Hail to the Chief

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The more things change, the more they stay the same. The current dispensation of power in the military has had more than its share of good press, both in the local and foreign media. This was a military leadership of professional soldiers, determined not to go the Musharraf way. Yes, tensions might exist, analysts would say, but only on account of institutional memory; otherwise the military leadership is clear on matters political: it will stay away. Well, some disgruntled whistleblower just took a Wikileak on that carefully crafted image, which has ended up in a muddied mess.

The new cables illustrate that the military still envisages for itself the role that it has always had, that of the kingmaker if not the king. Our boys apparently mused over the possibility of a coup of sorts in case things got out of hand during the long march that restored the huger judiciary. In fact, they had already thought of a replacement for the President in the form of Asfandyar Wali. Why they thought of him is puzzling, the ANP being even more of a gadfly for the military than the PPP, specially in todays circumstances vis–vis the Taliban. Though the ANP turning down the offer was but expected, credit is also due for the PML(N), which has also woken up to not only the moral stance but the eventual utility of not striking any unconstitutional deal with other actors. A distrust between the League and the army was also one of the things revealed by the leaks. A reassuring thought, that. It appears some things will, in fact, change.

Finally, it has to be said that the leaks revealed the difference between declared and unofficial stances. If its about the military regarding its role in the running of the affairs of the state, then it is also about the politicians regarding the war on terror. The Prime Ministers duplicity about the drone strikes is chilling, specially if he actually used words to the effect that Wikileaks describe i.e., a mock protest in the parliament and through the Foreign Office but general complicity with the drone attacks. This is a government elected by the people of Pakistan. A mandate of the people should be enough for it to say anything that it wants. A more transparent government, here or abroad, is one that would have nothing to fear from any whistleblower.