Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kayani’s extension proves who calls shots in Pakistan

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Democracy has one major fault line; it has too many protocols which prevents people from choosing the obvious. In feudal times peace negotiations would happen between real centres of power. In democracy however there are lot of rules and by rules to be followed which at times prevents people from taking a more practical decision. The Indo-Pak peace process is a major example to this theory.

In Pakistan General Ashfaq Kayani is the real power but the Indian leadership is forced to talk to President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani due to our democratic protocol. These people hardly have any power other than acting as ceremonial leaders. In Pakistan the three centres of power are the military, terrorists and the radicals among which military is the only institutionalised centre of power.

In 1999, then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had made the famous bus trip to Lahore and signed the Lahore Declaration with Pakistani PM Nawaz Shariff. Pakistan replied India with Kargil in less than six months. It was a certificate on the theory that the civilian leadership in Pakistan is nothing more than the official seal. It doesn’t give orders to the army rather listens to it and at times takes call from it also.

Kayani who has taken the mantle of the army from Pervez Musharraf has forced the government to extend his term by another three years. This is quite ironic as in 2008 he had replaced Musharraf on the country wide pretext that the former President was turning into a dictator. History repeats itself in Pakistan, the only difference being that this time the decision has been endorsed by a civilian government (read under tremendous pressure). The reason Kayani’s leadership is important for the fight against terrorists!

The former director general of the dreaded ISI is not known to be too fond of India and New Delhi doesn’t like him either. His term extension has now become a worrying factor for the Indian leadership who want to start dialogue with Pakistan. It would be wise for the Indian leadership to talk to a man who holds power in Pakistan rather than to ceremonial heads it it wants to take the peace process forward.


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