Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Musharraf Era

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is being challenged on several fronts, from an insurgency in Wazirstan to legal challenges within his own government, according to Ahmed Rashid of the Washington Post. His departure from office may come sooner rather than later.


Since March 9, when Musharraf suspended the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, public protests have escalated every day -- as has a violent crackdown by the police and intelligence agencies on the media and the nation's legal fraternity.

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.

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.

Commentary

When strongmen fall in countries where successions are disorderly, there is always a moment of suspense before observers can draw a breath. Musharraf's tightrope act suggests that Pakistan is divided between powerful forces, some sympathetic to the Jihad and others opposed with a big slug of criminality and thuggery thrown into the mixture. However, the "exit strategy" recommended by Rashid has dangers too.

It is far better that he revert to the promise he made when he seized power in 1999: to return the country to democracy. His best course of action would be to say he is not a candidate for president, hold free and fair elections, allow the return of exiled politicians, restore full political rights and gracefully depart with his legacy, which is considerable, intact.

It is in the interest of the United States to support such an exit strategy. The military can no longer counter the phenomenal growth of Islamic extremism in Pakistan through offensives alone. What the country needs is greater political consensus and a popularly elected government, and to replace the extortions of the mullahs with the return of day-to-day parliamentary politics. The army created a political vacuum in which extremism has thrived. Pakistan needs a return to civil society and government.

And the danger, of course is that Rashid's recommended center won't hold and Pakistan enters an ever sharpening spiral of extremism that will make events in Iraq look like a English tea party on a summer's day. One hopes that it won't happen, but if it does, then perhaps the experience in Iraq will have provided some idea on the ways to manage the crisis within and without Islam's borders.

Update

For an interesting briefing on the role of Pakistan in regional instability on the subcontinent from an Indian point of view, watch Ashok Pandit's talk at Rice University.

25 Comments:

Blogger Doug said...

The Waziristan Ceasefire
---
Who's on first?

3/22/2007 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The continuing Talibanization of the Northwest Frontier Province

NWFP/FATA map. Red agencies are openly controlled by the Taliban; yellow are under threat. Click map to view.

The settled district of Kohat goes yellow, others likely to follow

The Talibanization of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province, beyond the tribal agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies, is a disturbing trend that continues unchecked by the Pakistani government.

3/22/2007 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

Funny things going on in Washington…a response to DANIEL HENNINGER

A little glance back at history....fun fun fun till the daddy takes the T-Bird away!

3/22/2007 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Justice in the dock

Nevertheless, what is more likely to have brought Chaudhary down is that he was bold enough to try to make the military elite answerable in the court of law.

The hunt for missing people
Thousands of people are believed to have been thrown into secret detention facilities in Pakistan without ever being brought to trial, especially those rounded up in the name of the "war on terror".

Many of the detentions have occurred in the restive province of Balochistan, where Pakistan's Military Intelligence has picked up hundreds of youths suspected of affiliation with the separatist and shadowy Baloch Liberation Army.

3/23/2007 12:39:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Bad mental image of the post-Musharraf Leader and new Head Cleric of Pakistan giving Ayman al-Zawahiri a tour of Pakistan's religious strategic stockpile.

"Ah, 50 kilotons, you say. I do not know what tritium-boosting is, but they are all so much smaller than I thought. Allah's little jewels.."

3/23/2007 12:43:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Cedarford,

That is indeed a disturbing thought, and not an impossible one.

3/23/2007 12:52:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

If you watch the video link you'll come across an interesting reference to the charge that China and Pakistan have both pinched off parts of Kashmir and are shipping each other nuclear and ballistic missile materiel over the Karakoram highway, with the participation of North Korea.

Also, don't miss the long and illuminating description of the Arab/Pakistani groups operating in Kashmir, which makes Pakistan appear to be Jihad Central. Not that Pakistan itself is the center of contagion, though it appears to be a center: but the nexus between the "Arabs" and the Pakistanis appears to have created the Global Jihad.

If Pakistan has an upheaval, the stakes will be at least as high as during the challenge to the Shah.

3/23/2007 01:02:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

One Year Ago
Doug said...
'Rat 10:22 AM,
What no one seems to want to address, or admit, is what kind of freaking situation we'll be facing with the inevitable end to the temporary Gen Mushhie Respite.
---
Can't you just see old bin Laden coming on Pakistan TV w/nuke tipped missiles to back up his S... this time?
---
Obviously an exageration, at the time, but with NO effective action taken against the relocated Taliban in some time, who knows what more time will bring?

3/23/2007 02:24:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Steyn
It’s clear to me that when you talk to senior police and intelligence figures in Britain, they have got a ton of people under surveillance, they’ve got a bunch of people they’ve been watching for a long time. What’s not clear is whether their political masters have the will to do anything about it.


HHewitt: Yeah, in fact, they arrested two of these at the Manchester airport when they were due to fly to Pakistan. The third was then arrested at a house in Leeds, my assumption being that he would have been tipped immediately.


MS: Yeah.


HH: So hopefully, they have been using that surveillance to follow up on the other things.


MS: Yeah, and actually, that plane route from the United Kingdom to Pakistan has become absolutely the sort of key funnel between the jihad and the West.

If you had to name a single flight route that’s the most important one for the jihadists in the world, it’s the UK to Pakistan.

Transcript

3/23/2007 02:31:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Genocide against hindus perpetrated by Islamic militants in Kashmir.

Islamic terrorism was a truth long before America experienced 9/11

3/23/2007 04:02:00 AM  
Blogger PapaBear said...

wretchard,
I've been seeing indications since just after 9/11 that the Chinese are up to their necks in the "Global Jihad".

From the Chinese viewpoint, it makes a lot of sense: let the US exhaust itself fighting the Jihad, leaving us too weak to oppose China when China makes its move.

The Jihad is a threat to the US. But once the US is neutralized, the Jihad will not be a threat to China, if China is willing to engage in wholescale genocide to suppress it. Lets not forget how many millions of Chinese the Party was happy to kill in order to obtain and maintain power

3/23/2007 05:32:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Musharraf has been dancing with the devil for too long. Sooner or later his efforts to thread the needle will come to an ignominious end. The strong man has held together a newly arrived nuclear power and teeters on the brink of a new democracy or a new Caliphate. The Islamists must see an opportunity for the later while India and the West see an opportunity for calamity.

The debacle in Iraq has held a shining light to the aspirations of the Islamists and Iran. It seems unlikely that a moderate democratic populace could overcome an ascendant militant Islam.

3/23/2007 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

North Korea is one seriously toxic entity!

3 years on mountain-tops, ears deep inside NorK, and I can't BEGIN to tell y'all how nasty that place is!

Thanks for the link, Wretchard.

3/23/2007 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

This increases the importance of India.

3/23/2007 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Abu Yussif said...

you have to know that since the war in afghanistan began america has had a contigency plan if/when pakistan becomes ruled by someone who actually reflects the will of the people there. in osme ways, the war on terror might become a little less complicated if pakistan turns openly and aggressively hostile to america. it's not a pretty thought, though.

3/23/2007 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 03/23/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

3/23/2007 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

If history repeats itself (that is, if General Musharraf is to Pakistan what Admiral Horthy was to Hungary), the result of his overthrow would be horrific.

When the Arrow Cross Party took over Hungary, it went to special lengths to ensure the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. Since there aren't that many Jews to annihilate in Pakistan, the ISI-led government would likely target Christians, Ahmadis, Baha'is, Sikhs, and especially Shi'ites.

A campaign of genocide against Shi'ites in Pakistan would put the Iranian government into a precarious position, for the Iranian government's legitimacy is based upon being the standard bearer for Shi'ism. The Iranian government would be predisposed to do nothing to help its Shi'ite brethren in Pakistan and keep its warm relations with al-Qaeda intact. Yet, Shi'ite public opinion is unlikely to look favorably on the Iranian government if it does nothing, especially if it compares unfavorably to efforts by western countries (or India!) to save the lives of Shi'ites slated for death.

As horrible as the ISI has been (and probably will be), it has served as the connective tissue of the Pakistani state. Without the Pakistani military, and the ISI in particular, Pakistan would be unable to hold itself together. If Pakistan splinters, it would be wise to promote Afghan control over the Northwest Frontier Province, Indian control over Kashmir, and recognition of the independent states of Punjab, Sindh, and Baluchistan. (Considering the number of Baluchs in Afghanistan, Baluchistan may wish to join the Afghan Confederation.)

3/23/2007 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger JimMtnViewCa said...

Can't agree more about the danger to India. I remember reading a chilling article in The Atlantic (5 years ago?) about Pakistani attitudes towards using their nuclear weapons.

3/23/2007 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"This increases the importance of India."
---
Amen to that, ex Helo.
Why give the Pakis 50 more F-16s?
---
The video Wretch links says the Indians and Chicoms work together in other areas, but NOT in Kashmir.
...the Pakis mostly work with nobody but Sauds and Taliban.
And of course Uncle Sucker.

3/23/2007 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Abu,
"you have to know that since the war in afghanistan began america has had a contigency plan if/when pakistan becomes ruled by someone who actually reflects the will of the people there."

They have plans for virtually every contingency you can think of, and are constantly updating them.

3/23/2007 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

The jihadis are not capable of running even a semi-modern state like Pakistan. The more ideological the cadre running the show the more professional bureaucrats will be eliminated and the less capable the cadre will become. A jihadi run Pakistan would quickly become a self defeating circle of ignorance that would devolve the entire country into chaos and poverty. Chances are that neither the ISI nor the military would willingly allow that to happen.

3/23/2007 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

New version of "The Exodus"
Wikipedia-Style:

"Today, after the exodus of the Hindus in the 1990s, Kashmir valley is 99% Muslim.
There is still a significant Kashmiri Hindu presence in some regions of Jammu (Jammu is the winter capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Srinagar is the summer capital).

The First Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, was of Kashmiri lineage. Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif is of Kashmiri lineage as was Allama Iqbal, the famous Urdu poet."

3/23/2007 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Cedarford: "Ah, 50 kilotons, you say. I do not know what tritium-boosting is, but they are all so much smaller than I thought. Allah's little jewels.."

India tested in 1974, so Shiva's got more little jewels and a lot more options in the way of delivering them than Allah.

3/23/2007 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Pakistan, Jamaica, Scotland Yards

3/24/2007 05:39:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I wonder what India intends to do about all this Pakistani crap?

3/24/2007 08:14:00 PM  

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