Maya del Mar's Daykeeper Journal: Astrology, Consciousness and Transformation

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Musharraf, Bhutto and Pakistan

by Alex Miller-Mignone

“Today I’m making this address because our country is at a dangerous juncture, facing a national crisis.... In the last few months, our situation has changed radically... extremism is now common. Fundamentalist extremists are everywhere. They are not afraid of law enforcement agencies.... The people are worried. The extremists are trying to take the authority and power of the government into their own hands. They want to impose their outdated religious views upon the people.”

—General Pervez Musharraf, speech upon declaration of state of emergency, 11/3/07

“Unless General Musharraf reverses the course it will be very difficult to have fair elections. I agree with him that we are facing a political crisis, but I believe the problem is dictatorship, I don’t believe the solution is dictatorship. ...Extremists need a dictatorship, and a dictatorship needs extremists.”

—Benazir Bhutto

Pervez MusharrafOn 3 November 2007, General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan and Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistani Army, declared a state of emergency in the Middle Eastern nuclear power, citing the rise of extremist elements that threatened to overwhelm the state. Martial law was imposed, and the army raided the offices of the Pakistani Supreme Court, an unlikely hotbed of terrorist activity, detaining several justices, including the Chief Justice. Pakistan’s constitution has been suspended, the federal cabinet disempowered, and only state-run television stations remain on air. Elections scheduled for January have been delayed, with the state of emergency expected to continue at least through early December.

The declaration came in the wake of an October 18 assassination attempt on Benazir Bhutto, formerly Prime Minister, who had just returned from self-imposed exile with the hopes of establishing a power-sharing arrangement with Musharraf, whose popularity has been on the ebb. Rumors emerged that government agents, far from protecting Bhutto, were actively involved in the conspiracy against her life.

Protests against the state of emergency, mainly by members of the legal profession, were dealt with harshly. When Bhutto attempted to address a protest rally on November 8, she was placed under house arrest and all roads to her home blockaded. The restrictions were lifted two days later, but reimposed on the 12th. On November 13 Bhutto called for Musharraf’s resignation as President and Chief of Army Staff, and intimated her Pakistan People’s Party would boycott the rescheduled parliamentary elections. She stated further that she would be unable to serve as Prime Minister under Musharraf, whose word she could not trust.

The genesis of the state of emergency was an electoral dispute between Musharraf and rival presidential candidate Wajihuddin Ahmad, a retired Supreme Court Justice, dating from 6 October, when Musharraf won re-election with 99% of the parliament and regional assembly votes. The dispute centered on Musharraf’s eligibility to run again for the presidency, as he simultaneously holds the office of Chief of Army Staff, which is illegal under Pakistan’s constitution, although Musharraf had legislation passed which allowed him to continue in both offices.

With new parliamentary elections by the general populace scheduled for January, and Musharraf’s party expected to lose seats due to his growing unpopularity, Ahmad petitioned the Supreme Court for a stay of the election’s ratification. The court was set to make its decision on November 5, thus the declaration of the state of emergency on November 3.

Following the declaration, the government crackdown was aimed at liberal elements in Pakistani society—educators, middle class and professional workers, the media and jurists. An estimated 2500 lawyers, opposition politicians and human rights activists have been detained. No attempt was made to renew the assault on extremist elements in Pakistan’s northern and western territories, the ostensible reason for the declaration. On November 15, Musharraf swore in a caretaker government to oversee the interim period until elections, now scheduled for January 9; on the 16th, Bhutto was released from house arrest, declared the new government illegitimate, and rebuffed dialogue with Musharraf.

Musharraf came to power in Pakistan on 12 October 1999 in a military coup which ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, following the PM’s decision to dismiss the general in the wake of a bungled military operation against India the previous summer in the Kargil district of Kashmir, a region the two powers have contested for several decades. The coup was bloodless and supported by the army generals and Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which ruled that Sharif’s attempted dismissal of Musharraf had been unconstitutional. Sharif was placed under house arrest and later exiled; Musharraf assumed the title of Chief Executive and took control of the government. The sitting president, Rafiq Tarar, remained in office until June 21, 2001, when Musharraf appointed himself President.

Several electoral irregularities followed, including a rigged referendum in April 2002 to extend Musharraf’s term into 2007. In early 2004 he narrowly won a confidence vote in parliament, then forced through an amendment to Pakistan’s constitution which retroactively legitimized his 1999 coup and endorsed most of his intervening legislation. To gain the two-thirds supermajority necessary to enact a constitutional amendment, Musharraf had made a deal with a rival political party, the MMA; the price for their cooperation was his resignation from his army position by the end of 2004. However, after passing the amendment, Musharraf also passed a bill allowing him to retain both offices, carried with a simple majority vote, which did not need the MMA’s support to become law. He continued to retain both positions.

There have been three assassination attempts on Musharraf, two in 2003, and the most recent in July of 2007. His popularity has always been marginal, with religious extremists opposed to his more moderate secular agenda, and liberals opposed to his use of military power to enforce his regime. In an attempt to increase popular support for his government, in July 2007 Musharraf began talks with exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who remained a very popular figure despite allegations of corruption in her administration, with a view to bringing her back within the government to shore up his political position.

Benazir BhuttoBenazir Bhutto had been Prime Minister of Pakistan, the first woman elected to a leadership position in a Muslim country. Elected first in 1988, she was removed 20 months later by Pakistan’s president under a cloud of accusations of corruption. Elected a second time in 1993, her government was again dissolved in 1996 after similar charges emerged. She entered a self-imposed exile in Dubai in 1998 to avoid prosecution. By the terms of her agreement with Musharraf, all charges were dropped and she was granted amnesty from prosecution upon her return. On September 17, while still in exile, Bhutto began making arguments that Musharraf was ineligible for re-election to the presidency due to his position with the army, accusing his supporters of creating a constitutional crisis. On the day she returned to Pakistan, flying into Karachi airport, two suicide bombers attempted to assassinate her, which Bhutto attributed not to terrorist elements, but to government agents. Bhutto was unharmed, but 136 others were killed, and 450 wounded.

The current crisis is essentially a showdown between Musharraf and Bhutto, with Pakistan’s government the prize.

The chart for the establishment of the Pakistani Republic (23 March 1956, 7:05 AM local time, Karachi, Pakistan) is fraught with galactic contacts, and shows some aggressive activity by transit currently and in the near future. With a 2 Aries Sun opposed the supermassive Black Hole center of Galaxy M-87, the largest anomaly of its type of which we are aware, Pakistan is tailor-made for violent upheaval, and carries the Sun/Black Hole signature typical of other nuclear powers. As the most powerful man-made force thus far created on the planet, nuclear weaponry is a natural match for the power-hungry appetites of Black Holes.

Additionally, Uranus, representing uranium, a vital element in the creation of these weapons, lies at 28 Cancer, exactly atop another Black Hole, from where it also opposes the USA Pluto at 27 Capricorn, indicative of the threat to our own security posed by the possibility of these weapons falling into extremist hands. The nation’s Pluto at 26 Leo, representing plutonium, another nuclear element, as well as Pakistan’s military might and power, opposes yet another Black Hole at 27 Aquarius, ramping up the potential instability factor even more. Saturn at 2 Sagittarius is conjoined a Black Hole at 3 Sagittarius, and its exact trine to the Sun suggests the ease with which repressive, dictatorial regimes can gain power in Pakistan, as well as the increased chance that these come into force erratically and unexpectedly, via irregular, unconstitutional means.

Mars’ current retrograde station at 12 Cancer occurred November 15, in the midst of the crisis, and closely opposes the nation’s natal Mars at 15 Capricorn, this opposition transformed into a Galactic T-Square with the addition of the Black Hole and Quasar at 13 and 15 Libra respectively. The Black Hole amplifies the volatility of the crisis, while the Quasar here suggests pervasive, long-lasting ramifications. Taken with an upcoming solar eclipse at 17 Aquarius on February 6, 2008, which exactly opposes Pakistan’s 17 Leo Moon and squares its 17 Taurus Venus (forming another T-Square), the suggestion of imminent revolution and bloodshed is acute. On its own, the tight Moon/Venus linkage indicates a willingness by the populace (Moon) to accede to female (Venus) leadership, reflected not only in Bhutto’s two prior terms as Prime Minister, but also in her mother’s stereotype-shattering role in helming the PPP, Pakistan’s leading liberal political party, to which Bhutto is now heir. There may be a saving grace in Pakistan’s 10 Aquarius Chiron, also conjunct a Black Hole at 11 Aquarius, which we will note shortly.

Pervez Musharraf (born 11 August 1943) is similarly galactically encumbered, and ties to the nation’s chart as well. Incredibly, his Sun at 17 Leo is an exact match for Pakistan’s Moon, and like that Moon squares a Black Hole at 16 Taurus, which lies close to his Mars at 22 Taurus. It is also about to be exactly opposed by that 17 Aquarius eclipse, which may prefigure Musharraf’s fall. Stubborn and combative, Musharraf is a natural focus for discontent, and has a capacity for ruthless, coercive behavior.

Mercury at 8 Virgo conjoins two Black Holes, at 6 and 9 Virgo, and is the exact seat of Saturn’s upcoming retrograde station on December 19. Expect a major reversal of policy decisions on or about that time. With Black Hole Mercury, Bhutto is right not to trust Musharraf, who has a natural bent for duplicity and double dealing. His stated rationale for the imposition of martial law is easily belied by the actions taken by his government in its aftermath, and his trickery and betrayal of his deal with the MMA illustrates his willingness to break his word and manipulate others to his own ends. Jupiter and Pluto conjoined at 7 and 8 Leo, and atop the Black Hole at 9 Leo, suggests an unquenchable thirst for power, a lust for his own personal aggrandizement, and a total lack of scruple or squeamishness in how he attains his goals. Saturn at 23 Gemini, conjoined a Pulsar and opposed the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius, says that his leadership is something which will make big news internationally, and have a global impact.

Highly suggestive is the chart for the coup which brought Musharraf to supreme power in Pakistan on 12 October 1999. The 26 Sagittarius Mars, exactly conjunct the Galactic Center, could indicate a military venture with global ramifications, and opposed his natal Saturn identifies the core of his authority as based in military might. Of more particular interest is the nodal axis at 10 Leo/Aquarius, which forms an exact T-Square with the coup’s Mercury at 10 Scorpio. This is a fated, predestined decision, and the developments which arise from it are also in some sense predetermined, and have a karmic impact upon both Musharraf and the nation. This 10 Scorpio degree was precisely highlighted by the transit Sun’s conjunction of it on November 3, 2007, the day the state of emergency was declared. Musharraf is about to reap what was sown eight years ago, for good or ill. Pluto for the coup at 8 Sagittarius receives an exact square from stationing Saturn this December, suggesting that a karmic comeuppance and a change of regime may well be in the works. The nation’s Chiron at 10 Aquarius, exactly conjoined the coup’s South Node, may be the silver lining here, as it indicates a potential for national healing in the wake of the crisis, however painful it may be. That this is the backward-looking South Node could imply a return to power for Bhutto, a former Prime Minister, particularly when the wide square to the nation’s Venus at 17 Taurus and opposition to its 17 Leo Moon are considered, both Venus and Moon being feminine indicators. The coup’s Saturn at 15 Taurus is also in the mix, conjoining the nation’s Black Hole Venus and opposing the coup’s Mercury and the Sun of the state of emergency.

The situation continues to evolve, with interesting pairings of events. On Thursday November 22, the validity of Musharraf’s October re-election was endorsed by the new Pakistani Supreme Court, a decision not entirely unexpected, as he had appointed each member of the court in the aftermath of the November 3 state of emergency declaration. But on the same day, the 53-member British Commonwealth of Nations voted to suspend Pakistan’s member status in the organization until Musharraf lifts the restrictions imposed by the state of emergency. Mercury at 15 Scorpio, representing decisions and votes, was conjunct a Pulsar at the same degree and exactly opposed the 15 Taurus Saturn for Musharraf’s coup.

On Sunday November 25, Musharraf’s old boss and rival, Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister, returned from his exile in Saudi Arabia, determined to enter the political process, and Benazir Bhutto filed the nominating papers necessary for a run for Pakistan’s national assembly. Both national heroes (Sharif is remembered fondly for overseeing Pakistan’s entry into the club of nuclear nations in 1998), the two will mount formidable challenges to Musharraf’s authority if they and their supporters gain enough seats in the January elections to threaten his position. The transit Sun at 2 Sagittarius was exactly conjunct Pakistan’s national Saturn, symbol of executive power.

US attempts at intervention have been bluntly rebuffed by Musharraf, who despite billions he accepted in foreign aid as a client of America, has never really given much back in exchange for US support. As for the fate of Pakistan in this crisis, the rest of the world can but watch and wait.

NOTE: On Wednesday, November 28, General Pervez Musharraf resigned as Chief of Army Staff in an attempt to regularize his position as President vis-a-vis the Pakistani constitution, which prohibits one individual from holding both offices. The transit Sun, which had conjoined the nation's 2 Sagittarius Saturn the previous Sunday, had now moved to the trigger point of the Black Hole at 5 Sagittarius, indicating the abrupt reversal. The Sun's degree was also the midpoint between the nation's Saturn and the 8 Sagittarius Pluto for Musharraf's 1999 coup, which transit Saturn at 8 Virgo had just moved to square. Mars for the coup at 26 Sagittarius, representing the military, was squeezed between transit Jupiter at 25 Sagittarius and transit Pluto at 27. With the October elections validated by Musharraf's hand-picked Supreme Court, his inauguration for a second five-year term is scheduled for Thursday, November 29, but with the loss of his military power, it remains to be seen how effective the unpopular Musharraf can be in Pakistani politics.

Alex Miller-Mignone, photo
Alex Miller-Mignone is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.

His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at