August 11, 2007

A policy review

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 12:46 am


August 11, 2007


A policy review

AFTER dropping the emergency plan, Gen. Musharraf needs to review his controversial policies regarding the uniform and election from the current assemblies which continue to be a source of possible confrontation. The government has to recognise that the situation at home and abroad has undergone significant changes and it is no more possible to undertake the type of political engineering that was possible in 2002.
The countrywide movement in support of the judiciary’s independence which started after March 9 action against the CJ has effected the domestic balance of forces. The civil society is politically much more aware and responsive than it has ever been. The media is highly vigilant. Above all the judiciary is keen to assert its independence and enjoys the unstinted support of over 90,000 lawyers. The ruling alliance on the other hand suffers from the negative effects of incumbency while it is also badly divided. Under advice from a coterie of bad advisers the President has taken actions that have put him on the defensive. What is more he can no more depend on foreign allies who extended full and unquestioning support to him after 9/11. Tony Blair has left 10 Downing Street. A weakened President Bush is on he way out while the Democrats who are highly critical of the way he pursued his anti-terrorism agenda hold majority in the Congress. President Bush has now urged Gen Musharraf to hold transparent and free elections and Secretary Condoleezza Rice has strongly urged him not to impose emergency.
Gen Musharraf can ill afford to continue to depend on advisers who are out of touch with the social reality and had earlier advised him to file the reference against the CJ. They are apparently asking him now to remain firm on the issue of uniform, seek elections from the present assemblies and not allow the return of the exiled leaders. It would be highly unwise on his part to create another crisis by remaining inflexible on the controversial issues. The SC has already taken up the petition of the exiled leaders of the PML-N. The other two matters are also likely to come up before it. It would be unwise to wait for the court’s decision as was done in the CJ’s case. Under pressure from domestic public opinion, Washington and its European allies may also decide to call on Gen Musharraf to revise his stand. Instead of waiting for these developments to take place, he should urgently revise his position in line with the public sentiment. The way out of the crisis is for him to announce that he is doffing the uniform and would not obstruct the return of the exiled leaders. This would create grounds for a dialogue with the opposition on the remaining issues including the holding of free and fair elections. This would be good for Gen Musharraf as well as for the country.


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