Friday, August 24, 2007

Nawaz in the house!

The Dawn reports today:

"ISLAMABAD, Aug 23: In a dramatic verdict which may have far-reaching effects on the country’s political future, the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the exiled Sharif brothers could come back home and asked the government not to obstruct their return ‘in any manner’.“It is declared that Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif under Article 15 of the Constitution have an inalienable right to enter and remain in country, as citizens of Pakistan.“Their return/entry into country shall not be restrained, hampered or obstructed by the Federal or Provincial Government Agencies, in any manner,” a seven-member bench of the court said in a unanimous short order announced after a day-long hearing. Reasons for the ruling will be specified in the detailed judgment to be announced later."

So, our good, good, anti-terrorism fighting friend Pervez Musharrif is in even more trouble. Our old friend and former Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif has been given the green light by the Pakistani supreme court to return from exile. (And, what is the deal with his hair? Did he just buy a truck load of Grecian Formula for Men?) The speculation is that Sharif will be enplaning for home soon, to put his hat in the ring for his old job in elections slated for the end of the year. Musharrif, had been groping around for some sort of way to get the present parliament to re-elect him as president-in-uniform, but since that's sort of unconstitutional and the supreme court is run by his nemesis, it doesn't look like that'll be happening. He has toyed with the idea of declaring a state of emergency but, so far, one threatening phone call from Condi has been enough to forestall that possibility.

That's not to say he won't actually go through with it if things really go south. The question is, will the army back him? As I've posted before at LTAD, the scuttlebutt is that the Pakistani military has about had it with him and might be thinking about sending him a gift basket of mangos. Whether the military will then make nice with Sharif in Mushariff's stead is another matter.

Although, for its part the administration claims they've been watching the developments in Pakistan closely, it doesn't really seem like they can walk and chew gum at the same time. Iraq has got them mesmerized and Condi's late night phone call to Musharrif proves that W. & Co. were asleep at the wheel. While Sharif and Benezir Bhutto, another exiled PM, have been holding talks about sharing power and the walls have been falling down around Musharrif's ears, the administration has been staunchly defending our bastard in Islamabad, who's been making a royal cock-up of the whole WOT.

Even after al-Qaeda and the Talibs living right under his nose ended the peace deal he made with them back in 2006, after the storming of the Red Mosque, he was still sending his people up to Peshawar to sue for peace with them. The only thing that's keeping Musharrif alive right now is the fact that the majority of Pakistani civil society is still in tact and democratically minded and also that al-Qaeda and the Taliban are having a tiff over whether to overthrow him or not.

Ayman Zuwahiri (yet to be smoked out) is getting nowhere trying to convince the other al-Qaeda types that they're better off without Musharrif. Apparently, Zuwahiri is of the mind that Musharrif should be assassinated, but his cohorts seem to think their friends in the Pakistani military and the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service, might think that was going too far. After all, they may be crazy but their not stupid, you don't bite hand that feeds you.

What I'm wondering about, is if the administration ever gets around to finding Bhutto's or Sharif's phone number whether either of them will go back to letting the ISI get back to business as usual, helping out the Talibs, like they did all throughout the 90's, according to newly released National Security documents.


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