Proliferation Press

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Archive for the ‘Musharraf’ Category

Proliferation Press Dispatch: New America’s ‘Pakistan in Peril’ Roundtable

Posted by K.E. White on January 15, 2008

With attendees elbowing for space and some even relegated to the wonkish backwater of a TV screening room, four experts—Flynt Leverett, Peter Bergen, Nicholas Schmidle and Steve Coll—probed the troubled but essential partnership between America and Pakistan at The New America Foundation.

While differences on the sequence American policy towards Pakistan lingered, the gaggle found common ground on the big issues. The Bush administration’s policy towards Pakistan has been wrongheaded and wanting; emphasis must now be on riding out the February elections; and, finally, unconditional American aid must continue: not only to spur real Pakistani economic reconstruction, but to ensure an effective counter-terrorism strategy that will clamp down on the extremists threats posed to both Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

And to make matters more difficult Benazir’s Bhutto’s recent assassination has only exacerbated Pakistan’s domestic unease, while some observers worry over the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

The US-Pakistan partnership is anything but a walk in Candyland.

The last six years of American policy towards Pakistan were seen by all the participants—though Schmidle agreement had to be implied—as a failure. Leverett—the harshest critic—took the administration to task for holding unreasonable expectations of Pakistan. He went to pains to flesh out the dire predicament the Bush administration leaders put by failing to capture Bin Laden and his associates in Afghanistan: hotheaded and intractable militants became Pakistan’s problem.

“Pakistan has probably performed more faithfully than the United States,” Coll stated in agreement to Leverett. He and Leverett did not hold a naïve view of Pakistan’s colored history. Rather they elevated Pakistan’s critical and productive role in America’s counter-terrorism strategy, while viewing short-sighted American policy over the last thirty years as worsening Pakistan’s domestic situation and relationship with America.

Peter Bergen did add a useful corrective to this Pakistani apologist line of though. If Iran developed nuclear weapons, contemplated selling a nuclear weapon or selling nuclear-weapons technology to North Korea and Iraq, Washington and Tehran would be at war.

These are all things Pakistan has done, all the while remaining a staunch American ally.

Such a contradiction illustrates the unique relationship between America and Pakistan. While Pakistan illegally developed nuclear weapons and proliferated nuclear technology, Musharraf’s response to 9-11 turned America and Pakistan into indispensable partners.

Pakistan needed military aid and economic reconstruction to beat back an Islamic threat and alleviate the severe poverty of this nuclear-weapons state. America needed an ally to help eradicate the Taliban and other Islamic extremists—a concern that trumped Pakistan’s past nuclear history.

Schmidle brought a unique, testimonial viewpoint to the discussion. Just deported after living in Pakistan for two years, Schmidle jocularly showed off his deportation notice while somberly telling listeners of his first hand experiences with Taliban militants.

He stressed two major themes. First he noted that a once scattered New-Gen Taliban has now come under the authority of one leader. Schmidle also saw Pakistan’s tribal areas turning away from Islamist parties to nationalist parties, a development that could pave the way for a successful counter-terrorism strategy in the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. [For more details, go to the source: read Schmidle’s articles]

Looking forward, the discussion tackled to US policy quandaries: how best to calibrate a US-Pakistan counter-insurgency strategy, and whether the US pushing democratic reform would help or hinder Pakistan’s stability and capacity to clamp down on the Taliban.

Leverett stressed American strategy turn away from bilateral engagement in Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries. Instead regional coordination would increase the pressure on countries to fulfill their counter-terrorism strategies. But Coll doubted the payoffs of such an intensive diplomatic strategic investment, calling it a “very difficult strategy to carry out.”

Coll and Leverett also disagreed on promoting democracy in Pakistan.

“There is no evidence that democracy buys you anything in terms of the war on terror,” Leverett pronounced making clear illusion to failed attempts of the much maligned neo-con agenda.

But Bergen brought the obvious—while shallow—comparison between the histories of a turbulent Pakistan and its prosperous neighbor India. The difference? A firm commitment to parliamentary democracy and civilian rule.

Coll stressed the long history of failed, but real, attempts at Pakistani parliamentary democracy. “We’re not imposing democratic aspirations on Pakistan,” Coll claimed.

On forecasting Pakistan’s near-term future, the analysts were in wait and see mode. Election-fraud by Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf was bound to happen, but blatant voter manipulation would topple Musharraf—and he knows it (or should). The PPP will find success, and will aim to merge with Nawaz Sharif’s PML party to demand Musharraf’s ouster.

And regarding the Bhutto assassination controversy that has so animated Pakistan’s upcoming elections, the experts agreed that Musharraf’s version—that Bhutto was not killed by an assassin’s bullet—was true. Unfortunately Musharraf’s fabricated rush to judgment sapped whatever credibility he had left.

Pakistan political future now rests within the interplay between a new parliamentary majority dedicated to reform and an increasingly unpopular President. The wild card? Musharraf’s new pick for Army Chief of Staff—Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Will this American trained general emerge as a new Pakistani strong man? Or will Kayani work with a rancorous Parliament and dictatorial President to bring stability to a poor and divided nation, while executing a counter-terrorism strategy that defends America and Pakistan against international terrorism?

Posted in Flynt Leverett, international relations, Musharraf, New America Foundation, Nicholas Schmidle, Nuclear, Pakistan, Peter Bergen, Steve Coll, Terrorism, United States | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pakistan Update

Posted by K.E. White on November 5, 2007

The Guardian offers great coverage on Pakistan political turmoil sparked by President Musharraf’s emergency powers declaration. 

Apparently the clamp down on political opposition is continuing at full force. Guardian reports that tear gas at protesters, while hundreds have been arrested. 

The Guardian also offers video of Musharraf’s emergency announcement yesterday and photos of the ensuing turmoil.

Posted in Musharraf, Pakistan | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Musharraf Fights for Control of Pakistan: Musharraf Declares Emergency Proclamation

Posted by K.E. White on November 3, 2007

Musharraf declares a state of emergency in Pakistan, taking full control of the Pakastani government. The Supreme Court meets for an official response while Benazir Bhutto flies back from Dubai. The public response? Not yet known.

President Pervez Musharraf has suspended the Pakistani constitution, issuing a “Proclamation of Emergency” (read full text here). The move essentially puts Musharraf in charge of Pakistan, freezing Pakistan’s constitution until the order is rescinded.

In the interim a Provisional Constitutional Order will dictate government operations—most likely vesting Musharraf with sole executive control of the Muslim nation.

Pakistan has witnessed numerous terrorist attacks in recent weeks, a fact Musharraf’s proclamation reiterates often. The proclamation also notes an “overstepping” judiciary that works at “cross purposes with the executive and legislature”.

Dawn points out that the Supreme Court, who has had past success limiting Musharraf stranglehold on power, has called the move “illegal and unconstitutional.” But meetings are still ongoing in regards to an official response.

The Pakistani public will undoubtedly disapprove of Musharraf’s move, but whether or not that discontent will spur the proclamation’s reversal has yet to been seen.

But in light of recent arrests and Musharraf’s shutdown on communications and cable news in the capital, it seems Musharraf is more than willing to silence dissent. Given the choice between allegiance to Musharraf or jail, only time will tell if opposition forces can successfully unite against this imposition of emergency powers.

Benazir Bhutto, former Pakistani Prime Minister and current candidate in what were to be recent elections, was in Dubai when Musharraf issued the emergency proclamation. She is currently flying back, to cheers or to handcuffs has yet to be seen.

Reuters notes Asif Ali Zardari’s—Bhutto’s husband—response to the imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan:

“(She’s flying back) tonight, yes of course,” Bhutto’s husband Asif Ali Zardari told Reuters by telephone from Dubai, saying she was already on the plane.

“It’s definitely not pleasant news, it’s not welcome news,” he added. “We’re hoping to build institutions, not destroy them.”

It seems American pressure against such a development in Pakistan failed to deter Musharraf. Here’s the State Department reaction to the Musharraf’s emergency proclamation:

The United States is deeply disturbed by reports that Pakistani President Musharraf has taken extra-constitutional actions and has imposed a state of emergency. A state of emergency would be a sharp setback for Pakistani democracy and takes Pakistan off the path toward civilian rule. President Musharraf has stated repeatedly that he will step down as Chief of Army Staff before re-taking the presidential oath of office and has promised to hold elections by January 15th. We expect him to uphold these commitments and urge him to do so immediately.

The United States stand with the people of Pakistan in supporting a democratic process and in countering violent extremism. We urge all parties to work together to complete the transition to democracy and civilian rule without violence or delay.

Posted in Bhutto, Musharraf, Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, proclamation of emergency, Provisional Constitutional Order, Supreme Court | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pakistan Update: Bhutto Successfully Returns to Karachi

Posted by K.E. White on November 3, 2007

Benazir Bhutto has returned to Pakistan, successfully voicing her dismay over Musharraf’s proclamation of emergency powers:

”Unless General Musharraf reverses the course, it will be very difficult to have fair elections,” she told Sky News television by telephone, after President General Pervez Musharraf declared the emergency and suspended the constitution.

”I agree with him that we are facing a political crisis, but believe the problem is dictatorship, I don’t believe the solution is dictatorship. We had dictatorship, the situation has got worse,” she said.

”My fear is that the forces of extremism want a two-year period in which they can expand their influence, drive NATO out of Afghanistan, and control Pakistan‘s destiny,” she said. ”If they get this two-year period, the whole world will be facing a very dangerous situation.”

Bhutto will be welcomed home not only by supporters, but by military personnel guarding her Karachi home. From The Age:

Witnesses said 100 police and paramilitary troops were deployed at her home in Karachi, apparently as a protective cordon. A bomb disposal squad was also at the scene.

Posted in Benazir Bhutto, Bhutto, Musharraf, Pakistan | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bhutto Returns to Pakistan

Posted by K.E. White on October 18, 2007

Benazir BhuttoI’m watching WETA-carried BBC News World coverage of Bhutto arriving at Karachi airport. Elated supporters cheer while waiting for Bhutto.

Bhutto’s return is being called the beginning of Pakistani parliamentary elections, by BBC News reporter Barabara Plett. But it’s unclear if she even be able to run for Prime Minister.

And let’s not forget the need for open and fair elections.

BBC World’s coverage seems to be lacking in one respect: Between Bhutto advisor Rehmen Chishti and BBC reporter Barbara Plett, where are the questions about the past failure of paraliamentary politics in Pakistan?

Husain Haqqani’s Between Mosque and Military portrays Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto as weak, bickering leaders—unable to effectively govern the nation.

Instead BBC’s news-anchor keeps hammering Bhutto and Chishti about the constitutionality of the deal Bhutto and Musharraf made to guarantee the former prime minister’s return. The anchor continuously reprimands the deal as undermining the rule of law in Pakistan.

The line of critique, while not unfounded, misses the point: In a country like Pakistan, where constitutional manipulation has been a Musharraf norm, it would be virtually impossible for any political progress to occur without constitutional revision.

Here are two clips on Bhutto’s return.

From AFP:

Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto returned home to Pakistan after eight years in exile, defying warnings of an assassination by Al-Qaeda and vowing to restore democracy in her homeland.

Before her plane left Dubai, carrying her back from exile for the second time in a long political career, at least a quarter-million people thronged the streets of Pakistan’s biggest city Karachi to welcome her home.

She headed back to Pakistan after military president Pervez Musharraf agreed to drop corruption charges against her, hoping her immense popularity can help him cling to power in the face of mounting popular anger over his rule.

From the Telegraph:

The power-sharing agreement between Ms Bhutto and Gen Musharraf is reported to be based on an “understanding” but so far the only tangible facet of the deal has been a presidential ordinance scrapping corruption charges against the former prime minister and Mr Zardari.

Pakistan‘s supreme court is yet to rule on whether the ordinance is legal. The judiciary has also yet to rule on whether Gen Musharraf’s re-election as president while serving as army chief earlier this month was constitutional.

Most Pakistanis believe that the “marriage” between the general and the “Daughter of the East” will not last long.

Posted in Benazir Bhutto, Musharraf, Pakistan | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Pakistan: Two Quick Viewpoints

Posted by K.E. White on October 8, 2007

“All politicians are the same,” said Ali Ahmad, a 28-year-old teacher in the eastern city of Quetta. “They are the enemy of poor people. They gave us nothing but suicide attacks, terrorism and violence.”

A local’s reflection on the recent Pakistani presidential election*. (Source: Associated Press)

“The Pakistan People’s Party (Ms Bhutto’s party) played games with us and we played our game, which we won.”

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat on the National Reconciliation Ordinance. The release of the ordinance’s terms sealed Musharraf’s landslide victory in last weekend’s presidential election—and has fostered profound cynicism among the Pakistani pubic. (Source: The Australian)

*Presidential elections in Pakistan are not democratic. Instead the parliament, now ruled by Musharraf’s party, selected the President.

Posted in Bhutto, election, Musharraf, Pakistan | 1 Comment »

Musharraf Snags An Impressive Victory, But At What Cost?

Posted by K.E. White on October 8, 2007

Pakistan’s turbulent political scene continues, but President Musharraf is showing off his staying power.

But at what cost?

There’s the maneuvering over the Musharraf-Bhutto deal, referred to as the National Reconciliation Ordinance. Today’s update: Musharraf’s ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League has successfully exploited the deal to seal Musharraf’s landslide victory in last weekend’s presidential election.

The ordinance had been hoped to restore stability to Pakistan, with two rivals—Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto—coming to agreements about Musharraf’s role in the military, his third race for President, and bringing parliamentary elections that include Musharraf rivals.

The landslide victory came easily after the Pakistan Muslim League successfully brewed infighting between their competitors by releasing terms of the National Reconciliation Ordinance. The ordinance was meant to return Benazir Bhutto—leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)—to Pakistani politics, and perhaps form a caretaker regime that would restore democratic rule to Pakistan.

The result was never in doubt, as Pakistan’s parliament selections the President and is now controlled by Musharraf’s political party. But the inevitable victory was made more impressive: with parliamentary opponents arguing with each other–instead creating a unified voice against Musharraf’s rule–over the terms of the controversial deal between Bhutto and Musharraf.

The Australian explores Musharraf’s successful manipulation of the negotiations over the deal:

“The Pakistan People’s Party (Ms Bhutto’s party) played games with us and we played our game, which we won,” said Chaudhry Shujaat of the National Reconciliation Ordinance, signed by General Musharraf hours before the start of polling, which granted indemnity to Ms Bhutto, her husband Asif Zardari, and their immediate allies over corruption charges.

The deal had the effect of stopping the PPP from ordering its MPs to resign their seats along with other opposition groups.

The PPP’s parliamentarians limited their protest again General Musharraf to abstaining from voting.

According to Mr Aziz and Mr Chaudhry Shujaat, that was the real purpose behind the deal, and a remarkably candid PML boss added: “If the higher judiciary strikes off the NRO, we have no obligation to renew it or bring any other law in its place.”

But Musharraf isn’t out of the woods. While on the ballot during last weekend’s presidential election, the Pakistani Supreme Court is ruling on the constitutionality of this third run for President.

From ABC News coverage of Musharraf’s court challenge and fading legitimacy:

A vast majority of people in Pakistan view Musharraf’s bid to secure another five-year term as illegal and unconstitutional. They say Musharraf is part of the problem that the country faces today.

Last week, Musharraf signed a national reconciliation ordinance, thereby absolving Pakistan’s former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, and other favorable politicians, of all corruption charges — a move that has been criticized by many national and international forums.

Bhutto, a one-time rival, termed as a “security risk” and a “plunderer of national wealth,” by none other that Musharraf, himself, is now seen as a major partner in the future government to be formed under Musharra.

The Associated Press brings focus to Pakistan’s democratic corrosion:

But many ordinary Pakistanis feel that power is the preserve of a corrupt elite, too busy securing their own interests to tackle issues such as rising Islamic militancy and the poverty and inflation that feed it.

“All politicians are the same,” said Ali Ahmad, a 28-year-old teacher in the eastern city of Quetta. “They are the enemy of poor people. They gave us nothing but suicide attacks, terrorism and violence.”

Musharraf acknowledged as much when he seized power in a 1999 coup, vowing to install “real democracy” in a country whose ineffectual civilian governments have been regularly swept aside by its generals.

Eight years later, the current wave of disappointment appears focused on the military strongman himself, but it has failed to dissuade him from seeking five more years.

Meanwhile Musharraf survives yet another brush with death: one of the helicopters traveling in a Musharraf caravan crashed–Musharraf’s helicopter was safely ahead of the downed aircraft. And fighting in North Waziristan has claimed the lives of 80 Pakistani soldiers.

The Hindu reports on the helicopter crash, apparently due to mechanical malfunction:

A helicopter carrying officials accompanying President Pervez Musharraf crashed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on Monday, killing four persons, including three armymen, onboard and injuring his spokesman.

Musharraf, who was in another helicopter flying ahead, reached his destination safely, military spokesman Maj Gen Waheed Arshad said.

Musharraf has survived three assassination attempts.

Posted in Bhutto, crash, election, helicopter, Musharraf, National Reconciliation Ordinance, Pakistan, Waziristan | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pakistan Update: Political Deal Between Musharraf and Bhutto Imminent?

Posted by K.E. White on October 4, 2007

Fox News reports on the imminent deal between Musharraf and Bhutto:

Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who is close to Musharraf, said an announcement of an agreement — expected to include the dropping of corruption charges against Bhutto — would come within hours. A senior official from Bhutto’s party in London also said there will be an agreement.

Neither side provided further details. The Bhutto aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to reveal the deal’s substance ahead of the formal announcement.

But AFP sheds light on the complicated politics of the deal between the rivals. Bhutto, while returning home, may mobilize forces against Musharraf’s re-election bid—or at least appear to do so. 

In any case, it seems Pakistani politics will remain volatile—with or without a Bhutto-Musharraf deal. 

From the AFP clip:

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s government said it was optimistic about a breakthrough in talks with Benazir Bhutto despite her threat to deal his re-election bid a “severe blow”.

Former prime minister Bhutto’s opposition Pakistan People’s Party was meeting in London on Thursday to mull mass resignations by MPs, in a bid to rob the vote by federal and provincial lawmakers of any semblance of credibility.

Bhutto said that talks with military ruler Musharraf on a power-sharing deal had “totally stalled” and denied reports that the government would give her an amnesty on the corruption charges that drove her into self-imposed exile.

But officials in Islamabad said it was likely Musharraf would on Thursday issue a decree granting her immunity from the allegations — one of her key demands for a pact ahead of her planned return to Pakistan on October 18.

Posted in Bhutto, Musharraf, Pakistan | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Musharraf and Bhutto Make Key Progress: Musharraf To Quit as Army Chief

Posted by K.E. White on August 29, 2007

Summary: It seems the Musharraf-Bhutto alliance is nearly complete. With Musharraf giving it his role as top military general, a key hurdle is removed. Musharraf’s desired end: another term as President.

From The Age:

MusharrafPakistan‘s leading English-language newspaper, Dawn, said sources close to the President had confirmed he had offered to retire from the army, the main source of his authority, before being re-elected as a civilian president next month and general elections early next year.

Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who held talks with General Musharraf on Monday, said: “The President has made up his mind on his uniform. He’ll make an announcement at an appropriate time.”

Mrs Bhutto said that in this week’s talks General Musharraf placed a new issue on the negotiating table by seeking her support over his eligibility to be re-elected.

General Musharraf, faced by an increasingly bold Supreme Court, has asked Mrs Bhutto to support a constitutional amendment allowing him to be re-elected.

Mrs Bhutto said the Government would have to make “an upfront gesture of reciprocity, a clear indication of political support for the Pakistan People’s Party”.

Voice of America also reports on the emerging deal, which is a political risk for both Musharraf and Bhutto:

Pakistan railway minister and presidential confidante Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told reporters the deal has almost been finalized.

Former Prime Minister Bennazir Bhutto has sought to end Pervez Musharraf’s dual role as president and army chief before any possible agreement.

Benazir BhuttoThe possible deal comes as popular support for the president is at an all-time low and legal challenges to his re-election intensify.

Ms. Bhutto has seen her own political fortunes decline in recent weeks. She faces charges of political opportunism and hypocrisy after negotiating with her rival, President Musharraf.

A second former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, insists the president must step down for the good of the country. President Musharraf exiled Mr. Sharif to Saudi Arabia in 2000, a year after seizing power in a military coup.

This is a high stakes gamble, especially for American security. Musharraf, despite key flaws, has been a key ally and stable leader in a volatile, Muslim and nuclear nation. A calm transition in Pakistan, as opposed to civil strife with the specter of Islamic radicals, is a critical for regional and international security.

But the natural question remains: Will this deal be acceptable to the Pakistani public and, perhaps more importantly, the Pakistani military?

Posted in Bhutto, Musharraf, Pakistan, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed | 1 Comment »

Pakistan Update: Power Sharing Deal in Islamabad? And First Ever Muslim 20 Yr. Malt Whiskey

Posted by K.E. White on August 17, 2007

Summary: A quick update on Pakistan and the potential for a Musharraf-Bhutto power-sharing deal. Proliferation Press offers a recap and  some past commentary. Added Bonus: This exciting news for whiskey aficionados.

If you haven’t heard, America would like a ‘moderate’ Pakistani regime. But is it possible?

From WaPo:

The United States wants to see Pakistan’s moderate and democratic politicians unite to fight Islamic extremism, but has no interest in picking sides ahead of upcoming elections, a top U.S. envoy said Thursday.

The danger for both is that Pakistanis will see any deal as a cynical ploy.

“It would be seen as coming to a deal not because there is a convergence of policies,” said Masood. “The leaders would both be seen as compromising for their own interest, not for the interest of the country.”

The danger for both is that Pakistanis will see any deal as a cynical ploy.

“It would be seen as coming to a deal not because there is a convergence of policies,” said Masood. “The leaders would both be seen as compromising for their own interest, not for the interest of the country.”

Musharraf’s response:

President Gen Pervez Musharraf has ruled out any deal or power-sharing with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), saying it (PPP) will be the rival of the ruling PML in the general elections.

President Musharraf met ruling party MNAs and MPAs from six districts-Faisalabad, Jhang, Toba Tek Singh, Sargodha, Mianwali and Khushab – at the Faisalabad airport on Thursday.

The president said he would be re-elected president in uniform as the constitution allowed him.

So it all comes down to the elections: which in Pakistan will be a two-pronged process.

First Muharraf will seek reappointment as President by the parliament in September or October, with general parliamentary elections to be held within the following three months.

The aim of the United States—a stable Pakistan—is understandable. (The Boston Herald reports on US worry over Pakistan in the wake of 9-11.) But should the White House be sending such advice before the results are in?

In any case, the next few months will prove critical for Pakistan—a nuclear weapons state plagued by Islamic extremism.

Here are two previous posts on the Pakistan dilemma.

And, for any whiskey drinkers, take heart: The first ever Muslim 20-year aged malt whiskey is set for roll out.

Posted in Bhutto, Bush administration, Musharraf, Spiegel | Leave a Comment »