Home | Comment & Analysis    Thursday 21 August 2008

Musharraf resigned, why is Bashir waiting?

By Mahgoub El-Tigani

August 19, 2008 - The Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf resigned “to spare Pakistan from a dangerous power struggle.” This resignation might as well save his face from a parliamentary impeachment strongly planned by the opposition.

Ironically, the seizure of political power by the army chief in 1999 was “justified” by the need to salvage the nation from “corruption, terrorism, and civilian chaos.” Following nine years of power struggles between the general and his people, however, the chief’s resignation took place to save Pakistan from “a dangerous power struggle”!

The fact of the matter is that Musharraf coup has been harshly received from the start to the end with roars of protest by a majority of the Pakistani people that resisted the military politics and finally managed to force the dictator to quit the presidency.

Apparently, the resignation will help the democratically elected parliament to carry out constitutional plans to adjust the presidency to a national popular agenda based on consistent removal of presidential powers over the Judiciary and the legislature to stabilize the democratic state of Pakistan.

True, the Musharraf supporters might struggle to reinstate a presidential authoritative system of rule vis-à-vis the parliamentary controlled government. Such attempts, however, might hardly succeed because of the pragmatic nature of the Musharraf coalition, which also characterizes the triumphant opposition groups that forced the president to resign in the first place.

For the same reason, the Msharraf strongly-opposed groups, especially the anti-secularist Islamic groups, of which a sizeable ethno-regional segment of Pakistan is organically related to the Afghan armed movements, will have to come to terms with the constitutional body of the Pakistani system of rule to survive as a political entity.

All in all, the non-constitutional acts, whether by a military coup or by acts of terrorism across the border, will cease to exist only by a stable popular democratic rule supported by sustainable development programs to alleviate poverty in Pakistan and the neighboring nations more than any military or ideological dispute.

Expectedly, the international role Musharraf strongly played to combat terrorism throughout the difficult years of his reign might resume under tight judicial and legislative powers of a democratic government accountable to the people that brought it to the seats of power.

It will be interesting to watch the development of the Pakistani economy and security affairs under the anticipated system of popular democratic rule, compared to the Musharraf presidential governance.

THE BASHIR PRESIDENCY

The Sudanese presidential experience under the former dictator Ja’far Nimeiri (1971-1985), especially the years embodying his “religious” alliance with the Brotherhood (1978-1985), and the succeeding “Islamic” government of his kindred Bashir (1989 to the present) seems quite different from that of Musharraf.

True, the army officers who destroyed the former elected governments of Pakistan and the Sudan justified their non-constitutional actions by a common claim, that the democratic government was “chaotic;” hence the army’s intervention “to maintain the security and national unity and to boost the economy.”

The military governments of Sudan, nonetheless, were never challenged by terrorist groups; on the contrary, the civilian populations of Sudan have been terrorized by succeeding military regimes with civil wars in almost all regions of the country to subdue popular resisting movements.

The Sudanese government’s attacks on people included a state-incited scourge of enslavement followed by well-documented acts of genocide for which President Bashir is currently indicted by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

The case of Pakistan indicates the determining role that free elections play to check, balance, and stabilize the power struggle between the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary branches of democratic governance. Of prominent significance, President Musharraf allowed the opposition to compete with his state-party and other allies in fair elections by which the opposition gained influential representation in the parliament.

Although Musharraf abused the presidency to repress the independence of the judiciary to fix his own power, his desperate search for constitutional legitimacy to combat international terrorism forced him to realize the national realities of Pakistan, modify his stands, abandon the decisive post of army chief, and finally surrender to the elected Will of People.

In the case of Sudan, Bashir continues to rule over a police state managed by costly military and security bureaucracies supported by hand-picked Brotherhood parliamentarians in the National Assembly. Moreover, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), an internationally recognized treaty body to bring about democratic transition in Sudan, empowered the Bashir presidency and its ideologues, the NIF/NCP, at expense of the democratic opposition.

Unlike the case of Musharraf resignation, this absolute monopoly of power relations by the Brotherhood junta, which has been amazingly supported by the CPA partisan provisions, blocked the necessary opening for the democratic opposition to influence effectively the state affairs vis-à-vis the anti-democratic junta.

Differently from the Musharraf political alliance in Pakistan, the Bashir presidency has been consistently oriented by the Brotherhood international and national institutions (specifically, the Islamic Call and the NIF/NCP organizations); hence, the president’s lacking of successful initiatives or presidential decisions apart from the dogmatic adventurers and strategists of his political clan.

Thus enabled to overrule the National Assembly, the executive, and the judiciary since January 2005 up to this moment, the Bashir-Brotherhood dictatorship was never able to mask its repressive nature since it has been using and abusing the 51% CPA majority vote to interrupt the peace process, obstruct fair sharing in power and authority with the South, expand rape and genocide in Darfur, and harass the democratic opposition in the North.

In nationalist terms, the case of Sudan is not comparable to Pakistan: Whereas Musharraf prepared a save clause in his relations with the opposition to secure reasonable withdrawal within the advancement of democratic rule in his nation, the Sudanese dictator excluded persistently the democratic opposition from active participation in national decision making, which brought the country to a real impasse, subjected the president to international indictment, and escalated poorly calculated confrontations with the international order.

CONSTITUTIONAL INFERIORITY, ISLAMIC CALL SUPERIORITY

The NIF/NCP caliber often claims major credits concerning “the peace, development, and international dynamism” their ruling regime “established as a legitimate authority of the Islamic Movement (the Muslim Brotherhood’s),” irrespective of any formal constitutional obligation.

Most recently, the presidential adviser leader of the NIF/NCP parliamentarians in the National Council Ghazi Salahaddin affirmed “the great success of his government in the peace making and peace keeping process in Darfur and in South Sudan, and the massive development projects accomplished in different parts of the country.”

“We, the Islamic Movement, built a New Sudan with new political deals that never existed before… The political reconciliation nowadays occurring had no precedent… The leap in the living standards and the national unity; and the Arab, African and Islamic solidarity with us testify to the high levels of achievement in our national and foreign policies, regardless of difficulties and problems,” emphasized the presidential adviser (Jazeera T.V., August 2008).

Observers have often questioned the tone of confidence in the NIF/NCP official statements or personal opinions whenever asked to comment on the increased misery among the Sudanese due to the Chinese-Russian oil deals for arms sales to the Brotherhood militias and army troops, or the unabated struggle between the government and the United Nations about the political and humanitarian crises in Darfur.

Another questionable mode of the government’s response centers on the elusive attitude of the ruling party and its president to water down the impact of the escalated crises, as they pretend to adopt “nationalist stands” versus “foreign intervention,” etc., without any real steps to enable the Sudanese large opposition body to participate in the conflict resolution.

It is possible that some Muslim audiences might be carried by religious sentiments to sympathize with the Brotherhood’s Jazeera interviews. But the Sudanese popular movement is quite aware of the government’s responses and its ‘ulama (scholars) and media efforts to deceive the public: “It is the same cheating nature of the al-Jabha (i.e., the NIF/NCP) that the country knew for decades before the 1989’s military coup.”

Most recently, the al-Harak al-Islamiya (another name for the NIF/NCP Brotherhood) vowed to enforce the same policies that ravaged the country by civil wars and suppressed the opposition by security laws in the next post-elections era. The commitment of the al-Haraka to implement the same exclusionary policies might explain the immediate NCP negativity towards the announced candidacy of the First Vice President, Mr. Salva Kiir, in the upcoming presidential elections.

The Brotherhood partisan plans in the name of a state-enforced Islamic Call over Sudan are well-documented in an official publication most recently issued by the Supreme Council of Islamic Call about the International Expert-Group’s Scholarly Forum on Islamic Call in the Sudan held in Khartoum, 13-15 February, 2008, “under the auspices of President Marshal Omer al-Bashir.”

Without a word to condemn in the strongest terms possible the criminality of the ruling junta in Darfur, according to the Qur’an and the Sunna, the Forum refers intensively to the sacred verses of the Holy Qur’an and the Hadith that guarantee justice, equality, religious co-existence, and the good life for all humans in peace.

Society is composed of “individuals, groups, clans, tribes, institutions, organizations, associations, and voluntary societies such as scholarly assemblies, literary and cultural groups, and community service as the natural constituencies of society.”

And yet, the notion of society “definitely doesn’t include parties or the groups that renegade from the social order or the formations alien to the concept of the [Islamic] Umma” (Issues of Originating Islamic Call: p. 14).

This flat exclusion of all political parties, other than those committed to the “purpose and orientation of the government’s Islamic Call,” is consistent with the practical practices and post-elections plans of the NIF/NCP governance.

Guided by these anti-nationalist teachings of their Islamic Movement, the NIF/NCP ruling elites will most likely unify their factions in the upcoming elections (specifically the Turabi and the Bashir groups), as many observers noted recently, regardless of the apparent media shows of hostilities between the two ideologues.

The NIF/NCP “Guardian of Islamic Call in Sudan, the most authoritative body of the supreme Musli Umma (nation),” on behalf of the other Haraka Islamiya organizations all over the world, has been targeting the Muslim Sufi constituencies of the Ansar and the Khatmiya, that antagonize the Brotherhood alien ideology. The NIF/NCP, however, continues to weaken the political parties of these Sufi groups, the Umma and the Democratic Unionists.

All other parties, namely the secularists who are not committed to the Islamic Call in public or private activities, are categorically placed under the Forum’s definition, “as formations alien to the concept of the Umma,”

This non-constitutional polarization of the Sudanese society divides the Sudanese nation into a dual system of citizenship by which only those adherents to the NIF/NCP Islamic Call (technically political ideology) enjoy full benefits and rights versus the rest of the repressed population. It is the real enforceable law of the NIF/NCP, which controls the state and inhibits any real transition to democratic rule in the country.

WHAT IS BASHIR WAITING FOR?

Would the al-Harak exclusionary policies ensure the regime’s striving to monopolize the political power in the post-elections period?

A major fact is the Brotherhood determination to sustain the CPA privileged formula for the NIF/NCP. The same formula of the Islamic Call governance will continue to engineer, gear, and overrule the formal institutions of the State, if the Bashir-led regime wins the next elections.

That is why Bashir has been strongly supported by the al-Haraka al-Islamiya, especially the Egyptian and the Jordanian groups, Palestinian Hamas, members of the Islamic Conference, and others with complete disregard to the criminal rule of their Sudanese Brothern and the deep political and cultural hostilities between the Sudanese spiritual orientations and the Brotherhood dogma.

Little wonder, the Musharraf responsible resignation to save Pakistan the risks of national crises had he stayed in power has been happily received by the NIF/NCP allies, at the time Bashir’s most genuine indictment by the ICC for the most heinous crimes committed under his direct command against humanity and the Muslim population of Darfur still receives irresponsible reactions from the so-called “Islamic” entities.

Bashir will never act as Musharraf did simply because the former is supported blindly by a dogmatic ruling elite blind to all objective criticisms, adamantly deceptive, ultimately non-democratic, and irrevocably committed to abuse Islam as it writes and talks in the name of the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s Hadith while applying exactly the opposite.

It suffices to mention the massacre of the Armed Forces in April (Ramadan 1990), the large scale acts of genocide and forced displacement in the South, Eastern Sudan, and Darfur, and the ongoing suppression of the Manasir and the Nuba of the Northern region.

FAIR WORDS BUTTER NO PARSNIPS

The concluding words of the Minister of Guidance and Religious Endowments at the Forum are self-evident: “The Islamic Project in the Sudan resembled a sincere intellectual effort to introduce the Project of Economic and Social Renaissance by the Principles of Islam…”

“Put on siege and fought against in an unprecedented manner, the Project was able to confront gallantly the Atlantic Project and to manifest its presence in the international and regional arenas, debating, arguing, and putting forward its defense and thesis” (The Forum’s 7th Panel, The Horizon of Islamic Call in The Sudan, p. 4).

The spokesperson for the Haraka affirms: “The Project engaged in military battles while offering at the same time ideas for peace and conflict resolution. The Project was able to handle both soft and harsh diplomacy, and was able to rescind international resolutions one after another.”

Similar to the presidential adviser’s speech to the Jazeera T.V., the Islamic Call minister ascertains: “The Islamic Project presented a political project on the formula of diversity by a constitution, a contract based on citizenship, justice, freedoms, and division of power and wealth that incites the building of political coalitions, national reconciliations, and the practice of a government founded on Shura [consultation], democracy, and the respect of the free choice of the people.”

This dual governance of the Islamic Call minister over the Interim Constitution of the Sudan by the same and one state-party is the causal reason for the perpetuated misery of the country. The minister and his scholarly expert group ignored the most fundamental fact about Islamic Call, that it is a genuine community-based activity free of authority patronage, according to the true mission of Islam and the centuries history of Sudan.

KNOWING THE TRUE ISLAM IS TOP AGENDA

The Sudanese people with their diverse religions and spiritual orientations have never succumbed to the succeeding police-states, including the al-Haraka al-Islamiya authoritative rule.

A nation deeply rooted in community life and the love of individual and public freedoms, especially the free-will of each single individual to choose her/his own religiosity, will inevitably force the Haraka president and his beneficiaries and external allies to give way to a free government faithful to the Constitution above all partisan projects or ideological claims.

The Umma Party and the Democratic Unionist Party would have to collaborate closely with one another to strengthen political ties with the democratic groups of Sudan vis-à-vis the ruling elite. Historically known as the largest Muslim constituencies of the country, these two parties must take a principled public stand against the NIF/NCP deceptive plans and the abusive management of the State under the manipulative banners and strategies of the Haraka.

The need to differentiate between the genuine principles of Islam, which support in multiple ways the fundamental rights and civil freedoms and emphasize the dominance of justice, social equality, and the rule of law on the one hand, and the political manipulation of these sacred principles by the NIF/NCP ruling junta and its Islamic Call to monopolize power and wealth at expense of the vast majority of people is top agenda.

This enlightening campaign should go hand in hand with the parties’ deep concerns with the next elections. Equally importantly, the secularist organizations in the country should raise the necessary awareness about the CPA and the Interim Constitution.

All civil society groups, furthermore, should coordinate their workaday activities to respect constitutionality of the CPA in the public domain, the most important obligation on all political groups, especially the opposition and the ruling parties.

To help the Sudanese to ensure a stable and democratic rule in the national and regional levels of governance, the International Community, in general, and the CPA Friends, in particular, is urged to show the strongest support possible to the People of Sudan in their ongoing struggles to establish the permanent and just peace with a non-discriminatory democratic state.

* The author is a sociologist at the Department of Social Work & Sociology in Tennessee State University, Nashville TN, USA. He can be reached at emehawari@hotmail.com