Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Start Your Kiyani Coup-Coup Clock, Boys [Steve Schippert]
I've been saying this in relatively closed circles for about two weeks now, but figured with the Pakistani coalition government now officially in convalescence, the thought warrants broader sharing. Nawaz Sharif has withdrawn the PML-N half of the (already shaky) coalition, and the Pakistani government is in full disarray. Not good for a nuclear power with al-Qaeda in their midst, engaged in a slow-motion insurgency with the Taliban.
“We have been forced to leave the coalition,” Mr. Sharif said in Islamabad. “We joined the coalition with full sincerity for the restoration of democracy. Unfortunately all the promises were not honored.”
The exit by Mr. Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, had been expected in the last few days, and was finally spurred by the decision of Mr. Zardari to run for president, in an electoral college vote set for Sept. 6. President Pervez Musharraf resigned last week under threat of impeachment.
The departure of Mr. Sharif, whose party sat uneasily with Mr. Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party, is unlikely to result in immediate elections. Mr. Sharif said his members would sit in the opposition in the Parliament and try to play a “constructive” role.
Let's be clear here. Sharif's idea of a constructive role is his own presidency. Keep in mind that in his first failed run for PM, Nawaz Sharif was reported in the Pakistani press as having received billions of rupees in "campaign donations" from a certain Saudi Arabian named Usama bin Laden. In that part of the world, this is called "payroll." There is no indication that this relationship has changed, particularly considering the friends Sharif keeps, such as Hamid Gul, the former ISI director known as the "Father of the Taliban."
Sharif's first protest against Mr. Ashrif Ali Zardari's (aka Mr. Benazir Bhutto, aka Mr. 10% [corruption for skimming funds]) run for the presidency was to demand that the next Pakistani president be from either the Baluchistan province or the North West Frontier Province. Both provinces are fraught with an insurgency directly afoot — not an insignificant observation here. When that failed, he sought to strip the office of the president of certain powers before a Zardari presidency — namely the chairmanship of the National Security Council, which is in charge of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.
Both protestations have failed, and now Nawaz Sharif has withdrawn from the coalition, effectively dissolving it.
The Pakistani military — headed by the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani — will never tolerate a Nawaz Sharif presidency. Period.
A Zardari presidency stands some chance of survival (of military approval, at least initially), as General Kiyani had some past ties to the late Benazir Bhutto. But Zardari is also still talking publicly of taking control of the ISI (Pakistani military intelligence), and that is a no-go for Kiyani and the army. And while a Zardari presidency may survive initially — perhaps partially based on Kiyani's past history with Bhutto — as the country descends into political disarray, he may well feel compelled to step in before his country falls apart and Balkanizes itself. And this measure of disarray is almost a certainty going forward unchecked.
So, start your Kiyani Coup-Coup Clocks now. You may think I am going out on a limb here, but I think it's a pretty sturdy limb. And trust me, a Kiyani coup may be the safest outcome for Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal. We don't want to have to feel put in a position of "securing" their arsenal. That would be a rather ugly situation for a variety of reasons. More analysis soon.
08/26 10:42 AMShare