Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hot Time for Musharraf in the US?

According to book publisher Simon & Schuster Pervez Musharraf has a hectic US schedule to promote his forthcoming book ‘In the Line of Fire”. The promotional road show will commence on 24 September with an appearance on CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ and finish with Musharraf on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ on 1 October. Along the way he will also appear with humorist Jon Stewart on ‘Comedy Central’.

However, I suspect that it will not all be plain sailing for Musharraf in the US this time. Much of his ‘heroic’ anti-terrorist image in the US has suffered deep erosion in recent times. Notably, in the past week he has been at the receiving end of several brickbats from major US newspapers.

A few days ago the New York Times thundered in its post-Bugti killing editorial
The Wrong Battle in Pakistan :

When General Musharraf comes to the United States, he loves to be lauded as a leader in the war on terrorism. Back home, his government too often acts like a garden-variety military dictatorship.
And yesterday the following op-ed appeared in the Los Angeles Times:

Pakistan: Friend or Foe?
The U.S. shouldn't prop up President Musharraf's military regime.
By Selig S. Harrison

PAKISTAN'S President Pervez Musharraf is supposedly a key U.S. ally in the "war on terror." But is he, in fact, more of a liability than an asset in combating Al Qaeda and the increasingly menacing Taliban forces in Afghanistan?

Since 9/11, the Bush administration has been propping up Musharraf's military regime with $3.6 billion in economic aid from the U.S. and a U.S.-sponsored consortium, not to mention $900 million in military aid and the postponement of overdue debt repayments totaling $13.5 billion. But now the administration is debating whether Musharraf has become too dependent on Islamic extremist political parties in Pakistan to further U.S. interests, and whether he should be pressured to permit the return of two exiled former prime ministers, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, who have formed an electoral alliance to challenge him in presidential elections scheduled for next year.

Musharraf's most vocal defender is former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who has urged continued support for him "no matter how frustrated we become at the pace of political change and the failure to eliminate Taliban fighters from the Afghan border." Musharraf is better than what might come after him, Armitage argues, and is a moderate who has done his best to fend off the entrenched forces of Islamic extremism in Pakistan.

But this argument does not hold up against mounting evidence that, as an ally, Musharraf has been an opportunist from the start who has continued to help the Taliban (just as he had done before 9/11 ) and who has gone after Al Qaeda cells in Pakistan only to the extent necessary to fend off U.S. and British pressure.

On Sept. 19, 2001, Musharraf made a revealing TV address in Urdu, not noticed at the time by most Americans, in which he reassured Pakistanis who sympathized with Al Qaeda and the Taliban that his decision to line up with the U.S. was a temporary expedient.

To Taliban sympathizers, Musharraf directed an explicit message, saying: "I have done everything for the … Taliban when the whole world was against them….We are trying our best to come out of this critical situation without any damage to Afghanistan and the Taliban." He has kept his promise to the latter.

Taliban forces continue to have unrestricted access to Pakistani border towns as staging areas and sanctuaries. Pakistani soldiers look the other way when Taliban units cross the mountains at Bormoi. With U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan suffering increasingly heavy casualties in the face of a Taliban offensive this summer, their officers no longer mince words about Pakistan's role. Col. Chris Vernon, chief of staff of British forces in southern Afghanistan, charged recently that the Pakistan border town of Chaman serves as the "major headquarters" for a guerrilla network in southeast Afghanistan.

Musharraf sees the Taliban as a pro-Pakistan counterweight to Indian influence in Afghanistan and wants to keep it strong in case Afghan President Hamid Karzai is overthrown and Afghanistan collapses into chaos. As a sop to Washington and London, he ordered raids on two small Taliban encampments in July, and he occasionally rounds up key Al Qaeda figures — but in many cases only after the FBI and CIA have confronted Pakistani police with communications intercepts pinpointing their hide-outs.

Even if Musharraf wanted to remove Taliban and Al Qaeda forces from Pakistan, his ability to do so is limited by the political pact that he made with a five-party Islamic alliance in 2004 to win state elections in the two key border provinces. As a result, Al Qaeda and Taliban activity is openly supported by local officials there, and Pakistani groups allied with Al Qaeda are thriving, notably Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba. This prevents Musharraf from carrying out his pledge to crack down on madrasas (religious schools) linked to terrorist groups.

The Islamic parties are flourishing under the protective umbrella of the Pakistani armed forces. Their growth would be slowed if secular political forces had a chance to assert themselves through free elections and a parliamentary system liberated from army manipulation. Under Musharraf, the army has seized much more power than past military regimes, installing military officers in hundreds of government posts previously held by civil servants. Army-sponsored conglomerates control multibillion-dollar enterprises and will not be easily dislodged. As a Pakistani editor commented, "Most countries have an army, but in Pakistan, the army has a country."

The U.S. should use its aid leverage to promote three goals: Bhutto and Sharif should be permitted to return and organize freely. If Musharraf wants to run for president again, he should step down as army chief of staff and run as a civilian. Finally, he should turn over power to a neutral caretaker government that would conduct the elections. This would be welcomed in Pakistan even by elements within the armed forces. An open letter in July from a group of retired generals called for "the disengagement of the military from political power." As one of its signatories, Lt. Gen. Talat Masood, observed, "There is a genuine urge and demand in the country to revert to democracy and give a fair deal to all the parties."

During his last US-visit Musharraf had to be led off the podium by Ambassador Jehangir Karamat after he lost the plot by loudly venting his spleen at a bunch of Pakistani women questioning him about Mukhtaran Mai and Pakistan’s other rape victims.

Let us see what Pakistan’s military leader gets up to on this visit.


Pat Expat said...

Are you sure Musharaf can stand the light grilling humor of Comedy Central. I mean they are not Begum Nawazish Ali.

Anonymous said...

You should be grateful to Musharraf since he stopped the US from bombing Pakistan "back to the stone age" - read more here: US 'threatened to bomb' Pakistan

Anonymous said...

Musharraf the plagiarist?
Compare following excerpts.

Excerpt from Four 9/11 moms battle Bush

According to the official timeline provided by his press secretary, the president arrived at an elementary school in Sarasota, Fla., at 9 a.m. and was told in the hallway of the school that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. This was 14 minutes after the first attack.

The president went into a private room and spoke by phone with his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and glanced at a TV in the room. "That's some bad pilot," the president said. Bush then proceeded to a classroom, where he drew up a little stool to listen to second-graders read. At 9:04 a.m., his chief of staff, Andrew Card, whispered in his ear that a second plane had struck the towers. "We are under attack," Mr. Card informed the president.

Excerpt from I took a ruthless decision for the sake of my people

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, was an uneventful day in Pakistan, at least while the sun was high. That evening I was in Karachi, inspecting work at the beautiful gardens of the mausoleum of our founder Quaide-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. I was happy to be in the city I love.

Little did I know that we were about to be thrust into the front line of yet another war, a war against shadows.

My military secretary came up to me and whispered: an aircraft had crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City. At first, I dismissed the news report as an accident involving what I thought must have been a light private aircraft. But at the back of my mind there was the nagging thought that this had to be a most peculiar accident. Either the pilot had to be utterly inept to have hit such a tall building, or the plane had to be so totally out of control that it couldn’t be prevented from hitting the tower.

When I returned home, I went directly into a meeting with Karachi’s corps commander. We were deep in discussion when my military secretary slipped into the room and started fiddling with the television set.

Anonymous said...

Musharraf on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Nice salute to the audience - guess to remind them he is a military dictator?

Anonymous said...

Shortly after overthrowing the civilian government of Nawaz Sharif in an October 12, 1999 military coup, Musharraf told Turkish journalists that ''as a model, Kamal Ataturk [the founder of modern Turkey] did a great deal for Turkey. I have his biography. We will see what I can do for Pakistan.''

Grey Wolf, Mustafa Kemal - An Intimate Study of a Dictator H.C. Armstrong, 1934, p. 241:

"For five hundred years these rules and theories of an Arab sheik," Kemal said, "and the interpretations of generations of lazy, good-for-nothing priests have decided the civil and the criminal law of Turkey."

"They had decided the form of the constitution, the details of the lives of each Turk, his food, his hours of rising and sleeping, the shape of his clothes, the routine of the midwife who produced his children, what he learnt in his schools, his customs, his thoughts, even his most intimate habits."

"Islam, this theology of an immoral Arab, is a dead thing."

Possibly it might have suited tribes of nomads in the desert. It was no good for a modern progressive State.

"God's revelation!" There was no God. That was one of the chains by which the priests and bad rulers bound the people down.

"A ruler who needs religion to help him rule is a weakling. No weakling should rule.."

Anonymous said...

Excerpt from Fitzgerald: The problem of Pakistan:

Pakistan is a land of impoverished masses who find their solace in Islam and only Islam, while the anglophone families of zamindars and generals are hardly Muslims in their own lives. Their children enjoy English and American universities. Some of those children -- such as the son of the untrustworthy, but bearing-the-allure-of-rectitude Musharraf -- choose to remain (and why not? You would too), making their permanent lives in the Infidel West. (Did Musharraf himself pass out from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurt, like so many of those "trustworthy" and "pro-Western" Terry-Thomas-mustachioed Pakistani generals who for decades won the heart of American geneals and civilian policymakers?) It is understandable that military men stay in Pakistan, for if you are not a zamindar, it is the best way to obtain power and money, but your children may head geographically Infidel-wards. English is not a problem. Musharraf’s son, when last he was in the news, was working as an accountant in Massachusetts.

Many of the richest Pakistanis, though they have chosen the sanity and safety of Infidel lands for their children (and for temporary frequent retreat for themselves), have apparently not used their mental freedom sufficiently. They have not bethought themselves about the nature of Islam and its connection to the hideous condition of Pakistan itself -- its political, economic, social, and intellectual failures. They have not considered the failure of Islamic countries in general, a failure directly attributable to the tenets and attitudes and atmospherics of Islam. Some of the most famous are sly defenders of the faith, even as they deplore terrorism. Ahmad Rashid, for example, for so long a correspondent for The Telegraph, and now made famous as an "expert" on the Taliban, declares in his "Jihad" that the word's primary meaning is that of the inner struggle rather than the outward war on Infidels.

Meanwhile, those zamindars permit or do not try to stop, and many of those generals support (see General Malik's book-length treatment of Jihad) the role of Pakistan in promoting terrorism against Hindus in Kashmir, and deep within India. And they offer refuge as well to Indian Muslims implicated in such terrorism. Where is that leader of the Mumbai underworld, the one now hiding from Indian authorities after the last terrorist attack? In Pakistan. Where is the ISI that has done nothing to stop, and much to promote, Lashkar-e-Toiba as it once promoted the Taliban? In Pakistan.