Proliferation Press

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

Posts Tagged ‘Musharraf’

Echoes From A Cold War

Posted by proliferationpresswm on March 30, 2009

posted by Bob Noziglia

Reports have made clear that the Obama administration will continue military strikes against terrorist sites in Pakistan. This holdover from the Bush administration demands we ask what just is going on in Pakistan and why America has wedged itself into Pakistan internal border disputes. Bob Noziglia explores these questions and Pakistan’s self-defeating liberal tendencies, which demand the continued presence of robust American military support. 


It must be a dire situation indeed when Russia, with its own nuclear armament history, to be concerned about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.  Let us remember that not too long ago it was Russia, which after the Cold War ended in the disintegration of the Soviet Union, had nuclear submarines rusting in unsecured ports; and a fire-sale on all equipment. 

It is also important to note the silence that, until now, Russia has had towards the operations regarding Pakistan and Afghanistan.  This comes from the haunting memories similar to our Vietnam when they attempted to expand Soviet territory. 

It is then with new eyes we must re-examine Pakistan and Afghanistan while both have their own qualities that make efforts for reconstruction a slow and complicated process, they are linked by more than geographical boundaries. 

While it was not profoundly mentioned when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated last year, it was during her first tour as Prime Minister of Pakistan that she supported the rise of the Taliban, which was then one of many forces seeking to benefit from the Soviet’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

Bhutto felt it was better to have a strict Islamic state next door because it would allow them to concentrate on somehow defeating India for the territory of Kashmir.  This decision combined with the military’s hands off approach regarding the tribal areas however would cause dire consequences, as these are where her assassins most likely came from. 

With an outpouring of support because of the death of his wife, it was “Mr. 10%” Zardari who ascended to the political throne with a promise of political unity with another deposed President due to corruption, Sharrif.  This of course became a political crisis for the same reason that toppled Musharraf’s government, the topic of reinstating judges banned from their duties under dubious charges. 

The failsafe within Pakistan has been that if things were to get too bad, the military would flex political muscle and be able to step in and have confidence with the people of making things right. 

Recent events, however, have eroded the populace’s confidence dramatically.  The recent attacks of fundamentalists against the military near the border regions has left many with the impression that the Military is in fact just as incompetent as their civilian counterparts. 

Combined with the many perceived and real failures of Musharraf in Pakistan, the military credibility is also at its lowest point.  When one also considers new revelations that the military had tangential relations with those behind the attacks in Mumbai, one has a renewed sense of urgency. 

What makes this situation precarious is that many of the leadership in Pakistan are schooled in the West, especially so of their judicial branch.  With this they have come to expect and desire separate but equal branches of government and the fundamental right of law. 

These are qualities to be aspired to no question, but there also needs to be a tradition of legitimacy to that government.  Control over ones borders and checks and balances making sure that no power, however pervasive becomes dominate. 

It is these two qualities-recognized balance between government branches and border integrity-that appear to be lacking in Pakistan.  The tribal regions linking Pakistan and Afghanistan have been left to their own devices for decades.  A definition of a government is to be the ultimate authority of a given territory.  For all intents and purposes Pakistan has been a country divided by its government’s apathy to maintain that authority.  With Fundamentalist having secured a base of operations that the Government of Pakistan is afraid to confront, and jealously uses sovereignty to prevent others from attacking, these fundamentals represent a great threat. 

Should another civilian led government fail, these fundamentals could represent the most cohesive and unified political and military force in the country.  With raised expectations of a government led by a unified government, and the military now placed in a decidedly supportive role, the margin of error razor thin. 

It is then we will see a country run by a fundamentalist government, one which has ties to those responsible for the attacks in 2001 have nuclear capabilities, and the desire to proliferate and use those weapons.  This is something that can not be allowed to happen, and would be a just cause to intervene in the internal politics to make sure such a scenario does not occur. 

Pushing for accountability of Pakistan’s leadership is recognition of the dangerous dynamics that exist.  The United States should take the position of assisting the Pakistani military against those in the tribal regions.  This in conjunction with maintaining a coalition within Pakistan that would seek to maintain Pakistan as a country guided by the Principles of Islam, without the xenophobia or fundamentalist principles that terrorist groups have allowed to corrupt the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. 

Ultimately, this is a problem that can only be defeated by the people of Pakistan.  The United States has historically been a country which held to the principle of self determination, we must offer our assistance to aid Pakistan so that they may be able to live up to the definition of their country; Land of the Pure.

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

Parliamentary Deal Reached in Pakistan

Posted by K.E. White on March 9, 2008

The  two big victors of Pakistan’s recent parliamentary elections, the PML-N and PPP, have reached a power-sharing deal. The gaping hole: agreement on whether or not to impeach Musharraf.

So it seems, at least for now, Musharraf’s survival strategy might just work.

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

Election NIght Pakistan: Sweeping But Not Complete Opposition Victory

Posted by K.E. White on February 19, 2008

While the PML-N and PPP have had a huge night, it appears initial forecasts of a two-thirds majority (which would allow presidential impeachment or Constitutional restoration) may need to be corrected. 

Whether owing to vote-rigging or not, the failure to seal a 2/3s majority may be why President Musharraf feels comfortable calling this “mother of elections” the “voice of the nation.”

It also appears that the PML-N had more success than expected. 

From The Dawn:

But while the partial results had already started trickling in, the president, while appearing briefly on the state-run Pakistan Television, called the vote “the voice of the nation” and said whoever won in what he called the “mother of elections” must be accepted. “We must accept the result gracefully.”

While the PPP was likely to win most of the National Assembly and provincial assembly seats in its main power base of Sindh province, besides sharing the spoils in the other three provinces of Punjab, North-West Frontier Province and Balochistan, the PML-N looked doing unexpectedly well in Punjab, even giving some shocks to a friendly PPP.

While top PPP leaders remained comparatively inactive during a 40-day mourning for Ms Bhutto and did not campaign much even afterwards, PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif created his own wave in his home province of Punjab and Hazara region of the NWFP with his hard line against President Musharraf and for the restoration of about 60 superior court judges who were sacked under the extra-constitutional emergency the president had declared on Nov 3 in his now given up capacity as army chief.

Both the PPP and PML-N have vowed to cooperate in the formation of the future government — and possibly have a government of national consensus — if they together win a majority. A two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament would enable them to impeach the president and to deprive the presidency of its powers to sack a prime minister and dissolve the parliament by restoring the Constitution to its pre-Oct 12, 1999 position when General Musharraf suspended it while capturing power by toppling the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif and then amending it by decree.

But that does not seem to be an immediate possibility while a PML-led coalition has a majority in the 100-seat Senate and it is not yet certain if all the opposition parties together will have a two-thirds majority in the 342-seat National Assembly.

The coming days guarantee high-stakes discussions between the PPP and PML-N. How these will pan out, and where Musharraf will end up seems an open question.

But one thing seems clear: While low turnout and violence did mar the elections, the day was a success—a considerable feat in light of Benazir Bhutto’s recent assassination.

And if you didn’t know, Senators Joe Biden (D-DE), Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and John Kerry (D-MA) were in Pakistan for the historic day.

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

Election Night Pakistan: Early Returns Suggest Musharraf Defeat

Posted by K.E. White on February 18, 2008

But will the two leading opposition parties get to a two-thirds parliamentary majority? And just how well will the PPP and PML-N get along?

The Times of India writes on the early returns. And The Dawn offers this geographic breakdown of support.

The Dawn also offers articles on the killings of policemen and parliamentary candidate, not to mention an election delay owing to violence.

And The New York Times offers this slide show of Pakistan’s consequential and violent election day.

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

Are Pakistan’s Nukes Safe? Four Viewpoints

Posted by K.E. White on January 10, 2008

Pakistan is entering yet another period of political unrest. But should we worry about Pakistani loose nukes? The answer to that question rests on two critical outcomes: Is Pakistan’s security system durable enough to withstand political chaos? And how entrenched are Islamic radicals in Pakistan command-and-control apparatus?

IAEA Chief El Baradei worries over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal as he talks to Al Hayat:

I felt a great deal of anxiety over the Pakistani nuclear arsenal. Similarly, when for over a year I dealt with the Iranian nuclear case, I repeatedly warned against the use of force and reminded that we still had a lot of time for diplomatic solutions. We should not think of military solutions in the Iranian crisis or in any other crisis until we have exhausted all diplomatic solutions and are left with nothing but the military solution as a last resort. For now, we are still far from this.

When it comes to the Iranian issue, I continuously fear that the aftermath of any new war in the Middle East and the Islamic world, will not be in Iran which the world fears will have a nuclear bomb ten years from now. What I really fear is the aftermath in Pakistan, a troubled country with too many problems, an Islamic state that interacts with the Islamic world. I fear that an anarchic or radical regime will take over this nation which has up to 30 or 40 nuclear weapons. I fear more that a radical group in Pakistan or Afghanistan will acquire a nuclear weapon.

Pakistan’s foreign office was quick to respond to his concerns. From The Dawn:

“His remarks ignore the fact that the strategic assets of Pakistan are fully secure and under multi-layered safeguards and controls exercised by the National Command Authority,” Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq said at his weekly press briefing. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei was quoted by pan-Arab Daily Al Hayat as saying in an interview: “I fear that chaos… or an extremist regime could take root in that country which has 30 to 40 warheads.”

The spokesman said Pakistan was a responsible nuclear weapon state. “Our nuclear weapons are as secure as that of any other nuclear weapon state. We, therefore, believe that statements expressing concerns about their safety and security are unwarranted and irresponsible.”

George Perkovick, a Senior Associate at Carnegie Institute, seems to agree. From his NPR radio interview:

“The military controls Pakistan. The thing the military cares most about is nuclear weapons so nuclear weapons are the most secure entity in Pakistan,” Perkovich said.

“What I’ve been worried about for years is not the nuclear weapons, it’s the domestic situation … the real worry, it’s the future of politics,” he said.

But Trudy Rubin espouses an opposing viewpoint:

The professional qualifications of the top security official were impressive. The system he described was complex and substantial. Counterintelligence on weapons security now comes directly to the top security official, not routed via other intelligence agencies, some of which have had past connections with jihadis.

OK, I said, let’s suppose the Pakistani security system works. But in a time of political uncertainty, could someone with Islamist sympathies take over the entire system? “The Taliban or al-Qaida are in no position to take over the central government and thereby the National Command Authority,” came back the swift answer. This is probably true.

The problem is that Pakistan is entering uncharted political waters. Under President Pervez Musharraf, the military has been ambivalent about taking on Pakistani militants and has become demoralized by losses sustained in jihadi attacks. No political leader except Ms. Bhutto has spelled out clearly that this is now Pakistan‘s war, not a proxy war for American interests.

The greatest fear of U.S. experts on Pakistan‘s nuclear security is that disgruntled insiders could penetrate the security system. I want to believe that the Pakistani security system can weed out bad actors before they get their hands on fissile material. But can we be sure?

Posted in Al Hayat, El Baradei, George Perkovick, IAEA, Mohammad Sadiq, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Pakistan, Trudy Rubin | 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 »