Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Musharraf Snags An Impressive Victory, But At What Cost?

Posted by K.E. White on October 8, 2007

Pakistan’s turbulent political scene continues, but President Musharraf is showing off his staying power.

But at what cost?

There’s the maneuvering over the Musharraf-Bhutto deal, referred to as the National Reconciliation Ordinance. Today’s update: Musharraf’s ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League has successfully exploited the deal to seal Musharraf’s landslide victory in last weekend’s presidential election.

The ordinance had been hoped to restore stability to Pakistan, with two rivals—Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto—coming to agreements about Musharraf’s role in the military, his third race for President, and bringing parliamentary elections that include Musharraf rivals.

The landslide victory came easily after the Pakistan Muslim League successfully brewed infighting between their competitors by releasing terms of the National Reconciliation Ordinance. The ordinance was meant to return Benazir Bhutto—leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)—to Pakistani politics, and perhaps form a caretaker regime that would restore democratic rule to Pakistan.

The result was never in doubt, as Pakistan’s parliament selections the President and is now controlled by Musharraf’s political party. But the inevitable victory was made more impressive: with parliamentary opponents arguing with each other–instead creating a unified voice against Musharraf’s rule–over the terms of the controversial deal between Bhutto and Musharraf.

The Australian explores Musharraf’s successful manipulation of the negotiations over the deal:

“The Pakistan People’s Party (Ms Bhutto’s party) played games with us and we played our game, which we won,” said Chaudhry Shujaat of the National Reconciliation Ordinance, signed by General Musharraf hours before the start of polling, which granted indemnity to Ms Bhutto, her husband Asif Zardari, and their immediate allies over corruption charges.

The deal had the effect of stopping the PPP from ordering its MPs to resign their seats along with other opposition groups.

The PPP’s parliamentarians limited their protest again General Musharraf to abstaining from voting.

According to Mr Aziz and Mr Chaudhry Shujaat, that was the real purpose behind the deal, and a remarkably candid PML boss added: “If the higher judiciary strikes off the NRO, we have no obligation to renew it or bring any other law in its place.”

But Musharraf isn’t out of the woods. While on the ballot during last weekend’s presidential election, the Pakistani Supreme Court is ruling on the constitutionality of this third run for President.

From ABC News coverage of Musharraf’s court challenge and fading legitimacy:

A vast majority of people in Pakistan view Musharraf’s bid to secure another five-year term as illegal and unconstitutional. They say Musharraf is part of the problem that the country faces today.

Last week, Musharraf signed a national reconciliation ordinance, thereby absolving Pakistan’s former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, and other favorable politicians, of all corruption charges — a move that has been criticized by many national and international forums.

Bhutto, a one-time rival, termed as a “security risk” and a “plunderer of national wealth,” by none other that Musharraf, himself, is now seen as a major partner in the future government to be formed under Musharra.

The Associated Press brings focus to Pakistan’s democratic corrosion:

But many ordinary Pakistanis feel that power is the preserve of a corrupt elite, too busy securing their own interests to tackle issues such as rising Islamic militancy and the poverty and inflation that feed it.

“All politicians are the same,” said Ali Ahmad, a 28-year-old teacher in the eastern city of Quetta. “They are the enemy of poor people. They gave us nothing but suicide attacks, terrorism and violence.”

Musharraf acknowledged as much when he seized power in a 1999 coup, vowing to install “real democracy” in a country whose ineffectual civilian governments have been regularly swept aside by its generals.

Eight years later, the current wave of disappointment appears focused on the military strongman himself, but it has failed to dissuade him from seeking five more years.

Meanwhile Musharraf survives yet another brush with death: one of the helicopters traveling in a Musharraf caravan crashed–Musharraf’s helicopter was safely ahead of the downed aircraft. And fighting in North Waziristan has claimed the lives of 80 Pakistani soldiers.

The Hindu reports on the helicopter crash, apparently due to mechanical malfunction:

A helicopter carrying officials accompanying President Pervez Musharraf crashed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on Monday, killing four persons, including three armymen, onboard and injuring his spokesman.

Musharraf, who was in another helicopter flying ahead, reached his destination safely, military spokesman Maj Gen Waheed Arshad said.

Musharraf has survived three assassination attempts.

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