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Stand And Deliver
Dr.Akmal Hussain
Newspaper: Daily Times
Dated: Thursday, May 30, 2002

Pakistan as much as the regime of President Musharraf are in a delicate moment. Amidst the deepening economic crisis, the rising tide of terrorism within the country and the erosion of the institutional structures of governance, it is the ability to produce results on the ground rather than rhetoric that will determine whether or not the country pulls out of this crisis. Equally the referendummed President Musharraf (to coin a phrase), is facing a crisis of legitimacy. This is not merely because his claims of popularity are being treated with skepticism, but also because there is neither a palpable economic revival nor an end to violence by armed militant groups within the country. The achievement of both these objectives, so critical to national survival now hinge on the ability of President Musharraf to stand and deliver on his stated Kashmir policy. Economic revival requires massive foreign capital inflows (US $ 4 billion a year) on the one hand and on the other hand wresting from the terrorists, a peaceful economic space within which domestic and foreign investment can be undertaken.

Consider the lessons of history in this context. When the state and economy are in crisis the legitimacy of a ruler who has usurped political space, lies in being able to overcome the crisis. Napoleon a young army officer made himself First Consul in 1799 in France on the basis of his perceived ability to reestablish law and order and reconstruct a bankrupt economy. Similarly the soldiering Meiji class achieved legitimacy after overthrowing the Tokugawa regime by establishing the basis of a unified and industrialized Japan. Pakistan's history has also demonstrated that the legitimacy of a government is drawn not only from the formal or legalistic structure of power, but by its ability to achieve a minimum of three objectives: (1) Initiating a process of economic development in which an improvement in the economic condition of the deprived sections of the populace becomes palpable. (2) A rule of law which can at least ensure security of life to the citizens. (3) Building democratic institutions through which the will of the people could become operative in the system of national decision making.

The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lost its legitimacy because it had demonstrably failed in achieving these minimal objectives, and thereby left a political vacuum. It was for this reason that the "doctrine of state necessity" was brought to bear by the Supreme Court to allow Chief Executive Musharraf to reconstruct the State and economy during the transition period upto October 2002, when the holding of elections under the constitution was made incumbent upon him.

The interests of the State and the people of Pakistan now requires that President Musharraf deliver on two counts: (1) He must deliver on his commitment to revive the economy and re-establish law and order within the country. (2) He must implement his announcement that Pakistan's territory or the areas under its control would not be allowed to be used for terrorist acts outside its borders.

The key consideration here is that fulfilling his commitments with respect to Pakistan's economy and domestic peace are now critically dependent upon implementing without further delay, his stated policy to stop cross border infiltration. Maintaining a gap between word and deed in this context is neither feasible nor in Pakistan's best interests. In an age when satellite cameras can identify the brand name of a golf ball lying on the greens of the Gymkhana golf course, it is futile to expect the world community to accept any ambiguity on whether the militant camps in Azad Kashmir are active or not. US President Bush in his statement during the Moscow Summit made this clear when he said "President Musharraf must do what he said he was going to do". Similarly British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw elaborated this formulation in Islamabad last Tuesday when he said that the expectation of the international community is "for clear action to be taken in addition to that which has already been taken, to clamp effectively down on cross border terrorism".

If Pakistan's new Kashmir Policy is that the State will not provide material support to Kashmiri militants, and will give only moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri freedom struggle, then this is the time to match words with deeds. Pakistan's highest national interests require economic revival, reestablishment of internal law and order and peace on the borders. The logic of pursuing Pakistan's interests, the pursuit of legitimacy by President Musharraf, and the logic of our new Kashmir Policy all lead to delivering on the promise made with respect to cross border infiltration. Like Shakespeare's Hamlet, President Musharraf could reflect at this moment when "there is a tide in the affairs of men which if taken at the flood leads on to fortune". The defining feature of this moment however is that time is of the essence. If the gulf between word and action is not bridged quickly, it may prove a bridge too far.

As President Musharraf places Pakistan first and implements his stated Kashmir policy, the world community could also consider that the shared goals of peace and stability in the South Asian region, imply a change of emphasis in their diplomacy. If the objective is not merely to temporarily defuse existing India Pakistan tensions, but to achieve lasting peace and a sustainable struggle against terrorism in the region, then Pakistan's economic revival and a resolution of the Kashmir dispute are essential. As President Musharraf delivers on his promise, international diplomacy must shift its focus by pressing India to start a structured process of dialogue with Pakistan for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. At the same time a much larger inflow of foreign capital into Pakistan's economy needs to be facilitated, than has been forthcoming so far. This would be necessary to enable economic revival and the building of a democratic and enlightened Pakistan, as envisaged by its founding father, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

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