|PAKISTAN'S UNCERTAIN FUTURE|
October 13, 1999
A military takeover of Pakistan's government and the arrest of its Prime Minister has shrouded the country in uncertainty. Margaret Warner discusses the region's immediate future with four experts.
SAIRA SHAH: A day after Pakistan's army seized power, the cricket continued in Islamabad. There's little sense of anxiety in the capital, except perhaps at the score. Eighteen hours earlier, in a seamless operation it's said they planned weeks ago, troops were taking over the television station and government buildings. The country's new ruler addressed the nation.
GEN. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, Pakistani Army: Dear brothers and sisters, your armed forces have never and shall never let you down. We shall preserve the integrity and sovereignty of our country to the last drop of our blood. I request you all to remain calm and support your armed forces in the reestablishment of order to pave the way for a prosperous future for Pakistan.
SAIRA SHAH: Voters watched the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, become the most potent in Pakistan's history, as he curbed powers of the judiciary, president, and parliament. When he finally took on the army, it stepped in. Today the government was on hold. The army declared a bank holiday, and with peculiar tact, there may have been fewer soldiers on the streets than at any time in Pakistan's history. Little groups of curious Pakistanis gathered outside the empty parliament to argue about who is ruling them. "Look, there's a flag on top of the parliament. It's martial law," he says. "No, no, it can't be," they say, "we've still got a president." This is the most dramatic military intervention since General Zia Ul-Haq seized power in 1977. Pakistan still lives under his shadow, but now even the country's democratic opposition thinks the country's moved on.
FARHATULLAH BABAR: Mr. Sharif has not proclaimed martial law; he has not proclaimed himself as chief martial law administrator. Civil liberties have not been curbed. Political parties have not been banned. So in that sense, it is a qualitatively different military intervention than the one which was done by the previous government.
SAIRA SHAH: This evening the army postponed a promised statement on its plans for the future, which may include martial law or an interim government, or even new elections.
|The General behind the coup|
MARGARET WARNER: And for more on the coup in Pakistan and its implications we turn to Shahid Hussein, a former World Bank vice president, who served as special adviser to the Pakistani government in 1976/77; Mansoor Ijaz, an investment banker and nuclear physicist -- his father was a founder of the Pakistani nuclear program; and two American citizens born in India, Pranay Gupte, editor of Earth Times, and a columnist for Newsweek International, and Sumit Ganguly, a visiting fellow at Stanford University specializing in regional security in South Asia. Mr.Ijaz, there have been all kinds of descriptions about General Musharraf. What can you tell us about him?
MANSOOR IJAZ: Well, he's a professional soldier. I think he's a man who has a relatively hawkish stance when it comes to foreign affairs, particularly vis-à-vis India. I don't think he cares too much about how the American government views what he has done in Pakistan. But I think he is well respected, and he represents sort of the last of the class of professional soldiers that are running the Pakistan army today. It's very important for the viewers to understand one thing about Pakistan's army, and that is there has been a slow creep of what I would call the urban middle class Islamists, if you will, people that have a more than Islamic mind set, and I think part of what he was doing before the Kashmir problems occurred this summer was presiding over an army that --
MARGARET WARNER: You're talking now about the --
MANSOOR IJAZ: The Kargil--
MARGARET WARNER: -- Kargil -- the guerrillas that went into the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir.
MANSOOR IJAZ: Exactly.
MARGARET WARNER: Appointed by the Pakistanis.
MANSOOR IJAZ: Exactly. And I think he was presiding over an army that was beginning to show signs of fracturing internally, and part of the reason for going up to Kargil was to give them a rationale and a reason d'etre, if you will, to exist in terms of what they were doing.
MARGARET WARNER: And, of course, the now deposed prime minister ordered him to pull back.
MANSOOR IJAZ: Yes. With consequences.
MARGARET WARNER: What would you add to that in terms of General Musharraf, what drives him, what he's about?
SHAHID HUSAIN: I have met General Musharraf socially, and I know that in his group of army officers he had been the regarded as the brightest.
MARGARET WARNER: As the brightest?
|Military reason for a takeover?|
SHAHID HUSAIN: As the brightest. He belongs to a generation of people which has seen a steady decline of Pakistan society, economy, institutions, and above all, tremendous amount of political corruption. To the extent that a large number of Pakistanis and so on -- is a failing state, and Musharraf, like many others in the army, is intensely patriotic. They have sat and watched the decline and decay of our system, political system, economic system, and my guess is that this has been a fundamental motivation in what he has done.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you think, Mr. Ijaz... I know you said you don't think he cares much of what the West thinks of what he has done, but this was a democratically-elected government. Do you think that was a difficult hurdle for him to get over? Do you think that...for instance, he has not imposed martial law, as somebody in the taped price noted, which means he hasn't suspended parliament or constitutional government. What does that tell you about him?
MANSOOR IJAZ: Well, first of all, let's be clear about what democracy is. Democracy is representation by the people, number one. In Pakistan's last three elections, no more than 17 percent of the total population has voted. And you have a...and at that, the elections are effectively bought off at the polling booths where the graft moneys that are taken each time one of these corrupt leaders comes into the turnstile -- so I don't think that anyone can rationally argue that Pakistan is a democratic state in that sense. So that hurdle I don't think existed in his mind. The hurdle that probably did exist is that the military has become increasingly reticent in recent years to interfere in civilian affairs to, try to let a government serve out a full term in office. The trouble is that Nawaz Sharif chose this at this point in time, why we still don't know, to interfere in the internal politics of the army. I think that was the straw that broke the camel's back in this particular case.
MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Husain, what do you think he's likely to do next? Again, I think the piece pointed out, he's got a number of options from a pure military government to a sort of government of tech democrats that's military backed to really an interim government and quick election?
SHAHID HUSAIN: My argue is that a quick election with the same cast of characters, Nawaz Sharif, Benzair Bhutto, others, would lead to more of the same. And I think there's a large majority of people in Pakistan who don't want that. They would like to see a period of reform and reconstruction construction and accountability, two to three years, in which basically you would go and let the judicial system bring to justice people who have robbed the treasury, who have been responsible for massive corruption, including the two leaders, Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto -- reconstruction of institutions which have decayed - so it may take two or three years. And if Musharraf does these things, I think he will have support of the people.
|The view from India|
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Mr. Ganguly in New York, now, General Musharraf has quite a reputation in India, as well, does he not?
SUMIT GANGULY: He does indeed, and particularly he's seen in India rightly or wrongly as the principle person responsible for the Kargil fiasco of this summer when Pakistani troops supported Islamic guerrillas - the Mujahadeen -- to make incursions at three places in Kargil and two others at altitudes of about 14,000 feet and occupied significant portions of territory. And in a television interview, I believe with the BBC, at one point later once this missed adventure had gone awry, he actually admitted that the Pakistani military had conducted what he referred to, and I quote, "as aggressive patrolling" - and as a consequence thereof may have crossed into Indian territory. This is about the closest admission he made that the Pakistani troops had actually intruded into what India deems to be its territory, or at least is the... territory subject to an international dispute. So he's not exactly held in particularly high stead in India, though he is seen as someone who is a potential troublemaker and possibly a fairly formidable adversary.
MARGARET WARNER: So Mr. Gupte, does this lead people in India, or does it lead you to think that Pakistan is going... we're going to see renewed and perhaps more aggressive sort of hostilities between the two countries in a military sense?
PRANAY GUPTE: Margaret, I don't know about the renewed hostilities. I think that the military will have to be a little concerned in Pakistan to take on India again. What would be the benefit? Would they really expect to take over Indian territory? My concern really would be, if I were in the military, in Pakistan, that concern would have to do with how the world perceives me as a failed state. For 50 years now or 52 years, Pakistan has shown itself totally incapable of running itself, totally incapable of developing instruments of good governance, totally incapable of turning out leaders who could run this country in the modern enlightened fashion that the world community expects. That's what I would be concerned about, even though I may be a commander seizing power from a civilian.
|Pakistan and the global community|
MARGARET WARNER: But Mr. Ijaz said in his view, this government really probably won't care what the West thinks. Can it afford not to?
PRANAY GUPTE: Well, of course it's going to have to afford what the West thinks. I mean, after all it depends on the West. Pakistan is a creature primarily of the United States. It's a creature of aid each year to this day. It gets something like $600 million in foreign aid -- aid from this Scandinavians, from a variety of multilateral sources such as the World Bank, U.N. agencies. It gets technical aid. Of course it cares. It also cares because, irrespective of what the world's perceptions are, the fact is that any government in Pakistan has to deal with social issues, education. For example, only 25 percent of women in Pakistan, and we're talking about the population of, what, 150 million people, only 25 percent of women who represent more than 50 percent of that population are literate. Now, this is 52 years after independence. One other point, Margaret, that, you know, something like 60 percent of Pakistan's population is under the age of 25. For them, there are no adequate jobs. Think of the rising expectations, think of the kinds of promises that the government will have to meet and keep.
MARGARET WARNER: Let me get Mr. Ganguly back in here. Go back to the relationship with India and the fact that both these countries now have nuclear arsenals and India also has a newly reelected government. I mean, what do you anticipate in terms of relationship between the two countries?
SUMIT GANGULY: Well, the Indians, I think, are going to act with a clean circumspection in all senses of that word, in the sense that they are not about to again make another -- offer another olive branch to the Pakistanis any time in the foreseeable future because the so-called Lahore Process, which was a meeting of the two prime ministers, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who body he has again come back after a fairly resounding victory, when Mr. Vajpayee actually went to Lahore to meet with Mr. Sharif in the wake of the nuclear tests to diffuse international concern about the possibilities of yet another Indo-Pakistani war and there's a real sense, and I think I can understand why the sense would exist, of injured innocence in New Delhi - that here we offered Pakistan the olive branch, and then what befell us but this crisis in Kargil that we were literally not only stabbed in the back, but stabbed very directly in the chest.
|Assessing the nuclear threat|
MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Ijaz, do you think that not only India, but the rest of the world has to be concerned about either renewed or intensified hostilities between India and Pakistan and/or the control of a nuclear arsenal in Pakistan?
MANSOOR IJAZ: On the nuclear arsenal front, I don't think so. I mean, the nuclear arsenal has by and large always been under the control of the army in Pakistan, and the political leaders that that country has had have had some say in how things would manifest themselves in that regard, but not very much. Number two is that it's important for everyone to remember that this Kargil operation was approved by the prime minister. This was a politically approved operation. It is the army's job in Pakistan to suggest these kinds of operations every year. That's what they do. And this year for the first time since a civilian government was elected in Pakistan, the prime minister finally approved one of these. Why did he do that? He did that because the Islamists in the streets were trying to look for some sort of satisfaction from a government in which they had no reputation in parliament. 75 percent of the vote was his. And he could do whatever he wanted.
MARGARET WARNER: So you mean you're saying you don't think India really needs to be concerned that General Musharraf has tremendously hostile designs?
MANSOOR IJAZ: I think that General Musharraf is most concerned right now about getting Pakistan's internal house in order, and I don't think he's going to go and play any games up in Kargil or any other part of Kashmir right away. I just don't think that's in the cards.
MARGARET WARNER: Briefly, Mr. Husain, do you agree with that?
SHAHID HUSAIN: I agree with that. In fact, I would like to remind the audience that the decision to explode nuclear devices in Pakistan and India both were made by political governments, not by military governments. And the best relationship between Pakistan and India was in the times between 1977 and '88.
MARGARET WARNER: During a military government.
SHAHID HUSAIN: During a military government.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Thank you all four very much.