Friday, January 20, 2006

More on the 'retreat' and Bajur

The Daily Times editorial from yesterday depicted a very accurate picture of how things work between the state and the opposition.
The isolation of President Musharraf had prompted many to join the political bandwagon against Kalabagh Dam, including the PPP in Punjab. Since the PMLN has always been in favour of the Dam (“provided it is backed by national consensus”) it will stand to lose support at the home base if it cavils with what has been decided now. This will put the PPP, the largest party in the country, on the spot. It simply can’t afford to blunt its opposition to President Musharraf by appearing to agree...On the other hand, the MMA will have to rely on the trouble in FATA to retain the intensity that Qazi Hussain Ahmad seems to favour more than Maulana Fazl ur Rehman.

Incredibility will be the crutch to lean on for politicians in the opposition. Where will the money come from for the five dams to be completed by 2016? ... Indeed, the preparatory works for Basha (building high roads for heavy machinery, etc) might cause another political storm that future governments might find difficult to face. People like Imran Khan might be tempted to take this line.

President Musharraf’s promise to “twin” the NFC award with Kalabagh Dam has been partially made good with the new dispensation of the divisible pool and subventions to the provinces. This too is a measure that will be opposed by the enemies of Musharraf only at great risk to their own standing in the country.

The retreat on Kalabagh has been clever. Coupled with the “softeners” of the NFC award and the post-earthquake reconstruction, it will give President Musharraf the second wind he needs to face the 2007 election and probably once again to refuse to take off his uniform. What he has done now may be a tour de force; but what he might do in 2007 by not fading away might be folly.

And then more on Bajur and the aftermath. US Senator McCain declared:
“We regret it. We understand the anger that people feel, but the United States’ priorities are to get rid of Al Qaeda, and this was an effort to do so,” the Republican lawmaker said.

“We apologize, but I can’t tell you that we wouldn’t do the same thing again,” McCain said.

He made his remarks after thousands of protesters took to Pakistan’s streets to condemn the US air strike that killed 18 villagers near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Honestly?! And why are we silent on this? :|