Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 22, 2011

More Shakeup In Pakistan

Reuters: Exclusive: Pakistan army wants Zardari out but not a coup

Pakistan's powerful army is fed up with unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari and wants him out of office, but through legal means and without a repeat of the coups that are a hallmark of the country's 64 years of independence, military sources said.

The military is not the only one who wants Zardari to go.

Mr. 10%, as we was earlier called for asking for bribes left and right, only accidentally became President when his wife Benazir Bhutto was assassinated and their son was too young to lead the family franchise, the Pakistan Peoples Party. Since he took over some two years ago Pakistan went from one crisis to the next one.

Meanwhile the government of Prime Minister Gilani fears it is also a target of a silent coup:

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday said conspirators were plotting to bring down his government, giving his most public indication yet that he fears being ousted from power.
[H]eading off questions in parliament, he took aim at the military over reports that the defence ministry conceded to the Supreme Court that it had no control over the armed forces or ISI intelligence agency.

“If they say that they are not under the ministry of defence, then we should get out of this slavery, then this parliament has no importance, this system has no importance, then you are not sovereign,” he told lawmakers.

“They are being paid from the State Exchequer, from your revenue and from your taxes.”

All institutions are subservient to the Parliament, and no institution has the right to create a state within the state, added the prime minister.

So far I sensed no intention by the military to bring Giliani down. But if he really expects that the Pakistani military will simply fold and come under pure civilian control the military might well try to get rid of him too.

The Pakistani Supreme Court will investigate the memogate scandal in which President Zardari allegedly asked the U.S. to intervene on his side against the military. If it wants to it will surely find enough dirt to kick Zardari out of office. That seems to be the military's plan.

Politicians competing with Zardari smell blood:

PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif has minced no words in demanding that they be held immediately. In a candid interview to the Jang Group in Karachi on Tuesday, Nawaz asked what the point was in running a government that had failed to function and which had lost credibility and respect in the eyes of the people. His half-joking suggestion that elections should come in winter as he personally ‘liked’ that season indicates that the issue of fresh polls has gained urgency within the PML-N.

The dark lord, or white knight depending on ones standpoint, Imran Khan is also taking aim:

Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Thursday said that the medical condition of President Zardari must be checked – if he is not mentally and physically fit then this might cause serious problems for Pakistan, DawnNews reported.

The stage is set and I find it unlikely that Zardari will keep his current position for much longer. New parliament elections may well be coming too.

One wonders what the U.S. position will be on this issue. Not that it has much leverage. The report on the U.S. attack on the Pakistani outpost that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and closed the U.S. transport line through Pakistan is just coming out and it blames both sides:

The report said: "Mistakes by both American and Pakistani forces led to airstrikes against Pakistani border posts that killed 24 Pakistani Army soldiers last month".

Even though it spread blame between both countries, the key finding of the investigation is likely to further enrage Pakistan ...

The finding contradicts the Pakistani one and will thereby not reopen the closed logistic line:

Pakistan has sought a full apology from President Barack Obama for the strikes, while US officials have maintained the November 26 incident was a regrettable mistake.

Speaking at a weekly briefing by the Foreign Office, [spokesman] Abdul Basit said a final decision on the restoration of Nato supply lines would be made by the Parliament. Moreover, he termed US Vice president Joe Biden’s recent statement on the Taliban as “welcome words”.

With the anti-U.S. mood in the country and possible elections on the horizon I can not see the parliament deciding to give in and to let the U.S. logistic flow again. The real decision will anyway be more like taken by the military which will press for more concession from the U.S.. Bidens recent remark that the Taliban are not the enemy was probably one of those with more to come.

While the U.S. has enough material reserves in Afghanistan to sustain for a while the closed Pakistani line, even as it lately carried only 30% of all needs, will soon start to hurt its operations. To fly in fuel or toilet paper by air at a cost of some $14,000 per short ton is simply too expensive.

Posted by b on December 22, 2011 at 15:18 UTC | Permalink


The Pakistani military is nominally accountable to corrupt, civilian legislative and executive functions. How exactly is that different from the US? Isn't the incessant groveling of US elected officials before the military the only thing that prevents a coup in the US?

Posted by: JohnH | Dec 22 2011 19:49 utc | 1

Another casualty of the GWOT -- the gift that keeps on giving. In this case the U.S. goal, with India support, is to break up Pakistan. Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province, is a good place to start. It has reportedly received attention from the CIA in the past. And now:

from Ahmar Mustikhan, Dec 21, 2011
Baltimore Foreign Policy Examiner --

"An independent Baluchistan would, in fact, solve many of the region’s most intractable problems overnight. It would create a territorial buffer between rogue states Iran and Pakistan," writes U.S. defense strategist M. Chris Mason, senior fellow at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies in Washington DC.

What makes Mason's observations very crucial is that he has recently returned from the Pakistan-Afghanistan borders and like C.I.A. chief Gen. David H. Petraeus knows about the ties of the infamous Inter-Services Intelligence with the Taliban like the back of his hand.

It would provide a transportation and pipeline corridor [The U.S. 'Silk Road'] for Afghanistan and Central Asia to the impressive but underutilized new port at Gwadar. It would solve all of NATO’s logistical problems in Afghanistan, allow us to root the Taliban out of the former province and provide greater access to Waziristan, to subdue our enemies there. And it would contain the rogue nuclear state of Pakistan and its A.Q. Khan network of nuclear proliferation-for-profit on three landward sides, " Mason wrote in an article in the Globe and Mail Wednesday.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 22 2011 20:07 utc | 2

Gilani is acting on behalf of the Us, I'd say; the army is the main nationalistic force in Pakistan, whereas politicians mostly represent a colonial bourgeois; there evidently is now an attempt, probably suggested by the Us propagandist masters, to frame this contest in terms of military coup versus democracy;

keep in mind that today in Pakistan colonialism, that is subjection to the Us plans for Central Asia, means first of all a dramatic surrender of vital national interests

not long ago, b posted a link to an article of the Guardian, "Nato plans push in eastern Afghanistan to quell Pakistan-based insurgents"

my comment was:

it's a declaration of war against Pakistan
a military coup seems necessary, or Pakistan will suffer Yugoslavia's fate (drug dealers worldwide will celebrate)
it was a long time that wars weren't declared so openly and officially
"Us aid", real or promised, in this context, aims at paralysing political reaction and at dividing the military;

so yes, a coup isn't always the worse that may happen to a country; and maybe other militaries, in other parts of the world, for example in Russia, are looking with growing nervousness as politicians' business ties with the West increasingly endanger their country's interests

and if the Pakistani Army can reach its ends without a coup, eventually through Sharif, Khan or others, so much the better

Posted by: claudio | Dec 22 2011 21:04 utc | 3

I always thought it bizarre that nest-feathering Benazir was replaced by her nest-feathering husband. Getting chucked out, or not, will largely depend on whether the Yankees have been greasing the right palms. Should be interesting.
Slightly Off Topic...

(Soon-to-be ex-) NATO member, Turkey, has severed diplo, trade and military ties with France over Sarko's grandstanding about recognising the Armenian genocide.

The Christian-Muslim alliance, based on little more than bullshit and whimsy, seems to be wearing out its welcome all over the place.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 23 2011 0:51 utc | 4

Today we are joined via telephone by Brigadier Stephen A. Clark, United States Air Force. General Clark was appointed by General Mattis late last month to serve as the U.S. investigating officer into the 25-26 November engagement between U.S. and Pakistani military forces. ...

It is obvious that the U.S., and only the U.S., screwed up in this incident.

- Despite its obligations it didn't inform the Pakistani military about the patrol when it started
- During planing they screwed up with the maps and didn't identify a border outpost
- While the shooting happened another map screw up giving the Pakistani coordinator the wrong location
- Didn't stop firing even after a Pakistani general told them that they are shooting at his people
- Renewed firing after it had stopped for 40 minutes and after knowing of the border outpost

The Pakistani are probably right in thinking that this was all intended.

Posted by: b | Dec 23 2011 9:50 utc | 5

"the ties of ISI with the Taleban" ... this always makes me laugh. ISI is the CIA's Karachi franchise office, and the CIA have had "ties" with Al Qaeda and the Taleban since before either of those organisations existed. I have no doubt they still do so.

It is also bleakly amusing how many people cite statements from the CIA as evidence of their priorities & intentions. Their job is covert operations, including propaganda and misinformation. In other words, they are expert dissemblers. Nothing they say should be taken at face value.

Both ISI and CIA seem to believe (probably correctly) that they will survive, and prosper, no matter what happens to their respective governments / countries.

Aside from the imperial interests of the USA in the region, the CIA have a vested interest in opium trafficking out of Afghanistan, and ISI are their local smuggling operations managers in region.

To posit that an undeveloped nation like Afghanistan, whose little functioning infrastructure has been wracked by 3 decades of war, who are occupied by the most advanced military force on the planet, are constantly surveilled from the ground, the air, and from space, can still "smuggle" a million kilograms of anything, every year, without assistance from their occupiers, is ludicrous. So risible as to be beneath even contempt.

Let alone the most valuable illicit substance on the planet.

ISI and CIA "care" about who governs Pakistan only to the degree those people serve or oppose the interest of ISI and CIA. They care about the integrity of Pakistan only to the degree it serves their interests. This IS the imperial mindset - imperial interests are the only principle they observe. We see this in everything the empire does and says; everything is about "our interests".

Moral standards, treaties, and international law, are only convenient sticks with which to beat lesser nations.

Posted by: ScuzzaMan | Dec 23 2011 10:00 utc | 6

my thoughts on the transcript linked by b @5:

the Us would like us to believe (obviously without openly stating so) that they knowingly fired on the Pakistani, because the Pakistani had knowingly fired on the Us ground force

but the official narrative really doesn't make sense; the moment the Pakistani alerted the Us that their outposts were being bombed, both sides immediately knew what and where this was occuring; all the Us had to do was stop bombing;

also, all this thing of the Us withholding the precise coordinates of a place both knew perfectly about (the us were bombing, the Pakistanis were being bombed) sounds like disinformation given to the Pakistani LNO to gain time for completing the mission; and the bombing of the two outposts was probably integral part of the mission from the beginning

so it seems more reasonable to suppose that the Us were "punishing" those outposts for other reasons, probably connected to the same raid against the village

so I feel confirmed in my view that there's a war going on between the Us and Pakistan, a subterranean but nonetheless real war, which has momentarily surfaced in this "incident" which was in fact a military confrontation

of course a war between "allies" can't be declared openly, it must be conducted descreetely, and can only be narrated as a collection of incidents and collateral damages; but the lethality and the brazeness of the operation was an escalation which called for a political reaction; the Pakistan Army has finally demanded its pliable politicans to take sides in this war

Posted by: claudio | Dec 23 2011 13:10 utc | 7

This is an excellent analysis by b. The only angle which is not quite correctly assessed is the relative status of Zardari and PM Gilani. The latter is a creation of the former, and functions as his minion; it is Zardari who actually runs the government through a few of his cronies appointed as ministers. The military's real target is Zardari, not Gilani. So, Gilani is really blowing hot and cold because he has been instructed to do so.

It is very unlikely that there will be an outright coup (unless Zardari overplays his hand and does something radical, such as sacking the army chief and some generals). More likely, the Supreme Court's proceedings and findings in the Memogate case will force Zardari to quit, followed by elections in which another political party will come to power. At least, that is the likely scenario the generals are hoping to see play out.

On the US bombing of the Pakistani posts, the latest is that Gen Mattis, the Centcom chief, wanted to come and personally brief the Pakistani military on the US report (and presumably express his regrets), but Kayani has refused to meet him, and the visit has been cancelled.

Posted by: FB Ali | Dec 24 2011 1:09 utc | 8

By not opening the NATO supply line, Pakistan has delivered the US to Russia. This greatly simplifies the calculus in the region.

Posted by: amar | Dec 24 2011 19:16 utc | 9

Russia is selling out for business (Gazprom, Wto), it will just raise its price; Putin deserves a colored revolution, because that's the fate that awaits those (i.e. Gaddafi) that think the West can be appeased by business deals, and haven't yet understood that we want everything

Posted by: claudio | Dec 25 2011 1:34 utc | 10

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