Monday, December 11, 2006

Resigned to our fate?

So they have resigned.

I don’t want to get into the discussion about why they did it. There is a time in one’s life when you need to decide that if one’s self-respect is above the trappings of power. For these four Advisors the time had come when they felt that they could no longer be part of the charade that is taking place and illicitly implicating them.

What I want to explore is, if they should have resigned and what might happen next.

The easy bit first. I’ve read (and in Hassan Mashud’s case heard) their justification for the resignation. Yes it is true they were trying their level best to make some sense to the madness that has come down upon us. And, if the applause given to Ali Akber during the recent CPD’s Nagorik Forum is any indication, winning the hearts and minds of the general public. We watched on as the Advisors toiled effortlessly to ensure that meeting of the minds happened in the political arena. They left no stone unturned, no door unknocked or no favours uncalled, to work towards ensuring that an acceptable compromise was reached. They had to deal with two political poles that and best of times were unwieldy with eccentricities of their heads and the temperaments of their leaders. They had to deal with a President and Caretaker Government Head who was not always present either physically or mentally – a man who, proving our worst fears, have turned out not only to be absent of individuality but blatantly shameless as well. They had to deal with the partisan bureaucracy, judiciary, and police force not giving them one inch of leeway. And they had to deal us the “intellectuals”, the “civil society”, and common Abdul in the street who poured over every detail, every look, every utterance, with a magnifying glass. Given these circumstances I am sure you will agree their resignation is justified. But was it wise?

The basic premise for the resignation of each of the four, it has been reported, is that they feel they no longer have an impact on the holding of free and fair elections. Here is where I disagree with them. By resigning, they abdicate their responsibility. They have thrown in the towel and hence they, other than proving to the nation that they are not with the President, are not doing anything more. Are they stopping the election from being rigged? Or for that matter not happening at all? Or is the Army going back to the barracks? Election Commission reforming? Political deadlock being resolved? No to all the above. Being inside, challenging each and every move of the President would have helped the nation far more. I read this phrase somewhere that I thought was brilliant. “Leave no answer unquestioned.” Their job could have been to question, debate, probe, criticise, deliberate, prod, discuss, enquire, scrutinize, explore, disagree, censure, argue, investigate…

But instead they give the President the opportunity to appoint four puppets to take their place. Does that benefit the nation?

As I had indicated earlier in my article the Power of One, [] the Head of the Caretaker Government does not have any power over and above the other Advisors. Any decision taken by the CTG has to be a consensual one. That means if the Chief of CTG is on one-side and majority of the Advisors are on the other then the latter “win”. The Army having been called in will have to report to the CTG and hence to the majority of the Advisors. Staying inside the CTG the Advisors could have challenged this point through the courts. They could have shown dissent and distance themselves from the President. They could have moulded public opinion and support behind a free and fair election. But now alas here in the cold of the outside they are nothing but just another victim.

Now to “what next”? The difficult answer. Things are changing every hour. What was true a few minutes ago is no longer reliable. And as neither logic nor precedence is being followed in any decision, it is hard to say with any certainty what news we will wake up to tomorrow. So I want predict only two things.

Firstly that a few more (probably 3) Advisors will resign. After making the long-winded argument against Advisor’s resignation, I have to say that now that it has happened, others must follow suit. Otherwise they tactically give the President approval for his action. I believe if a section of the others do come out in support of their fallen comrades it puts beyond a shadow of doubt the illegitimacy of the CTG. If not, being a part of the circus just makes one look as another clown waiting for the ringmasters next command.

Secondly do not underestimate the Army. Over the last few months we have tiptoed around this topic. Some of the leading newspapers have self-censored themselves and not printed anything on indicate the possibility of an Army takeover. (To read what I was saying earlier about the Army’s possible involvement you might want to read my writing New Arithmetic 1+1 = -53 [] or Swadee Khrab General : Some Answers Questioned []) If my discussion with all and sundry are any indication, an Army intervention is not going to be unpopular. The Generals, I thought, should great fortitude and had not jumped in earlier when at multiple times the occasion had arisen. Now that they are in, what shall they do? If nothing else they need to be brutally just and even handed. They will go after every criminal and every hoodlum at a pace that will leave even the men in black RAB, in a tizzy. But then what? As the law and order is restored they will need to focus on other aspects. It is matter of time before, if not already, the popular sentiment move against the President and the parties he serve. What will the Army do in this case? Who are their lord and master? To whom do they owe allegiance? Do they prop up an unelected partisan President? Or do they throw their might behind the citizens of the nation? Or do they take power themselves?

Well like I said, it is a bit too early to be able to answer these questions. But I can assure you we can never be sure what is written in our fate till it actually happens.

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