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STRATFOR: Army ‘Not Supporting’ Musharraf

Strategic Forecasting, Inc. shares an article on Pakistan as well as a short podcast on the same subject

Stratfor Podcast on Pakistan 7th August 2008 – [audio:Stratfor_Podcast.mp3]


After some four months of disagreements over the fate of President Pervez Musharraf, the two main partners in Pakistan’s coalition government — the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz — announced Aug. 7 that parliament will begin impeachment proceedings against Musharraf on Aug 11. The same day, President Musharraf cancelled his trip to Beijing and threatened to dismiss parliament.

The phenomenon of presidents dismissing parliament is not a new one in Pakistan. In fact, it has long been an instrument through which the country’s military establishment has maintained the integrity of the state (and military primacy). But the Pakistan in which this was business as usual is a thing of the past. The parallel rise of democratic and jihadist forces during the eight years of Musharraf’s rule not only has resulted in Musharraf’s fall from grace, it has eroded the military’s hold over the state. Meanwhile, the unprecedented rise of external pressure from the United States, NATO and India is adding to the strain on the army, limiting its room to maneuver.

A new political environment has emerged in the country over the past 17 months preventing the army from simply stepping in and taking over in the event of a breakdown of the current order. Moreover, Musharraf’s management of the struggle against militant Islam has unleashed a jihadist insurgency in the country, further complicated by a worsening economic situation.

For these reasons, the army under new chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani is seen as favoring the status quo to avoid the risk of plunging the country into even greater chaos. Additional chaos, it is feared, could provide a good opportunity for jihadists to advance their war on the state. (A key factor thwarting the army’s ability to fight the jihadists effectively is the compromised state of the South Asian country’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate.)

Given that civilians have never really ruled on their own in Pakistan, and that now the military lacks the tools it long had, Pakistan has entered a new phase in its post-independence history. The political and security infrastructure that has kept Pakistan afloat is breaking down, and the country is headed into uncertainty. The only certainty is that things will never be the same in Pakistan, as the state’s guarantor has stumbled. This is not to say the country is headed toward irreversible implosion, but that the ties that bind are breaking.

Ultimately, the situation in Pakistan has reached the point where the army can no longer hold the state together, and needs the assistance of the civilian forces — which are weak to begin with. The dysfunctional nature of civilian institutions — which previously worked to the army’s advantage — now threatens the integrity of the state since the army has weakened. How the events play out in terms of the move to impeach Musharraf, especially the role of the army, will be critical indicators of Pakistan’s future trajectory.


  • Nasir Jamal |

    I don’t think that there is much substance in the rumour that the president wanted to dismiss the government. This impeachment motion announced by the coalition parties yesterday, is actuated by personal grudge and animosity instead of a love for democracy.

    It is not the problem of the country whether Musharraf stays or is forced out through impeachment or any other means. The problem of Pakistan are the mullah parties and Jihadi elements, who I fear can plunge the country into an abyss of chaos. It is not that the President acted on his on whims when he decided to join the US against the US war on terror. He had no other option and I believe that no other leader worth the name would have any other option.

    It would be naive to think that Pakistan can simply say to the US that we would not support its war on terror. Princess Benazir, the champion of democracy, before gracing this country with her august presence, had assured the US, that she would allow US troops in tribal areas and the if she is brought to power, she would give access to Dr. Qadeer Khan.

    If this government and the unruly media thinks that the policies of the President had been responsible for bringing the country to this pass, then let the army be recalled from tribal areas fortwith. Let the Jihadi elements allowed to freely in the country.

    We cannot live in isolation. We have to depend on other countries for even our basic things.

  • d0ct0r |

    According to constitution of Pakistan any one who abrogates Pakistani constitution is liable to death penalty,Now this dictator hold a distinction of suspending and abrogating constitution not once but twice.. first in Oct 1999 which was legitimized by seventeenth Amendment whereas Nov3rd 2007’s abrogation still isn’t yet legitimized by parliament ,so technically he can be hanged to death for abrogating constitution.

  • hassan Abbas |

    Unfortunately for them both Nawaz Sharif and Zardari seem to have missed the bus – even they know it.Now it is only a nura kushti to divert attention from their failure to solve any single problem ;including that of restoration of judges.

    Secondly why impeachment at this particular time;I mean after failure of their attempt to get control of ISI.The move is a desperate attempt to save their skins from the reactions to that foolish move.The army certainly did not like this move to destabilize ISI,while the Americans wanted this done.Does Zardari think America can help him keep the army in check on this matter.If so I personally feel this will be another of his miscalculations.

    I predict Musharraf will be around and Zardari may not be by November/December – or somewhat less likely both may not be around by November/December.

  • Jusathot |

    I tend to agree with Hassan sahab that it appears more like a “nura kushti to divert attention” from more pressing issues. The game is the same and NOT much will change and the status quo of injustices will remain the same. In other words, the ‘dhandli’ goes on!

  • d0ct0r |

    White House still sympathetic to Musharraf

    well we all will have to bear Musharraf atleast till Nov08 elections in USA until there is a major policy shift by white for this region. Coalition parties are also waiting for the right movement,either they’ll strike when US is busy with elections or they’ll wait for an outcome of US elections