Musharraf, Nawaz-Zardari, Army – the classic love triangle

Posted on August 8, 2008. Filed under: Muslims, Pakistan, Politics, terrorism |

Musharraf, Nawaz-Zardari, Army – the classic love triangle in Pakistani politics. It is a “ek phool do mali” situation (one flower/flowering plant tended by two gardeners), where the “flower” – the lady is the Army, being hotly pursued by two macho suitors – Musharraf on one side, and Nawaz Zardari on the othe other side. The bride is acting shy, and keeping her preferences close to her heart. In orthodox Islam, and as per the Quran (there are some very confusing words though on this matter elsewhere in the Quran as well as pronouncements of Muhammad elsewhere as quoted in the Hadiths) after a formal Talaq (divorce), the ex couple cannot marry each other again a second time unless the woman has “tasted the honey of another man and husband, and that man has tasted the honey of the woman” (closest English translation of actual quotes from Muhammad – with some versions explicitly making it clear that the new marriage has to be “consummated”). This curious gem in Islamic Shariat is called Hila or Hilla (probably the source of the Bengali loan word “hille” used by many Bengalis and Hindi speakers in the sense “way out/ convenient arrangement for maintenance” without knowing the actual connotation).

Musharraf in a sense “separated” from the Army, but was it a real divorce ? Was the “third Talaq” actually pronounced? This however is not very clear. Musharraf left his “woman” in the hands of a trusted ISI chief – a man he had brought up himself, Kiani. It looks more like a trusteeship rather than giving up claims on the woman altogether. In Pakistan, the Army command structure reflects the upper semi-feudal class’s own social network. Which means Musharraf’s power basis is rather social, and mere rearrangements of Army interrelationships will not destroy his actual power base. In a sense, Zardari also represents the party of a man who had been given the Talaq by the woman – Zardari’s father-in-law who had brought up Zia-ul-Haq thinking him to be docile and undistinguished, was given the ultimate boot-out by Zia. (Maybe the new resulting woman also gave a Talaq to her new husband – by possibly allowing the most suspicious mid air explosion of Zia’a plane).

At the moment, both men are wooing the shy bride to be. But the bride is thinking about who will giver her the greatest “rewards”, freedom to pursue its own agenda and the resources to carry the agenda out. Lack of ordinary modern routes to dominance and political power within most democratic setups, are actually unavailable to a lot of ambitious young men from the Pakistani elite – and they gravitated to the army. Thus the politicians as well as the army compete for the same social base of power and the army cannot leave too much freedom into the hands of the politicians – who may also be more vulnerable to external pressures as well as accountability. The politicians may have to compromise officially at least on using Pakistani soil for resourcing Islamic terror, a weakness in the “man” the shy bride does not like.

Zardari-Nawaz have tried to correct this show of weakness, by retracting the takeover of the ISI. However it could have left the bride shaky – and it may yet decide to back up her “old man”. A crucial role will be played by the external suitors – the West , the Arab world, China and India. The army is probably already projecting its own “desirability” and the need to “pleasure itself” by increasing border incidents in Kashmir against India, and against the Afghan government in NWFP. It needs and wants a free hand and resources to indulge in its own “pleasures”. It all depends on who can promise this with credibility.

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