LONDON, Aug 15: General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has found a most unlikely supporter in this hour of trial in Fatima Bhutto, niece of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, trashing the democratic and moral credentials of Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif to impeach the president.
In an article, ‘Charlatans of democracy’ published in the Guardian on Friday, an angry Fatima who is convinced that Asif was instrumental in the assassination of her father Murtaza Bhutto, has tried to put Asif and Nawaz in the dock in a case in which they are not the accused.
“But Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari are unelected. They’re not just unrepresentative in that they don’t hold seats in the parliament - they have absolutely no mandate in Pakistan. They head the two largest, and most corrupt, parties in the state but hold no public office.
“The rest of the coterie that wields power behind this administration, the attorney general and the interior minister for instance, also happen to be unelected.
“They serve, and I use the term ever so lightly, by appointment only. Some 170 million Pakistanis have lived under military rule of law for nine years.
“Musharraf stepping down from his army post has not changed that. Neither did the recent selections. Sorry, I meant elections, obviously.”
She said that the current administration, a party coalition comprising two formerly mortal enemies, had enjoyed five months in office.
“And what has this thriving democratic union accomplished? It passed the National Reconciliation Ordinance, an odious piece of legislation that wipes out 15 years’ worth of corruption cases against politicians, suspiciously covering 11 years of PPP and PML rule. Bankers and bureaucrats were also given the all-clear.
Worse still, the ordinance contains a clause that makes it virtually impossible for future charges to be filed against sitting parliamentarians.
“But they must have done more than that, surely? Well, all that really changed is that food inflation has accelerated, oil subsidies have been cut, gas prices have doubled, and those pesky militants in the Swat district the tribal regions have turned up the fighting.
Several days before the decision to impeach Musharraf hurtled through the airwaves, a small story came in from the tribal areas: the militants are close, the story said, they’ve vowed to target the government, even to the point of attacking state schools. This is a civil war, the story said.
“So what does the government do when its country appears to be tearing apart at the seams? Go on the attack. Impeach the tyrant.”
After having trashed the two on so many counts, Fatima announces her verdict: “Zardari is not an option. Sharif is not an option.
The army is not our one and only option. The mullahs have not become an option yet. There are close to 200 million of us: I’m sure we can think of something better.” But what? She does not say.