The Great Game
Will former president Pervez Musharraf free himself from the many predicaments he is facing following his return to Pakistan?
After its successful economic growth between 2002 and 2007, Pakistan today stands at the verge of collapse, threatened by economic uncertainties, lawlessness, water and food insecurity, energy shortage, shrinking of its industrial base, quasi-democracy, a huge mix of feudal and corrupt elements coming to the fore, deteriorating education, health and social welfare institutions, growing terrorism, ethnic violence and, more importantly, huge geopolitical and strategic risks. All this is further accentuated by the emergence of enemies of Pakistan from within and outside, backed by international vested interests and an unstable Afghanistan.
There are those who credit the 2002-2007 economic growth to former President Pervez Musharraf while some view his political actions as the very reasons for the current economic and security disaster. Some even think that ousting Musharraf from power was part of the Great Game as Pakistan’s GDP was touching 8% and the enemies of Pakistan felt that such growth was not suitable for a Muslim nuclear state. Pakistan’s enemies may also have comprised some allies who created conditions to make Musharraf resign as president and go on selfexile.
Pervez Musharraf has been in world focus for the past decade for various reasons positively, as a statesman and negatively, as a dictator. After 4 years of self-exile, he is back in Pakistan with a pledge to save the country. There is a viewpoint that perhaps Musharraf has been pushed forward as bait to trap the Pakistan Army. Whether he should be tried or not for high treason is a matter of legal debate and the question needs to be evaluated under the prevailing laws of the land.
However, in order to understand the dynamics of the situation and for better comprehension, it is important to consider the following:
Located at the crossroads of a globally strategic geo-political and strategic front, Pakistan is the only declared Muslim nuclear nation with the strongest standing army in the Muslim world. Pakistan has strong ties with China, the world’s fastest growing economy, its geographical location along the Arabian Sea offers the most promising trade routes, it has a border with Afghanistan which leads to future lucrative routes to the rich resources of central Asia and it has suffered from three decades of war in Afghanistan in addition to terrorism, the Mujahedeen and the Taliban. Besides its border with Iran, it is caught in the continued quest by post-cold war Russia and China to gain access to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The long pending issue of the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir is also among the top strategic factors for which a number of prevailing powers will not let Pakistan live in peace
and attain political sovereignty.
There will be continued efforts from many vested interests and groups to undermine Pakistan internally and externally. These interests will try to achieve competitive advantage by exploiting issues in the name of political democracy, national security, economic development, social justice, religion, etc. The fact is that Pakistan needs to understand these issues and protect its interests. The international community is not comfortable with Pakistan’s right of minimum nuclear deterrence. What is a further cause for worry is the rising militancy in the country and in bordering Afghanistan. International policymakers are cautious about Pakistan’s political and military outlook and evolve their policies accordingly. The country’s ailing institutions and weakening economic situation favors them and they wonder how long can Pakistan maintain its minimum nuclear deterrence and maintain a strong military? Pakistan will not give up these advantages in any case but economic pressures are increasing by the day along with other social issues. These pressures will eventually weigh down on the country’s strategic strengths. It is a race against time - that the country brings order to its socio-economic and political dimensions which are directly proportional to its strategic strengths. There have been maps and conspiracy theories and stories that Pakistan’s geography will not be the same after