PAKISTAN: POLITICAL SOUNDINGS OF A TRAVELER (DELETED)

Created: 5/13/1983

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Pakistan:

Political Soundingsraveic

Zia appeari toirm grip on the country and facet no evident or early threat to hit rule' Student politics continue to be confined to university issues, and sectarian tensions, despiteby dissidents to espsnd them to Punjab, remain isolated in Karachi. There Is virtually no significant political tension in the bazaars and no sign of any coalescing of demands or groups against tbe regime Although the national mood could change overnight should Zia blunder, the continuation of his regime hai substantial, if grvidging. supportariety of key national aad provincial Interest groups.

Zia's Position

The President appears to have strengthened his pesi-tsont over the past year. The maintenance of economic stability, bis ability to contain and co-opt po-erful domestic interests, and foreign policy successes have bolstered his standing. Prolonged rule by Ziaossibility acceptedrowing number ofThe perception that Zia is in for long innings" inevitably enhances his position as influential groups find ways of benefiting from the statue quo.

Even Zia's strongest ccooneats do not predict aa early opposition movement against the retime. They believe nothing will happen until political restrict ioni are lifted or therehange at the top. According to several Lahore political families, Zia hat decreed thai

' Thiaaaad am tha aaae-vauoat at ia aatlsx whoApril iravctini la parta at Pakistani Iter pro-Anns

Th*d la utklnt t* PikiuanU ef il varttl le-eta. bviikaai la lac auMU ltd knot aoosi artm. aad *r* aaam hi kHhrdC aaat*Ht* af epMia* Tfc* afloM tmeoUwmwu *ad npdauaa-Mnu an hrxtiESAii-iooaoiSwTwNFNC OO. May i. Ziaithi FotUHi ofm there will be no de moist tmistakeallow them to getthe

cr I'mces ensure that any that do start arc quickly nipped in the bud Leftist leaders are not looking to tbeet arc putting their hopes in in old rui.x* that Army b'-iadiers and major ge.-ie.-ili are preparing tohange at the top and arraege with moderate politicianseturn to civilian rule.

Zia himself shows signs of increasing politicalAccording to local observers in Sekku. and Quetta, his recent "nonpditicar tours ef Sind and Baluchistan attracted large and enthusiasticour of the Punjab is planned for midsummer, which,ecent visit to Cujranwala was'CJic substantial popular support tor Zis in this aH-important province. Many believe the President is testing the waters before deetdirgj. how best to fulfill bb commitment toolitical framework for th* countryndoubtedly willritical mrning point ia Zia's political fortunes

The Armj

According io several Punjab famit.es with members in the Army, the arrival or the first installment of weapons from Ihe Uniled Stales has markedlymorale in the Army ofTicer corps and strength-eaed Zia's position Officers who laste admiring Khomeiniunking about bow toPeople's Army" are tbb year studying how best to

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The dichotomy between senior officers (brigadier andho lend to support martial law, and junior officers, whoeturn to the barracki, continues, although most juniorreeractical alternative to martial la* must be round before it is lifted Tbe skrw attrition of officers resigning from the armed forces continues, though this reportedly is more for economic than political reasons. Nevertheless, officers that leave lend lo be more critical of Zia after they have left the service.

Rumors of corruption in the Martial Law(MLA) continue to abound, particularly around Islamabad and the provincial capitals. Lihoris pointcighb rhood of Urge new houses underin Lahore Cantonment by several generals, which they jc*mgly call -Gcneralabad Most can cite em* or more examples of alleged corruption in the SI LA. although sober observer* insist lhat It is not irrcreaikng. For bazaar merchants and middle class families, the petty corruption of Pakistan's endlessuch more pervasive. The poormore about tbe police, aad taxi and ricksha* drivers say that the police have ewer the past year returned to the old practice ofercentage of tbeir proceeda.

Pcjccptlcma of the Haiti* Stale*

There Is wiekspread relief in Pakicaa, particularly in the North-West Frontier Province and Punjab, that arms from the Ur'"ed Stale* have begun to arrive.re especially welcome sodrucial symbol of the US commitment to Pakistan. Thereistinctly more positive iltitude toward the United Stale* in the bazaars this year, although oad doubts about the durability of US com milecrtain Nevertheless. Pakistanisittle more confidentittle leas isolated than ihey did last year.

A surprising number of Pakistani!loser relationship with the United States, providedsciedtrong commitment from Washington As things itsnd now. however, there ia in almostdesire to avoidS pawn onAa one religious notable in Chinkoi (near Sargodhalill support ihe Afghan Mutahicken as long as their struggle is genuine, bul not if it simply results from US activities."

Strong criticism of US Middle East

Fconsiiicni-

In important issue.

.as taTT relit ionslevels of Pakistani society. There seemsthat events in Lebanon, particularlyof civilians, deeply upset Pakistanis.bazaar merchants and tower middle classUS support fordynamics ofuniversally misunderstood incomplaint sgainsl the United States andof considerable ambivalence about bow farrelationship ihould go Amongfolk and those with lies to .he military

India end the Soviets

no* perceive the Soviet Union as the chief threat to Pakistan.he traditional enemy, bul India, by itself,nown quantity. Moat Pakistanis arc confident Ihey can defend themselvesnilateral Indian attack and worry about India mostly in tbe contestoint Soviet-Indian move agaiast Pakistan. Although therepockets of diehardndian sentiment in Punjab, there iiamong Kashmiri merchant families in Gujranwala andIndia is now too strongttack- They believe the Kashmir issue should be put aside and support Zla's etTorti lo reduce tension* with India.

There is widespread fear in Pakistan about Soviet kmerm objectives in South Asia and the conie-quence* of tbe Soviet occupation of Afghanistan Some merchant* in Peshawar openly expressed ibe beliefoviet attack on Paktsua was asas the Israeli invasion offor much

ihe time reason: to deny (heheirand punish the host government. Baiaarand the lower middle class tee the Sovietshreat to iheir religion and way of life, while the more educated fear the Soviet ability to captoti regional trmsions and the economic frustrations of the poor.

The Pakistan People's Party

Most observers concede that the Pakistanarty would stillajority in any free national election that it was allowed to contest. The Bhutto family, particularly Benazir, retains the loyalty of pany workers snd tbe party faithful, but the partycontinues to deteriorate, aad few Paki-stanis believe the PPP will be back in power soon, if ever.

The most active elements in the PPP are students and the immediate poststudent generation, tome of whom have lies lo Al-Zulfihar. The Bhutto generation, who are now in their tbirties and forties, are moresiill inclinedote for ihe PPP. but with growing family and work committrtcriis arc unwilling to actively oppose the regime.

According lo PPP workers in the old city of Lahore. Al-Zulfihar activists continue to filter In fromand India, asrickle of arms. The infiltrators arc supposed to recruit fromupporters and concentrate on the younger. The group reportedly is concentrator, for the present oa organisation and has put out the word ihai tbe lime te not ripeove against the regime.

The rfll.gr-.

Public support and sympathy for the Afghan refugees has declined somewhat over tbe pest year, but the situation does not appear to be of crisis proportions, except possibly in the Hazara district of the North-Weal Frontier Province. More contempt is eipresacd for tbe untrbit worthiness and greed of Afghans aod with asocctl of their culture, such as marriagethat arc at odds with Pakistani customs. Most complaints, however, focus on security and economic Issues. There is concern, particularly around Peshawar and Quetta, about Soviet and Afghan

agents and provocateurs among the refugees and about Soviet retaliation against Pakistan for aiding the fcaisiance. Locals also attribute tbe decline of public ceder in the refugee affected areas to the Afghans.

Competition for scarce resources and the continuing penetration of the refugees Into the local economy at dsy laborers, roadside hawkers, and transporters fuel local rcacntrncm. There is aerknts worry aroundand Miatrwali ia the Punjab about theof refugees in that province, and Islamabad will have to tread warily if II wants to svoid serious political problems on this issue in Punjab. In Quetta, ibe Baluch fear that theoth refugee and local, will join against them. Some of them say that then the Baluch would, however reluctantly, be forced to seek Soviet protection

In the main, however, there seems toendency lo avoid confrontation on the pan of both locals and refugcci. Both groups know that fighting between them would only benefit iheir common enemy, and neither side can be confident about whereion might lead Most observers believe there will be increasing incidents but do not foresee genersliud major dashes. Nonetheless, prevailing opinion around both Quetta and Peshawar urgcaay must be found to return the refugees lo their homelsnd.

Outlook

Ai present. President Zia appears to be aa secure in power an any leader can beountry like Paklttan. KeyArmy, bureaucracy, clergy, bazaar merchants, industrial it is. and landedsupport his rube. His opposition It fragmented and disc*riicd. Only the studentto the PPP and us regional panihe energy and verve to challenge Zia. Having recently won student elections all over Pakistan, defeating the Islamic fundamentalists who supported Zia, they could be

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