Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Musharraf to doff his uniform shortly

But he'll keep his suit. The Times Online explains that Musharraf will no longer head the army. But he'll continue to run the country as a civilian president.

President Musharraf of Pakistan has decided to resign as Army chief by the end of the week, it emerged today. ... Today, the court rejected the first five of six legal challenges to his continued rule. After sustained domestic and international pressure, General Musharraf has already said he will quit as Army chief once the court gives him the green light to serve a second term.

Meanwhile it is not just the United States that is trying to shape political developments in Pakistan. The New York Times Musharraf is visiting Saudi Arabia to discuss the Kingdom's preferred alternative to Benazir Bhutto.

In his first trip out of the country since declaring emergency rule, the Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to discuss the future of one of his main political rivals, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who lives in exile there.

Saudi Arabia, one of Pakistan’s closest allies, has indicated that Mr. Sharif should be allowed to return to his homeland to participate in parliamentary elections, Pakistani officials and Western diplomats said.

The Saudis have argued, diplomats said, that since Pakistan allowed a secular female leader, Benazir Bhutto, to return from self-imposed exile, then Mr. Sharif, a more conservative and religiously inclined leader, should be permitted to come back, too.

General Musharraf toppled Mr. Sharif in a bloodless coup in October 1999 and sent him into exile soon afterward. He has become one of the general’s fiercest critics, and his return to Pakistan could present a strong political challenge to the party that backs the president and to Ms. Bhutto’s party.

Sharif is regarded as a bridge figure to the Islamist factions of Pakistan. His Wikipedia profile says:

Nawaz Sharif's downfall coincided with his secular actions such as abolishing Friday holidays, distancing him from the conservative religious right wing establishment without endearing him to secular opposition, which preferred the PPP of Benazir. Even now his frequent assurance to the west about continued cooperation is diminishing his popularity at home in conservative circles who are looking for an alternative candidate to counter the secularism of Musharraf-Benazir in the next elections.

Like many of the major players in Pakistan, Sharif tends to blur the distinction between God and Mammon. In fact, is career profile is one that any sleazebag would be glad to have: if the allegations are true.

Nawaz Sharif was also involved in corruption at the highest level during his tenure which brought further mistrust of the people towards his government. The Nawaz government launched a scheme called "Karz utaro, Mulk savaro" whose intent was to pay off debt of the nation through the Pakistani people's pockets. Pakistanis took part aggressively and emotionally to help Pakistan pay off the debt. Many Pakistanis living abroad took part in this scheme extensively and sent millions (maybe billions) to help pay off the debt. Even the poor living in the country helped, to the extent that women sold their jewelery to help the cause, but to no avail. As of this date, it is not known what happened to the funds and the national debt never decreased. It is widely believed that the scheme was to benefit Nawaz Sharif & family, and not to pay off the country's debt

In Pakistan not everything is as it seems. Recently, the man who prosecuted Nawaz Sharif was himself charged with corruption.

A Pakistani investigator whose report formed the basis of corruption allegations against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has himself been charged with misconduct. Rehman Malik, the former second-most senior police officer in Pakistan, stands accused not only of unwarranted vilification of the prime minister, but also of abusing his official position.

Mr Malik's 200-page report formed the basis of corruption allegations published in a London newspaper, The Observer, last Sunday. The paper claimed that a five-year investigation into Mr Sharif had revealed that he had massive hard currency assets abroad and had failed to declare some of them in the manner required by Pakistani law.

Mr Malik is currently thought to be in London.

The personalistic and shadowy character of Pakistani politics was illustrated in a November 11 New York Times article which suggested that the secret plan in place to secure Pakistan's nukes in case of turmoil were in effect, a personal arrangement between Musharraf and the United States. (emphasis mine)

Two years ago, when Gen. Pervez Musharraf still seemed secure in his rule over Pakistan, he was asked a question that is now urgently coursing through Washington: Are his country’s nuclear weapons safe from Islamic radicals? ...

He also talked about new physical controls over Pakistan’s many nuclear facilities, including the laboratories that were once the playground of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the national hero who established Pakistan as the hub of the biggest proliferation network in nuclear history. ...

If General Musharraf is overthrown, no one is quite sure what will happen to the team he has entrusted to safeguard the arsenal. There is some hope that the military as an institution could reliably keep things under control no matter who is in charge, but that is just a hope.

“It’s a very professional military,” said a senior American official who is trying to manage the crisis and insisted on anonymity because the White House has said this problem will not be discussed in public. “But the truth is, we don’t know how many of the safeguards are institutionalized, and how many are dependent on Musharraf’s guys.”

So if Nawaz Sharif or Benazir come into power, does that mean a new contract has to be drawn up, and secretly too to avoid scandalizing Western publics? Musharraf is hardly a class act. But since the other featured players on Pakistan's political stage are Osama Bin Laden, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, Musharraf's change of costume may be the best number in a sad revue. But that's about all you can say.


Blogger Doug said...

"Sharif is regarded as a bridge figure to the Islamist factions of Pakistan."
Just what the Dr. ordered!
(Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan)

11/20/2007 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Aunt Benazir's false promises
Not exactly the Fairy Princess.

11/20/2007 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Nawaz Sharif scorns idea of talks with Musharraf - DAWN
Elections January 8, Musharraf set to quit post with military - Seattle Times
‘Thousands released’ in Pakistan, But Journalists Arrested - BBC

11/20/2007 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Well, plenty of Generals have turned into Presidents. Washington, Ol' Hickory and Ike come to mind.

Of course, no one considered them any less Generals just because they did public service as Top Suit aka President.

It can work out okay.

11/20/2007 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Westhawk comments on American options in Pakistan.

What should the U.S. do should Pakistan fall to the Islamists? The U.S. should treat it as an adversary, just as it did with the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Iran, etc. As for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, even Messrs. Kagan and O’Hanlon argue there is little the U.S. can do directly about their security. If a hypothetical Islamist government in Pakistan wished to flirt with nuclear terrorism, the U.S. response should include a strict blockade of the country, the certain threat of devastating retaliation, and the prospect of punitive raids when they could accomplish something for U.S. interests.

11/20/2007 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Bill Clinton -

I blame all this on him. Khan and everything. All happened on his watch. What an idiot.

Those 2 words pretty much sum everything up.

Bill Clinton

11/20/2007 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

He had to make sense out of something that didn't, as written!:
Writing in today’s New York Times, Frederick Kagan and Michael O’Hanlon discuss
America’s military options in the wake of a possible collapse of Pakistan’s government.

The authors start off sensibly enough by describing Pakistan’s insuperable conditions:
After declaring that stabilizing Pakistan is beyond the means of the United States and its allies, the authors then go on to describe a U.S. military expedition to do just that:
Messrs. Kagan and O’Hanlon are depicting a fantasy. The best way to stir up a large-scale civil war in Pakistan and ensure Pakistan’s conquest by radical Islamists would be to inject a large Western military expeditionary force into the country. Pakistani society is substantially anti-American; a large Western army inside the heart of the country would be a dream-come-true for the Islamists.

Contrary to the authors’ assertions, the U.S. cannot accept responsibility for Pakistan’s political course.

The U.S. military has no ability to influence Pakistan’s politics and would only make matters worse if it tried.

11/20/2007 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Anthropology, Policing and Soldiering
Sam, the post above describes how Mushie partially dismantled the Paki Armed Forces ability to defend the country, also.

11/20/2007 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Attempt to rectify that:
U.S. Considers Enlisting Tribes in Pakistan
to Fight Al Qaeda

“The D.O.D. is about to start funding the Frontier Corps,”
Comment by: Cannoneer No. 4

11/20/2007 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

We need a FATWA against the FATA.

11/20/2007 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

“The D.O.D. is about to start funding the Frontier Corps,” one military official said, referring to the Department of Defense. “We have only got a portion of that requested, but it is enough to start.”

Until now, the Frontier Corps has not received American military financing because the corps technically falls under the Pakistani Interior Ministry, which is normally outside the Pentagon’s responsibility.

But American officials say the Frontier Corps is in the long term the most suitable force to combat an insurgency. The force, which since 2001 has increasingly been under the day-to-day command of Pakistani Army units, is now being expanded and trained by American advisers, diplomats said.

The training of the Frontier Corps remains a concern for some. NATO and American soldiers in Afghanistan have often blamed the Frontier Corps for aiding and abetting Taliban insurgents mounting cross-border attacks."

11/20/2007 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

Doug's objections are why we need to work with India, the party that is most at risk, on stabilizing Pakistan.

11/20/2007 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Fat Man,

We are doing better with India than we did for decades, when they were a client of the USSR. Now they do billions upon billions of dollars worth of very lucrative business with us. Money talks, bullshit walks.

11/21/2007 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Closer ties between the world's most succesful democracy (America) and the world's most populous democracy (India) make so much strategic sense that any American politician who opposes closer ties is an idiot, or has a sinister ulterior motive.

India would be a first world power rather than a third world one if Nehru hadn't crazily embraced communism, an ideology which inhibits a country's growth while simultaneously destroying its wealth and gutting a population's work-ethic.

Now that India has begun to realize what a mistake it made in the past, it will become the US's most valuable ally in the coming conflict with Red China and the new USSR unless short-sighted politicians push it back into the Soviet sphere.

11/21/2007 06:02:00 PM  

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