November 03, 2007
Musharraf Teightens The Reins
U.S. Secretary of State Rice is making noise that Musharraf must stick to 'Democracy' and not declare a state of emergency. This to bring the disgraced but U.S. supported Benazair Bhutto back to power.
"I think it would be quite obvious that the United States would not be supportive of extra-constitutional means," Rice said. "Pakistan needs to prepare for and hold free and fair elections."
Also Friday, U.S. Centcom commander Fallon visits Pakistan for talks.
Both now that further violence in Pakistan, fueled in parts by the U.S. conflict with the Pashtun in Afghanistan and Waziristan, will excaberate the situation and make it more likely that Musharraf will (have to) take the step.
But then, the very same day, the U.S. kills another 10+ people within Pakistans border:
The explosion that killed 10 Friday in the restive border region of North Waziristan seemed likely to exacerbate an already turbulent situation in Pakistan. According to witness reports, the explosion was caused by a missile attack that obliterated a house near a madrassa, or religious school, that has been associated with Taliban commanders.
The Pakistani military, which has been fighting a losing battle in the tribal region, denied that it was involved in the attack. Many Pakistanis quickly blamed Washington, saying the attack bore the hallmarks of previous strikes by U.S. drones.
Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on Saturday, suspending the constitution, replacing the chief justice before a crucial Supreme Court ruling on his future as president, and cutting communications in the capital.
Is U.S. foreign policy as observed in the above:
What is it?
Posted by b on November 3, 2007 at 02:04 PM | Permalink
Official Rice reaction
"The U.S. has made very clear that it does not support extra-constitutional measures as they would take Pakistan away from the path of democracy and civilian rule," Rice told reporters as she was taking off from Turkey.
"We will be urging the commitment to hold free and fair elections be kept and we will be urging calm on all parties," she said.
Nuclear-armed Pakistan's internal security has deteriorated sharply in the past few months with a wave of suicide attacks by al Qaeda-inspired militants, including one last month that killed 139 people.
Talking against "extra constitutional measures" just after the U.S. again wacks people in a country with which it is supposed to have friendly relations.
I am no friend of Musharraf, but he keeps the country from falling apart. Anybody interested in 120 million people fighting tribal wars while possessing nuclear weapons?
Posted by: b | Nov 3, 2007 2:43:14 PM | 1
China gave Pakistan the "pony" nuke. Great game continues and Rice is totally out of her depth.
Posted by: Cloned Poster | Nov 3, 2007 2:46:40 PM | 2
US foreign policy definitely exists: it's uncoordinated, deceitful, incompetent and dysfunctional.
My guess is that the US is largely a bystander in this - they really don't have a great deal of leverage.
The BBC is carrying Musharraf's address to the nation live at the moment - there's a big element of desperate pleading to what he's saying. He's railing at the media, extremists and judicial activism for causing paralysis in the state - and I would guess that the "upcoming" elections will be "upcoming" for quite some time.
Posted by: dan | Nov 3, 2007 3:10:08 PM | 3
dan of steele
on the contrary, imperialism has a great deal to do with what is happening in pakistan tonight. the empire wants chaos where it does not possess total control. in this instance it has totally comprised the corrupt & failing state which is pakistan. its relation with pakistan's i.s.i. while containing contradictory practices is one of ownership in much the same way as the general staff's of many latin american countries were totally owned by the empire
the difference here - is that there are many within both the army & the intelligence services who are implacably opposed to the empire
the idea of the empire has always been the liquidation of the other & of their culture specifically their political culture. when it kills the desire & hopes of a people it has essentially already killed them - only the people don't know it yet
in western culture - our cowardice in the face of our hope & destinies being killed enunciated most clearly in the complete rejection of the popular civil opposition to the invasion of iraq but already deeply articulated in the growing inequalities that has been the staple of all western societies since the coup against allende in chile with thatcher only concretising & legislating these inequalities
it is significant that in all western societies - you have undergone unbelievable attacks through privatisation on housing, on education & in health with a parallel anhilation of the union movement. exemplified to the letter in england & australia where everything that the humanist tradition took 200 years to create has been fundamentally & perhaps irrevocably destroyed. & what do their people do - they wait for the next talking point from mr murdoch with baited breath to see whether they will be among the next who will be marginalised & terrorised
& what is terrifying about the empire's strategies are they are so short sighted - like supporting the taliban, creating hamas & here specifically creating extraordinary links with the i.s.i. in pakistan
the chaos the world is in - is i believe the preffered otion of the oligarchies that rule from washington
they do not care one iota for the hopes, for the destinies, for the lives of the people - who they have shown quite clearly - that they are quite happy to extinguish
at that human level they don't give a fuck - as blackwater have vulgarly revealed to one & all. they could keep on massacring the people & the corrupt congress would still lick the ass of criminals like mr prince
indeed they are happy to massacre the people. all evidence points this out in the most brutal way
if they are happy to kill the people then they are quite happy for them to live in chaos - & the irrevocability of the situations exists in the fact that any comeback from the peopel will only escalate the massacre
these are dark times not only for the pakistanis but for all of us
Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 3, 2007 3:41:11 PM | 4
Different Dan, Dan of London say.
Posted by: dan | Nov 3, 2007 4:14:49 PM | 5
thanks for the correction
Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 3, 2007 4:30:43 PM | 6
"if they are happy to kill the people then they are quite happy for them to live in chaos"
US Foreign policy: Monstrous, calculated, lunatic,...leading to destruction of biblical proportions.
The Bush Cabal with its fuck-all attitude for consequences has now pushed the world to that flashpoint where events and not decisions take hold of history. God help us all.
Posted by: Copeland | Nov 3, 2007 7:30:19 PM | 7
It's not a dictatorship, it's emergency rule (TM).
I can't believe it's not Bhutto!
Posted by: biklett | Nov 3, 2007 7:54:09 PM | 8
Todo Por Nada
If I can offer an alternative to riding in the back seat of Bush's black Cadillac, screaming look out, look out, when none of US have the slightest intention of getting out and joining the campesanos, hurricanes are ripping Mexico apart right now, there is tremendous suffering, and if we can accomplish a single thing besides banging our gums about events on the opposite side of the earth, helping Mexico would be a good start.
Posted by: Apres Deluge | Nov 3, 2007 11:02:33 PM | 9
Barnett Rubin translates Musharraf's speech at the ICGA blog.
- The country has seen an extreme rise of radical Islamist attacks even in its capital
- The courts have accomodated these by giving lenecy to captured "terrorists" and freeing them and have coward the security apparatus by allowing too much legal attacks against it. (A big point is the Red Mosque and its madrasses which was in the hands of revolting talibanesque Islamists, than recaptured by the security apparatus in a bloddy fight only to reopened and again allowed to be armed by the judiciary.)
- The Army and police is using its moral over this and that endangeres the nation state of Pakistan.
- This requires him to tighten the reign and to pressure/depower the judiciary. (He quotes Lincoln who disregarded law to keep the Union.)
No mention of what feeds the growing Islamist movement.
No mention of that also in the U.S. analyses I have read.
Was I wrong emphazising that above (the grievance about U.S. attacks on Pakistani soil was in the past often cited as reason for support for the growing movement)?
Isn't it important to look at the roots of the development of the movement Musharraf is, arguably, fighting against?
Posted by: b | Nov 4, 2007 7:57:11 AM | 10
A comment in the Guardian that does more to explain the issues in Pakistan than the usual obfuscating analyses.
Disengaged western audiences, pumped full of the current pro-democracy intoxicants, will almost universally decry Musharraf's behaviour. I decry it too, precisely because I am a disengaged westerner and I have that luxury. However, the story in Pakistan is not so straightforward.
What I am being told by bazari merchants, some young professionals, and some industrialists in Karachi and Lahore is that they merely care for stability, whether it comes in the form of the military, or in the form of democracy. Incidentally, many of them believe that it is Musharraf who is more likely to assure that stability. A couple of people, with middle class businesses, suggested to me that Musharraf should behave more like a dictator; a secular version of the previous Islamist dictator, Zia ul Haq, in order to assure stability for business and economic growth. However, that is a minority view.
The democratic push in Pakistan is not some sort of romantic affair pitting slaves against a demonic genocidal Stalin. Musharraf made his errors (like the Red Mosque fiasco and the disappearances linked to the War on Terror) but he is not homicidal. Cinema, music, the arts and freedom of press are thriving in Pakistan. The popular satire programme - "We are Expecting" - has a regular character mocking Musharraf, which does nothing more than grunt and proclaim "Yes!" in a loud voice.
Some opportunistic opposition politicians - who have no real interest in saving Pakistan themselves, as their track record demonstrates - will, undoubtedly, make calls for civil disobedience, agitating for strikes at schools and hospitals, and forcibly drafting the poor into their plans so they can install their own cronies in power. Protected by their feudal wealth, and security services, they will send the powerless out to do their bidding.
For the time being, though, it appears that Musharraf is committed to the forthcoming parliamentary elections. ...
Posted by: b | Nov 4, 2007 9:09:47 AM | 11
Hahaha...biklett #8 that cracked me up!
Good to see ya same for rapt if they are lurking again, and vbo..
Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 4, 2007 12:44:02 PM | 12
Shorter Guardian: Business needs dictatorship. For stability,--don't you see? You can't have instability and a minority would prefer someone like former tyrant Zia ul Haq (who had the country's democratic leader hanged).
The democracy movement is not so noble after all; and Musharraf is not Stalin. What matter a few disappearances in the War Against Terror? There is popular satire and people can still make fun of the General.
Pakistanis should all sleep tight and put their faith in the General's Emergency Measures, because the democratic leaders hate the country after all, and will only incite the poor and enrich themselves. Musharraf believes in the upcoming elections, he really does.
The Guardian article has made me sick to my stomach. It is completely degenerate. It makes the classic fascist argument that democratic processes have become too decadent to function, and that stability counts above everything. Yes, just put your faith in Emergency Decrees. Who are we to judge? Bush is no Stalin either; but he is probably not averse to Emergency Decrees himself, when push comes to shove.
Musharraf has dismissed the high judiciary. Soldiers and armed police are flooding the streets. Arrests are being made. The media is being closed down.
Posted by: Copeland | Nov 4, 2007 1:06:31 PM | 13
And the crazy son-of-a-bitch (Musharraf) is comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln!
Posted by: Copeland | Nov 4, 2007 1:12:16 PM | 14
@Copeland - The Guardian article has made me sick to my stomach. It is completely degenerate. It makes the classic fascist argument that democratic processes have become too decadent to function, and that stability counts above everything.
I certainly understand your sentiment and usually I am supportive of Democracy in Pakistan and elsewhere. But I am not supportive of the sham that was planed (and is still planed(?)) to put Bhutto up as saviour and have her 'elected'. There was in that regard no 'democratic process'. Musharraf is arguably the best leader Pakistan has had for a while.
I have no idea what should be done in Pakistan but trust the Pakistani to figure that out. Within the Bhutto-Musharraf fight the country was on the way to become unstable and ungovernable.
What should have been done? What should be done? At what speed?
I don't have answers to those questions. The only thing that certainly should not be done in my view is interference from the outside.
Posted by: b | Nov 4, 2007 1:37:10 PM | 15
Fucking Guardian what next Hitler kept the trains running on time? Make no mistake this is an oppressive declaration of martial law although it has been called the rather less confrontational but equally alarmist state of emergency. Nusaharraf has suspended the 1971 constitution and the people who he has rounded up, several hundred already, aren't jihadists, islamofascists or whatever the current cliche is.
They are political activists mainly civil liberties activists and members of the opposition parties.
This action has nothing to do with anything except one date November the 15th.
That is the date Mushareff had promised to get out of uniform. Trouble is the supreme court decision on whether he was legitimately elected was late and was likely to be handed down after the 15th so despite much urging from his backers at home and overseas not to let the audience see behind the smoke and mirrors into his corrupt deceitful and power mad heart, the dictator suspended the consitution and in that act required all judges through Pakistan to re swear an oath to the new regime.
Only about 15% have so far if the lawyers who are the primary targets of this do maintain solidarity Mushareef will find out that they actually do a lot of important stuff in his country by forcing adherence to the rule of law and his silly self centred feud with them because they won't bend to his corrupt will is what will bring him down.
Bhutto has stayed schtum. She waiting for instructions from the party bosses in Pakistan and her slave owners in Washington (they hold the keys to her prison cell) before deciding whether Mushareef is an asshole.
Washington will fart, belch then scratch their asses and get back to business as usual with the megalomaniac they helped create. Long term this is yet another nail in the coffin of amerikan aspirations in the area. It can't all be chaos, they need some stability to supervise the chaos from, but almost daily the chaos spreads outwards in an ever increasing ring of impending payback.
Posted by: Debs is dead | Nov 4, 2007 1:45:08 PM | 16
The bar being held up for Musharraf is that he's "not genocidal". Wow.
What is he good for, Bernhard? What makes his absolute power such a romantic good, as opposed to power sharing with Bhutto? Why is making the judiciary swear a Fuhrer Oath to the General's regime good for Pakistan? Did Abe Lincoln strut around in military uniform? Did the old "Rail Splitter" owe his upbringing to spooks in the intelligence services. What in your estimation justifies a Musharraf?
This takeover is about subjugating democratic processes and stabbing the life out of the judiciary. Musharraf would prefer to take control as a dictator, than to share power with any figure in Parliament. He is taking the bundle of sticks into his own fist, like any fascist. No judge will tell him to take off the uniform.
Posted by: Copeland | Nov 4, 2007 2:21:55 PM | 17
For coverage in Pakistani media I usually look at:
Dawn - is anti-Musharraf
Daily Times - I am not sure of their position.
Please add others.
The censorship rules Musharraf put into place - can be interpreted into censoring about anything.
Posted by: b | Nov 4, 2007 2:27:11 PM | 18
Already Mushareef's current stooge the Pakistani Prime Minister Aziz(the fat arse) has already hinted that the election may not proceed as planned. That will upset 'Condy' a great deal as this was going to be one of her 'achievements' in office returning Pakistan to 'democracy' a completely sham democracy of course but a little something to hang her hat on god knows she's failed miserably everywhere else.
Well maybe amerika will succeed in forcing the sham to continue but the state of emergency has closed down most independent TV stations, many newspapers and put strict control on what the remaining media may write about or say. The print media seems determined to resist the bans so that will make any election early in the new year rather interesting.
Thus far the political parties have abstained from demonstrating - the few demonstrations closed down have been in support of the civil libertarians and lawyers who have been arrested. The politicians are probably hoping to be allowed a few crumbs off Mushareef's table. This banquet has become much fatter since 911 and 2% of billions is a whole lot better than the 100% of fuck all many were getting before.
This is a disaster for the people of Pakistan who were evolving into a rule of law (yes many would have a concern with many of those laws) but the subjective man interfering decision making was on the ebb.
The closest parallel I can think of is Italy when a few judges and lawyers tried to impose a more objective and fairer system on Rome and the South. Sure the Northern rightists exploited it but there was a genuine wish amongst people not to be held to ransom by a petty official's caprice or corruption which is shared by the people of Pakistan.
Mushareef's actions have prevented that evolution and amerika will be seen to be responsible by Pakistani's even though they probably tried to stop this last act. They will be held responsible because they enabled it by supporting Mushareef when otherwise he would have been thrown out long before by the army who put him in.
Mushareef has always used the example of Bush a a prez who is political leader, head of state and commander in chief in uniform (remember the aircraft carrier?) as justification for not relinquishing the armed forces control. Of course he knows that as soon as he does he's on his own, the army in particular is pissed off with him and the next head of armed forces will be after his gig.
He needs the Prez gig to be seen as legitimate and unquestioned before he lets go of his uniform. Even the he's not keen. The lawyers and judiciary block that so he's putting them in jail. What could be simpler? That is what this is about.
Posted by: Debs is dead | Nov 4, 2007 2:33:35 PM | 19
Great comment on the Pakistan mess from War in Context Editor Paul Woodward:
Editor’s Comment — While the neoconservatives are waging a hysterical campaign targeting unrealized nuclear risks in Iran, the fearmongers have had little to say about the nuclear actualities in Pakistan. Indeed, we now know that for decades American administrations and Congress looked the other way while Pakistan both developed its own weapons program and created the most extensive clandestine proliferation network ever known - a network that is believed to remain in tact and in operation even though in February 2004 its chief of operations, AQ Khan, was forced into what could best be described as early retirement. Paradoxically, while the drumbeat for bombing Iran grows increasingly loud, there is a stunning silence in response to the preeminent risk for nuclear terrorism. Washington’s Faustian pact with General Musharraf is now unraveling, yet we are blithely assured that Pakistan’s weapons and nuclear materials will remain safe, whoever rises to power. We have seemingly entered a Through-the-Looking-Glass world where nuclear weapons that do exist are less dangerous than those that can be imagined.
And he adds: For more revelations on Washington and Islamabad’s twisted relations, read this: Bush Winked at Pak nuke proliferation
WASHINGTON: Successive US administrations winked at Pakistan's clandestine nuclearisation and its rampant proliferation activities, and Washington continues the charade of normalcy although proliferation activities continue to this day, an explosive new book on the subject has revealed.
The disclosures in the book Deception: Pakistan, the United States and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, which is to be released next week, are nothing short of stunning.
It charges US President Bush of perpetuating deceit in an elaborate American charade that forgave Pakistan for its nuclear transgressions as a price for keeping it from becoming an even more dangerous proposition - in other words, succumbing to Pakistani blackmail.
Describing the episode in which US officials confronted Pakistan's military ruler Pervez Musharraf with evidence of its nuclear proliferation, the authors say "American officials knew that Musharraf had known about the nuclear trade all along. And Washington had itself not only turned a blind eye to Pakistan's nuclear bomb project for decades but had covered it up for imperative geopolitical reasons, even when Islamabad began trading its secret technology."
The authors credit then Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage of conceiving the drama in which Musharraf would promise to shut down Pakistan's nuclear black market in return for winning continued US support for his unelected regime.
It was agreed that A Q Khan and his aides would be arrested and blamed for "privately" engaging in proliferation. "The country's military elite - who had sponsored Khan's work and encouraged sales of technology to reduce their reliance on American aid - were left in the clear," the authors say, adding that "Bush subscribed to the deceit."
However, in a worrying new claim for Washington's non-proliferation pundits, who have spent the last two decades chasing WMD phantoms in all the wrong places, Pakistan's proliferation has not stopped even now.
They say new intelligence reports show that Pakistan is procuring a range of materials and components that "clearly exceeds" what Islamabad needed for its domestic nuclear program.
Posted by: Bea | Nov 4, 2007 5:23:33 PM | 20
Barnett Rubin quoted above puts some strategic context on this:
>The third observation, my how the times have changed ... there is no mention at all of India. This is a testament to how drastic is the shift in South Asian geopolitics since the invasion of Afghanistan. China's role in the economic growth of Pakistan - from their investment in mobile and transportation infrastructure to their investments in Baluchistan emerge out at the top while American concerns are barely mentioned - and are actually completely absent in the English portion of his remarks.
Posted by: johnf | Nov 4, 2007 5:31:20 PM | 21
Josh Marshall talks to Dr. Barnett Rubin, expert on Afghanistan currently in Islamabad, about the situation in Pakistan.
Posted by: Hamburger | Nov 4, 2007 5:47:18 PM | 22
TPM article by the AP's Matt Pennington discusses who has been rounded up.
"Among those detained were Javed Hashmi, the acting president of the party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; cricket star-turned politician, Imran Khan; Asma Jehangir, chairman of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan; and Hamid Gul, former chief of the main intelligence agency and a staunch critic of Musharraf's support for the U.S.-led war on terror.
These are not your normal fat lying hypocritical pols. Every country has a few semi-honest pols and these blokes are Pakistan's. Hashmi may be the only honest pol in Pakistan's Muslim League the rest are in exile fleeing corruption charges or dining at Mush's table.
Imran Khan is a Pathan (Pashtun) tribal leader and his legendary status protected him until now when he demanded that the amerikan incursions into the tribal areas cease.
He argues that the attacks on pashtun people is driving them into the arms of the Wahabi-ists. He also has a reputation as incorruptible which precluded him from doing a deal with Bhutto, Mushareef or even Sharif when he was in power.
The civil libertarians are the same in Pakistan as anywhere else in the world a polite description would be caring bourgeois I suppose, and although we can be cynical they have helped thousands of people, women in particular.
THe article goes on to say:
Some 200 armed police stormed the rights commission office in Lahore on Sunday and arrested about 50 activists, said Mehbood Ahmed Khan, a legal officer for the body.
"They dragged us out, including the women," he said from the police station in the eastern city. "It's inhuman, undemocratic and a violation of human rights to enter a room and arrest people gathering peacefully there."
The western media is likely to run with the notion that this is still nice distatorship' with a few administrative changes but the long term effect will be pretty much as Imran Khan feared. That is if there is no where else to go but islamic fundamentalism then that is where people will go.
All USuk need to do is to stop propping Mushareef up financially. He only has control because he is in charge of the faucet of the billions of global war on terra dollars going to Pakistan. Without that everyone would hate him.
Those business types who B found quoted in the grauniad supporting Mush will be from that group of military and business people with their snouts in the trough.
Of course there is no hope of that - Rice will harangue the despot into the worst of all possible options, that is an immediate 'sham' election. That may play alright in amerika but it will do incredible damage to Pakistani political structures.
Bhutto will prolly get a gig she's between a rock and a hard place now LOL. I betcha she never says what everyone else has been saying - that it musta been Mush who blew up her welcome home. The Bhutto gig will be much reduced, I suppose that is one positive to be taken from this - seeing that selfish lying harridan being forced to eat shit and smile like it was foie gras.
PS Imran is on the lam. Heh I hafta admit I was suprised they found any police prepared to arrest him in the first place.
Posted by: Debs is dead | Nov 4, 2007 11:18:50 PM | 23
I am indeed still lurking as always Uncle.
Posted by: rapt | Nov 5, 2007 10:29:28 AM | 25
pity the pakistani people - the 'leadership, - the empire & the elites offer up are a dog's breakfast. corrupt to the core. ms bhutto a monster - only marginally more moronic than musharraf
Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 5, 2007 12:47:31 PM | 26
Pakistan is prone to religious fanaticism, tribal unrest and the rule of warriors? What a surprise! This is the traditional pattern of government throughout the Islamic World.
Do we applaud their methods in such states? No! We Westerners typically seek to undermine them because they are not what we think they should be. What is that? Exactly like us, that is what we think they should be. For all our talk about the "blossoming" of freedom in locally acceptable forms, we Americans (and a lot of others) do not believe in that for a minute. We want people to be exactly like us.
In places like Pakistan where the veneer of Tom Friedman's flat world is mighty thin, meddling in the local social order carries a high risk of de-stabilizing society and releasing forces that we have no ability to manage.
Our pressure for "Democracy" in Pakistan has been incompatible with our willingness to engage an already Islamist state like Pakistan as an ally. We have wrecked the status quo in Pakistan. Now we will all pay a price.
Posted by: b | Nov 5, 2007 2:11:39 PM | 27
A whole thread dedicated to Pakistan & no mention of oil. I'll remedy that. Googling about & dug out this essential background from Aug. Atimes:
KARACHI - The few weeks between the visits to Pakistan of Richard Boucher, the US assistant secretary of state who left last week, and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who arrives on September 10, could prove crucial in determining the fate of Afghanistan.
This is the timeline for secret three-party talks to establish teega (a Pashtu word for a peace deal that resolves a conflict) between the Western coalition forces in Afghanistan (with Pakistan), the
Afghan government, and the anti-coalition insurgents of Afghanistan. The first round of talks has already begun in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, Asia Times Online has learned.
The outcome of the talks will to a large extent decide the agenda of Negroponte's visit and the course of the US-led "war on terror" in the region.
The talks are based on previous Pakistan-inspired efforts to secure peace deals between the insurgents and the Western coalition in specific areas in Afghanistan with the longer-term goal of incorporating the Taliban into the political process both in Kabul and in provincial governments.
Similar deals were struck last year in the southwestern Afghan provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul and Urzgan, but they lapsed. In addition to reviving these, the talks aim to include the southeastern provinces of Kunar and Khost. The negotiators are Taliban commanders, Pakistani and American intelligence members, and Afghan authorities.
Coalition efforts in Afghanistan include substantial development and reconstruction projects, but these have been hampered by the insurgency. A key project is a regional oil and gas pipeline project worth US$10 billion that will run from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan to Pakistan, the TAP, and possibly on to India, on which work is to be started in the near future.
A US company, International Oil Co (IOC), recently won the contract from Pakistan to construct the 2,200-kilometer pipeline over the next three years. In a statement, IOC said matters relating to security in Afghanistan and insurance guarantees had been finalized. The preferred route is the southern one, via Herat and restive Kandahar province.
Clearly, peace deals with the Taliban would help ensure the viability of such projects. But whether any deals struck will last is another matter. Taliban leader Mullah Omar is still not entirely behind them, and there is always the issue of al-Qaeda stirring trouble.
In the short term, though, the Taliban are likely to embrace the idea - provided they are given the realistic carrot of political gains - as they are in the process of refining a new command structure and need the breathing space.
However, many commanders based in the southeast are convinced that it would be a big blunder for the Taliban to slow down their activities for the sake of any deal. Instead, they want to seize this opportunity and drive for a bigger bargain, such as the withdrawal of all foreign forces.
Contrary to the Cold War era's Central Asian focus, Afghanistan is now seen in terms of the South Asian region, especially with regard to the struggle between Pakistan and India for strategic political and economic influence.
The ultimate goal now is to shut down this war theater, which has bred global militancy, so that initiatives such as the TAP can go ahead. TAP is the US alternative to a planned pipeline from Iran to Pakistan and India.
Similarly, Western intelligence is convinced that Taliban and al-Qaeda assets in Pakistan are the root cause of the Taliban's insurgency in Afghanistan, as confirmed in the United States' latest National Intelligence Estimate. Thus nothing could be gained by fighting a lone battle in Afghanistan's mountainous fastness.
So, did Mushy declare martial law to prevent dissident elements from threatening these arrangements? And if they build this pipeline, will they call off the hyenas of war w/Iran?
Posted by: jj | Nov 6, 2007 3:51:46 AM | 28
Another great piece from the Asia Times summarizing the way "Mushy" (love the name, jj) has neatly outdone the US and foiled its "Return of Bhutto" scheme... Again, this article should be read in full because the issues are too complex to capture in one excerpt, and the writing is just too good.
Pakistan Shakes Off US Shackles
~Here is a snippet:
Washington's insistence that Bhutto should join his team was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Under tremendous US pressure, Musharraf, seemingly against his gut instincts, acquiesced with the game plan choreographed in Washington. He knows Bhutto is a complex personality. But he also knows she has influential supporters, like US ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, whose antipathies toward Musharraf date to his posting in Kabul.
All the same, within the fortnight since Bhutto's arrival in Pakistan from exile on October 12, Musharraf has been proved right. The American blueprint for Pakistan's democratic transformation became stuck in the mud. It was so visible that all could see, especially when Bhutto began trading charges that the establishment was conspiring to kill its future prime minister, and the negotiations between the two sides over fine-tuning their "deal" ground to a halt. The frustrations deepened when Bhutto realized that she was virtually confined to her Karachi home.
Ironically, Musharraf found he could seize the high ground once it began to dawn on Washington that its hare-brained plan to foist Bhutto atop the political heap in Islamabad was simply unworkable. Plainly put, Bhutto was not acceptable to the Pakistani establishment. Washington had no "Plan B", either.
Musharraf struck fast. Now that he has "liberated" himself from the political burden that Washington expected him to carry, he feels free to act on his own terms. This means first and foremost that he will hold both the offices of president and chief of army staff, at least until the elections, whenever they are held (the January date seems unlikely now). He will in all probability expect a new Supreme Court to endorse his re-election as president, which will enable him to be sworn in for another term in office. Musharraf's overwhelming win in last month's presidential polls has not yet been ratified by the court.
Musharraf has certainly sized up that Bhutto's political image has been badly tarnished due to her controversial "deal" with him. It will take a while for her to regain her credibility in popular opinion within Pakistan. From Musharraf's point of view, therefore, in the short term at least, she is virtually rendered ineffectual as a rallying point of opposition, even assuming that she has the will to act in such a role.
Posted by: Bea | Nov 6, 2007 9:11:32 AM | 29
Buchanan: An Intrusion of Reality
Musharraf is -- as were Franco, Pinochet and the Shah in the Cold War -- a flawed friend and an enemy of our enemy. If he falls, any democratic successor, like Benazir Bhutto, would not likely long survive al-Qaida and the suicide bombers who already tried to kill her.
What is happening in Pakistan exposes, too, the limits of U.S. power and the failure of President Bush -- because of the democratist ideology to which he converted after 9-11 -- to see clearly the real dangers to his country. Our enemy was always al-Qaida. It was never Iraq. And it is not Iran, at whom the GOP candidates are all braying their bellicosity.
After 9-11, those who viewed the horror and asked, "Why do they hate us?" were hooted down as unpatriotic. We were told Muslim militants hate us because we are free, democratic and good, and they are evil.
American can no longer afford to indulge this ideological claptrap. We are hated not because of who we are, but because of what we do. Nowhere is that more true than in Pakistan.
Posted by: b | Nov 6, 2007 1:51:05 PM | 30
Complete 911 Timeline
September 4-11, 2001: ISI Director Visits Washington for Mysterious Meetings
ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed visits Washington for the second time. On September 10, a Pakistani newspaper reports on his trip so far. It says his visit has “triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council” as well as meetings with CIA Director Tenet (see September 9, 2001), unspecified officials at the White House and the Pentagon, and his “most important meeting” with Marc Grossman, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. The article suggests, “[O]f course, Osama bin Laden” could be the focus of some discussions. Prophetically, the article adds, “What added interest to his visit is the history of such visits. Last time [his] predecessor was [in Washington], the domestic [Pakistani] politics turned topsy-turvy within days.” [News (Islamabad), 9/10/2001] This is a reference to the Musharraf coup just after an ISI Director’s visit on October 12, 1999 (see October 12, 1999).
didn't things turn all topsy turvey this time too?
sorry to get all topsy turvey/tin hat on you, but my guess is cutting off Musharraf is not going to be very peachy. my guess is he may end up dead shortly.
Posted by: annie | Nov 6, 2007 2:19:13 PM | 31
annie #31 that link didn't work for me -- i got "bad request"...
Posted by: Bea | Nov 6, 2007 7:18:00 PM | 33
y'know, i am pretty clueless about pakistan which has made me reluctant to spew my instinct on this one. but i just heard something that jived w/what i've been thinking. curiously from 'kill em all'glenn">http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/11/06/glenn-becks-final-solution/">glenn black
"publically the US has condemned musharraf , free elections etc.., but off the record my guts tell me the US might actually want to embrace this crackdown, but can't....."
one can get any closer to an organ of the extreme rightwing..
Posted by: annie | Nov 6, 2007 8:17:45 PM | 35