Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Musharraf Does Mufti

Today is Wednesday, 28 November 2007.

And so this day a weepy General Musharraf has retired from the Pakistani army and doffed his uniform for the last time. Pakistan is again ruled by a civilian president!



And military service has been very good to him. I have on order a new scholarly study of the Pakistani army (Military Inc. by Ayesha Siddiqa), which documents Musharraf’s self-admitted ownership of more than $10 million worth of real estate, accumulated on a general’s salary. Not only a military and political genius, but a Master of the Universe in investing as well.

(To put this in context: the same study demonstrates that the Pakistani army owns some $20 billion worth of civilian businesses and real estate, including luxury housing for officers, hotels, malls, insurance companies, banks, farms, and an airline. Note that the American taxpayer has showered, thanks to Bush-Cheney, more than $10 billion on the Pakistani army to fight “terrorism”, a task at which it does not excel, unlike its performance in picking civilian pockets.)

The new Army Chief of Staff is General Ashfaq P. Kayani, once a military advisor to Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister, and recent head of Inter-Services Intelligence. ISI is a sinister gang whose greatest accomplishment was serving as the pipeline for hundreds of millions of American taxpayer dollars which flowed to the mujahadin fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. (One assumes a great sum of money leaked from or got stuck in the pipeline.) ISI was also the greatest foreign supporter of the Taliban regime, and many ISI officers remain deeply sympathtic to it.

General Kayani is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College (Fort Leavenworth, Kansas) and is “said” to be pro-American and more interested in military affairs than in politics, which, of course, hasn’t stopped him from loyally serving an army which is mediocre in battle but brilliant at oppression and fleecing civilians. (But perhaps he was only “following orders”, ja?)

Kayani is a loyal lackey of the Musharraf faction. Even were Kayani to overthrow his wicked master, there is no reason to imagine that he and the rest of the military high command would reverse half a century of rapacity and return their ill-gotten gains, restore civilian rule, and retreat docilely to their barracks.

One likely scenario is that either Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif, another former prime minister, would accept the office again, with strictly circumscribed powers, hoping to scheme for enlarged powers, while again indulging their bloodsucking leech natures at the public expense. Or perhaps a new civilian would be willing to serve as the public face of the dictatorship.

The chances of a popular upraising overthrowing the dictatorship seem slender. There is no evidence that so-called “Islamist extremists” have the numbers and organization necessary to overcome the army. While the middle class has grown substantially as the Pakistani economy has doubled in size over the past ten to fifteen years, there is again no evidence to suggest it has the means to challenge the guns of the army.

Most likely outcome to the crisis: no matter the identity of the authors of their misfortunes, the Pakistani people can expect to continue suffering them.


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