Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Posts Tagged ‘Kayani’

Pakistan’s Political Rivalry Turns Serious: Zadari-Sharif Rift Causes Nation-Wide Protests; Sharif Under House Arrest

Posted by K.E. White on March 15, 2009

A consequential weekend is brewing in Pakistan: fueled by divisions over the Supreme Court, Pakistan’s opposition leader Nawaz Sharif has called on supporters to publicly protest President Asif Ali Zardari.

How serious is this? Well Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just had an “unusually long [phone] conversation with Zardari and Sharif” urging the two leaders to find common ground and avoid “another roud of political instability in Pakistan”. [Times of India article]

Clinton’s comes amidst reports that Sharif Sharif has been put under house-arrest. This latest escalation comes after Sharif’s public outcry against the Zardari-appointed Supreme Court’s ruling barring him from public office in Pakistan.

Is there a better to alienate a rival political party than by summarily banning its leader from future election? To be fair, Zardari has yet to completely emulate past practices: former President Prevez Musharraf took the additional step of exiling political foes.

From the Washington Post:

As the political brinkmanship continued, police in the capital prepared to stop protesters from reaching the city Sunday, and the army remained on alert. Officials blocked highways with huge shipping containers, and flights were grounded.

But thousands of opposition supporters, egged on by Nawaz Sharif and a national lawyers’ movement, continued streaming toward Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, where they rallied by torchlight in the darkened city and prepared to leave Sunday morning for their “long march” on the capital. They have vowed to demonstrate until Zardari restores a group of deposed senior judges.

Despite Zardari’s late-night offer, analysts said the confrontation in this nation of 172 million appeared to have gone too far to be defused.

The struggle centers around Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, the former chief justice of Pakistan who was fired two years ago by Pervez Musharaff. His removal triggered wide-spread disaffection which lead to Musharaff’s removal, but Zardari has yet to reappoint him to the Supreme Court. Hence the  two leading liberal parties of Pakistan, Zardari’s PPP and Sharif’s PML-N, are at one another’s throats.

Why? WaPo reports:

Many Pakistanis say Zardari fears that Chaudhry would reopen old court cases against him and nullify many of his year-old government’s actions. Analysts said Zardari’s stand has also been strengthened by U.S. ambivalence about the former justice, an unpredictable maverick who has questioned the disappearance of terrorism suspects.

At the gathering in Raiwind, Sharif related a history of broken promises by the president and said he had reneged on a Charter of Democracy both men had signed to create a civilian government one year ago.

“We were trying to bring Pakistan out of a dictatorial regime. It was the first time in our history that the two major parties had gotten together. But Mr. Zardari kept backing out of his promises,” Sharif told the journalists here. “I am not joining the long march to reach the presidency only to bring back the independent judiciary.” But if Zardari “pushes us to the wall,” he added, “we will not go home and be silent.”

Aides to Sharif said he plans to join the march, in which caravans of vehicles will set out from a lawyers’ association office in the Lahore High Court complex. But police are expected to stop the procession, as they have been blocking caravans from other cities all week, and Sharif could well be placed under house arrest.

It appears the two leading liberal parties of Pakistan are on the verge of a violent altercation—a worrisome development for Pakistan’s young and fragile democracy. Such divides were how former President Musharaff climbed to power in 1999.

So how is current Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani reacting to Pakistan’s lastest affray?

Not well; but in an interview last Friday US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen stated that Kayani is “committed to a civilian government” in Pakistan.

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

Monday Morning Tea: EU’s Presidential Race, China-India Ladakh Tensions, Pakistan’s New Army Chief, and the Value of the UN

Posted by K.E. White on January 28, 2008

While relations between China and India seem warm, concerns of a Chinese land grab in Ladakh are making headlines

Interested in the US presidential race? Check out Chinese news coverage on the turbulent nomination races. (Added bonus: the Chinese Polar Robot and China’s new policy towards soldiers involved in nuclear tests

With Pakistan’s upcoming elections coming right on the heels of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, many wonder what role the military will play. Latest development: Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani “has recently directed army personnel to keep away from politics and said that army’s role in the coming elections would be restricted to maintaining the law and order.” 

David Pollock and Michael Jacobson on how the UN plays a vital role in America’s counter-terrorism efforts:

 

The promising early signs from Kuwait illustrate the important counterterrorism role the UN can play. Like many other countries in the region, Kuwait occasionally needs a UN imprimatur to take potentially troublesome steps requested by Washington, even when they serve common interests. This is true not only in the counterterrorism arena, but also with regard to Iran: although the emir has just traveled to Tehran and proclaimed it a “friend,” his government carefully adheres to UN sanctions against Iran‘s nuclear program. 

Unfortunately, the UN’s counterterrorism role has been in sharp decline, with designations steadily dropping in recent years. In fact, 2007 saw only eight designations related to al-Qaeda and the Taliban — the lowest annual total since 2000. Given the limits of what the United States can accomplish on its own against al-Qaeda in Kuwait and elsewhere in the region, pushing to reinvigorate the UN’s role should be a priority.

Tony Blair might just become President after all—of the European Union. The European alliance will be electing its first time President in twelve months.

Posted in European Union, Kayani, Pakistan | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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 »