|Opposition at every
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - Two years ago, Pakistan's military
establishment pieced together a system of statecraft
that was a mixture of military and civil
governance. This policy now lies in tatters, and
the ruling military establishment is desperately
trying to patch it up.
developments, the anti-US movement, which had
been lying low, is becoming more organized at a
time when Pakistan is cooperating with the United States on
several regional and international fronts.
The launch of a
series of "million marches" last Sunday, calls for strikes,
countrywide demonstrations and a standoff in
troubled Balochistan province, all add to the
problems of President General Pervez Musharraf.
Balochistan boils again
forces are locked in a standoff with militiamen of
the Bugti tribe in Dera Bugti in Balochistan
province, after an earlier battle that left
scores of security personnel and tribesmen dead.
Hundreds of Pakistani forces are apparently under
Balochistan has seen unrest since
the beginning of the year when tribesmen attacked
key gas installations at Sui, in the heart of the
Bugti tribal area. The tribesmen claim a greater
portion of the region's natural wealth.
Balochistan is geographically the largest
of Pakistan's provinces, but population-wise it is
the smallest. However, the province is endowed
with some of the world's richest reserves of
natural energy (gas, oil, coal); minerals (gold,
copper), and it has strategic mountainous borders
and passes adjoining Iran and Afghanistan on the
west and miles of precious maritime coast
stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Arabian
Sea in the south.
Even as politicians
attempt to solve the problem through dialogue,
increased military action seems inevitable in the
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, leader of
the opposition Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf; the president
of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), a
coalition of opposition religious political parties,
Qazi Hussain Ahmed; and leader of the
opposition, Fazalur Rehman, could never have thought
in their wildest imagination that on Sunday, when
the Taliban resistance is lying low in Afghanistan
and the Iraq issue is old, merely the pro-US
policies of Musharraf could draw probably the largest
crowd in the history of Pakistan, with people
spread along a 3.5-kilometer stretch in Karachi.
the first in a series of five "million marches"
organized by the MMA in major cities aimed at
mobilizing public opinion against government
policies and US intervention in the affairs of
"We will continue
the struggle against Pervez Musharraf until he is
ousted from power," Rehman said at the rally.
"Musharraf is playing into the hands of America
and distorting the Islamic identity of Pakistan."
The whole of Karachi had been
decorated with posters three days before last weekend's march, inviting
them to attend the gathering. "Musharraf says the
veil and the beard [present] a regressive picture
... He says in my whole family there is only one
man with beard ... He says those who do not like
to see women running in shorts should shut their
eyes and TV sets," some of the posters read.
On the other hand, "Musharraf says do not
play around with the enemy otherwise he will pull
out our eyes ... if the Balochi are brave, we are
also brave, to boot out this Western stooge, join
the million march," the posters continued.
The theme of the march was so conservative
on religious issues that the Alliance for the
Restoration of Democracy, which had earlier agreed
to attend the meet, backed out and announced
that it could not join with the MMA on such
Khan, who once charmed the Western
press with his cricketing and playboy image and
whom Musharraf and his wife once termed as their
favorite personality - he was courted to give
Musharraf's government credibility - added his
weight to the religious forces in the country.
"I do not believe in any enlightened
moderation which separates us from our ideological
saga. Had this been a destination, what was the
need to get a separation from India [in 1947].
Pakistan is an Islamic state and will continue to
be an Islamic state," Khan told the cheering
This successful Islamist opposition
march in Karachi has put in motion the wheels for
more such marches, strikes and demonstrations.
National Assembly, the government was defeated twice
in trying to pass bills. Despite one of the
largest federal cabinets in the history of the
country, there is a long queue for ministry
positions within the ruling coalition. These people
have formed a group, and to show their strength
they boycotted assembly proceedings - which has
given the opposition parties a chance to call the
shots in the assembly. The helpless government
openly announced a political "bribe" (development
funds) of Rs2.5 million (US$42,000) for those who are
punctual at assembly proceedings.
government is also under fire over its
"accountability" program against corruption. A
coalition partner in the government and incumbent
minister of Northern Areas and Kashmir affairs,
Faisal Saleh Hayat has finally had his bail
canceled by the Supreme Court in a loan default
case - the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)
had refused to take any action. He is still a
Former minister Salma Ahmed
has dramatically been put behind bars by the NAB in
a case that is still under litigation and the court
has yet to make a decision. The case revolves
around a book written by the 75-year-old former
minister that boldly exposes many top names of
the country (including a former navy chief).
Former Pakistani cricket captain and
former top bureaucrat Javed Burki, who happens to
be Imran Khan's first cousin, has been targeted by
the NAB, even though the courts have taken no
action against him.
Many observers view
these events as political victimization through
Anti-Musharraf sentiment has
been stoked by the case of one Dr Shazia, who was
raped in Sui in Balochistan recently, setting
off ongoing protests there. Unconfirmed reports
say the perpetrator was a military captain close
to the ruling generals. No action has been taken
and Dr Shazia and her husband have departed
unexpectedly for the United Kingdom. Musharraf has
not helped his cause by besmirching Dr Shazia's
In effect, Musharraf now has
only one constituency - the army. Other forces are
gathering against him.
Shahzadis Bureau Chief, Pakistan, Asia Times
Online. He can be reached at email@example.com
(Copyright 2005 Asia Times Online Ltd. All
rights reserved. Please contact us for information
on sales, syndication and republishing.)
All material on this
website is copyright and may not be republished in any form without written
© Copyright 1999 - 2005 Asia Times
Office: Rm 202, Hau Fook Mansion, No. 8 Hau Fook St., Kowloon, Hong
11/13 Petchkasem Road, Hua Hin, Prachuab Kirikhan, Thailand 77110
Asian Sex Gazette South Asian Sex News