Pak Affairs

‘Musharraf’s safe exit options narrowing down’

ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s statement that army would stay out of the political process and that it would not like to be dragged into any unnecessary controversy has not only ensued a new debate in the political circles but also initiated a new debate over President Musharraf’s future role in politics.

According to a piece, printed in the BBC Urdu service, some circles are raising question that what happened that compelled the country’s army chief to convene a meeting of the core commanders in which he not only assured complete support of the army to the elected government and the democratic process but also commented on widening gulf between the President and the armed forces.

The political commentators also posing a question as whether some thing came under discussion during General Kayani’s meeting with President Musharraf a couple of days ago that ensued the army chief to issue a statement “not dragging the army into unnecessary controversy” or it has some other motives.

Commenting on the question, former chief of the army staff Mirza Aslam Baig said that what General Kayani meant is to avoid any unconstitutional move. “As the new would be coalition government has two-third majority, it can ask President Musharraf to take vote of confidence from the parliament as he was not elected by this new assembly and even he can be impeached,” he added.

When the BBC asked Aslam Baig whether General Kayani’s statement aimed to assure Musharraf of the army support, he (Baig) gave example of the situation in 1973. He said: “In 1973, the then Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee and chiefs of all the three armed forces assured Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of their full support but ultimately he was thrown away by the army.”

Besides Aslam Baig’s analysis of the issue, the BBC also posed a question that is this mere a coincident or a well calculated move that the Election Commission of Pakistan on March 5 postponed the announcement of allotment of seats, reserved for women and minorities on the ground that the courts had to decide about the results of 21 constituencies of the National and provincial assemblies which also give impression of delaying tactics in government formation.

Surprisingly, the very next day on March 6, the Election Commission allotted seats to all the political parties though the court didn’t rule about those 21 withheld election results. And perhaps it is also a coincident that the Election Commission allotted seats to the political parties after 90 minutes of the core commanders’ meeting and late after the normal office timings.

Analysts are of the view that General Kayani’s meeting with Musharraf, postponement of allocation of reserved seats by the Election Commission and then allotment of seats and the latest statement of the army chief are seemed to be related with each other. After the allotment of reserved seats to political parties by the Election Commission, there should be no delay in requisition of the National Assembly session, said analysts.

In the current political scenario, some analysts are also of the opinion that the February 18 polls has trapped Musharraf in a quagmire and options for his safe exit are narrowing down.-SANA

About the author

Rubab Saleem

Rubab Saleem is Editor of Pakistan Times

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