Monday, November 28, 2011

Here's one..

So I was thinking about what's probably been going on in our power structure since the NATO attack last night. Two things I can think off. Zardari is probably dancing from one end of the Presidency to the other in celebration because of the spot the whole situation puts Kayani in. Kayani has most probably had to change underwear... several times during the day.

Its really no secret that Kayani is probably the least popular Chief since Yahya Khan. The Americans seem to think that since he's their boy, the army is all under control. However, if they're not careful, their boy may soon find himself the target of a coup within the army. Alternatively, he might find the pressure too much and do the one thing Army chiefs do best in desperate times - take over. He might actually go into cornered tiger mode and decide one sure way to regain popularity is to dispose of Zardari! I mean, putting up with him for so long has to pay off eventually, and the whole country will actually celebrate.

Of course, I'm getting way ahead of myself. There's a long way to go till any of this happens. But if these stupid Americans keep turning up the heat like this, something unexpected might actually give.

I don't think the country will celebrate if Zardari is removed via coup... there seems to be a lot of excitement in democratic politics in Pakistan. People do want to see whether PTI can come into power or not. If the army takes over now, they'll rob the people of a good show. And we won't stand for that!

So Kayani won't replace Zardari... he's on the way out. (Might encourage rigging, bring Zardari back into power, enraging people, then declare democracy dead, and then a coup? How's that for a conspiracy?)

I didn't know people expected Kayani or the military to stand up to the Americans. When has the military ever done that? Where is this sense of disappointment vis-a-vis army-doing-what-America-wants coming from? Were expectations different? If there should be any resentment/disappointment, it should be towards the civilian government. So, why is Kayani under any pressure?

An internal coup can only come as America is preparing to leave, and since they're not going anywhere till 2015, Kayani will be just fine. I think that any general replacing Kayani via force will have to promise a different approach to Kayani's path. And frankly, they can't. So... why step into Mr. Kayani's shoes? Now, if the American war was winding down in northwest Pakistan, a new general can emerge as a saviour to replace both Kayani and the civilian government. For now, the timing doesn't work.

All this raises a question in my mind... Who is the public more pissed at for the war in the northwest - the army or the civilian government?

I think you're right about the PTI factor. I'd say that's the one safety valve on the entire situation - the idea that the government is on the way out anyway. But there does seem to be a showdown brewing, probably to keep the heat up and ensure that elections come sooner rather than later. But as I say, its a delicate balancing act. If something happens that's drastic enough for people to not even tolerate another year of this government, something might happen. Unlikely, sure, but every time the Americans go cowboy in Pakistan, or try to play hardball, that increases the chances.

Another factor that's interesting is that it seems the US are moving away from their support of Zardari (probably because of his ineptitude). That means they deal directly with the army, and the competition is eased somewhat. I had something in mind about this when I started this paragraph which I can't remember now... I'll come back to it.

With regards to expecting the army to stand up to the Americans, that's never happened. But then, nobody ever felt the need for that to happen before this war. People take a lot of pride in their army and expect it to put up a fight at least when it is directly challenged (if not when the US takes out Pakistani civilians). And behind this perception is the carefully crafted legend of the Pakistani military. Ironically, the army in Pakistan has always been much more concerned with its image than the politicians - and they have the means to ensure this image stays relatively untarnished, by hook or crook. As a result people hold much higher expectations from the army than from the civilian government. This, incidentally, is why they are able to hold on to power much longer than any civilian party.

The army has always tried to portray itself as the benevolent hand that keeps the country afloat while the politicians loot and bicker. So expectations from the civilian government are low anyway. They'll be blamed for most of the day-to-day screw ups, but when something hits this close to the domain of the army, then people don't expect the government to have any involvement in it.

And this is just from the civilian population. Much greater pressure is going to come from within the army. Military personnel naturally have an even lower opinion of the government and a higher expectations from their leadership. A Chief that bends easily to the whims of the government has little respect. A Chief that has no ability to protect the soldiery has even less respect. Plus, it's no secret that this whole war was highly unpopular within the army when it began and its popularity has only plummeted ever since. So, if Kayani is seen as a stooge forcing his soldiers into America's war, tolerating Zardari's antics, and not standing up for his subordinates, he loses a lot of respect... and consequently control. Losses that may need to be made up for with a drastic measure that shows that he is in control of the situation.

If he doesn't take such drastic steps (which I think he is trying to with this whole drama over the helicopter raid) he risks elements within the army challenging his authority. This has never happened in the Pakistani Army, but given the right amount of pressure, who knows! You're right about the fact that Americans sitting next door is a huge deterrent to any such adventurism, but where once it was beyond the realm of possibility now it is remotely possible. And as Morgran Freeman said... Time and Pressure.. that's all it takes!

Bear in mind, the kind of coup I am talking about is not a power-play, to take over the country. This is going to be someone who feels the country needs to be saved. Also bear in mind, from the public perspective, Martial Law starts looking much more attractive the longer a civilian government screws up. Just as Ijaz Butt managed to completely exonerate Naseem Ashraf, so has Zardari played his part in reminding people of the good old times of Pervez Musharraf. Of course, the memory is still not distant enough to be completely whitewashed, but a few more years perhaps...

With regards to blame. People should be blaming the army. It was Musharraf that started this whole fiasco. Actually, they blame both, but the question then comes to who is to get the lion's share. There, I think whoever is seen as the bigger lackey of the US wins. Here again, the army's game of not openly wagging their tails and following the Americans serves them well. As do all the complaints from the US about the Pakistan army not cooperating completely with NATO forces. As a result, Zardari and co. look like the traitors who force the army's hand.

Of course there's a flip-side to all this. The whole pro-war group. But I think their numbers are slowly dwindling down.

We said short posts, right?

Yes, we said short posts. Good job. 

How do you like this color coding scheme? Also, I found a website that tells me if a webpage updates... I've set it to my main blog page. Seems to be working. By the way... how are your skills in Java?

I do think PTI's impact is that we will have an election. If there is a coup, elections will be held shortly. People will only tolerate a coup when they've lost all hope. Even if everyone's not ready to back Imran Khan, he is a serious candidate and represents hope and change and everything nice. 

That said... army's best play might just be to remove Zardari, hasten elections, and redeem yourself. At this point, there is nothing more noble you can do than remove Zardari from office. If they delay elections, people (led by PTI) will come to the streets. 

There was a whole pro-war group? 


Okay, I've changed the colour scheme again. Your colours were too bright. Feel free to try new ones though. And my Java skills are nonexistent. Never did Java.

So yes, I think we've come to a final verdict on this one. The PTI factor deters the coming of a serious martial law. American pressure on the army increases the chances of a coup. However, if a coup does take place, in the current climate, it will have to give way to an election very soon.

And to answer your question. Yes, of course. There still is a fairly large pro-war group. About five to six years ago, there were no two ways about it. Pretty much everyone was pro-war. Imran Khan was going around saying this is a mistake, and people such as myself were shaking their heads and saying. "O Imran, you poor fool!"

To be fair I sort of remember you were anti-war at that point as well. So basically it was just you and Imran Khan. 

And then the military operations stepped up, and there was blowback in our cities. Then we all took the American route and started saying these bloody Taliban are enemies of civilisation and about to take over the country, they must be exterminated. And of course everybody anti-war was immediately labelled a terrorist sympathiser and a danger to the country. 

These days only die-hard "liberals" (as they like to call themselves for some inexplicable reason) are still enthusiastic about "fighting extremism" (again, whatever that means!)  and the forces of darkness for the sake of our future. These people are to be found writing for the New York Times in Pakistan, which you may know as the Express Tribune. Some of them are on Dawn or Pakistan Today. Basically, the very English English dailies. 

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