Rumors Galore: Benazir’s Return? Musharraf’s Departure?

Posted on April 5, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, People, Politics
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Adil Najam

Abro's Political Art at Flickr.comBack in July, we had written that “change may be brewing in Pakistani politics.” Over the last many months the themes of change and the indicators of change have been a frequent subject of discussion here. Our ATP Poll on the key events of 2006 seemed to validate the sense that 2007 may, in fact, be the year of change that many anticipate it to be; but possibly in ways that we do not anticipate.

We at ATP are a patient lot. We did not assume then, and do not assume now, that change awaits around the corner. In some ways, important change has already come. Slowly it has crept upon us and the political calculus in Pakistan today is markedly different from what it was a year ago.

The fiasco with Chief Justice Iftikhar’s removal, the flexing of the muscles by the religious extreme, the posturing by the politicos (including their relative silence at the beginning of the CJ debacle and now the macho statement from Chaudhry Shujaat) are all indicators that add to the indicators we had pointed out back in July. The result, of course, is a constant buildup of the popular fatigue and the democratic desire.

For weeks there has been (increasingly credible) chatter about a possible deal between Benazir Bhutto and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on the one hand and the Musharraf regime on the other. What that would mean for Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz or the Qaaf-League that the Chaudhries put together remains an important unknown.

For days now there has also been (more intriguing but less credible) chatter about some impending change in Gen. Musharraf’s status; within and without the Army. With the military top brass meeting right now there are rumors of the possibility that he just might be persuaded to hand over the Chief of Army Staff position to someone else but remain as President, possibly with the return of BB.

All of this is in the realm of rumors and of the most speculative variety at that. I would not wish to dignify it to be anything more than just that. However, the rumors have now become intense enough and persistent enough that one should at least keep a keen and close eye on them.

The most important new piece in the puzzle may be the abolishment of the ‘Special Operations Division’ of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) which was the lead player in pursuing the legal cases against Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari. Excerpts from The News story on this:

The federal government on Wednesday abolished the Special Operation Division (SOD), a subsidiary of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) which was investigating matters related to illegal foreign assets and offshore bank accounts of politicians, including Benazir Bhutto. The federal government closed down the SOD office in Lahore, and the files of the cases of illegal wealth and foreign assets of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari were being shifted to Islamabad.

A senior officer of the management group, Hassan Waseem Afzal, who had been appointed as the head of this division, was investigating the cases of Benazir and other politicians. He had carried out investigations against Benazir and had been awarded the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz by the government of Pakistan. The division was established to probe into the illegal assets acquired by politicians in foreign countries and the ill-gotten money stashed in offshore accounts. Cases against several politicians, including Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari, were being investigated by the Special Operation Division…

More telling than this report was a news report on GEO News where host Kamran Khan talks about this in terms of a major indicator of change. More importantly, listen carefully to the views of former information minister Shiekh Rashid on this video clip. He talks, quite candidly, about how some change is certainly coming, suggests that this is bigger than just a cooling down, and even seems to hint that this could change the political equation for everyone including Gen. Musharraf and Chaudhry Shujaat.

Deal between the Gov. and Benazir Bhutto – Geo Tv

Of course, the current information, Senator Durrani, is saying that nobody should confuse “dheel (relief) with deal,” but then people have long since stopped taking him seriously.

So, is Benazir returning? Is Gen. Musharraf leaving?

Eventually, both things will happen one way or the other. At this point these are just rumors. But whether the rumors are correct or not, change is on its way and the essence of the game has already changed.

82 responses to “Rumors Galore: Benazir’s Return? Musharraf’s Departure?”

  1. CJ says:

    How many Peer’s does Musharraf have? Altaf Hussain, George Bush, Tony Blair… maybe he can add Salman Rushdi to his list. They all are working on a common agenda!!

  2. Adnan Siddiqi says:

    Musharraf’s Peer Mr. Bush has sent a message indirectly to his mureed.

    It would be interesting to read how Ms.Tasneem Aslam responds on behalf of Pak Govt. If Pakistani govt dare to respond :-)

    another indication that US don’t want Mush anymore? *grin*

  3. Wasiq says:

    Sorry, I pasted the wrong link in my previous post. Here is the link to Speakers Platform, the srvice that books speakers for events and talks of the high fees:

  4. Wasiq says:

    For Ikram Ullah:

    Please emerge from your well. Just scroll down on the following website and read. “Please note that while this speaker’s specific fee falls within the range posted at the top of this page (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change without notice. Also note that most celebrity keynotes begin in the $25,000 and up range (most list “Contact for Fee Schedule”). For current fee information or international event fees, please contact your Speakers Platform representative.”

    // acy&FORM=MSNH

    SO muh for your “don’t abuse our intelligence” superciliousness and the sweeping remark that no institution in the US pays ANYONE $ 50,000 for a speech.

    FYI, Bill Cinton’s fees per speech is $200,000 and a former Irish PM charges $50,000.

    There is a world beyond Lahore or Bhai Pheru or wherever you live, Ikram Ullah ji.

    Disliking Benazir Bhutto is one thing. Denying that people can make a luxurious living from speaking or writing in the US quite another.

  5. AMAR ZAM says:

    Mushi should never really leave the position of chief of army Staff, as i think these are the people who helped the country save something in regards to $$$. But regarding this BB should stay wherever she is and should never return to pakistan, BB basically messed the country while she was the owner of the govt here. I mean come on every 1 knows this “its a FACT” so my point is that BB should be given no right to return to PAKISTAN as she is an Illegal Politician doin nothing but yapping outside of pakistan. She deserves nothing from pakistan if she wants freedom she gets that by sitting outside of pakistan with her FOREIGN ACCOUNTS come on you got all the money u want stay out of here. We dont want you back.

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