.”

Newspapers have also noted the relative silence of Jamali’s vocal supporter, the Information Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed of Rawalpindi. “Significant was the silence of our chief-spin-doctor who is surprisingly quiet these days. May be he has bitten off more than he can chew on predicting Mr Jamali’s ouster,” The Daily Times reported.

The Daily Nation said Friday’s parliamentary meeting of Pakistan Muslim League and the allied parties expressed their serious concern over the rumor-mongering about Prime Minister Jamali’s removal and urged the leadership to clarify the situation.

In the meeting which witnessed absence of half of the treasury members despite frantic phone calls to them to ensure their presence, Prime Minister Jamali and PML chief Ch. Shujaat were asked to clear their position over reports about their differences.

Nothing concrete emerged though.

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