Nelson Mandela: A life in pictures
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Pakistan plunged into a deep political uncertainty after the
military staged a successful coup Tuesday to dismiss the 32-month-old government
of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Major political parties and people at large have
welcomed the army takeover. But while they hold Sharif responsible for the
current turmoil, there is also a growing concern over how long army chief Gen.
Pervez Musharraf will hold power.
“Last time, the army took over in 1977 and
promised to hold elections within three months, but it took them 11 years to leave,” said Mohammad Hussain, a retired bureaucrat. “I wonder how long this regime will stay — the victim will only be democracy, which has failed to take roots in the country.”
Sharif’s ouster casts a shadow of doubt on the upcoming peace negotiations with
India. The two nuclear powers have had a protracted fight over the region of
Kashmir, and tensions have resulted in threats of nuclear attacks in the past.
Two-time prime minister and Pakistan People’s Party chairwoman Benazir Bhutto called on the military to hold elections and go back to the barracks. “I fully blame the prime minister,” she said from her home in London,
where she is in exile; Pakistan’s courts have charged her with corruption. “But the existing situation is fluid and dangerous. Pakistan appears to be in a state of civil war.”
Tahirul Qadri, the head of the Pakistan People’s Movement, an Islamist party, said, “It was Sharif’s blunders that forced the
army to take over, I congratulate the army a hundred times for getting rid of
this fascist ruler.” The Pakistan People’s Movement is one of 19 parties that
formed a Grand Democratic Alliance last month to oust the Sharif government.
Sharif’s is the fifth government since 1985 to be dismissed before its
constitutionally mandated five-year term was up. Four others were axed by the president
under special constitutional powers scrapped by the Sharif government soon after
it took over. The military has ruled Pakistan for more than 20 of the 52 years
since the nation’s founding.
Political analysts believe the coup grew out of a series of miscalculations and political blunders by Sharif’s government. They note in particular the mishandling of the ongoing conflict in Kashmir — particularly Sharif’s decision to withdraw troops from the disputed territory after an agreement with the United States in July.
“Sharif ordered the pullout when the Kashmiri
mujahedeen were at an advantageous position against the Indian Army, The government decision had caused much resentment among the army ranks,” said Daudur Rahim, editor at a local news agency — adding that he is saddened to see his
countrymen look to the military to intervene in issues that should be sorted out
politically and in a democratic way.
“Sharif had become an unpopular leader due
to his authoritarian attitude,” commented Afasarul Mulk, a local leader of the
Pakistan People’s Party. “Although I would oppose army rule and favor the
democratic process, I have no regrets for Sharif’s ouster. He was a dictator in
the garb of democracy.”
In addition, critics said Sharif had failed to control a recent upsurge in the
sectarian violence that has left more than 50 people dead, with a majority of the victims coming from the minority Shiite community. This led the religious political parties,
particularly those representing Shiites, to call upon the army to intervene.
“The Sharif government’s failure to control the situation further eroded its
credibility — the government should have resigned,” observed Babar Ali Sher,
a Shiite and owner of a car rental business in Islamabad.
Sharif also made enemies with many Muslim groups inside Pakistan
when he blamed Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban party for involvement in sectarian violence in Pakistan. The radical Taliban, who are Sunni Muslims, enjoy massive support among the strong Islamist lobby within the army — the same lobby that opposed Pakistan’s withdrawal from Kashmir this July. Sharif had asked the Taliban to shut down terrorist training camps and stop the influx of terrorists to Pakistan — indicating a change in Islamabad’s position. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the only countries that have recognized Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan.
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Mandela is accompanied by his former wife Winnie, moments after his release from prison February 11, 1990 after serving 27 years in jail. (Reuters)
In this February, 1990 photo, shortly after his release from 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, gives the black power salute to the 120,000 supporters packing Soccer City stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg. (AP Photo)
Nelson Mandela showed his passport in February 19, 1990, shortly after his release from prison. The South African government authorized an application for himself and his wife Winnie - (Juda Ngwenya / Reuters)
In this July 27, 1991 photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro, and Nelson Mandela gesture during the celebration of the "Day of the Revolution" in Matanzas, Cuba. (AP Photo)
In this July 4, 1993 photo, President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela listen during Fourth of July ceremonies in Philadelphia during which Clinton presented the Philadelphia Liberty Medal to the African National Congress president and South African President F.W. de Klerk. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela acknowledges cheers from the crowd as he prepares to unveil the ANC's official election platform in 1994. (AP Photo/David Brauchli)
African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela greeted residents of Mmabatho in March 1994, during a visit after the nominal homeland came under South African control following the ousting of the former President Lucas Mangope. (Reuters/Howard Burditt)
South African President Nelson Mandela smiles with actor Sidney Poitier at a press conference in Cape Town in 1996. Poitier played Mandela in the film "One Man, One Vote" (AP Photo / Sasa Kralj)
South African President Nelson Mandela waves to crowds as he sits next to Queen Elizabeth II in a an open carriage on the way to Buckingham Palace.(AP/Louisa Buller)
Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly Cyril Ramaphosa, left, holds up a copy of the country's constitution which was signed by President Nelson Mandela, in December 1996. (AP Photo / Adil Bradlow / POOL)
Nelson Mandela at a news conference in Johannesburg in February 2000. (AP Photo / Denis Farrell)
South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar, right, received the Rugby World Cup trophy from President Nelson Mandela also wearing a South African rugby shirt, after South Africa defeated New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup , in 1995. (AP Photo / Ross Setford)