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Pakistan is currently suffering from political confusion: Ayesha Siddiqa

Updated: January 16, 2013, 4:33 PM IST
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Pakistan is currently suffering from political confusion: Ayesha Siddiqa
Pak in turmoil: PM's arrest, LoC ceasefire violations and the Qadri March

The arrest of Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf comes at a time when elections are not too far off. With Dr Tahirul Qadri's march into Islamabad and the constant ceasefire violations along the LoC, is democracy under threat in Pakistan? Is the Army trying to sabotage the civilian administration? And how much should India and the other neighbours be worried about the uncertain political climate in Pakistan? Author & political analyst from Pakistan Ayesha Siddiqa joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the issue.

Q. Does not all these event reflect Pakistan Army is calling the shot among political circles? Asked by: atul

A. It certainly is but what is equally noticeable is Pakistani political parties in the Parliament are still fighting back. There are two polls in Pakistan: military and political. The latter is weak but gaining strength slowly.

Q. There are many news items that Army is trying to take control of Pak govt. Is this mainly due to the fact that US is in teh process of pulling out of Afghanistan as is mentioned by some analysts Asked by: Narayan

A. This is one of the major reasons. Sadly, even the US would agree to some change to facilitate its pull out in 2014.

Q. If LOC is controlled by Pak army, then they must be having Indian Soldier's head, isn't it? Why Pak Army has to violate even warfare manners? Do you know if Indian Army ever did that? Asked by: AG

A. Plz read your own media reports about both Indian and Pakistani military decapitating during Kargil and after. We are not sure about who has the head right?

Q. What are the average day to day good things happening in India that do inspire and influence an average person in Pakistan?.. and makes him aspire for something similar.. Asked by: JK

A. I suppose improved economy advancement in science and technology and bollywood. I would also like to remind you that as you know little about Pakistan we know little about India. Unless there is greater people to people contact we will not understand what we are missing out on.

Q. I mean why does Pakistan view India on the whole as a enemy and why has no government in Pakistan been successful in changing that perception?..Is it because that for any government to succeed in Pakistan it has to have a anti india stance? Asked by: JK

A. I wonder how you measure success? We have moved on from a time where Pak military would not hear of peace with India. Our political governments have consistently vied for better relations since the end 1980s. We are now at a point where the army may still consider India the priome threat but was willing to let civilians do some trade. We have had 66 yrs of bad relations it won't improve in just one day or one week. Do not also raise the bar of expectations on your side. Peace doesn't mean that Pakistan government will give up its demands or not pursue disputes.

Q. What happened in the flag meeting? and why is Pakistan Keeping the Head of an Indian Soldier? Asked by: Benjamin from Tamil Nadu

A. I have no clue on that.

Q. Pakistan it appears is a failed country.. it does not promote democracy as a way of life..It is too much dependent on military for political survival and therefore promotes enmity against India . But why is it so? Are there no serious and thinking or liberal citizens in Pakistan who should understand value of democracy, peace and friendship with India? Why voices of such people do not carry any weight in Pakistan? Asked by: Prof. Anil Gor

A. Sadly your media rarely presents the pakistan to you which proposes peace and wants to live reasonably. My theory is we do not know each other which causes confusion and fear, both. We are indeed very troubled but poor democracy doesn't tantamount to this being a failed state. You will have to go to Africa to find that one out. Very close to home you have many places in India where state has failed and is using oppression. So, let's not jump to conclusions.

Q. Who do you think guards LOC on Pak side? Is it Army only? Asked by: AG

A. Yes, it is army.

Q. Ma'am, what does china prefer in Pakistan?..Civilian government or military Government? Asked by: JK

A. China doesn't prefer anything. It deals with both and makes gains in both cases.

Q. If Pak govt does not have control over their own territory, then can we expect any positive outcomes from Indo-Pak talks ever Asked by: AG

A. If you are referring to terrorism then let me say that dealing with India is a different ball game. This is relations between two state actors. Let me also remind you that Islamabad has control over a lot of its territory. If internal violence signifies lack of control then you have a huge territory in constant battle with Delhi. We are very troubled but still intact. The failed state paradign doesn't help in making sense of Pakistan.

Q. Thanks to your reply. To me Indian governance have failed to find a solution in 66 years. There should be a time frame and systematic approach to solve these impending issues. And these efforts are to be genuine from both the states. Asked by: srini from singapore

A. Sure but we in Pakistan still have to tackle our problems of governance. Just because you have solved it doesn't mean we follow that time frame. We have to talk systematically and will find solutions or some peace.

Q. If the govt is in disarray in pakistan, then does it men that 'nobody home'to answer an angry neighbour who stands at the door & yelling,"why did u vandalise the flowers in my garden?"... Asked by: Anto, Bangalore

A. Pakistan is currently suffering from political confusion but governments are talking. Plz read your own reports in The Hindu and DNA which apportion blame on Indian army. Do not also forget that both sides have engaged in decapitation in the past. So, this could be a local tension which is suddenly getting serious. Think hard before you use the above analogy. This incident, however, does not mean that Pak Army has not behaved unfairly and excessively through its proxies or itself in the past. But that does not mean it is always the culprit.

Q. Madam, a slightly different question. Are we wrong in assuming Dawood continues to get Pakistani protection? What makes it more than a mere allegation is Miandad"s open relationship with him. Is he in Pakistan? I am sure Pakistan will have similar grievances against India. Can you name a specific one? Asked by: Kamal Agg

A. I believe he gets a lot of protection which is very sad and not fair. As for grievances there is the stated security perception that a lot of people in pakistan challenge. This is that India wants to devour Pakistan. There is generally a discomfort that if not that then India wants to dominate Pakistan. However, a more important issue that you as Indians must understand is that it is not easy living next door to a big country. We will always have some problems.

Q. What is the support base of Dr Qadri? Asked by: Kamal Agg

A. America, Army and Allah! :)

Q. I've read reports that there was firing at the Loc Even yesterday. Are these reports true? Is war the answer to our problems? Asked by: Benjamin

A. I am sure you must have seen the report that Indian military has killed another Pak soldier. War is not an answer. We should find a way to talk and get over this immediate incident.

Q. As you said army creates an impression as they are better , even people like Zaid hamid foment the feeling of anti india adding up to the fire. Then to whom india should talk? Asked by: prithviraj

A. Pakistan is about 200 million ppl it is not just Zaid Hamid or the military. There are a lot of people who wish India well and want improved relations. India will talk to anyone and everyone in Pakistan. You actually may not have an option. India requires certain amount of stability so even if the military in Pakistan goes overboard India has to talk. In peace time India should make partners in the civil society and political leadership. We have moved on in many ways. Today, there is not a single political party in Pakistan which does not want better relations with India. So, plz do not look at Zaid Hamid's ugly pronouncements as representative of Pakistan.

Q. Supposing, all this is grand conspiracy by army, justice Chowdhury, Dr Qadri to overthrow democracy, as hinted by Asma Jahangir, who are the other elements supporting this anti democracy group? Asked by: Kamal Agg

A. There is Imran Khan's PTI in this too. Basically these are all anti-democracy forces that want to get rid of the present civilian setup. It is intriguing that they want to push out the government at a time when it is about to leave any way. Elections are at best a couple of months away. I believe this is because they want to get hold of the process to select the caretaker government. The military doesn't want the ciivlian system to go too far.

Q. Ma'am..what is your view on the media coverage in India of this unfortunate event?..also how different is the media in Pakistan compared to the Indian television channels in terms of fairness of reporting? Asked by: JK

A. Indian media is blazing hot. This time Pakistan media is quite. It is interesting that such is the case when there are at least two stories in Indian media that apportion the blame of LoC incident on Indian military as well. Pakistan military is too absorbed in some other things and not interested in creating a hype. We also know that both militaries have been involved in decapitating each other during older conflicts so wonder why the media is getting excessively worked up. Plz remember that these issues are not going to die any time soon. For improvement in relations we have to go through a patch when minor incidents will happen. We have not resolved disputes, have been each other's enemies for 66 years and arte next door to each other. Incidents will happen but some kind of caution is necessary especially as far as media is concerned.

Q. At the end of the day, this Qadri is a sufi cleric and speaks in English. How does he have such a fan following in Sunni-dominated Pakistan where Urdu and Punjabi rule the roost? Asked by: Mateen, Melbourne

A. Barelvis are Sunni as well. It is not just Deobandi who are Sunni. Barelvis are supposedly less violent. He doesn't have a huge fan following. There are nothing more than 40,000 people in his alleged million march and most are Punjabis from central Punjab. Sindh and Baluchistan not represented. Little trickling from Pushtoons and mainly Punjabis or Kshmiris. Most people are from his organizational set-up. Some are even rent-a-crowd. A;lso, lets not forget the 1960s when American CIA threw away Musadagh's government through a rent-a-crowd.

Q. If all this is part of the larger plan,as suggested by Asma Jahangir,what is stopping army to take charge? Do you think people will come out opposing them as happened with the Russian revolt in 1989? Asked by: Kamal Agg

A. Pak army is very tricky. It operates through multiple partners even amongst the civilians. So, while Asma Jahangir is right I do not see a Russian revolution against Pak Military mainly because they manage to create an impression of being better than others. Also, they are master at psy-ops which means they can control perceptions through propaganda.

Q. Hi..Is it fair to say that civil society in Pakistan is still not powerful / influential enough to bring about a change in the way Pakistan is heading?..What % of Pakistanis support better ties with India?..are they really a majority or is India living in fool's world thinking that Pakistanis are fed up with their political system and want change and better ties with India Asked by: JK

A. There has been a conversion of people to the idea of peace with India. It is not just the civil society but the business community as well. There are no promises that hawks on both sides will not try to derail the process but there are increasingly people who want better relations.

Q. Hi There has been never been a consistent democratic government ever in pakistan since its inception. Still Army and other groups in pakistan hold advantage. whats the point in holding talks with another person if the other one holds to a gun? i think Indian government from 1947 have failed to address this on a permanent basis. We have been patient enough which have led to so many wars, continuous blasts, attack on Indian soverignity. Time has come to take action rather than dialogue process. Are we gutsy enough to act is a big question. Asked by: srini from singapore

A. A democratic process once it gets derailed requires a lot of time. When you make such comments you forget that there are people in Pakistan who are fighting military hegemony. Also, it is not juts a matter of India's patience. You perhaps do not have a choice. Plz do not forget that in a nuclear deterrence environment there are limits to what both countries can do. India certainly not walk over Pakistan. Even your foreign secretary Niripma Rao warned against anyone hallucinating that Pakistan could be treated the same way as the US treated Pakistan.

First Published: January 16, 2013, 4:33 PM IST
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