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Archive for the ‘Ahmed Rashid’ Category

Musharraf On His Way Out? Not Stopping Pakistan’s Cruise-Missile Program

Posted by K.E. White on March 22, 2007

Pervez MusharrafToday’s Washington Post lead editorial heralds the “lame duck” Presidency of Musharraf, considering Musharraf “unable to rein in Talibanization in Pakistan or guide the country toward a more democratic future.”

Musharraf has faced stiff public resistance for removing Pakistan’s top national judge.

And this public turmoil in Pakistan—a nuclear weapons state—coincides with deadly mudslides in Kashmir and its recent cruise-missile test.

Is Musharraf’s fate sealed? And will this mean a severely troubled (or even failed) state in Pakistan—a country with an active nuclear weapons program?

Ahemed’s Rashid writes on Musharraf’s loss of support from his own political party, the nation’s intelligence agencies, and from the international community:

Moreover, Musharraf is losing control of three key elements that have sustained his rule but are now either distancing themselves or turning on him completely. The first is the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Party, which has acted as the civilian appendage to the military but faces an election and knows that going to bat for the unpopular Musharraf will turn off voters. Party leaders and cabinet ministers are already distancing themselves from him.

The second element is the country’s three intelligence agencies, which are at loggerheads over control of Musharraf, Pakistan’s foreign policy, its political process and the media. Military Intelligence and the Inter-Services Intelligence are military agencies, while the largest civilian agency, the Intelligence Bureau, is now run by a military officer. Ironically, Inter-Services Intelligence, the most powerful agency in the country, has been the moderate element urging Musharraf to open up the political system to the opposition parties. The other two agencies are the hard-liners and are urging Musharraf to adopt even tougher measures.

The third loss for Musharraf has been the unqualified international support he has received since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Anger in the U.S. Congress and media, and particularly among members of the Republican Party, toward Musharraf’s dual-track policy in Afghanistan — helping to catch al-Qaeda members but backing the Taliban — is making it difficult for President Bush to continue offering Musharraf his blanket support.

The Times of India adds an important component, Musharraf’s loss of support within the Pakistani military:

Hard-line Islamists, favoured previously, are now out, and soldiers charged with mutiny have received the death penalty, says Hoodbhoy. Although this has further deepened pro and anti-US divisions within the army, among both commissioned and non-commissioned officers, Musharraf clearly expects to remain the president well beyond the October 2007 elections, as well as extend further his term of leadership of the army.

“To achieve this end, whatever needs to be done will be done; principles and rules are elastic,” Hoodbhoy says. He also writes that the US remains “clueless” on how to deal with Pakistan and its problems. “One might have expected the Americans to know better than to bet all on a man who might be gone tomorrow. But, beyond pumping in dollars and supporting Musharraf and his military, the US appears clueless in dealing with Pakistan and its problems of social development,” says Hoodbhoy.

These developments will undoubtedly cause diplomatic heartburn from the United States. Whatever Musharraf’s faults, he kept Pakistan (relatively) stable and was a key ally (though imperfect) of the United States.

Whatever is to come of Musharraf, unpredictability in Pakistan’s politics carries with it profound ramifications in global security.

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Posted in Ahmed Rashid, cruise missle, judge removal, Kashmir, Musharraf, Pakistan, WMD | 7 Comments »