For all practical purposes, virtually, but not yet physically, Pakistan Army has already taken over all key centers of power. The facade of a democratically elected government is now just tha, a facade, But, for how long?
In many informed circles the army move is being called a creeping, unintended coup against he discredited political leadership. For instance, the defence and foreign policy is as usual being run by the GHQ, though this was always under their direct or indirect control. The internal security, a domain of Rehman Malik, has now been taken over by the army in Karachi as well, though in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata and Balochistan it was always under the GHQ. Men approved by the GHQ who do not have any allegiance or belong to the PPP hardcore are running the economic policy. Even the natural disaster management has now been taken over by General Kyani himself though his visits to supervise flood relief measures.
The total lack of confidence of the international community on the civilian set up to provide cash relief for flood victims is another sign that these leaders cannot be trusted, at home or abroad. The dismal failure of the Singh government in handling Karachi has led to two major interventions, which hit directly at the relevance and effectiveness of the PPP government.
1. The sue moto presence of Supreme Court in Karachi and its order to monitor situation on a daily basis, resulting in serious admonitions of the entire police hierarchy for its failure and
2. Quiet but serious intervention of the army chief by directly addressing and interacting with the Karachi business and industry leaders, who were ignored by the prime minister just a few days ago.
The candid talk General Kayani had with the Karachi business leaders was enough to indict the PPP government as a total failure. The solutions and advice given by the army chief was nothing but telling them not to look up to the civil administration anymore but to deal directly with the army, through the Rangers, led by an army general. To make it easier he suggested setting up a direct hotline, bypassing the police and the political leadership. Some of the observations of General Kayani, reported by the business leaders, were eye opening. If these observations are confirmed by the ISPR or General Kayani himself, it would mean nothing but a total expression of no confidence on the civilian set up and condemnation of the political leadership. These included; “if the Rangers also fail in Karachi then the army will come in,” which means he has decided to move in whether the political government wants it or not. “I am personally monitoring Karachi and I am in direct contact with the Rangers.” Which means the civilians are out of the equation. iIt is now a direct line. “The Karachi police has become a victim of politics, FIRs are not being registered, people are scared of coming forward to testify.” These words appear to be coming from a common victim of Karachi and not the army chief, but has said so, meaning that his thinking is in sync with the hapless people and not with the incompetent rulers. “The victims of severe depression, helplessness and hopelessness,” again a sentiment sharing the grievances of the masses but condemning the rulers. “Karachi is the business hub of the country and killings and disorder will not be tolerated, protection will be given to industry and flight of capital will be stopped.” These are the basic administrative, legal and constitutional obligations of the civilian government but since they have failed, the army chief has moved forward to promise security.
There may be many more such observations as holding of such meeting itself is an indication that the army chef had given up on the political leaders. While the political leadership of President Zardari and PM Gilani was stunned by the army chief’s quite moves, undeclared bu confident takeover of civilian duties, they could only rush to Karachi to get a better idea of what was going on and immediately met the Karachi business leaders the next day, a surprise meeting with both the president and PM present. The presidential or PM’s spokesmen could hardly issue a cogent communique after the meeting as what the army chief had told the business community was a clear message that the civilians were no longer relevant, at least practically, but given the international situation and the tensions on the borders and with the US, the army may not yet be moving in.
As the grim situation prevails on the domestic front and the attention of the army chief may have been diverted from these issues, the failure of the democratic government on the external front is also glaring and dismal. The US president refused to meet PM Gilani in New York so he had to cancel his otherwise expensive junket but President Obama did see Afghan President Karzai and had a photo-op with our sho-piece Foreign Minister Hina. Yet the critical discussions/negotiations were held between the army generals of the two countries including General Kayani and General Pasha, which by all accounts, went sour to the extent that General Pasha did not even wait for a minute in Washington and took the first available flight out of Dulles International Airport.
How the tone of the US leadership changed from urging Pakistan to take action in North Waziristan to directly accusing the ISI of involvement in attacks in Kabul in collaboration with the Haqqani network is probably a direct result of these bitter Pasha-Petraeus talks. But in Pakistan no civilian leader took up the issue until General kayani himself had to come on record and issue a tough one liner which gave the world the first direct clue of what position Pakistan had taken in response to the US threats. Not surprisingly the political leadership has also now started singing the same tune in chorus, attacking the US. The point is that the Pakistan Army is providing the leadership on both external and domestic front and the so-called democratically elected government is just a silent spectator, watching from the side-lines and waiting to be kicked out, but happy that they are getting more days to enjoy some more perks, give jobs to some more relatives and friends and make some more dollars.