Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 06, 2008

Pakistan Under Zardari

Asif Ali Zardari has been elected as new president of Pakistan by the parliament and province assemblies. Also today Pakistan gave a warning to NATO by shutting down its supplies through the Khyber pass.

Mr. Ten Percent, as he is nicknamed for his corruption during his deceased wife Benazir Bhutto's rule, won the position after some deft maneuvering and massive breaking of election promises and coalition agreements.

When the military dictator Musharraf became unbearable to the Pakistani public, the U.S. pushed for a half democratic solution. Musharraf was to become president and Benazir Bhutto, a restored U.S. darling, was supposed to become prime minister. There were some legal hindrances to both steps but Musharraf solved those by simply kicking out a number of independent judges including the head of the Pakistani supreme court.

That step led to an unexpected uproar and big public demonstration by lawyers. Another problem came up when Saudi Arabia decided that their preference for prime minister of Pakistan should also play a role. They sent former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was in exile in Saudi Arabia, back to Pakistan.

During the February election campaign Sharif as well as Bhutto, and after her assassination her husband and successor Zardari, promised to reinstate the judges. The expectation was that these judges would then declare Musharraf's presidency as illegal and oust him. No party achieved a majority in the election but Sharif's PLM-N and Zaradi's PPP formed a coalition and a new government. The coalition agreement included the reinstating of all judges and the installation of a neutral president.

Soon it became obvious that Zardari did not want the judges back in their job. They would have been likely to indict him again for his earlier corruption. After month of pressure from the public and only after Sharif withdrew his party from the government he agreed to impeach Musharraf. As soon as it became clear that such an impeachment was likely to be successful, Musharraf agreed to an immunity deal and stepped down as president.

With the votes of his own PPP party and Musharraf's MQM and PLM-Q votes Zardari now won the presidency. Yesterday he reinstated three judges (part of an election deal?), but none of those who would be dangerous to him. The lawyers have renewed their demonstrations. A prosecutor near to Zardari's PPP reopened corruption charges against Nawzar Sharif.

Pakistan is in deep chaos. The economy is in very bad shape. Foreign reserves are as low as $6 billion and will likely be at zero in two or three month. There are frequent electricity outages even in major cities. The army has been fighting local Taliban in the tribal areas on the western and north western border areas. Some 300,000 civilians fled from those places and the army and paramilitaries took losses.

Meanwhile the U.S. increased the pressure on Afghan Taliban support from Pakistan. On the first day of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, it launched a ground operation on Afghan territory which killed some 20 people. This will generate serious backlash for the U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan as well as for the Zardari government.

On Thursday Zardari had an op-ed in the Washington Post. He promised 'democracy' and to help in fighting 'terrorism'. Don't believe a word of it. Zardari, just like Musharraf before him, will pretend to fight 'terrorists' as long as the U.S. pays a billion here and there. The difference will be that Zardari's personal share of the booty will be much bigger than Musharraf's.

Some 70% of U.S. and NATO logistics for Afghanistan are coming from Karachi and through the Khyber pass in North-West Pakistan. Today this line of communication was 'temporarily' shut down by the Pakistani government through withholding of convoy safety guards. That is payback for this week's attack.

A few billions to Pakistan, with the obligatory 10% diverted to Zardari's bank accounts in Switzerland, will reopen that line. But that is only for so long. Zardari has already lost most of the public support he inherited from Benazir Bhutto. The public pressure on him will rise and even while he might succeed to put Sharif into prison or exile and to suppress lawyer protests he will not be able to rule for long.

The U.S. will continue to bomb and invade the border regions from Afghanistan. The local tribes and Taliban will continue to fight a Pakistani government that, in their view, enables these act.

The Pakistani army, while currently not interested to coup against the government, will continue to implement the national strategic aims. The primary aim is to support their Muslim brothers in Kashmir in their constant rebellion against India until India finally has enough of it and allows Kashmir significant autonomy. The second aim is to regain strategic depth in Afghanistan by installing a friendly, anti-Indian government there. If Zardari does not support those aims, the army will oust him.

The 'western' adventure in Afghanistan will continue for another bloody three to five years. As the LA Times notes the U.S. plans to decrease its forces in Afghanistan this fall before maybe increasing it next year. For lack of feet on the ground it is likely to use more indiscriminate bombing and will thereby further inflame rebellion against the occupation. 

Pakistan will somehow muddle through those years but the local conditions for the people will get worse. If the next elections are fair, Zardari will be voted out and Sharif will get a chance to finally break the dubious coalition with the U.S. and steer the Pakistani state into a different direction.

Posted by b on September 6, 2008 at 12:49 UTC | Permalink


All this fun and its a "nu-klee-ar" power too.

Posted by: Diogenes | Sep 6 2008 13:56 utc | 1

As a side note, lets not forget, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry has not yet been reinstated either...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Sep 6 2008 14:09 utc | 2

Good summary of Pakistan's status quo b, and it seems that Germany’s Defense Minister Jung is not too happy about this latest US military operation on Pakistani soil, killing dozens of people, possibly women and kids. From what I can gather, no high value targets were caught. Just dead people.

Not all local tribesmen in the NWFP are happy with the Taliban seeking refuge in their midst, causing all this murder and mayhem in their villages. Potentially this inter-tribal conflict could be the cause of much bloodshed to come. The sad part being that the innocent people caught up in this upheaval are already at the raw end of the stick:

Cholera breaks out among Bajaur displaced

GENEVA: A cholera epidemic has broken out among some of the estimated 300,000 people in northwestern Pakistan who have fled fighting between government forces and militants, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday...

With possibly some 600 to 800 trucks currently on the road between Karachi and the Afghani border, in no time there’ll be a line some 10 kilometers long. According to the Pakistani Dawn newspaper, already more than 20 fully loaded trucks, probably including fuel tankers, were stopped on their way to Afghanistan and are now stuck in some Pakistani border town, sitting ducks waiting to be attacked. Lucky the Russians haven’t closed the door. Yet.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Sep 6 2008 15:35 utc | 3

Around and around. Over and over again.

Mark Twain in 1900 wrote “I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem.” True for Nicaragua. True for Vietnam. True for Guatemala. True for Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Casey had long concluded that one big problem with the war was the president himself, He later told a colleague in private that he had the impression that Bush reflected the 'radical wing of the Republican Party that kept saying, "Kill the bastards! Kill the bastards! And you'll succeed."

In Iraq Fresh tips are channeled to American fast-reaction teams “fusion cells” that move aggressively against reported terrorist targets -- often multiple times in a single night.

The only historical counterparts that can half way describe the current occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan are the Gestapo in France or the Spanish Inquisition. The sole way the lid can be kept on is through death and terror. Some Victory!

The costs are too high in treasure [The USA nationalizes Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae], lives and honor. The only outcome is that some day American troops will force to fly out of Iraq and Afghanistan. An orderly retreat that Nixon arranged from Vietnam is impossible when a whole religion rises against its foreign overlords.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Sep 6 2008 16:36 utc | 4

Did anyone else see this on Debka?

Pakistan “suspends” main fuel supply route for NATO forces in Afghanistan

DEBKAfile reports that the blocking of the main Torkham fuel route to NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan, Saturday, Sept. 6, was a warning from Islamabad that no more US ground incursions would be tolerated.

The vital route was shut to 20 supply trucks, including fuel tankers, two days after a US helicopter-borne commando attack on Taliban-al Qaeda sanctuaries left 20 dead at a village in South Waziristan, one mile inside northwest Pakistani territory.

Facing an enraged public, the Pakistan government’s used the escalating terrorist attacks in the Khyber tribal region as a pretext for “temporarily suspending” traffic through the route to Kabul, through which NATO receives 70 percent of its supplies, until the tankers’ safety can be ensured.

It was clear that if US ground attacks in the Pashtun tribal regions continued, Islamabad would shut down fuel supplies to NATO in Afghanistan altogether.

Posted by: jonku | Sep 6 2008 18:28 utc | 5

@Juan @3 - Jung (who I don't like, but this is still the right (westphalian) position): US should respect Pak territorial integrity: Germany

ISLAMABAD: The United States-led coalition forces in Afghanistan should respect Pakistan’s territorial integrity and avoid launching unilateral military strikes inside the country, German Defence Minister Dr Franz Joseph Joung said on Friday. “I think it is important that Pakistan fights against militants in its territory on its own. We should not conduct military operations from the Afghan side. Pakistan’s territorial integrity needs to be respected,” he told a small group of German reporters at a local hotel. Joung said every action inside Pakistan should be executed in collaboration with Islamabad.

Also: Pakistan reserves right to retaliate in future: Gen Tariq
RAWALPINDI: Pakistan reserves the right to appropriately retaliate against unilateral attacks by coalition forces from Afghanistan, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Tariq Majid said on Friday. “Pakistan reserves the right to appropriately retaliate in future,” General Tariq told German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung who called on him at the Joint Staff Headquarters. Condemning the attack by US forces at Angoor Ada, the CJCSC said such cross-border strikes would alienate locals. General Tariq said that Afghanistan was levelling allegations against Pakistan to cover its failures.
There was a 'secret' meeting, leaked to U.S. media, between the top Pakistani generals and the top U.S. generals on a U.S. ship on August 28.

The U.S. government spins the news of that meeting as some agreement that allows the U.S. to conduct raids into Pakistan. I believe, judging from the Pakistani reaction, that the reality is the opposite. The Pakistani command told the U.S. in no uncertain terms that such raids have to stop, or ...

The U.S. tested that Pakistani point immediately with the recent on Pakistani ground action that killed some 20 Pakistani citizens.

Now Pakistan answers to make the point VERY clear. If you continue raids on our land, we will make sure that you will run out of gas in Afghanistan.

This is only the start. The U.S. government, military and people are blinded by a view of themselves as almighty. They believe they can do whatever is "needed" on foreign ground (see commentary on the "Long War Journal and Small Wars Journal calling for bombing the tribal areas in Pakistan - lunatics ... (and no, I'll not link to them)).

Here is news. They are wrong. There is no way any politician or military in Pakistan will allow the U.S. continued ground raids on Pakistan soil. No matter how bad the situation is. Nationalism comes first. Study how they departed form India to understand their POV.

Posted by: b | Sep 6 2008 18:31 utc | 6

@Jonku @5 - Did anyone else see this on Debka?

Not on Debka, but here ...

It's in the first graph of my piece above and linked somewhere down into it ...

As posted at 4:49am GMT: Also today Pakistan gave a warning to NATO by shutting down its supplies through the Khyber pass.

Debka posted that 'news' at 1:37 pm local Israel time (GMT+2) = 11:27 am GMT. I first posted that news at 3:39am EST (GMT-4) = 7:39 am GMT - four hours before Debka.

Maybe the Debka folks read MoA and are slow to verify it?

Posted by: b | Sep 6 2008 19:35 utc | 7

Now Pakistan answers to make the point VERY clear. If you continue raids on our land, we will make sure that you will run out of gas in Afghanistan.

reminds me of a very disgusting exchange in the oreilly/obama interview (b real linked chris floyd's reaction) when obama explained pak was not being held accountable for the money we were giving them (naturally they are more concerned w/india) to fight the taliban and the future money should be tied to their progress in this arena. let's see who can really pressure who . seems like the US needs pakistan a hella more than pak 'needs' nato. down payment for a headache? gee ya think.

Posted by: annie | Sep 6 2008 19:47 utc | 8

b, i would be very interested to understand how to merge these recent events in pakistan w/your Bush brings down the Indian government post.

Posted by: annie | Sep 6 2008 19:55 utc | 9

Annie-9: I'm not sure there's a clear consistency in US behaviour in the area, frankly.

B-6: What scares me right now is that if they're stupid enough to test the Pakistanis, they might be stupid enough to push Saakashvili to test again Russia's determination to consider S Ossetia and Abkhazia as truly independant from Georgia. In which case Moscow won't just reply by shutting down the Northern supply line to Afghanistan.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Sep 6 2008 22:28 utc | 10

@annie - @9 - b, i would be very interested to understand how to merge these recent events in pakistan w/your Bush brings down the Indian government post.

Like CJ, I doubt that there is much coordination or a grand strategy behind this. It is more about national U.S. election campaign policies than anything else.

Posted by: b | Sep 7 2008 4:31 utc | 11

pakistan is still not very serious with this blockade. they are doing this to send a strong signal. they want a re-negotiation with the usuk on the war of terror. something that they have been pushing for since 2007 and due to which musharraf had to finally go.

lets see how the umreekans react. things can get very bad very quickly if the neo-cons react in their typical mad dog manner.

Posted by: a | Sep 7 2008 7:06 utc | 12

Ministries of defence, interior take varying positions: Suspension of Nato supplies to Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD, Sept 6: The ministries of interior and defence have taken diametrically opposite positions on the issue of halting Nato supplies to Afghanistan via the Torkham border post.

While the former says it is a temporary disruption because of ‘security concerns’, the latter insists that the government decided to stop the supplies indefinitely because Pakistan has issues with the allied forces’ recent incursions inside the Pakistani territory.

Posted by: b | Sep 7 2008 10:42 utc | 13

Just as I told :-) Pakistan reopens vital border for NATO

Pakistan has reopened a vital supply route to NATO forces in Afghanistan after receiving a payment of $365 million from the US.
According to reports, the US paid $365 million to Pakistan as funding for the war on terror immediately after the closure of the border. The border was subsequently reopened.
To round out that number $35 million went to Zardari?

Posted by: b | Sep 7 2008 10:55 utc | 14

Pakistan has reopened a vital supply route to NATO forces in Afghanistan after receiving a payment of $365 million from the US.

Very big for a bribe. It's going to give people ideas.

Posted by: Alex | Sep 7 2008 12:21 utc | 15

b and CJ, thanks.

Posted by: annie | Sep 7 2008 15:29 utc | 16

The Pakistani Gvmt. retracted its complaint against Mistah Ten Percent, or Mr. Z *ten* days ago, in a corruption case that has been wandering in the Geneva courts for 8 years now, against Mrs. Bhutto and her husband, as well as some other minor actors, for corruption. To boot, two key witnesses have disappeared. The sum held afaik is 20 million dollars, it will have grown quite a bit, and unless there are some special claimants or dispositions not reported in the papers, it will now be the Pakistani Gvmt!

Posted by: Tangerine | Sep 7 2008 15:40 utc | 17

Now he is president and imagines that he controls everything Zardari's share will be closer to $350 mill than $35 mill. Musharraf was earning $700 mill a year from his time as president which was the bulk of the money going into Pakistan from amerika. Sure in bothe cases the president will have to spread a bit about but Musharraf's demise was undoubtedly linked to the fact that the money didn't get spread far enough. This because of greed combined with Pakistani nationalism. General's will accept bribes to assist them in doing jobs they believe need to be done but that doesn't mean they were only doing it for the bribe or that the will do anything for enough money.

Foreign invasion forces killing Pakistani citizens doesn't constitute a job which needs to be done in the view of many in the Pakistani military.
Perhaps Zardari recognises his job can't last long so he is 'making hay while the sun shines'. He will be certainly making every effort to get all his outstanding fraud and corruption charges outside Pakistan expunged. Will we be treated to more episodes of Pakistan's new prez pleading insanity? Who knows? USuk will be hoping that the arrangement lasts until they can patch together an alternative route in Afghanistan. LoL That will take some work and a helluva lot of ass kissing and likely fail.
This is a reflection of the lack of any long term thinking in the USuk strategy. It's seat of the pants stuff and therefore probably doomed.
When one considers the state of Afghanistan at the time of invasion which although enjoying a period of stability following decades of turmoil, was seriously lacking in infrastructure.
It should have been a simple task to win over the population but in their eagerness to install a puppet immediately, one Hamid Karzai, USuk created the opportunity for corrupt practises which pushed opportunity for Afghanistan's development backwards instead of forwards and now they have to deal with a popular insurrection which cannot be won by bombing Pakistan.
Sure they may create some temporary relief for their troops but in reality all they are doing his spreading the infection.

There are some very good reasons why the Pakistan army have always been reluctant to go into the tribal areas. Mostly that the terrain favours the locals. Sure USuk can cause massive casualty from the air but that doesn't win wars it tends to do little more than energise the opposition.

As USuk learned at Fallujah eventually troops have to go in and 'ethincally cleanse' the area. Fallujah was far more accessible to ground troops than the areas of Afghanistan they will need to invade en masse.

Even if amerika has the resources which I doubt considering what else is on the plate. eg the dems will be determined to take on Chavez and Morales in Latin America and those won't be easy wins. The sort of 'wet work' on a massive scale required to achieve victory in Afghanistan is not suited to a multi-national task force.

It is one thing to get a wide national grouping of different military forces together to defend their homelands against a common enemy, but quite another to keep a range of different national cultures with differing motivations for being at war to engage in the sort of massive slaughter required to 'win' Afghanistan. Remember amerika dragged out the marine mass murderers and the'airborne' for Fallujah. Two armies from the same nation with similar mindsets created for murder on a mass scale.

I don't understand the details exactly of how one brainwashes hundreds of thousands of immature humans into massacring other humans on a huge scale but I suspect it is a tricky business, something that is generational, that is you can get one generation of soldiers to do it once but after that getting them to repeat the act is problematic. Sure some of them become psychopaths but that is not necessarily a good thing. They need to kill as directed not wantonly, and for every psychopath there are likely to be a number of other troops who grew up very quickly and will do anything to not have to repeat their murder spree.

Ending Iraq seems pretty good no doubt but amerika's forces are still recovering from Iraq they aren't ready for a new one. However much Obama may think he can sell the idea of peace through pulling outta Iraq and starting a whole new massacre in Afghanistan, I doubt amerikan voters have thought it through.

The reality of fresh mass murders so soon after the last horrors will make 'winning' Afghanistan very difficult.

I wonder if amerikans really have the stomach for another Iraq, a Fallujah where they will have to butcher another half million humans at least, while the world looks on aghast?

Time will tell but blocking the supply line should be regarded by humans inside and outside Afghanistan, inside and outside amerika as a good thing something there should be much more of, regardless of whether or not the motivation is selfish.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Sep 7 2008 20:56 utc | 18

The comments to this entry are closed.