26 Oct 2012
MMushtaq Naqvi, son of Pakistani President, Saqlain Naqvi was going to make his first public speech to mark his formal entry in to the troubled nation's political arena. His entry in to politics wassupposed to revive the sagging fortunes of his father and party PPP before national elections in 2013. PPP was in trouble from many fronts, most serious of them being their ongoing spat with powerful factions in Pakistani Army.
A popular saying among people interested in international affairs is, “ Every Country has Army, Pakistani Army has a country ”.
Naqvi was never a really popular President to begin with. He got the post for one reason only, his wife, former PM Samina Naqvi was assassinated while campaigning before elections in December 2007. One among countless conspiracy theories circulating in Pakistan suggested that the assassination was carried out on the orders of then in power military dictator and “President” General Inzamam. Most PPP supporters beleived in it and held deep resentment against Army. Adding to this mistrust was the fact that PPP was Sindhi dominated while Punjabis formed the bulk of Pakistani army. Most of the issues troubling Naqvi originated from this bitterness among two groups.
Major one was growing closeness of PML(N), a Punjabi dominated party led
by former PM Wasim Akhtar with powerful elements in army and it's shady intelligence agency ISI. Both resented PPP and it's hold on civilian government and had been working behind the scenes patiently to weaken what they saw as disproportionate influence of Sindhis in nation's political arena . PML(N) and army together had launched a vicious campaign against PPP by planting stories about ill-gotten wealth and debauchery of families of Zaradari and his PM Yaqub Raza in media and targeted killings of PPP cadre thinly disguised as terrorist attacks.
Brains behind this sustained campaign against Sindhi PPP was General Abdul Asgar. He was an ambitious and well-connected man who thought nothing of using people or ideologies for his personal gains. Right from the time he joined army, he had cultivated image of a pious muslim with hatred for anything western or what Pakistanis thought of as anti-Pakistan. But nobody, except him knew real General Asgar and his ambitions.
He quickly rose through ranks to command a senior post in Pakistani Strategic Missile Group (SMG). He was a casualty of Musharraf's half-hearted attempts of purging the military of radical Islamic elements after 9/11 and was transferred to a army unit in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir bordering China and India. After Musharraf's exit, he was promoted to rank of a General and given the command of army's garrison in Islamabad and then in Karachi.
Being a powerful army guy in Pakistan brings many benefits, money and political influence not being least of them and General Asgar was quick to make the most of it. Very soon, he was considered to be army chief in waiting as soon as General Beg stepped down. But Beg had other plans.
Even though he considered General Asgar favourably, he had no intention of giving up post of army chief anytime soon. During the last 18 months he had started to appease his paymasters in US with a fervour by providing vital intelligence against major anti-US militant groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Using his help, NATO forces had captured or killed a numerous most wanted terrorists in a short period. Although it increased his influence within US and correspondingly Pakistan, number of enemies among Islamist militants as well as sympathetic elements in defence forces and civilian population increased exponentially. Like General Prevez Musharraf before him, he too alleged numerous conspiracies and attempts of assassination directed against him to gain sympathy.
Using his influence amongst US officials he managed to get extension to his already prolonged tenure, the latest one being in April 2011 that extended his virtual rule on Pakistan by another 3 years. In this, he had no small help from US which was fully backing him up as their new "ally" in Pakistan .
It didn't go down with many people in Pakistan, least of all with General Asgar, who saw his chances of gaining absolute power in Pakistan rapidly diminishing. It was at this time, that general Asgar started looking for allies in political arena of Pakistan and he zeroed in on Wasim Akhtar. Akhtar, too despised Beg who was protege of his nemesis General Prevez Musharraf. Akhtar had never forgotten how Musharraf had launched Kargil misadventure, overthrown his civilian government and put him into exile, thereby striking a crippling blow on his political clout and career. Even though he had no trust in military, he was only too glad to forge a secret alliance with General Asgar who promised him chairs of PM and President in exchange for an indefinite tenure on post of army chief for himself.
Together, they had launched a vicious covert assault on PPP and the government it led. News stories were planted in local and international media exposing ill-gotten wealth, bribery and sex scandals of various ministers and army personnel loyal to Beg who were holding key positions in the regime. Many junior leaders and cadre of PPP and it's allies were assassinated in violent attacks which were conveniently blamed on Indian and Israeli intelligence agencies.
With just months to go into elections, effect of this onslaught on government and Beg's hold on it was tremendous. Nobody ever expected elections to be free and fair in Pakistan, but revelations of brazen corruption and immorality among ruling politicians and Beg faction of army caused the popularity of PPP and Beg plunge to an all time low. Adding to their woes were the ever increasing friction between cadre of PPP and Punjabi parties who clashed almost daily armed with automatic weapons and explosives. Punjabis having the support of General Asgar invariable had the upper hand in most of these battles. Combined with sectarian Shia-Sunni violence and frequent attacks by Talibani organisations, situation in Pakistan was truly dire