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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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Helping those who don’t help themselves

Sharif family sources say that Mian Muhammad Sharif has sent a clandestine letter to the military ruler of Pakistan appealing for early release of his two sons, Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif.

This letter was delivered to the CE by Siranjam Khan, Central Secretary General of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) and a former Lt. General of Pakistan army. He was also a member of the defunct upper house of the parliament.

Does the delivering of a letter from the Sharif patriarch mean nothing beyond the element of courier service, particularly when Lt. Gen. Siranjam Khan is also among close friends of General Musharraf? Army circles have, however, denied having received any such letter.

One source said that an appeal for release is normally considered by a Head of the State (in this case the Chief Executive) only when a case against somebody goes through legal process and the sentence is pronounced. In the case of Mian Nawaz, he has just been brought to the court of law.  He faces the charges of treason and murder under Article 6 of the Constitution. But this is practically invoking a Constitution that has been blatantly violated by the invoking party itself. Never has the general will been profaned more than in this case.

Mian Nawaz’s younger son, Hasan Nawaz also addressed a letter to the US President Bill Clinton and members of the US House of Representatives’ International Relations Sub-Committee on Asia and the Pacific. The letter states,” I write this to urge you, as elected officials in a democratic system, to ask the coup leaders in Pakistan to release my father Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other family members from illegal detention since October 12th when a democratically elected government was toppled in Pakistan.”

The letter has been addressed to the president of a country that is policing the whole world whether democracy has gone amiss anywhere. But apart from that, Nawaz Sharif’s son has another strong reason to ask President Clinton to intervene. Mian Nawaz had ordered withdrawal of Pakistani regulars from Kargil heights on his assurance. In the Blaire House meeting, President Clinton had allayed his fears of a coup, likely to be engineered by the Generals following the withdrawal decision.

Beyond a faint lip service, the self-appointed gendarme of democracy has nothing to say about the massacre of democracy in Pakistan.  This is a lesson for other politicians and rulers in South Asia in general and Pakistan in particular; Pakistan because she, according to one of her Martial Law administrators, was “more aligned than an ally”, and Pakistan because her political leadership, in  the government or in opposition, has been vociferously asking for US mediation in Kashmir. The world knows that the US has seldom denied support to Generals and dictators in Asian and African continent if and when they overthrew popular governments and assumed power themselves.

Nevertheless, democracy means power of the people. If the deposed Prime Minister enjoyed the trust of his party - PML (N) - what has been its role after his unconstitutional deposition? Not a dog barked. Did he really enjoy the majority support or was he a liability to be dumped willy-nilly?

Recently top PML leaders held a meeting at the Islamabad residence of former interior minister, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. Interestingly only 30 leaders attended the meeting. Second line party leadership refused to launch an agitation campaign against the military regime’s sacking of a democratically elected government.

They expressed opposition to the army intervention but at the same time they declared that they had no plans to confront the armed forces “ because it would be dangerous for the country.” What is surprising, the meeting failed to take any decision on whether or not to challenge the dismissal before the Supreme Court.

Of course there have been some unannounced moves on the political chessboard in Pakistan. Efforts are on to broker some sort of working relationship between the Pakistan Muslim League and the military regime. If the PML government was despised for its acts of omission and commission, the military regime is faced with tremendous external pressures. A former federal minister in Sharif’s government, Lt. Gen. (retd) Abdul Majeed Malik, is reported to have approached some close associates of General Musharraf for a patch-up.

“We are just trying to communicate to the regime that the weakening of the PML is neither in the interest of the country nor the army,” said Ejazul Ha suspended MNA and senior vice president of the party.

In this bizarre background, the amusing development is Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s threadbare support to the deposed Prime Minister of Pakistan and rejection of the military rule. Mr.Vajpayee is reported to have adopted an outright anti-military rule stance in Durban Commonwealth meet.

When the people of Pakistan are not interested in launching agitation against unconstitutional dismissal of a government they had voted to power, when the party line is loath to launch a nation-wide agitation against the coup, when the world powers in general and the US in particular are soft-pedaling on military incumbency in Pakistan, why should India try to be more loyal than the king?

New Delhi must remember that the General in Pakistan is going to be there in the seat of power for at least a decade if not more. New Delhi must remember that the General has a strong support structure in the US Congress and above all he has the pro-sectarian groups in Pakistan and in Afghanistan to lend him a helping hand. He has already convinced Saudis and the UAE of the validity of his coup. They are not going to let down Pakistan’s economy as in the past.  Therefore, like it or not, New Delhi has to have business with him and his country. New Delhi should not brush aside his offers for talks on bilateral issues.

Mr. Vajpayee is a seasoned leader. Under the pretext of search for regional peace, he should not allow interference by India in the internal affairs of a sensitive neighbouring country. Pakistanis are not aliens to military regimes. India should try to understand what the axiom “God helps those who help themselves’ means. Let us not try to replace God and become unsolicited helpers of those who do not want to help themselves.

 

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