Sunday, September 9, 2007

Musharaf and Sharif - You shall not become the Law;Law is Blind!

As I write this, reports of Nawaz Sharif being forcefully deported back to Saudi are flashing the TV Screen. Regardless of what happens to him in the days ahead in Saudi one wonder what made him return to the troubled country amid the prospect of him deported back to Saudi or arrested by Musharaf's police. Is it the love for the people of Pakistan or is it his commitment to a democratic Pakistan? Or the astute politician in him sensed the right opportunity to stake claim to the higher office of the land, which was taken away from him by Musharaf in a bloodless coup.

Whatever might be the answer, this poses a bigger question. Is a country better off with a corrupt politician returning back from royal and luxurious exile or with a Military dictator who ousted the corrupt leader and promised to clean up the dirt from the public life? Nawaz accepted a deal to flee the country when the public opinion was against him and when the life in jail was a certainty. He chose to trade his power for a princely life in Saudi. Majority of Pakistani people then considered Nawaz's exile a victory for democracy. Having celebrated a Military dictator taking over the country from a democratically elected premier, Pakistan demonstrated one of the nuances of budding democracy in the third world. Now it is time again to demonstrate yet another contradiction by sympathizing for Sharif, who amassed disproportionate wealth while being in power at the expense of the poor Pakistani common folks. General Musharaf's public support is wafer thin and it is now seen as the victory of human soul against the military might that leader of the 7th largest military in the world find himself in the middle of a quicksand of loosing power and place in public imagination. It is not enough to be right. One has to be right at the right time, which is always in a land of eternal conflicts, physical and idealogical.

The US demonstrated their idea of democracy when they supported an Army General, who threw out a democratically elected Prime minister, when he promised to help the US crack down on Taliban. But it is not unusual for US to support undemocratic leaders when it helps the US interest. So there is no surprise. Condy Rice is probably working over time now to formulate a policy when Musharaf will have to give up the power to another civilian leader. But her concern over the Nukes will be of utmost interest to her than her love for democracy, when formulating US policy.

There are no simple answers to these contradictions. Democracy in neighboring India is much stable and is the most populous democratic country in the world. But even after 60 years of democratic institutions and exercises, India still tolerate very corrupt career politicians. Politicians routinely escape corruption charges amounting millions of rupees. Seldom a politician spent time in Jail for corruption charges. Unlike Pakistan army, Indian army resisted the temptation of taking over the executive. They tolerated corrupt and inefficient leaders. In some instances they adopted the policy 'If you cant beat them, join them'. Expensive military gears bought for the army men's use in world's tallest battle field, Siachen, were found in the local bazar for public to buy.

That is the lesson for the world. A country gets its leader they deserve. They get corrupt leader when the corruption is rampant in the society. They get inefficient leader when the entire system is inefficient. They get monarchy when they are loyal to the royal blood. They get military dictator when the civilian leadership fails.

When some one else try to impose ethics and efficiency and democratic values from outside, it wont last long. The country will fall back to the mean eventually. It is just a matter of time. There is a saying in my language. 'If you beat the fruit to ripen, it will never be sweet'. Hope Condi and Bush can learn from this lesson. Never beat IRAQ to ripen to the democratic fruit of the middle east!

There is one more important lesson that shall not be forgotten. 'You shall not become the Law;Law is Blind'! Musharaf took the rule of the land in his hand when he ousted Sharif and took control of the country. Musharaf negotiated an unconstitutional deal with Nawaz to allow him escape from the law of the land. Sharif now questions the existence of the agreement which required him to stay in exile for 10 years. Musharaf forced the then president to retire and assumed the dual role of President and Army Chief. Musharaf threw out Supreme Court Chief justice only to be brought back under intense public anger. He now deported Nawaz Sharif back to Saudi against the Supreme Court order allowing Sharif brothers to come back to Pakistan. The official position is that technically they met Supreme court order 'allowing them to come back to Pakistan' citing that they allowed Sharif to land in Pakistani soil only to be deported in few hours of landing! What a silly argument to come from the head of a state. Musharaf is blind. He cant see what he has to be seeing now. His fall from grace to just another military dictator who lost love with the masses;albeit unfortunate. It does not matter if John Stewart would prefer to have High Tea with the General. He might just ask the staff not to sweeten it with the sugar from Sharif's questionable sugar mills.

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