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June 1, 2013

Democratic victory of Pakistan?

Dr Haider Mehdi

Throughout the entire human civilization, it is the victors who write history. Any yet, in retrospect, the historical authenticity of the events and the accuracy of the victors’ claims have always been challenged with the discovery of remarkable evidence contrary to what was perceived as ground realities at the time.   

Pakistan’s May 11th general election is being claimed as the democratic victory of people’s true representation, and yet we know, by the logic, rationale, and history of events that the people’s mandate has been stolen once again. This election has been massively rigged by a meticulously organized pre-planned script authored by different forces representing the traditional ruling elite in Pakistan, their foreign patrons, and the all-powerful Pakistani military establishment.  However, the role of the military leadership has not been one of its deliberate choice – but strictly dictated by the turn of events and the ground realities that threaten this nation from within and from outside.

I am fully aware that today’s article will be termed by many apologists as a conspiracy theory and a figment of a distorted imagination against Pakistan’s nascent and emerging democracy.  And yet, my perspective needs to be stated and explained in view of the present realities. After all, politics in Pakistan is the art of impossible – and impossible is what has been unloaded and imposed on the unfortunate people of this country time and again by both the military dictators and the civilian rulers alike.  

In my article “Will There Be a 2nd NRO?” that appeared in The Nation of May 2nd, 2013, I had warned my readers: “Don’t be naive: this nation is once again being taken for a ride.  A second NRO is being planned for the ultimate benefits of the traditional ruling elite and to maintain political-economic status-quo and an American-centric foreign policy in the country. Musharraf’s return and the PPP - PML-N leadership twosome’s project of silence of “Muk Muka” 2013 democracy was part of the greater plan patronized by our friends in Washington, London and the Holy Land …” 

And this is what has exactly happened in the May 11th election.  Once again our patrons in Washington, London and the Holy Land have intervened on behalf of Pakistan’s traditional ruling elite to fix the election outcome. Whereas in the2008 national election, the major political actors were the PPP leadership with a complementary role for the PML-N leaders, in the May 2013 election, the leading role has been assigned to PML-N leaders as promised in the “Muk Muka” democracy agreement.   

Here is the REAL STORY of how a second NRO has been imposed on this nation: With PTI, as an emerging third political force challenging the traditional ruling class in Pakistan and its rising popularity and widely increasing massive public support for a fundamental political change in the country inclusive of a basic reorientation in Pakistan’s foreign policy, specifically relating to drone attacks and the war on terrorism, the Obama administration had been carefully weighing its options of supporting PTI’s democratic agenda or not. It is my considered opinion and absolute conviction that the Americans had been looking for some kind of categorical commitment on the part of Imran Khan to assure them that should the PTI come to power, the drones operational strategy would continue unchallenged. The US might have explained to the PTI leadership that drone operations were indispensable for the safe exit of US military forces and military hardware from Afghanistan. But understandably, it was a commitment that the PTI leadership could not agree to as it would have compromised the fundamental ideological and foreign policy stance of PTI’s political platform and its ideology of political change in the country. Indeed, it would have been tantamount to the betrayal of the nation on fundamental issues of national sovereignty, its future geo-political directions, and PTI’s pledge to liberate the nation from foreign interventions in its domestic affairs.   

As the election drew closer and considering the powerful overall political dynamics, efficient management of the election campaign and the massive magnitude of PTI’s growing clout in the public indicating clear visible signs of its success in national elections, Washington and its allies decided to lend full-fledged support to the traditional ruling elite in Pakistan to make sure the political status quo is preserved and American-centric foreign policy is maintained in the country. 

Hence, a script for the second NRO was planned: In Feb. 2013, the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations met with the PLM-N Quaid in Lahore. In March of 2013, a meeting was arranged between Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif in Saudi Arabia to discuss the modalities of political action and political reconciliation between the former military ruler and the former PML-N Prime Minister who was overthrown by the General in 1999.  In the aftermath of this meeting, the General returned to Pakistan, with PML-N and PPP leadership keeping dead silent on his return.  Soon thereafter, not by sheer coincidence, the PML-N Quaid and Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff were in Saudi Arabia at the same time to perform Umrah this year. In April 2013, the Pakistan’s Army chief met with the Afghan President and the US Secretary of State in Brussels.  Earlier, the PML-N Quaid’s long meeting with the British Foreign Minister prior to his trip to Saudi Arabia set the stage of the execution of the 2nd NRO in Pakistan.   

The most intriguing and vital question that arises here is: Why has the Pakistani military leadership compromised its integrity with the country’s traditional ruling elite of political status quo orientation and its American-centric foreign policy? Haven’t we had enough of US collaboration and alliance against our national self interest?  

In order to understand this puzzle, we have to trace back to the Raymond Davis saga and the American Abbottabad operation of May1, 2011.  Briefly, to sum up, this is what happened at that fateful time: Raymond Davis had unearthed information in Lahore that Osama Bin Laden was dead and his body was kept at Tarbela.  Based on the authenticity of this information, on April 29th, President Obama signed the orders to bring back Osama Bin Laden and, in case of resistance by the Pakistani army, authorized US forces to neutralize Pakistan’s nuclear assets.  It was then on May 1st during the Abbottabad operation that the “Pak army was notified that they have a choice.  Either face an entire barrage of US choppers attacking Pak nuclear assets or hand over Osama’s body.” 

I have asked myself the simple question: What would I have done at the time if I were commanding the Pakistani armed forces – and I ask you the same question.  The answer is quite obvious, is it not?  

Is it not possible that the US might have used the same leverage of neutralizing  Pakistan’s nuclear assets as a bargaining chip to get an endorsement for a second NRO from the Pakistani army’s leadership, considering that the traditional political leadership of Pakistan was already on board? 

But couldn’t the traditional Pakistani political elite let the democratic forces take its natural course for once this time?  After all, the massive support of a democratic dispensation for political change in Islamabad might have altered the American attitude to deal with Pakistan on the basis of equality of nations and respect for Pakistan’s sovereignty. 

Stealing the people’s mandate in the May 11th election is a national travesty for which this nation will suffer further humiliation, economic destruction and political suffocation.   

Indeed, the struggle for political change will continue unabated.  

After all, how long can a nation sustain NROs, one followed by another?