Democratic Political Forces Retreat in Pakistan

by K. Ashraf

It is not the question that general Kiyani is a capable army chief or not. It is also not the question whether the situation on the ground in Pakistan calls for extending general ’s term of employment up to three more years.

The question is whether democratic forces have taken this decision with free will or under internal and external duress.

Extension in general Kiyani’s employment has proved that democratic forces have accepted their inability to prevail in decision making process in Pakistan . It is definitely a decision made by the army high command and delivered by the political forces.

PPP came into power in result of an arrangement facilitated by internal and external forces. Externally, United States and United Kingdom worked as facilitator between PPP and general Musharraf to restore democratic order in Pakistan . Internally, general Kiyani guaranteed United States , United Kingdom , PPP and general Musharraf to maintain the system in place for smooth transition from protracted 9 years of military to civilian rule.

Under these circumstances, it was evident from the beginning that general Kiyani, as guarantor of the system, will hold his office beyond his current term. The facilitators of the system, under public pressure, agreed to let Musharraf go. However, they wanted surety that general Musharraf is discharged from his office honorably and remains safe afterwards. Only general Kiyani as army chief could provide this assurance, which general Kiyani happily did.

Therefore, for now, general Kiyani have to remain on board to keep all the forces in their place. Next army chief may not have honored general Kiyani’s guarantees, which would have been embarrassing for everyone involved in facilitating the deal. Obviously, none of them would have liked it.

In other words, for the time being, general Kiyani is the balancing factor in highly volatile political situation in Pakistan .

From external point of view, in order to carry on war on terror, USA trusts general Kiyani more than anyone else after general Musharraf. USA had some doubts about general Musharraf’s fork tongue, but general Kiyani has made Americans believe that he speaks with one tongue. Therefore, they have played their behind the scene role in forcing PPP government to extend general Kiyani’s term of employment for next three years.

With this decision, like his predecessors, with three more years in office, general Kiyani has secured his position more as political figure than as army chief. He may or may not impose martial law in Pakistan , but he has definitely prepared the ground for hanging on political scene for next 3 to 6 years. Which means, general Kiyani will control Pakistan ’s politics at least for a decade?

PPP government’s decision to extend general Kiyani’s term of employment has again strengthened the army’s political ambitions and weakened the democratic political forces.

Since takeover, PPP government has constantly been on the retrieve. With this decision, PPP government has further deteriorated the democratic process. In principal, PPP government has given free hand to armed forces to move back in the political arena on their will.

It will be a big surprise for us, if there won’t be another Martial Law in Pakistan in near future with general Kiyani in the driving seat.

Courtesy: CRDP,  July 23, 2010

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