Cosmetic Changes in Islamabad

May 01, 2008

Pakistan's Moment: We will fight terrorism — our way appeared under the byline of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. Since his name is on the mast, I will assume that he takes full responsibility for this article. He writes:

It is important for Pakistan — which has transited from an authoritarian regime to democratic governance — that the message of this first critical post-election period be bold and clear. Like newly elected governments in other democratic societies, we intend to set the tone and agenda. We want to show the world that our nation is back in business, with an overwhelming mandate from our people.

It has been thirty days since he and his cabinet took oath. What does he have to show for the past thirty days? Please keep in mind that his party (PPP) and his coalition partners, PML-N, ANP and JUI had nearly six weeks to prepare an agenda before this oath taking.

Inflation is unchecked, prices for rice, flour, petrol and other commodities are still escalating. Law and order is still in a mess. The ministers travel in motorcades and the traffic is still diverted and blocked as it was under the previous administration.

The Judiciary issue is used as a lightening rod and a smokescreen simultaneously to deflect the attention and scrutiny away from the pressing problems facing the nation. The irony is, while the issue is being debated in Dubai between Asif Zardari the interim co-chairman of PPP and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, Mr Gilani is not even a member of the participating teams.

I find nothing bold and clear nor any attempts to set the tone and agenda.

Mr Gilani describes Benazir Bhutto as "Pakistan's quintessential democratic leader" ...facts and history speak otherwise.

My government is a coalition of modern, moderate, innovative, progressive democratic forces determined to jump-start the economy and to rebuild the social fabric of Pakistan.

We saw many of these "modern, moderate, innovative, progressive democratic forces" in the previous two terms each of PPP and PML-N. And the Pakistanis have not forgotten why both the PPP and PML-N were turfed out a total of four times.

We understand that unemployment, inflation and poverty are corrosive elements that, if left unaddressed, can create hopelessness and ennui that undermine authority.

The people of Pakistan did not elect him and his coalition to "understand" - they elected him to act quickly to alleviate these issues. Other than playing the blame-the-previous-government his administration has done nothing substantive.

He writes of "smuggling of Pakistani wheat across our borders."

Does he realise how impotent this sounds when read by the US readers? It reads as an confession of his Administration's inability to exercise control within his territory. This is going to raise eyebrows in the foggy bottom. The Pakistani detractors bring up the issue of Nuclear Weapon's safety and control every other week. If Pakistan cannot effectively control her side of the border how can he cite this weakness as a raison detre for smuggling?

 Now we are negotiating from a position of strength.

The proof is in the pudding. This is what I have written here in Zardarigate: Who's Afraid of Judiciary:

Witness these recent developments from the new coalition government of Raza Rabbani:

* The coalition accepted the appointment of Maj Gen Jay Hood (of the Qur'an desecration infamy) in the US Embassy at Islamabad.

* The coalition recalled Gen. Mahmud Ali Durrani, a protege of Shirin Taher-Kheli and a colleague on Balusa, as Ambassador to the Court of St. Bush and appointed him National Security Adviser to the PM Raza Rabbani (Shirin is also a neocon and  knows Hussain Haqqani, Ayesha Siddiqua and others through IDSA and other fora.)

* The coalition appointed Hussain Haqqani, first as Ambassador-at-large and then as Ambassador-designate to the Court of St. Bush. Last week Blogger Pakistan ran a long, rambling article by Moin Ansari - Husain Haqqani:-Dangerous 5th Column or Selfish opportunist? which tried to establish Hussain Haqqani as a neocon at best and a neoconzix at worst. * Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has "detached himself" from the Balusa Group according to Mariana Babar.

The parachuting of Washington's dream team means status quo remains unchanged in Islamabad. And the criticism and bunking of President Musharraf's US tilt is self serving lip service. Playing His Master's Voice (no pun) does not indicate a "position of strength."

Yousaf Raza Gilani is in an unenviable position. He cannot tell people to eat cakes. He has to act boldly, clearly, firmly and quickly: which means refraining from blame-game and delivering results. 

love people who are in awe of words. words are the sole arbiter and the final survivor. desicritic editor, slave and slave-driver.
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