The Western media, in its sensational stereotyping of the coup, has largely ignored what the Pakistani people feel about the military takeover. Nawaz Sharif, the ousted prime
minister, was elected in 1996. His party enjoyed an overall majority in the parliament. He
had the golden opportunity to bring prosperity to the nation. Instead, Nawaz Sharif used
the parliamentary majority to increase his power and his wealth, and in the process
destroyed all institutions of checks and balances that are indispensible to any democracy.
He introduced amendments in the constitution which made it illegal for any party
member to express an opinion different from his or her party’s official policy.
Thus, voices of dissension from within his party were effectively strangled. When the
Supreme Court was hearing cases of corruption against Nawaz Sharif, he had his party
workers stormed the Supreme Court while it was in session, in order to disrupt the
proceedings and the Chief Justice was soon sacked by Nawaz Sharif. Pakistan’s President
was forced to submit his resignation. The fate of the former chief of the army was similar
to that of the President.
Nawaz Sharif did not stop there. He started to sow the seeds of dissension in the higher
echelons of the armed forces so as to render it ineffective as a check on his ambitions.
Sharif sacked the current army chief, General Pervez Musharraf, while Gen. Musharraf
was on a flight back from Sri Lanka. His plane was not even allowed to land in Pakistan –
– a step that endangered the lives of nearly 300 passengers traveling on the commercial
flight. Keep reading at LINK
aura writes; I was in South Asia in 1999 when the military coup went down in Pakistan. What bothers me and makes me suspicious is the manner in which the western media always refers to the coup. They report it as if it was unfair and unreasonable, which it wasn’t. There was popular support among the Pakistani people for the coup at the time and Sharif had made a power grab the likes of which the world hadn’t seen since George W. Bush arrived in the White House. What the western press doesn’t tell you is that the Pakistani military was forced to take control of the country because the elected civilian leadership was trampling all over the constitutional rights of the Pakistani people (sound familiar?) In an effort to bring the military under civilian control, Sharif sacked Musharraf while he was out of the country. Sharif had also sacked the Army chief that proceeded Musharraf, as well as the Pakistani President and Chief Justice (isn’t that special). Musharraf learned he had been sacked while on a commercial flight back from Colombo, which was carrying 300 other people. Sharif refused the flight permission to land in Pakistan and the flight was running low on fuel. Musharraf went into the cockpit and called his troops from the flight deck to arrange for his flight to land in Karachi. The army took over the Karachi airport so the flight could land instead of crash somewhere in the Indian ocean. After the flight arrived safely, Musharraf was escorted by his troops to Islamabad, where Sharif was under house arrest. Sharif would have had his neck stretched by a noose for his attempting to kill the chief of Pakistan’s army (along with innocent Pakistani civilians) had Bill Clinton not intervened to save him from the hangman’s rope.
Musharraf is now caught between a rock and a hard place. While the Pakistani military tries to remain independent, they have had to intervene and arrest the civilian leadership at times when it becomes hideously corrupt. A certain amount of corruption is expected in that part of the world, and is in fact a way of life, but sometimes it goes too far and everyone gets fed up. That’s usually when they bring out the rope. Sharif had fanned the flames of Islamic extremism to the max to consolidate political power for himself and his cronies, but that all backfired when the extremist faction turned against him after he ordered Musharraf and the Pakistani army to retreat from the Kargill (during a brief war with India in that region in the spring of 1999) under pressure from Washington. That move lost Sharif the support of his extremist base, who are bound and determined to win Kashmir back from India. In order to defer blame for the Kargil debacle and win back his base, Sharif tried to blame the decision on Musharraf, which infuriated the army chief and the military’s rank and file, which did not want to retreat from Kargil (war). The military begrudgingly obeyed the Sharif’s civilian government at the time and quit Kargil in a humiliating retreat. Despite that embarrassment of the Pakistani military, it did not immediately move to depose Sharif until he sacked Musharrah in absensia and replaced him with a handpicked political minion from the ISI. And tried to intentionally cause Musharraf’s untimely death by plane crash.
In order to prevent infighting between rival Islamic factions, the Pakistani military strives to work with the civilian leadership to maintain a secular balance within the country. However religious factions within the ISI are aligned with the Taliban and other militant extremist operating within the country, increasing internal tensions. Sharif was aligned with the ISI faction, and amended Pakistan’s constitution to promote the implementation of Islamic law or Sharia, which was set to become the law of the land at the time he was deposed by patriotic elements within the military.
The primary focus of militant extremists within Pakistan is to win Kashmir back from India, not to attack the west because of our freedom (as the western media would have us believe). Militant attacks on the Indian state of Kashmir have actually gone down under Musharraf’s rule, as opposed to rising under Sharif’s.
Musharraf was in the process of cleaning up the rampant corruption taking place within the ranks of the civilian leadership when 9-11 took place. That threw a monkey wrench into his plans to reform Pakistan because the US used 9-11 as an excuse to impose its will over Pakistan’s nationalistic agenda. Richard Armitage threatened to bomb Pakistan into the stone age if it didn’t go along with Washington’s war on terror by allowing the US to use Pakistan as a staging ground against Islamic militants in Afghanistan. Musharraf had little choice but to go along with the US’s strong arm tactics at the expense of his national goals in order to keep Pakistan from being reduced to rubble. However, despite the fact that Musharraf’s went along with the US war on terror because he had a gun to his head, he was reviled by many of his Taliban aligned Islamic countrymen for doing so. Many of his countrymen don’t realize that Musharraf has thus far managed to save them from the same fate that has befallen the Iraqis. Instead, Musharraf’s credibility has crumbled domestically because of his cooperation with Bush’s war on terror and now because of widespread outrage over Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. With this being the case, the question becomes how much longer will Musharraf be able to protect Pakistan from the same fate that has befallen Iraq? Musharraf’s military peers have protected him thus far because they realize he has been walking a tight rope with the Washington, staving off attack from US forces while taking billions of dollars from America, which has helped the country dig itself out of the hole its civilian leadership had put it in to begin with (which contributed to the ’99 coup). Musharraf is in fact every bit a patriot who is fighting to save his country from sliding into a western fueled anarchy. The US and its allies must tread cautiously however, because Pakistan has a million man standing army, not counting its police force, and its military controls a formidable nuclear arsenal. For this reason, Pakistan is not the cakewalk Iraq was supposed to be.
The Pakistani government is now curiously playing along with western propaganda by claiming to have evidence that Al qaida killed Ms. Bhutto, but the military undeniably wanted her out of the picture because of her alliance with western colonial powers and the threat that posed to Pakistan’s national sovereignty. Bhutto would have been prudent to remain in Dubai and not play into western hands. Who knows why she decided to throw down with their agenda at great personal risk. Perhaps to avenge the deaths of her father and brothers, or perhaps because she pined for her homeland, or maybe she simply wanted to rape the Pakistani treasury for more cash. It’s anybody’s guess. It stands to reason that Sharif may meet the same fate as Bhutto sooner rather than later. Washington seems to be getting a lot of milage out of Bhutto’s untimely demise, with the western meida and presidential candidates alike having a field day with the terror angle of the killing, a la Al qaida. It makes you wonder what the western power elite are really thinking, and something tells me it is not in the best interest of the nation of Pakistan.