Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 20:32:45 -0500 (CDT)
From: Grassroots Media Network <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: military takes over: Labour Party Pakistan
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 1999 20:16:07 +0000
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
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
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
The Grassroots Media Network
Austin, TX 78723
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