State of the state

Islamabad would have been entertaining had its dysfunction not been dangerous

Written by The Indian Express | Published:January 10, 2009 9:32 am

Democracy in Pakistan doesn’t seem to entail responsibility. But one cannot sit back and enjoy the circus,given the damage it is causing. Otherwise,a prime minister calling up a television channel and announcing that he has sacked the national security advisor,keeping the president of the state in the dark,would be comic,albeit darkly,and engender a script for political satire. Post-Mumbai,the army and ISI appeared to be quietly telling the civilian government what to do. The president was led to believe that he had received a threatening call from the Indian external affairs minister late at night. And so on,as Pakistan remained consistently inconsistent. Then,on Wednesday,NSA Mahmud Ali Durrani admitted to the media that Ajmal Amir Kasab is indeed a Pakistani national. But he apparently didn’t take PM Yousuf Raza Gilani into confidence. Within hours,Gilani had sacked him,but he himself didn’t take President Asif Ali Zardari into confidence. Still,sensing that the “damage” had already been done,Pakistan quickly admitted that Kasab is its citizen.

Regardless of the ethics and politics of the affair,the NSA with a “clear” conscience has given the lie to Pakistan’s persistent but mismanaged denials. He also said he was “supposed” to speak on Kasab’s

nationality. Pakistan’s zero credibility is now negative,and reports have circulated of Zardari and Gilani disagreeing over Durrani’s removal. For the international community,the question of who to believe in Pakistan is now transforming itself into whether anyone in Pakistan can be believed.

Needless to say,Pakistan has brought upon itself this distinction. But it shouldn’t count on India’s patience never running out. Gilani may have sacked Durrani,who is close to the military and the US,to make a point. But civilian governments in Pakistan have historically come out on the losing side in such domestic power struggles. The only sane thing for Pakistan to do is to proceed with the Mumbai probe by the dossier sent from India. An honest and effective investigation alone can send out signals of Pakistan’s good intentions.

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