by Dr Ghayur Ayub

Gen. (rtd) Pervez Musharaf is a commando trained by a well disciplined army. Against such background, he is known to have taken risks during his career. He makes tactical and strategic plans and executes them accordingly. He does not get discouraged if his tactical plan fails and waits for proper time to strike at strategic level. Take Kargil episode for example. In 1995 he put the plan and presented it to the then PM Benazir Bhutto. It was turned down. He retreated it tactically but kept it alive strategically for future. When the time came he executed it. That’s how his brain works.

When he was the most powerful leader heading Pakistan with four caps, he shouldered MQM in political gusto and made it the most powerful ally in Sindh controlling the economic hub of Pakistan. During his tenure Mustafa Kamal, the administrator of Karachi, was given a privileged reception when he visited America; thanks to him. It was in those days when a news appeared in media that he might join MQM. He never rebutted it. This was his tactical move to be counted as a political player.

Altaf Bhai who has many political eyes on his face and matching ears on his head realised the consequences. He took it as Musharaf’s tactical move to enter MQM and push him to one side later as part of strategic plan taking over the party leadership. He became active and made sure it did not happen. To show his command over the party he brought down two important personalities of MQM to their knees- Dr. Liaqat Hussain and Mustafa Kamal. It happened both were close to Musharaf. The former was thrown out of the party.

Thus Altaf Bhai was successful in obstructing his tactical move. Being Musharaf, he let it go but held to his strategic plan. According to news coming out of London, he maintained his links with a few old guards of MQM such as (late) Dr Imran Farooq. Were those links part of the strategy? Is it also part of that strategy which landed him in Pakistan? Keeping his Kargil episode in mind it may not be surprising to link it with that. Only this time he might be planning to fight political Kargil on three fronts; to clear his name in court cases; to make inroads in MQM; and to isolate Nawaz Sharif. How?

  • Before going to Pakistan he went for ‘a politicised Umra’ and prior to that he apparently met Nawaz Sharif in Saudi Arabia with blessings of the West and Saudi Arabia.

  • He knows he cannot put a dent in coming elections because against all his army training he has not prepared his party for the event. For him the election is part of tactical move through which he wants to be part of the democratic process to cleanse his ‘Khaki’ skin and counted as political player and sit in the parliament. For that he will be satisfied only with one seat.

  • While concentrating on his strategic plans he will take tactical steps to clear his name in court cases pending against him. He is not worried about Article 6 because he knows it involves many ‘untouchables’.

  • After failing tactically a few years ago now he will work on strategic plan to find a place in a widening gap of MQM. According to the ‘Chirya’ of Najam Sethi the gap has been widening rapidly in recent months and pressure groups within the party are emerging.

  • Some reports even suggest that a few western powers might be behind this intra-party turmoil. They are getting frustrated when they see Altaf Bhai bringing the country to a standstill with a blink of his eyes by closing its economic hub. They want to see a disabled Pakistan not a dead Pakistan. Disabled Pakistan is in their interest. Altaf Bhai, in their opinion, can kill the country. They want to replace a stubborn and unpredictable Altaf Bhai with a tractable and predictable Musharaf to lead MQM and thus control the breathing apparatus of the country rationally. Musharaf wants to align his strategic plans with western powers and MQM disgruntles to the advantage of all.

  • Using this strategy Musharaf knows an optimum pressure can be applied on Altaf Bhai from outside especially UK and US to step aside. He knows the consequences of resisting such pressure could be extremely damaging to Altaf Bhai. Rehman Malik might come handy playing important role for his own reasons. He is a crafty manoeuvrer in games such as this. At the same time using his links with the powerful agencies within the country, Musharaf can enhance this pressure.

  • On the third front, he is expecting that PML-N will win the coming elections without getting overall majority. Knowing the type of electable Nawaz Sharif has gathered around him, he foresees the future government led by PML-N will fail in its promises in the same way as the PPP government failed. In such a scenario Musharaf will work on tactical plans to bring all the Muslim league parties closer, downgrading PML-N as party and isolating Nawaz Sharif as leader. He knows the ‘moles’ within PML-N (he knows them from past experience) will support him in his plans. The armed forces might help Musharaf if Nawaz Sharif repeated identical role he played in previous two stints as PM.

  • If his tactical and strategic plans succeeded Musharaf believes he will emerge one of the most powerful political leaders in coming four to five years if not earlier. He sees Imran Khan of PTI as modern Talibanised mouthpiece in the parliament and Tahir-ul-Qadri as moderate voice outside the parliament. He will project himself as a secular bridge between the two.

So here is Pervez Musharaf entering the politics of Pakistan as a civilian with a background training in tactical and strategic planning. He played this game in Kargil as an army general. Now he wants to play it in political field as a civilian leader. His success will be directly linked to the failure of Mr. Nawaz Sharif. The question is will NS give him reasons which will make him a popular political leader?It all will depend on Nawaz Sharif’s leadership qualities, statesmanship and control over his close friends and allied colleagues. He should know that Musharaf’s army-game at Kargil brought him down once in past. He will try to drag him down again in political-game this time. That is why Musharaf is adamant to walk tall on the path to political Kargil.

The end