Presidential speech, is he stalling everything or truly bringing reconciliation the soil, a critical analysis

Guest Blog by Amjad Malik

20th September 2008, ‘Land mark’ presidential speech to the joint session of the Parliament was overshadowed by a quick reminder of the menace of terrorism in the form of an explosive terrorist attack at Marriott Hotel, Islamabad which took over fifty three lives and scores were injured. This condemnable attack not only highlighted the kind of danger Pakistan is facing, the war of top security agencies in the region and on its soil, and the loss of many lives & families which are unaccounted during this on going struggle in order to find viable answers how to secure sustainable peace and calm to the region and in return to the world in general. So far no one has found the right key to success in this ongoing onslaught. Pakistan is caught between rock and hard place, on one side US anger over poor performance and asking them to do more, and if they do, the sheer resentment over foreign policy is visible by outlawed networks and Jihadists and expressed by the sophisticatedly hit targets which are normally pro West outlets. In Pakistan these suicidal attacks have crossed a century in number in only last 1 ½ years though this individual Non NATO ally is at the brink of facing the wrath in the form of unitarily inside strikes by the super power for their lack of will and action despite losing over 1000 soldiers at the rear border at Durand line. High value target though is missed by inches each time, but this faulty intelligence is causing an increase the collateral damage day by day, and that is the sad other side of the multi colour story full of blood.

Now coming to the speech, The president however, has successfully replaced the Presidential slogan of Musharraf’s ‘enlightened moderation’ to that of Zardari’s brand of ‘national reconciliation.’ He practically tried to exhibit his genuineness with a gesture to approached Nawaz Sharif, the opposition head sitting in the gallery which warmed many of his critics though he did not openly give any major concession in his address. In response though a calm Nawaz once bitten desired for a concrete practical steps rather than words to reform Parliament. Looking at the positives of his speech, he has shown his willingness to continue with General Musharraf’s commitments with US on global War on terror, if not more, however, he has exposed cleverly a possible retaliation from army and resilience from general public which is anti war & tribal invasion if he gives more concession to USA in his own areas, though he showed by his silence in last few days that he wants to. He has also sought time to sell the idea to his people that its their war not of USA as he is minded that if he acts quickly, he will be adding to the popularity of hard hitting Sharif who can pocket all conservative votes without dong anything, which he would not wish at all. So he managed to stall his action on the major issues rather than announcing it boldly, and delegated to Parliamentary committees which may take months to have a full debate where his party will have a control over the ‘on’ and ‘off’ button. He has escaped without calling off any military operation in FATA and did not have to condemn or affirm US policy of July to attack Pakistani areas unilaterally and just reiterated what army has said earlier in their press release. So by default his wife’s policy statement on FATA giving access to US military and access to IAE to Scientist Dr Khan still stands. He did good by condoling the death of his brother in law Mir Murtaza Bhuttoo, the son of late Zulfiqar Bhuttoo though he was implicated in his murder by his family, and he managed to praise his wife’s sacrifice due to which he is at the top office which inspires many of his party loyalists for his humility. He has shown his desire to resume talks with India, with some confidence building measures coupled with a new liberal visa regime plus formation of an other committee of parliament on Kashmir to discuss its future and matters relating to Indus water treaty between both countries. He has acceded to the proposal of ANP the long awaited name change of their province to ‘Pakhtunkhua.’ Overall he escaped perfectly without giving any major concession, formed Parliamentary committees on almost anything and everything and avoided what does not matter to him. Though I believe backtracking on MOU’s and agreements may not work with USA, however, whatever rabbit he pulls out of his hat, if he manages to halt, postpone and stall US’s unilateral attacks in Pakistan till their November election that will be a big head start and a service to Pakistan.

Now if we look at the other side, he has not said a word on setting up any enquiry or a commission to investigate independently his wife’s death, Akbar Bugti’s killing, 12th May massacre, action on Red Mosque, 3rd of November coup at judiciary, indemnity or trial of outgoing dictator and above all the fate & future of Dr Qadeer Khan and Kala Bagh Dam. In fact, he managed to escape to give any commitment to restore the Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhary to that of 2nd November position as per his agreements of March, May and August with opposition and vowed to restore judiciary in accordance with law and 1973 constitution which was a step farther and there was no word on how the fresh judges will be appointed in future. Judiciary remains a pivotal point of disagreement between him and the opposition and he managed to stick to his guns. There was no announcement to halt the ongoing operation in FATA replacing a policy to win the hearts and minds of his own with an economic aid, rule of law drive and justice in those areas, and or any clemency to Baluch people. His three prong strategy may not work in the presence of jets flying and missiles coming through drones in his areas. He has not given any line of action how to advance trade, and relieve the poor people and bring the economy back to its feet in the wake of looming international recession and food crisis. He has also managed to avoid the question of handing over possible accused to USA for interrogation with a treaty to exchange prisoners and no policy statement on missing persons or DR Afia Siddiqui. Though his desires were kind to uplift the women of Pakistan.

Above all, he has not announced to bring back the constitution to that of 12 Oct 1999 position as agreed by his wife in a ‘charter of democracy’ instead, he has delegated it to a Parliamentary committee opening up an avenue of negotiation to give and take on the issue of legalising the provisions introduced by the Musharraf regime on 3rd November 2007. I believe in that discussion the question will be up that power to dismiss the parliament Art.58(2)b will only be scarped if the ratification of Musharraf’s acts are secured thus safeguarding the notorious ‘National Reconciliation Order’. He has failed to give a concrete policy how to tackle unilateral attacks of USA he vowed not to give permission but they already have violated territorial integrity in violation of Article 2(4) of the charter of United nations in the absence of any security council resolution but he did not elaborate how he would like his Govt. to tackle their future assault in this looming international crisis. In camera session on Nationals security may be a good step towards member’s awareness on core issues pertaining to national security but if leadership lacks political will, it will turn out to be a frightening exercise to tame the border liners.

In short, Presidential speech is a good mix of his desire to hang on to power and continue to believe in Charter of democracy on which he may like to start full implementation in the latter part of his 5 years tenure. His practical steps on COD, judicial independence, Parliamentary sovereignty and Pakistan’s role on US policy on war on terror will determine his government’s performance and the level of cooperation from his opponents and from those who matters in this arena. At this very moment, he and his government have a mountain to climb on credibility between his peers, trust deficit between civil and army, and governance front. Only concrete performance not merely words on those issues will determine how far he will go.

Amjad Malik is a Solicitor-Advocate of the Supreme Court of England & Wales


9 responses to “Presidential speech, is he stalling everything or truly bringing reconciliation the soil, a critical analysis”

  1. guYasir Avatar

    PM Gillani said we don’t take dictation from IMF. What the heck? when he increased electricity bills He said we did it because IMF dictate us to do so.
    I can say surely our democracy turns Demockery


  2. guYasir Avatar

    Rehman Malik refused to take FBI assistance in current Marriott Hotel blast and said our Intelligence is sufficient enough to investigate this accident themselves.
    Once BB got murder they were drumbeater of UN inquiry and deny any other local inquiry.
    Zardari He who was in USA alone when his wife making Deal with Mush to come back in Pak. Zardari got this planned from USA in order to establish illusionary democracy in Pakistan.
    He implemented that planned (to killed BB) in order to gain public sympathies and in order to advance US so-called war on terror agenda which BB might not have done as compare to Zardari doing to allow US forces to attack inside in pak borders in return Zardari not only gain President seat but his cases will be dropped as well.
    As Eric Margolis mentioned in his above article that;
    Zardari, who was helped into power with Washington’s financial and political support…
    What does that mean?

  3. ms.shah Avatar

    For God sake can we put behind these stupid war mongering Constitutional crises.So much for the constitution which Mr.Bhutto did not respect himself.Pakistan has gone bloody crazy in past one year about the question of Uniform,amendments,challenges of Chief Justice whole world upside down………..
    From chief Justice to lawyers ,to politicians……..has anyone shown even a little bit of sense of responsibility of putting their acts together to deal with the situation which has landed inside Pakistan now.
    Pervaiz Musharaff resigned,Gen.Kiyani has called all army back to the head quarters.Now politicians I want you to deliver.We do not need constitution to save the country,we need you to come up with the strategy and come and prove that you were worthy of the mendate.
    We have lost Benazir ,can you promise she was the last one to be stolen away from us.
    Marriot is done but can you promise that you will do your best not in words but in action to stop this.
    Taliban,Americans or India who ever ,you knew the challenges before coming to take the job on board now deliver it.
    My dear beloved journalists can we put aside whole lengthy articles going round and round in circles instead the question is simple?
    When is it going to stop?How can you stop it?Can we help and how do you want us to help you?
    I do not know how to do it but we have to do it.Can we leave Punjab governement aside,and lawyers and constitution and powers of president on a hold and instead focus on how to get out of this crises and get out alive and fast.
    What is the fuss about Democracy.I am shocked at the luxury of media and educated people.
    WE ARE PAKISTANIS, no one will save us ,we have to do it on our own.

  4. guYasir Avatar

    We are herding towards New World Order a.k.a ‘globalism’
    It is hard to stop NWO while you are a crony/colony of USA
    The current plunder-president of pak will bring inferno in our country by his vicious policies in FATA
    Zardari has apparently allow US forces to attack inside Pak
    Our leaders have been chosen by west to advance their malignant agenda to suppress those muslims who stand up against them.
    People often ask this and I answer, If we form movements, they will have us corralled and pick off the leaders. Think for yourself. Stop looking to others for answers. They fear individual initiative more than anything.

    What we don’t do is just as important.
    The democratic system has been subverted and now is mostly a form of social control. The bankers/plutocrats control most political parties and the means of mass persuasion. They frame the debate and the alternatives. So obviously, we should not waste much energy participating in the democratic process.

    The second thing is to stop watching TV. People are natural conformists. TV defines reality by setting social norms. Its subliminal message is that the politicians actually serve our interests, and despite problems, everything is OK.

    Educating ourselves is very rewarding. I used to seek transcendence in meditation but to my surprise I feel much more liberated since I learned how the world really works.

    In conclusion, the “War on Terror,” like all wars is a fraud designed to advance world government by suppressing Islam and creating a police state at home rather everywhere.

  5. ms.shah Avatar

    Hi yassir I did that when I was 23y .I took a break from politics and understood how the world works…….
    The problem is Pakistan is not working?
    But it helps a lot TM is probably the only way to survive but only if we could stop bombs from blasting with our PSI.

  6. Nisar Khoro Avatar
    Nisar Khoro

    Playboy to President


    Asif Ali Zardari, the son of Pakistani politician Hakim Ali Zardari, was born on 21 July 1956. He grew up in Karachi and had a privileged childhood, attending St Patrick’s High School, the same school former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf attended. He later enrolled himself at the London School of Economics.

    Zardari married Benazir Bhutto on Dec 18, 1987, which was arranged by their families. Zardari had met Bhutto only five days before the wedding, though negotiations had started taking place almost six months ago. Before his marriage, he was known as a polo-playing playboy who owned a private disco in his own house.

    However, after tying the knot, Zardari’s personality was largely overshadowed by the political figure of Bhutto.

    Zardari first found himself embroiled in trouble when an attempted-murder and extortion case was filed against him in 1990. He faced charges of strapping a remote-controlled bomb to the leg of Pakistani-born British businessman, Murtaza Hussain Bukhari, sending him to the bank to withdraw US$800,000. Zardari was later sent to jail where he stayed until his wife’s party won the election in 1993. He was made a finance minister upon his release from prison.

    The couple then built a $50 million ‘prime minister’s residence’ on 110 acres on an Islamabad hilltop. Zardari also acquired the 365-acre, $8 million Rockwood Estate in Surrey, England, and a $4 million estate in Palm Beach County, Florida.

    In 1996, he was arrested under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance. He found himself charged with the murder of Mir Murtaza Bhutto, his wife’s brother. After the fall of Bhutto’s government in the same year, Zardari, along with Bhutto, was charged and convicted in a kickbacks scam involving a Swiss company, SGS. Zardari was imprisoned. However, Bhutto stayed out of country.

    Zardari was in prison until 2004. He was released after his wife’s PPP negotiated a deal with former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf’s government. Zardari then moved to Manhattan’s wealthy Upper East Side, where he lived for three years, before returning to Pakistan after his wife’s assassination.

  7. Nisar Khoro Avatar
    Nisar Khoro

    Wiki entry on the NRO. It needs contributions:

  8. abc Avatar

    The characteristics of a HYPOCRITE are three:
    he tell lies;
    he breaks his promise;
    he betrays his trust.”