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Scoop Q & A: Pakistan Coup

QesAnswers To Scoop Questions On Pakistan Coup

Scoop posted the following questions this morning on an internet news forum… Shahid Mahmud.. smahmud@qis.net.. has kindly replied.


Some thoughts on your questions.

1. Will this play into the hands of nationalist militaristic elements in India?

A. The Indian government has already indicated difficulty in starting the stalled negotiations and the scenario may not change unless the new setup in Pakistan gets approval from the United States. A lot depends upon the new setup, its nature, structure and tenure. In other words, answer to your question is a yes. As a Pakistani I would like to not worry about what the Indians and the United States might think about the coup, I am hoping that the corrupt and oppressive leaders like Mr. Sharif, Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Altaf Hussain are sent packing.

2. I thought that Nawaz Sharif had done a good job - albeit highly criticized - in not allowing Indian provocation in the lead up to the Indian elections to force the Pakistan military's hand. Is this not so?

A. It is not the end-result in shape of cessation of hostilities which may be questionable, it is the manner in which Prime Minister conducted himself during the crisis. His trip to Washington was the last straw on the camel's back. He should not have rushed to Washington and sat with Bill Clinton if in the end he was going to withdraw. Peace could be opted by sitting in Islamabad.

3. Is Pakistan so used to military coup's that this is not a big deal.

True. Pakistani political parties are generally run by families, clans or charismatic individuals who literally control the party's life and death. This autocratic and closed nature of the political system with political corruption has lead people to often ask for relatively clean army rule which by no means is desirable for a long time either. Pakistan Muslim League, Pakistan Peoples Party, Awami National Party and Mutheda Qaumi Party are all examples of parties run by either families, clans or dictatorial individuals. Again, answer to your question is yes.

4. Is the timing of this coup connected with the result in the Indian election - it seems remarkably coincidental if not?

It appears that the coup was spontaneous, evident from lack of preparation for the future setup. The differences between the army and the Sharif's were there for sometime now, they just reach their culmination point today. There are also reports that one or two generals were arrested as they refused to follow the orders, pointing to abruptness of the action.

5. Clearly some believe PM Sharif had changed in recent times and others do not. In 1997 I understand he was involved in an attack on the Pakistan Supreme Court - does the theory that he was about to disrupt the court again hold any water?

This time his target to destroy was the professional and generally disciplined army of Pakistan.

6. How credible is the theory that the coup is over Sharif being too soft on Kashmir? From here it is difficult to see that he had a great deal of choice and his conciliatory stance - if anything - looked brave and statesmanlike. How did it play in Pakistan?

As explained above, it was a combination of ineptness and surrender which is the impression people of Pakistan have. By all fair accounts, this time around the Indian army was badly beaten. If at all Pakistan had to withdraw, there were ways for more honorable withdraw, such as asking India to vacate Siachin glacier in return, etc. The way it turned out, it was completely unilateral in a disputed area.

You are right he perhaps did the right think in withdrawing from the hills, but it is the clumsy and dishonorable way he went about that upset the people and the army.

One thing is obvious from this coup that much touted American nod or Nyet was not a factor in the change. From that aspect alone, it was a big plus - in my personal view.

Shahid Mahmud


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