Pakistan's reversal of an earlier decision to send its powerful military intelligence chief to India to investigate the Mumbai attacks, shortly after taking the decision, has revealed a deep leadership crisis in the South Asian Muslim country, analysts agree.
“It seems if no government exists in Pakistan,” Abdul Khalique Ali, a Karachi-based senior political analyst, told IslamOnline.net on Saturday, November 29.
“The country seems to have been running by different circles as some powers (are) lying with the president, some with the prime minister and remaining with the army. There is no cohesion between the key pillars of the state.”
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said Friday Islamabad is ready to send the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) chief, Lt General Shuja Pasha, to India to probe the Mumbai attacks at a request from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
But Gilani reversed the decision few hours later after coming under criticism from the powerful army and the country's political and religious parties.
“This is height of non-seriousness,” Ali said. “Can you believe that a government can take such an extraordinary decision without consulting the parliament, opposition and the national security institutions.
Ali said the whole episode is the result of a weak leadership. “It (announcement and reversion) has made the mockery of our leadership in the world…You cannot find such kind of example anywhere in the world, as even the weakest countries do not behave like this in testing times. Whatever has happened, is ridiculous.”
The Pakistani government held crisis talks on Saturday to discuss Islamabad's response to the Mumbai attacks.
“Any entity or group involved in the ghastly act, the Pakistani government will proceed against it,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters. “We are a responsible nation and a responsible neighbor and we will behave and act responsibly.”
India has accused Pakistan-linked “elements” of being behind coordinated attacks in Mumbai that left at least 195 people dead.
Analysts say that Prime Minister Gilani has proved failure in dealing with government affairs. “Mr Gilani is incompetent and does not know how to run the government affairs,” said Rasul Bakhs Raees, a senior political analyst and head of the political science department of the Lahore University of Management Sciences.
“He should have consulted with the national security institutions before taking such an unprecedented decision. He was virtually sending the ISI chief not to help in interrogation but to be interrogated by the Indian authorities.”
Raees said the weak Pakistani leaders have failed to deal with various internal and external issues confronting the country. “There is no exception to the incumbent government in this regard,” he said. “Weak leadership has always been our problem. There has always been personalized decisions, and this (decision) is one of them.”
Ali, the Karachi-based analyst, agrees. “Leadership is proved in hard times,” he said.
“I don't say there is no pressure on Pakistan. Yes, there is an extreme external pressure, but he (Gilani) should not have said an immediate Yes to India's demand. He should have acted in a diplomatic way, and could have said that Pakistan will decide about this issue after consultation with the cabinet and the parliament. But here I will say again, it's the matter of a weak leadership.”
Analysts say that the government has failed to assess the heat of the decision to send ISI chief to arch-foe India. “The government failed to assess the dire consequences of sending the country's intelligence chief to a country, which had been at war with you. It means you are giving an opportunity to India and others to doubt you,” said Raees.
“When we have done nothing, then why should we send our intelligence chief to India.
“An average person like me can assess the implications of sending the ISI chief to India,” he said. “It's totally out of question. But I don't known on which grounds the government first decided that and later reverted?”
Dr Ishtiaq Ahmad, an associate professor at international relations department, Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad, opines that the death of former premier Benazir Bhutto has created a leadership vacuum in Pakistan.
“There is a serious leadership crisis, particularly in the ruling Pakistan People's Party”, he said.
“She has left a leadership vacuum. if she had been there, she would have dealt the situation much much better.”
Ahmad expects more disastrous government decisions in near future.
“Things are going on in a haphazard way. it seems if there is no contact between the current leadership and the state institutions,” he said.
Ahmad opines that there is a rift between the political leadership and the military hierarchy.
“We should not have expected any political revolution after February 18 elections. The current rulers have come into power in the wake of agreements and compromises,” he said, referring to a controversial national reconciliation ordinance issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf under which all corruption cases against PPP leadership and other pro-Musharraf leaders were withdrawn last year.
“There is a huge discrepancy, which I will again say because of the weak and incompetent leadership,” he said.
“On the one hand Pakistan is blaming India for its involvement in terrorist activities in tribal areas, while on the other it is so apologetic when the matter (terrorism) comes to India.
“This is a regional issue, and it will effect both Pakistan and India commonly. Pakistani leadership must do some homework keeping the fast changing atmosphere in the world. The matter of the fact is that they do first and think later.”
Access interview at islamonline.net