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Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 20:32:45 -0500 (CDT)
From: Grassroots Media Network <gnn@grassrootsnews.org>
Subject: military takes over: Labour Party Pakistan
Article: 79478
Message-ID: <bulk.29675.19991016061524@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Date: Wed, 13 Oct 1999 20:16:07 +0000
From: lpp@lpp.edunet.sdnpk.undp.org

Military Takes over In Pakistan

By Farooq Tariq, General Secretary Labour Party Pakistan
13 October 1999

The Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Army General Pervaiz Musharf dismissed the government of Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday October 12. Former Prime Minister and his brother have been taken into custody. In his nation wide address this morning at 2.45am, the Army Chief did not speak about any martial law or announced any interim arrangements.

Troops took over the sensitive buildings in Islamabad on October 12th evening after General Mussaraf; s dismissal orders were aired by the state run electronic media through news flash. According to the reports, it was apparently Mr. Sharif, s decision to dismiss General Mussaraf that prompted the military coup.

General Mussaraf in his televised address said that every one was aware of the kind of turmoil and uncertainty that the country had gone through in recent times. "Not only have all the institutions been played around with, and systematically destroyed, the economy too is in a state of collapse." " Despite all my advice, they tried to interfere with the armed forces, the last remaining viable institution in which all of you takes so much pride and look upto, at all times, for the stability, unity and integrity of our beloved country".

The usual demagogy of any military ruler was repeated in General Mussaraf first speech with the difference that he did not announced the martial law. The military coup seemed provoked by the government of Nawaz Sharif announcement of the dismissal of the General. Nawaz Government promoted the General only a week before as the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Committee. During the week, the General purged some of the senior military officers who were known as Nawaz Sharif Supporters. In retaliation, the Prime Minister wanted to sack the general. This was the immediate excuse for the military take over but the main reasons were deeply rooted in the present economic crisis and its political effects. The Kargil dispute with India over Kashmir, where Nawaz Government apparently tried to put the blame of defeat on the shoulders of military.

In a move to reschedule the loans from IMF, the Nawaz Sharif Government recently took another U turn and blamed the Talban Government in Afghanistan for the terrorist activities in Pakistan. Pakistan is the only country in the world, which had formally recognized the Talban Government of Afghanistan. It has actively supported the Talabans to take over Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan. This U-turn was also not appreciated by the various religious trends within the army.

The economy was in absolute shatters. The Government attempt to introduce the general sales tax was successfully fought back by the small traders association of Pakistan. It successfully organized a nationwide strike on 4th September 99. In a bid to cool down the traders, government in opposition to the IMF instructions withdrew the GST and introduced a new tax.

In another development, the cotton growers across the country were taking over the roads and were organizing massive demonstrations. They were demanding an increment in the cotton prices. The powerful All Pakistan Textile Manufacturers Association APTMA was opposed to the increment of the cotton prices. Cotton amounts to the 70% of total export of Pakistan. Pakistan produces 10% of the world cotton production. On 10th October, a nationwide protest of the peasants and cotton growers blocked for hours all the main roads of Pakistan.

So all these developments exposed the extreme unpopular nature of the present government. It was remarkable change in the conciousness of the masses in the last two and half years. In the beginning 1997, the present Nawaz Government won the general elections with 40% of the total votes winning an absolute two third majority in the national assembly. It used its majority to introduce new amendments in the constitution against the remaining trade union rights, against minorities, women, and small nationalities. It tried to bring the beaurucracy under its absolute control. It humiliated the beaurucracy in public.

It wanted a Mughal Empirdoms type rule where his words must be translated into actions within seconds. It had introduced a telephone help line where he would listen any complaint and after hearing one minutes, he will take an action. The TV will follow the story and the impression will be given that justice has been done in seconds. This was without any proper investigation of the complaint and so on.

The government of Nawaz Sharif had a highway construction menial. He would like the roads build in days and all the so-called encroachments had to go without any alternatives. Many historical buildings were bulldozed in this process. This led to the widespread reaction among the urban population.

Despite his demagogy, he was unable to implement of the agenda of IMF in regard to the speedy privatization of the main public sector institutions like railway, telecommunication, and electricity. It also developed contradiction with some of the international power companies who had made contracts with the previous Benazir government to build the power generation plants. These power companies had signed the contract with Benazir government to sell the electricity on a higher rate than the international competitive rates. They bribed the government of Benazir to go for this road rather than the Nawaz Government. So it had problems with them. This led to the intervention of World Bank who asked the Nawaz Government to seek a compromise with the power companies.

It tested a nuclear bomb despite the hypocritical opposition of the Americans. It went on war with India and lost. It retreated from the border in a humiliation manner. All these developments led the Nawaz Government in isolation from its own religious constituency and also from its international backers. It also developed trade relationship with the dying Daewo.

In this background, the Nawaz Government was seen as very weak, unstable and isolated government. Despite that it grew its contradictions with the military.

In this background, the take over of the military was not met with any resistance from the masses. There was a sense of confusion and to some extent a sense of relief by the masses.

Military have not yet developed its future strategy. As contrary to the past practices, military this time have not used the religion as the main cause for their action.

If it goes for an open military rule under martial law, it might face opposition from the IMF and World Bank and Americans. The possibility is that it will install a civilian puppet government under its full control. The main aim of this so-called civilian government will be the speedy implementation of the IMF agenda.

Labour Party Pakistan have anticipated the present move very clearly and had the perspective that this government will not complete its full five-year terms. But it had not seen the open intervention of the military of the present level. The military take over is yet another setback for the Left and trade union movement in Pakistan. LPP have issued a press release to oppose the military take over and have demanded an immediate announcement of the general elections under an interim government of workers and peasants.

LPP demands that army should go back to the barracks immediately. It will not accept the reinstatement of Nawaz Government and demand fresh general elections.

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