Proliferation Press

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

Posts Tagged ‘Zardari’

Legal Advice for Pakistan’s President Zardari

Posted by K.E. White on December 19, 2009

Cyril Almeida criticizes President Asif Ali Zardari’s decision to aggressively fight the Supreme Court over an executive order shielding him and others from criminal prosecution.

Enacted by former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in 2007, the National Reconciliation Order (NRO) barred politically motivated cases against selected individuals. NRO’s beneficiaries exceed 8,000 individuals, on charges ranging from corruption to murder. Convicted of money-laundering in Switzerland, the NRO shielded Zardari from corruption charges in Pakistani courts. Pakistan’s Supreme Court unanimously overruled the executive order last Wednesday.

The editorial hits Zardari for exposing himself to humiliating, public courtroom proceedings. But, interesting, the article morphs from polemic to legal memo–pointing out that other, though similarly futile, courtroom options would have better served Zardari in this legal battle:

There was, quite frankly, disbelief in legal circles that Zardari opted to give the petitioners and judges an open court, as it were, during the NRO hearings. A first-year law student could tell you that you never, ever go to court without a strategy, without a game plan, without something to say in your defence no matter how hopeless the cause.

The threat to Zardari was obvious: there may have been 8,000 beneficiaries of the NRO, but there was only one Mr NRO — Asif Zardari. Forget the judges, from the comments of the petitioners and their lawyers inside and outside the court it was obvious that the primary target was the president.

And this legal bundle does not only harm Zardari and his political party, but the fabric of Pakistan’s civil society. Almeida’s conclusion:

But the key to a brighter political future, or any political future for that matter, is not about tactics right now for Zardari. It is about understanding that his basic approach needs to change: between all-out aggression and total surrender lies a supple approach that prizes the small wins in big losses and accepts the small losses in big wins.

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Posted in Pakistan | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Echoes From A Cold War

Posted by proliferationpresswm on March 30, 2009

posted by Bob Noziglia

Reports have made clear that the Obama administration will continue military strikes against terrorist sites in Pakistan. This holdover from the Bush administration demands we ask what just is going on in Pakistan and why America has wedged itself into Pakistan internal border disputes. Bob Noziglia explores these questions and Pakistan’s self-defeating liberal tendencies, which demand the continued presence of robust American military support. 

 

It must be a dire situation indeed when Russia, with its own nuclear armament history, to be concerned about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.  Let us remember that not too long ago it was Russia, which after the Cold War ended in the disintegration of the Soviet Union, had nuclear submarines rusting in unsecured ports; and a fire-sale on all equipment. 

It is also important to note the silence that, until now, Russia has had towards the operations regarding Pakistan and Afghanistan.  This comes from the haunting memories similar to our Vietnam when they attempted to expand Soviet territory. 

It is then with new eyes we must re-examine Pakistan and Afghanistan while both have their own qualities that make efforts for reconstruction a slow and complicated process, they are linked by more than geographical boundaries. 

While it was not profoundly mentioned when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated last year, it was during her first tour as Prime Minister of Pakistan that she supported the rise of the Taliban, which was then one of many forces seeking to benefit from the Soviet’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

Bhutto felt it was better to have a strict Islamic state next door because it would allow them to concentrate on somehow defeating India for the territory of Kashmir.  This decision combined with the military’s hands off approach regarding the tribal areas however would cause dire consequences, as these are where her assassins most likely came from. 

With an outpouring of support because of the death of his wife, it was “Mr. 10%” Zardari who ascended to the political throne with a promise of political unity with another deposed President due to corruption, Sharrif.  This of course became a political crisis for the same reason that toppled Musharraf’s government, the topic of reinstating judges banned from their duties under dubious charges. 

The failsafe within Pakistan has been that if things were to get too bad, the military would flex political muscle and be able to step in and have confidence with the people of making things right. 

Recent events, however, have eroded the populace’s confidence dramatically.  The recent attacks of fundamentalists against the military near the border regions has left many with the impression that the Military is in fact just as incompetent as their civilian counterparts. 

Combined with the many perceived and real failures of Musharraf in Pakistan, the military credibility is also at its lowest point.  When one also considers new revelations that the military had tangential relations with those behind the attacks in Mumbai, one has a renewed sense of urgency. 

What makes this situation precarious is that many of the leadership in Pakistan are schooled in the West, especially so of their judicial branch.  With this they have come to expect and desire separate but equal branches of government and the fundamental right of law. 

These are qualities to be aspired to no question, but there also needs to be a tradition of legitimacy to that government.  Control over ones borders and checks and balances making sure that no power, however pervasive becomes dominate. 

It is these two qualities-recognized balance between government branches and border integrity-that appear to be lacking in Pakistan.  The tribal regions linking Pakistan and Afghanistan have been left to their own devices for decades.  A definition of a government is to be the ultimate authority of a given territory.  For all intents and purposes Pakistan has been a country divided by its government’s apathy to maintain that authority.  With Fundamentalist having secured a base of operations that the Government of Pakistan is afraid to confront, and jealously uses sovereignty to prevent others from attacking, these fundamentals represent a great threat. 

Should another civilian led government fail, these fundamentals could represent the most cohesive and unified political and military force in the country.  With raised expectations of a government led by a unified government, and the military now placed in a decidedly supportive role, the margin of error razor thin. 

It is then we will see a country run by a fundamentalist government, one which has ties to those responsible for the attacks in 2001 have nuclear capabilities, and the desire to proliferate and use those weapons.  This is something that can not be allowed to happen, and would be a just cause to intervene in the internal politics to make sure such a scenario does not occur. 

Pushing for accountability of Pakistan’s leadership is recognition of the dangerous dynamics that exist.  The United States should take the position of assisting the Pakistani military against those in the tribal regions.  This in conjunction with maintaining a coalition within Pakistan that would seek to maintain Pakistan as a country guided by the Principles of Islam, without the xenophobia or fundamentalist principles that terrorist groups have allowed to corrupt the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. 

Ultimately, this is a problem that can only be defeated by the people of Pakistan.  The United States has historically been a country which held to the principle of self determination, we must offer our assistance to aid Pakistan so that they may be able to live up to the definition of their country; Land of the Pure.

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Pakistan Update: Sharif Ups Ante, Zardari Yields

Posted by K.E. White on March 16, 2009

Nawaz Sharif calls off protests in light of Zardari’s decision to reinstate Iftihar Chaudhry. From Dawn:

‘We are now calling off this long march,’ he said from inside his SUV, showered with pink rose petals and stranded in a sea of jubilant supporters in the central city of Gujranwala.

He said the decision had been taken following discussions with lawyers and leaders of allied political parties, such as Imran Khan.

‘Today the nation has received very happy news. We have said that we will restore the judges and the independent judiciary and by the grace of Allah we have achieved it,’ he said.

‘Very soon we will play our role in implementing real democracy in this country,’ he added.

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Pakistan’s Political Rivalry Turns Serious: Zadari-Sharif Rift Causes Nation-Wide Protests; Sharif Under House Arrest

Posted by K.E. White on March 15, 2009

A consequential weekend is brewing in Pakistan: fueled by divisions over the Supreme Court, Pakistan’s opposition leader Nawaz Sharif has called on supporters to publicly protest President Asif Ali Zardari.

How serious is this? Well Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just had an “unusually long [phone] conversation with Zardari and Sharif” urging the two leaders to find common ground and avoid “another roud of political instability in Pakistan”. [Times of India article]

Clinton’s comes amidst reports that Sharif Sharif has been put under house-arrest. This latest escalation comes after Sharif’s public outcry against the Zardari-appointed Supreme Court’s ruling barring him from public office in Pakistan.

Is there a better to alienate a rival political party than by summarily banning its leader from future election? To be fair, Zardari has yet to completely emulate past practices: former President Prevez Musharraf took the additional step of exiling political foes.

From the Washington Post:

As the political brinkmanship continued, police in the capital prepared to stop protesters from reaching the city Sunday, and the army remained on alert. Officials blocked highways with huge shipping containers, and flights were grounded.

But thousands of opposition supporters, egged on by Nawaz Sharif and a national lawyers’ movement, continued streaming toward Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, where they rallied by torchlight in the darkened city and prepared to leave Sunday morning for their “long march” on the capital. They have vowed to demonstrate until Zardari restores a group of deposed senior judges.

Despite Zardari’s late-night offer, analysts said the confrontation in this nation of 172 million appeared to have gone too far to be defused.

The struggle centers around Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, the former chief justice of Pakistan who was fired two years ago by Pervez Musharaff. His removal triggered wide-spread disaffection which lead to Musharaff’s removal, but Zardari has yet to reappoint him to the Supreme Court. Hence the  two leading liberal parties of Pakistan, Zardari’s PPP and Sharif’s PML-N, are at one another’s throats.

Why? WaPo reports:

Many Pakistanis say Zardari fears that Chaudhry would reopen old court cases against him and nullify many of his year-old government’s actions. Analysts said Zardari’s stand has also been strengthened by U.S. ambivalence about the former justice, an unpredictable maverick who has questioned the disappearance of terrorism suspects.

At the gathering in Raiwind, Sharif related a history of broken promises by the president and said he had reneged on a Charter of Democracy both men had signed to create a civilian government one year ago.

“We were trying to bring Pakistan out of a dictatorial regime. It was the first time in our history that the two major parties had gotten together. But Mr. Zardari kept backing out of his promises,” Sharif told the journalists here. “I am not joining the long march to reach the presidency only to bring back the independent judiciary.” But if Zardari “pushes us to the wall,” he added, “we will not go home and be silent.”

Aides to Sharif said he plans to join the march, in which caravans of vehicles will set out from a lawyers’ association office in the Lahore High Court complex. But police are expected to stop the procession, as they have been blocking caravans from other cities all week, and Sharif could well be placed under house arrest.

It appears the two leading liberal parties of Pakistan are on the verge of a violent altercation—a worrisome development for Pakistan’s young and fragile democracy. Such divides were how former President Musharaff climbed to power in 1999.

So how is current Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani reacting to Pakistan’s lastest affray?

Not well; but in an interview last Friday US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen stated that Kayani is “committed to a civilian government” in Pakistan.

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Islamabad Bombing: At Least 40 Dead in Marriott Bombing After President Zardari’s First Paraliament Address

Posted by proliferationpresswm on September 20, 2008

At least forty are dead after a suicide bombing at the Islamabad Marriott Hotel in Pakistan.

From AljazeeraEnglish:

From UK’s Telegraph:

The blast is one of Pakistan’s biggest terrorist attacks in recent history. Windows in buildings hundreds of meters away were shattered. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Pakistan, a US ally in the war on terror, has faced a wave of militant violence in recent weeks following army-led offensives against insurgents in its border regions, though the capital has avoided most of the bloodshed. 

The blast comes right on the heels of President Zardari’s first address to Pakistan’s Paraliament.  Zardari spoke of the terrorist threaet his country faces, but focused more on negoitation than extermination–and delcared “the greatest challenge this government faces is an economic one.”

From Zardari’s speech:

We must root out terrorism and extremism where and whenever they may rear their ugly heads…

Madam Speaker, Pakistan is at a critical security juncture today. In order to meet the challenges posed to (by) the extremist and terrorist elements in the tribal areas and adjoining regions, the government has devised a comprehensive three pronged strategy. First to make peace with those who are willing to keep the peace and renounce violence, second, to invest in development and social uplift of the local people and third to use force only as the last resort against those who refuse to surrender their arms, take the law into their hands, challenge the writ of government and attack the security forces. For all the stake holder to have ownership of this policy, I will request the government to hold a national security briefing for an in camera joint session of Parliament. Let every [clapping] have an opportunity to make an independent informed judgment about the risks to our beloved country and about how we should move forward with responsibility, clarity of vision. I ask of the government that it should be firm in its resolve to not allow the use of its soil carrying out terrorist activities against any foreign country. We will not tolerate the violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity by any power in the name of combating terrorism (clapping).

Such acts of terrorism show the hard road ahead for Zardari. He faces a troubled economy, deadly terrorist attacks and political opposition that derailed Pakistan’s previous paraliamentary regime. 

An interesting note: Zardari addressed the Paraliament in English–not Urdu–and wearing a Western suit. This is a precedent-breaking move, according to the The Economic Times. 

Posted in Pakistan | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Brown and Zardari Talk Terrorism

Posted by proliferationpresswm on September 19, 2008

An interesting (if two-day old) Guardian report on anti-terrorism talks between President Zardari and Prime Minister Brown:

It is thought that Zardari outlined to Brown Pakistan’s plan to combat terrorism, which included a proposal to set up a dedicated cell inside the Pakistani high commission in London to help track British Pakistanis suspected of extremism. Most of the known terror plots in the UK have had some connection to Pakistan and often involved a visit there for training.

Zardari sought Brown’s help in promoting the idea of an anti-terror conference of Pakistan, Afghanistan and its neighbours Iran, China, Russia and India, along with Britain and the US as observers.

The idea is to reach a consensus among the countries most directly affected by the extremists based in Pakistan and Afghanistan, in an attempt to claim the ownership of the anti-terror fight as an indigenous struggle. A Zardari aide said: “We want to broaden the base for this war, to stop it being seen as … George Bush’s crusade. Otherwise, it just won’t wash at home.”

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