On a very eventful Monday for India’s neighbor Pakistan, its exiled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned from London and after a lot of drama, was deported. Mr Sharif is back in Jeddah, and Mushy has some peace to himself. At least, he can get sleep tonight. Over the world, the media won’t. And it wouldn’t let anyone else sleep too.
The funny thing is the analysis of this incident by media across the world. BBC News has taken a very neutral view of the entire incident, trying to avoid one side or another. Also mentioning in a very subtle way that US has washed its hands off the matter, terming it as Pakistan’s “Internal Affair”.
CNN on the other hand, seems to be leaning more towards the Musharraf story of things. Though the major overtone in CNNs coverage is the neutral stand that the US has taken, and moved on to the coverage of the congressional report on whether the Iraq troop surge has worked.
The Indian media, is simply hammering this incident over and over again. If you see any private news channel here, you will know that Mr. Sharif stayed for 90 minutes in the airplane on the tarmac and a little over 90 minutes in the airport. Then he was deported to Jeddah. These channels seem to be possessed by some demonic power that forces them to show the same news again and again. More interestingly, there were panel discussions on whether Mush is trying to stop the return of democracy to Pakistan.
Whether democracy returns or not, I believe it is good that Nawaz Sharif does not return. Remember the Kargil war, when a nation’s military prepared to launch a proxy war against a country that was being kissed and embraced by its own Prime Minister.
Whether Sharif had any knowledge of the advances made by Pakistan’s army in Kargil is a topic for debate, what became clear after the whole incident is that he was a spineless Prime Minister. And in today’s unstable Pakistan, torn between extremist elements and elements still loyal to the US, a spineless premier is the last thing needed.
Before even thinking of the other choices in front of Pakistan to lead a democratic government, I would ask, is Pakistan ready for democracy? There are reports of Al-Qaeda and Taliban operating from the northern regions of Pakistan that border Afghanistan, there are tribes who are totally against any form of authority forced on them, democratic or not. And then there are the terrorists, once harbored and promoted by Pakistan, who are now disillusioned in their own masters’ support of America. This is clear by the increasing number of suicide bombings in Pakistan itself. Terrorists are irritated, and irritated big time.
With so much volatility, a democratic government will not really succeed. Especially the toothless and spineless democracy that usually exists in Pakistan. Any democratic government cannot take the harsh steps needed to control religious fanatics, terrorists and instability. All that said, is the current military dictatorship doing its job to stablize Pakistan? Statistically, it is a failure. The promise of helping the US reduce Islamic terrorism is yet to show some character. Terrorism is on an all time high, Osama keeps sending one video after another, and Taliban is growing in strength.
I am tempted to ask, if I can see all this with my limited vision of world politics, served to me by the media….why can’t the US government see it? Any major instability in Pakistan will lead to major instability in the entire South Asia. With the terrible backlash on its hands in Iraq, can US afford such an instability in this part of the world? Is the US just ignorant, or are they closing their eyes with their own hands?
No one can predict the future. But the present is clear, and the entire world can see Musharraf sitting on a time bomb. Nobody can predict when it’ll explode right under him, but as time passes, the bomb becomes a bigger threat. Would Musharraf flinch? I guess we will soon find that out.