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Real Face of Islamist Musharaf ! But Clerics of Lal Masjid are more dangerous as compared to him.

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Submitted by Gormi (India), May 29, 2007 at 11:15

Pakistan's President, Gen.Pervez Musharraf, continues to stew in his own juice. Despite his frantic efforts, he has been unable thus far to free himself from a trap of his own creation. The more he tries to free himself, the more he finds himself ensnared.

2. The public support for Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury, the Chief Justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court, whom he arbitrarily suspended on March 9,2007, remains strong more than two months after his suspension. The public response to his "Road Show for Democracy" in Islamabad, the capital, on May 26,2007, was as impressive as the earlier public response in Lahore. This Road Show has started attracting not only the leaders and cadres of different political and religious parties, but also an increasing number of ex-servicemen, including many senior retired officers.

3. There is hardly anybody of prominence and respect, who is prepared to support his actions in public. Even many from Pakistan's community of political and strategic analysts, with known links to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), are reluctant to defend his actions, lest they incur the wrath of the public. Even Ms.Shireen Mazari, his blue-eyed strategic analyst, has started marking a distance from him. She has always had the reputation in Pakistan of being the last rat, which flees from a sinking ship. She is still on board the sinking ship, but increasingly nervous.

4. The deserters from the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) of Mr.Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto, who rallied round the General in 2002 and helped him in getting a de jure legitimacy to his de facto seizure of power through his commandos, find themselves like a cat on a hot tin roof surrounded by fire. They don't know where to jump and how to jump.

5. Mr.Shaukat Aziz, the "Made in Citibank" Prime Minister, is finding himself in an unenviable situation. Close advisers of Musharraf, who are still loyal to him such as Mr.Tariq Aziz, his National Security Adviser, have been urging Musharraf to cut his losses by making Shaukat Aziz the fall guy and blaming him for putting up an ill-scrutinised dossier against the suspended Chief Justice to him for orders. While Musharraf continues to stick to Aziz, he has been throwing round insinuations that in matters relating to the judiciary he has to go by the advice of the Prime Minister.

6. Musharraf could have retrieved the situation in the very beginning by reaching a face-saving compromise with the Chief Justice and removing his suspension. This is what some of his Corps Commanders suggested to him. He was so confident of his ability to steer through any crisis unscathed that he disregarded their advice. Now the suspended Chief Justice has assumed a larger than life-size image. He is the toast of increasing sections of the Pakistani civil society.

7.Musharraf is rattled by the Chief Justice's continuing defiance. Successful defiance can be infectious. It is in the air everywhere----in Islamabad, Lahore and the rest of the country. As the people see the successful manner in which the Chief Justice defied the General, more and more are following his example----not only lawyers, political leaders and religious fundamentalists, but even fellow judges. Many judges in Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore and Karachi, who were obsequious to the General and the Army till yesterday, are now toasting the defiant Chief Justice.

8.The General is even more rattled by the increasing references to his Mohajir (Urdu-speaking refugee from India) background by the public because of the perceived collusion of Altaf Hussain's Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the Mohajir political party of Sindh, with the General in preventing a Road Show of the Chief Justice in Karachi on May 12,2007.

9. Mohajir officers in the Pakistan Army play down their Mohajir background lest they be suspected of being descendants of converts from Hinduism and not a green-blooded Muslim. When Musharraf joined the Army in 1964, he declared himself as a permanent resident of Punjab and not as a resident of Karachi. He often describes himself as a Syed and as a descendant of one of the companions of the Holy Prophet to remove any suspicions of Hindu traces in his blood. He knows how the late Gen.Zia ul-Haq used against Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto the allegation that his grand-mother was a Hindu.

10. Musharraf has been frantically trying to deny allegations that the MQM supported him because he is a Mohajir. He says he has no ethnic identity and that he is a Muslim first and a Muslim last, a Pakistani first and a Pakistani last. Despite this, the impression persists that the MQM went on a rampage against the suspended Chief Justice because he was defying a fellow-Mohajir.

11. The Pashtuns of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) were already angry with Musharraf because of his perceived collusion with the US against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. They are now doubly angry with him because of his perceived collusion with the MQM against the Pashtuns of Karachi. Next to the Sindhis, the Pashtuns were the largest number killed during the riots in Karachi on May 12,2007.

12. The only positive factor for Musharraf is that the senior serving officers of the Army---- despite the misgivings of some of them over the way he has handled the crisis--- are still standing by him. All the officers of the rank of Major-General and above rose to their present rank after Musharraf became the Army Chief in October,1998. They continue to be personally loyal to him. The day they feel that the credibility of the Army as an institution can be threatened by his continuing in power, that day will mark the end of Musharraf. That day has not yet come.

13. The Bush Administration in Washington is anxiously watching what has been happening in Pakistan. Just as it landed itself in a mess in Iraq by over-demonising Saddam Hussein, it is facing a mess in Pakistan by over-lionizing Musharraf. After having over-lionized him for six years, it is going to find it difficult to extricate itself from his kiss of death. But, extricate, it must, if it is wise. But, unfortunately, wisdom---pre-facto or post-facto--- has never been the strong-point of the Bush Administration.

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