Importance of Benazir’s return to Pakistan and dangers ahead

November 14th, 2007 - 2:31 am ICT by admin  
They are the handiwork of al-Qaeda, no less than the attempts on the life of President Pervez Musharraf in the past, he further said.

For those Pakistanis who are still obsessed with moral issues, they should serve to focus on the principal and most violent contradiction facing Pakistan in its quest for moderation and democracy.

He went on to say that Bhutto came, saw and wept with joy after seeing the crowd, which has arrived to welcome her.

Contrary to the moralising pundits who had predicted doom and gloom for Bhutto because she did an unsavoury “deal” with the General in exchange for the reprieve from corruption cases, the masses in their multitudes seem to have approved her strategy to come back into power.

In an indirect way, they have reiterated their view that affinity to power is a huge magnet for them, Sethi observed.

He said that masses refused to come out to vote for her in 1997 because they knew that the establishment wouldn’t let her back into office, just as they now sense that the powerful domestic and international establishment wants her back in office and they want to be part of the homecoming.

The NRO has already become irrelevant. It doesn’t matter whether the Supreme Court throws it out or not. Bhutto will say she has been proved innocent in the court of the people, which matters more Sethi said.

With the government reluctant to prosecute, there isn’t a court in the land that can now unilaterally haul her up and become judge and jury at the same time. Indeed, she has already warned the law not to be ethnically biased.

The demonstration effect of her tumultuous welcome, thanks to the independent media, will probably lead to a surge in her popularity. She will try and press her advantage home by a grand entry into Larkana and later Multan.

He opined that if the PML-Q tries to repress the crowds, she will become defiant and heroic. If the extremists attack her, she will become a living martyr. It is a win-win situation for her, right now at least.

Should General Musharraf be a worried man? A bit, to be sure, but then the stakes are so high that she is not likely to be carried away by the exuberance of her supporters and tangle with him unnecessarily.

This marriage isn’t made in heaven anyway. Each party knows that if it doesn’t work they will both end up in hell. That is how much they both need each other. A domestic establishment without Musharraf might not view her too favourably while an international establishment without him might not view Nawaz Sharif with any degree of sanguinity.

The real worry in the PML-Q camp is Nawaz Sharif. If he succeeds in coming back, the ruling party might be denuded of its followers, in the urban areas of Punjab at least.

Like Bhutto, repression would make him heroic and acquiescence might lead to a stampede into his camp. Worst, if Sharif allies with the MMA, he could take a chunk of the PML-Q’s vote bank and indirectly boost Bhutto’s electoral prospects in a three way fight.

Of course, the curtain could come down on Bhutto and Sharif if Musharraf felt insecure and was compelled to wrap up this “noisy” and unpredictable transition to democracy.

In the event, the thunderous arrival of Bhutto on the scene could set the stage for more convulsions later for everyone concerned, Sethi concluded. (ANI)

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