Ek gul Do Mali – (One bud nursed by two gardeners) – the new love story from Pakistan

Posted on August 15, 2008. Filed under: Pakistan, Politics, terrorism |

Musharraf and Nawaz (with the reluctant Zardari in tow) are now fighting it out like the “hirsute machos” of old Hindi and Urdu movies over the love of the shy bride the Pakistani army top brass under Kiani, who only talks in romantic whispers from behind semitransparent curtains into the ears of the eager Pakistani press. Is the girl now attracted to the charm of the handsome and flamboyant (who sometimes also sheds uncontrollable tears) “young prince” returned from exile or the hair-dyed “mature” strongman – a real and proven “man’s man”? In old Sanskrit, there is a line from a verse – “Kanya baryate rupam” (the bride goes for the beautiful and handsome groom/ the mother of the bride looks for wealth in the groom/ the father of the bride looks for wisdom in the groom/ friends look for new social “pickings”/and servants or dependents look for sweets). Is the army under Kiani going to choose the “handsome”  Nawaz over the  strongman  Musharraf?  The rational choice for the army as  in the case  of  a young bride is the very practical calculation of who is going to give the maximum “satisfaction” in the long term, and over long periods in the foreseeable future. The army has “lived” with the strongman for a while now, and has a very risky choice now between a known  “bed-fellow” and  an  untested  one.

Musharraf’s one undoubted advantage is of course the long years as a central focus of authority in Pakistan. He is a known authoritarian. Why has his position weakened? Partly because of his own manipulations of both the West as well as as his native support base in Pakistan and the Army. By and large, if the Pakistani society has been getting more and more radicalized at the “lower strata” as a result of tactical encouragement by the elite as well as Western interests, it is also likely that over the years the the bottom rungs of the Army has been getting gradually replaced by more and more radical and Islamic fundamentalist elements. Sooner or later the Paksitani Army top-brass has to contend with this, and maybe they already do. Musharraf was in an unenviable position as he used Western eagerness to tackle Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan to balance the growing internal pressures towards fundamentalism unleashed again as a result of Islamic Jihadist expansionist ideologies taking root on the subcontinent with the help of Cold War politics.

Nawaz and Zardari will not be able to control the inevitable fundamentalist backlash. It would have been strategically wiser for Nawaz to leave Musharraf in power, but hanging under the threat of “financial investigations”. Musharraf could have been used against Kiani and the ISI to a certain extent using this pressure. Musharraf could also have been made the focus of the attention of the fundamentalists, thereby providing multiple targets for the Jihadists to disperse their efforts on. But Nawaz is the ultimate emotional hero – the tragic Greek one, who seals his own fate in one almost pre-destined foolishness after the other.

With the departure of Musharraf, the fundamentalists have one score less to settle, and they can chew up Nawaz and Zardari at their leisure. What will the Army do then ? Well does it really have to do anything at all – other than sit and enjoy the fanatical end it has worked so secretly and fervently to bring about?


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