The Western media, in its sensational stereotyping of the coup, has largely ignored what the Pakistani people feel about the military takeover. Nawaz Sharif, the ousted prime
minister, was elected in 1996. His party enjoyed an overall majority in the parliament. He
had the golden opportunity to bring prosperity to the nation. Instead, Nawaz Sharif used
the parliamentary majority to increase his power and his wealth, and in the process
destroyed all institutions of checks and balances that are indispensible to any democracy.
He introduced amendments in the constitution which made it illegal for any party
member to express an opinion different from his or her party’s official policy.
Thus, voices of dissension from within his party were effectively strangled. When the
Supreme Court was hearing cases of corruption against Nawaz Sharif, he had his party
workers stormed the Supreme Court while it was in session, in order to disrupt the
proceedings and the Chief Justice was soon sacked by Nawaz Sharif. Pakistan’s President
was forced to submit his resignation. The fate of the former chief of the army was similar
to that of the President.
Nawaz Sharif did not stop there. He started to sow the seeds of dissension in the higher
echelons of the armed forces so as to render it ineffective as a check on his ambitions.
Sharif sacked the current army chief, General Pervez Musharraf, while Gen. Musharraf
was on a flight back from Sri Lanka. His plane was not even allowed to land in Pakistan –
– a step that endangered the lives of nearly 300 passengers traveling on the commercial
flight. Keep reading at LINK
aura writes; I was in South Asia in 1999 when the military coup went down in Pakistan. What bothers me and makes me suspicious is the manner in which the western media always refers to the coup. They report it as if it was unfair and unreasonable, which it wasn’t. There was popular support among the Pakistani people for the coup at the time and Sharif had made a power grab the likes of which the world hadn’t seen since George W. Bush arrived in the White House. What the western press doesn’t tell you is that the Pakistani military was forced to take control of the country because the elected civilian leadership was trampling all over the constitutional rights of the Pakistani people (sound familiar?) In an effort to bring the military under civilian control, Sharif sacked Musharraf while he was out of the country. Sharif had also sacked the Army chief that proceeded Musharraf, as well as the Pakistani President and Chief Justice (isn’t that special). Musharraf learned he had been sacked while on a commercial flight back from Colombo, which was carrying 300 other people. Sharif refused the flight permission to land in Pakistan and the flight was running low on fuel. Musharraf went into the cockpit and called his troops from the flight deck to arrange for his flight to land in Karachi. The army took over the Karachi airport so the flight could land instead of crash somewhere in the Indian ocean. After the flight arrived safely, Musharraf was escorted by his troops to Islamabad, where Sharif was under house arrest. Sharif would have had his neck stretched by a noose for his attempting to kill the chief of Pakistan’s army (along with innocent Pakistani civilians) had Bill Clinton not intervened to save him from the hangman’s rope.
Musharraf is now caught between a rock and a hard place. While the Pakistani military tries to remain independent, they have had to intervene and arrest the civilian leadership at times when it becomes hideously corrupt. A certain amount of corruption is expected in that part of the world, and is in fact a way of life, but sometimes it goes too far and everyone gets fed up. That’s usually when they bring out the rope. Sharif had fanned the flames of Islamic extremism to the max to consolidate political power for himself and his cronies, but that all backfired when the extremist faction turned against him after he ordered Musharraf and the Pakistani army to retreat from the Kargill (during a brief war with India in that region in the spring of 1999) under pressure from Washington. That move lost Sharif the support of his extremist base, who are bound and determined to win Kashmir back from India. In order to defer blame for the Kargil debacle and win back his base, Sharif tried to blame the decision on Musharraf, which infuriated the army chief and the military’s rank and file, which did not want to retreat from Kargil (war). The military begrudgingly obeyed the Sharif’s civilian government at the time and quit Kargil in a humiliating retreat. Despite that embarrassment of the Pakistani military, it did not immediately move to depose Sharif until he sacked Musharrah in absensia and replaced him with a handpicked political minion from the ISI. And tried to intentionally cause Musharraf’s untimely death by plane crash.
In order to prevent infighting between rival Islamic factions, the Pakistani military strives to work with the civilian leadership to maintain a secular balance within the country. However religious factions within the ISI are aligned with the Taliban and other militant extremist operating within the country, increasing internal tensions. Sharif was aligned with the ISI faction, and amended Pakistan’s constitution to promote the implementation of Islamic law or Sharia, which was set to become the law of the land at the time he was deposed by patriotic elements within the military.
The primary focus of militant extremists within Pakistan is to win Kashmir back from India, not to attack the west because of our freedom (as the western media would have us believe). Militant attacks on the Indian state of Kashmir have actually gone down under Musharraf’s rule, as opposed to rising under Sharif’s.
Musharraf was in the process of cleaning up the rampant corruption taking place within the ranks of the civilian leadership when 9-11 took place. That threw a monkey wrench into his plans to reform Pakistan because the US used 9-11 as an excuse to impose its will over Pakistan’s nationalistic agenda. Richard Armitage threatened to bomb Pakistan into the stone age if it didn’t go along with Washington’s war on terror by allowing the US to use Pakistan as a staging ground against Islamic militants in Afghanistan. Musharraf had little choice but to go along with the US’s strong arm tactics at the expense of his national goals in order to keep Pakistan from being reduced to rubble. However, despite the fact that Musharraf’s went along with the US war on terror because he had a gun to his head, he was reviled by many of his Taliban aligned Islamic countrymen for doing so. Many of his countrymen don’t realize that Musharraf has thus far managed to save them from the same fate that has befallen the Iraqis. Instead, Musharraf’s credibility has crumbled domestically because of his cooperation with Bush’s war on terror and now because of widespread outrage over Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. With this being the case, the question becomes how much longer will Musharraf be able to protect Pakistan from the same fate that has befallen Iraq? Musharraf’s military peers have protected him thus far because they realize he has been walking a tight rope with the Washington, staving off attack from US forces while taking billions of dollars from America, which has helped the country dig itself out of the hole its civilian leadership had put it in to begin with (which contributed to the ’99 coup). Musharraf is in fact every bit a patriot who is fighting to save his country from sliding into a western fueled anarchy. The US and its allies must tread cautiously however, because Pakistan has a million man standing army, not counting its police force, and its military controls a formidable nuclear arsenal. For this reason, Pakistan is not the cakewalk Iraq was supposed to be.
The Pakistani government is now curiously playing along with western propaganda by claiming to have evidence that Al qaida killed Ms. Bhutto, but the military undeniably wanted her out of the picture because of her alliance with western colonial powers and the threat that posed to Pakistan’s national sovereignty. Bhutto would have been prudent to remain in Dubai and not play into western hands. Who knows why she decided to throw down with their agenda at great personal risk. Perhaps to avenge the deaths of her father and brothers, or perhaps because she pined for her homeland, or maybe she simply wanted to rape the Pakistani treasury for more cash. It’s anybody’s guess. It stands to reason that Sharif may meet the same fate as Bhutto sooner rather than later. Washington seems to be getting a lot of milage out of Bhutto’s untimely demise, with the western meida and presidential candidates alike having a field day with the terror angle of the killing, a la Al qaida. It makes you wonder what the western power elite are really thinking, and something tells me it is not in the best interest of the nation of Pakistan.
6 Feb 2007, 0000 hrs IST,
Given Pakistan’s history, Pervez Musharraf might be the only man who can save that country. Here’s the case for him.
Pakistan’s descent into radicalism began on March 12, 1949, when the Constituent Assembly passed its Objectives Resolution declaring Pakistan an Islamic state.
This surprised its Hindu members (Bengalis from East Pakistan) who had been assured publicly by Jinnah that the new nation would be indifferent to religion.
Jinnah’s deputy, Liaquat Ali Khan, tabled the resolution’s Islamic provisions and won the vote by a majority of 21 to 10.
All who voted against it were Hindu. Liaquat assured the Hindus that Islamic state did not mean that only Muslims could
hold high political office.
The 1956 Constitution that this Objectives Resolution produced demanded that the state enact laws in accordance with Shariah. It also ruled that only a Muslim could be president.
All governments of Pakistan took this seriously and produced one Islamic law after another till Nawaz Sharif tried to push through his 15th amendment, which would have brought in Taliban law.
That Bill passed the lower House before floundering in the Senate where the MQM voted against it. Pakistan had earlier killed religious freedom in 1974 when its parliament passed a unanimous law banning members of the Ahmadiyya sect from referring to themselves as Muslim.
This law still exists, and is supported vocally by the ulema. The law was tabled by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who also brought prohibition to Pakistan.
The radicalisation of Pakistan has happened under democrats from Liaquat to Sharif. The only military ruler in Pakistan who Islamised society further was Zia-ul-Haq, who passed the Hudood, Qisas and Diyat laws.
Under one of them, a man may get away with killing his wife if her family accepts blood money or pardon. In another, women who were raped and could not prove that they were, would then be punished for adultery.
This law was overturned by Musharraf two months ago, in the face of opposition from conservative Muslims, Sharif’s party and the ulema.
Earlier, Musharraf retreated from attempting to reform the blasphemy law. Under this, anybody who denigrates Prophet Muhammad (or converts out of Islam) is seen as an apostate whose life is forfeited. Musharraf retreated because he got no support from political parties though Benazir Bhutto’s PPP supported the women’s law Bill.
In December 1999, the supreme court of Pakistan abolished interest under an Islamic provision called riba. Musharraf had to rig the court and get rid of its hardline judges before the judgment could be put into cold storage, and that was done amid howling opposition from the Urdu papers.
Last year he stopped Lahore high court from banning kite flying because it was ‘un-Islamic’. Today, kite flying is permitted in Lahore only for two weeks of the year and only under licence from the state government.
The majority of Pakistanis today despise Musharraf, as correctly pointed in an article (‘Musharraf’s Gamble’, Feb 8).
This is principally because of his unpopular position on the war on terror. His attempt to bring an intellectual renaissance in Islam is laughed at in the Urdu papers.
Pakistanis want their state to confront America, no matter what that means for them internally and externally.
Their retired generals write in newspapers that Pakistan should stand by the Taliban and wage war on America. No politician, who by definition is a creature of popular opinion, can resist this.
Pakistan’s popular jehad in Kashmir was waged by its army, but during the reign of Benazir and Sharif. Today, militancy related deaths in Kashmir are down to three a day from 10 a day five years ago.
Terrorism related violence in India has been dropping every year since Musharraf made his U-turn on Kashmir in a February 2002 speech following the Parliament attack. From 3,401 incidents in 2003, the figure dropped to 1,415
in 2005 and further in 2006.
Musharraf, the general who gave us Kargil, has been true to his word on containing cross-border terrorism.
For his position on Kashmir and Afghanistan, he has faced three attacks including a suicide bombing that nearly took him out.
His enemies today are the same extremists that the Pakistan army nurtured first against the Russians and then against India in Kashmir.
But they are angry with him because he has parted ways with them, not because, as Brahma Chellaney proposes, he is on their side.
He sacked or sidelined three of his closest associates from the 1999 coup – Muzaffar Hussain Usmani, Mahmoud Ahmed and
Mohammed Aziz Khan – because they could not forswear jehad.
It is true also that the Pakistan army has trained militias that terrorised India. But Musharraf and the army remain
India’s best chance of now keeping these in check.
Musharraf’s Kashmir proposals should be considered strongly by India, especially because they do not change borders
but open them up, and, most importantly, they abandon the UN resolutions and move away from a religious solution.
The secularisation of the state is not possible in Pakistan democratically, especially in an atmosphere where Muslims are convinced that the West is waging war on Islam.
“Apres moi, le’deluge”, said another monarch once. In Musharraf’s case it’s probably true. LINK
Friday December 07 2007 22:12:19 PM BDT
By Ahmed Quraishi
This is not about Musharraf anymore. This is about clipping the wings of a strong Pakistani military, denying space for China in Pakistan, squashing the ISI, stirring ethnic unrest, and neutralizing Pakistan’s nuclear program. The first shot in this plan was fired in Pakistan’s Balochistan province in 2004. The last bullet will be toppling Musharraf, sidelining the military and installing a pliant government in Islamabad. Musharraf shares the blame for letting things come this far. But he is also punching holes in Washington’s game plan.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—On the evening of Tuesday, 26 September, 2006, Pakistani strongman Pervez Musharraf walked into the studio of Comedy Central’s ‘Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart, the first sitting president anywhere to dare do this political satire show.
Stewart offered his guest some tea and cookies and played the perfect host by asking, “Is it good?” before springing a surprise: “Where’s Osama bin Laden?”
“I don’t know,” Musharraf replied, as the audience enjoyed the rare sight of a strong leader apparently cornered. ” You know where he is?” Musharraf snapped back, “You lead on, we’ll follow you.”
What Gen. Musharraf didn’t know then is that he really was being cornered. Some of the smiles that greeted him in Washington and back home gave no hint of the betrayal that awaited him.
As he completed the remaining part of his U.S. visit, his allies in Washington and elsewhere, as all evidence suggests now, were plotting his downfall. They had decided to take a page from the book of successful ‘color revolutions’ where western governments covertly used money, private media, student unions, NGOs and international pressure to stage coups, basically overthrowing individuals not fitting well with Washington’s agenda.
This recipe proved its success in former Yugoslavia, and more recently in Georgia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
In Pakistan, the target is a Pakistani president who refuses to play ball with the United States on Afghanistan, China, and Dr. A.Q. Khan.
To get rid of him, an impressive operation is underway:
A carefully crafted media blitzkrieg launched early this year assailing the Pakistani president from all sides, questioning his power, his role in Washington’s war on terror and predicting his downfall.
Money pumped into the country to pay for organized dissent.
Willing activists assigned to mobilize and organize accessible social groups.
A campaign waged on Internet where tens of mailing lists and ‘news agencies’ have sprung up from nowhere, all demonizing Musharraf and the Pakistani military.
European- and American-funded Pakistani NGOs taking a temporary leave from their real jobs to work as a makeshift anti-government mobilization machine.
U.S. government agencies directly funding some private Pakistani television networks; the channels go into an open anti-government mode, cashing in on some manufactured and other real public grievances regarding inflation and corruption.
Some of Musharraf’s shady and corrupt political allies feed this campaign, hoping to stay in power under a weakened president.
All this groundwork completed and chips in place when the judicial crisis breaks out in March 2007. Even Pakistani politicians surprised at a well-greased and well-organized lawyers campaign, complete with flyers, rented cars and buses, excellent event-management and media outreach.
Currently, students are being recruited and organized into a street movement. The work is ongoing and urban Pakistani students are being cultivated, especially using popular Internet Web sites and ‘online hangouts’. The people behind this effort are mostly unknown and faceless, limiting themselves to organizing sporadic, small student gatherings in Lahore and Islamabad, complete with banners, placards and little babies with arm bands for maximum media effect. No major student association has announced yet that it is behind these student protests, which is a very interesting fact glossed over by most journalists covering this story. Only a few students from affluent schools have responded so far and it’s not because the Pakistani government’s countermeasures are effective. They’re not. The reason is that social activism attracts people from affluent backgrounds, closely reflecting a uniquely Pakistani phenomenon where local NGOs are mostly founded and run by rich, westernized Pakistanis.
All of this may appear to be spur-of-the-moment and Musharraf-specific. But it all really began almost three years ago, when, out of the blue and recycling old political arguments, Mr. Akbar Bugti launched an armed rebellion against the Pakistani state, surprising security analysts by using rockets and other military equipment that shouldn’t normally be available to a smalltime village thug. Since then, Islamabad sits on a pile of evidence that links Mr. Bugti’s campaign to money and ammunition and logistical support from Afghanistan, directly aided by the Indians and the Karzai administration, with the Americans turning a blind eye.
For reasons not clear to our analysts yet, Islamabad has kept quiet on Washington’s involvement with anti-Pakistan elements in Afghanistan. But Pakistan did send an indirect public message to the Americans recently.
“We have indications of Indian involvement with anti-state elements in Pakistan,” declared the spokesman of the Pakistan Foreign Office in a regular briefing in October. The statement was terse and direct and the spokesman, Ms. Tasnim Aslam, quickly moved on to other issues.
This is how a Pakistani official explained Ms. Aslam’s statement: “What she was really saying is this: We know what the Indians are doing. They’ve sold the Americans on the idea that [the Indians] are an authority on Pakistan and can be helpful in Afghanistan. The Americans have bought the idea and are in on the plan, giving the Indians a free hand in Afghanistan. What the Americans don’t know is that we, too, know the Indians very well. Better still, we know Afghanistan very well. You can’t beat us at our own game.”
Mr. Bugti’s armed rebellion coincided with the Gwadar project entering its final stages. No coincidence here. Mr. Bugti’s real job was to scare the Chinese away and scuttle Chinese President Hu Jintao’s planned visit to Gwadar a few months later to formally launch the port city.
Gwadar is the pinnacle of Sino-Pakistani strategic cooperation. It’s a modern port city that is supposed to link Central Asia, western China, and Pakistan with markets in Mideast and Africa. It’s supposed to have roads stretching all the way to China. It’s no coincidence either that China has also earmarked millions of dollars to renovate the Karakoram Highway linking northern Pakistan to western China.
Some reports in the American media, however, have accused Pakistan and China of building a naval base in the guise of a commercial seaport directly overlooking international oil shipping lanes. The Indians and some other regional actors are also not comfortable with this project because they see it as commercial competition.
What Mr. Bugti’s regional and international supporters never expected is Pakistan moving firmly and strongly to nip his rebellion in the bud. Even Mr. Bugti himself probably never expected the Pakistani state to react in the way it did to his betrayal of the homeland. He was killed in a military operation where scores of his mercenaries surrendered to Pakistan army soldiers.
U.S. intelligence and their Indian advisors could not cultivate an immediate replacement for Mr. Bugti. So they moved to Plan B. They supported Abdullah Mehsud, a Pakistani Taliban fighter held for five years in Guantanamo Bay, and then handed over back to the Afghan government, only to return to his homeland, Pakistan, to kidnap two Chinese engineers working in Balochistan, one of whom was eventually killed during a rescue operation by the Pakistani government.
Islamabad could not tolerate this shadowy figure, who was creating a following among ordinary Pakistanis masquerading as a Taliban while in reality towing a vague agenda. He was rightly eliminated earlier this year by Pakistani security forces while secretly returning from Afghanistan after meeting his handlers there. Again, no surprises here.
SMELLING A RAT
This is where Pakistani political and military officials finally started smelling a rat. All of this was an indication of a bigger problem. There were growing indications that, ever since Islamabad joined Washington’s regional plans, Pakistan was gradually turning into a ‘besieged-nation’, heavily targeted by the American media while being subjected to strategic sabotage and espionage from Afghanistan.
Afghanistan, under America’s watch, has turned into a vast staging ground for sophisticated psychological and military operations to destabilize neighboring Pakistan.
During the past three years, the heat has gradually been turned up against Pakistan and its military along Pakistan’s western regions:
A shadowy group called the BLA, a Cold War relic, rose from the dead to restart a separatist war in southwestern Pakistan.
Bugti’s death was a blow to neo-BLA, but the shadowy group’s backers didn’t repent. His grandson, Brahmdagh Bugti, is currently enjoying a safe shelter in the Afghan capital, Kabul, where he continues to operate and remote-control his assets in Pakistan.
Saboteurs trained in Afghanistan have been inserted into Pakistan to aggravate extremist passions here, especially after the Red Mosque operation.
Chinese citizens continue to be targeted by individuals pretending to be Islamists, when no known Islamic group has claimed responsibility.
A succession of ‘religious rebels’ with suspicious foreign links have suddenly emerged in Pakistan over the past months claiming to be ‘Pakistani Taliban’. Some of the names include Abdul Rashid Ghazi, Baitullah Mehsud, and now the Maulana of Swat. Some of them have used and are using encrypted communication equipment far superior to what Pakistani military owns.
Money and weapons have been fed into the religious movements and al Qaeda remnants in the tribal areas.
Exploiting the situation, assets within the Pakistani media started promoting the idea that the Pakistani military was killing its own people. The rest of the unsuspecting media quickly picked up this message. Some botched American and Pakistani military operations against Al Qaeda that caused civilian deaths accidentally fed this media campaign.
This was the perfect timing for the launch of Military, Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy, a book authored by Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa Agha, a columnist for a Pakistani English-language paper and a correspondent for ‘Jane’s Defence Weekly’, a private intelligence service founded by experts close to the British intelligence.
TARGET: PAK MILITARY
The book was launched in Pakistan in early 2007 by Oxford Press. And, contrary to most reports, it is openly available in Islamabad’s biggest bookshops. The book portrays the Pakistani military as an institution that is eating up whatever little resources Pakistan has.
Pakistani military’s successful financial management, creating alternate financial sources to spend on a vast military machine and build a conventional and nuclear near-match with a neighboring adversary five times larger – an impressive record for any nation by any standard – was distorted in the book and reduced to a mere attempt by the military to control the nation’s economy in the same way it was controlling its politics.
The timing was interesting. After all, it was hard to defend a military in the eyes of its own proud people when the chief of the military is ruling the country, the army is fighting insurgents and extremists who claim to be defending Islam, grumpy politicians are out of business, and the military’s side businesses, meant to feed the nation’s military machine, are doing well compared to the shabby state of the nation’s civilian departments.
A closer look at Ms. Siddiqa, the author, revealed disturbing information to Pakistani officials. In the months before launching her book, she was a frequent visitor to India where, as a defense expert, she cultivated important contacts. On her return, she developed friendship with an Indian lady diplomat posted in Islamabad. Both of these activities – travel to India and ties to Indian diplomats – are not a crime in Pakistan and don’t raise interest anymore. Pakistanis are hospitable and friendly people and these qualities have been amply displayed to the Indians during the four-year-old peace process.
What is interesting is that Ms. Siddiqa left her car in the house of the said Indian diplomat during one of her recent trips to London. And, according to a report, she stayed in London at a place owned by an individual linked to the Indian lady diplomat friend in Islamabad.
The point here is this: Who assigned her to investigate the Pakistani Armed Forces and present a distorted image of a proud an efficient Pakistani institution?
From 1988 to 2001, Dr. Siddiqa worked in the Pakistan civil service, the Pakistani civil bureaucracy. Her responsibilities included dealing with Military Accounts, which come under the Pakistan Ministry of Defense. She had thirteen years of rich experience in dealing with the budgetary matters of the Pakistani military and people working in this area.
Dr. Siddiqa received a year-long fellowship to research and write a book in the United States. There are strong indications that some of her Indian contacts played a role in arranging financing for her book project through a paid fellowship. The final manuscript of her book was vetted at a publishing office in New Delhi.
All of these details are insignificant if detached from the real issue at hand. And the issue is the demonization of the Pakistani military as an integral part of the media siege around Pakistan, with the American media leading the way in this campaign.
Some of the juicy details of this campaign include:
The attempt by Dr. Siddiqa to pitch junior officers against senior officers in Pakistan Armed Forces by alleging discrimination in the distribution of benefits. Apart from being malicious and unfounded, her argument was carefully designed to generate frustration and demoralize Pakistani soldiers.
The American media insisting on handing over Dr. A. Q. Khan to the United States so that a final conviction against the Pakistani military can be secured.
Mrs. Benazir Bhutto demanding after returning to Pakistan that the ISI be restructured; and in a press conference during her house arrest in Lahore in November she went as far as asking Pakistan army officers to revolt against the army chief, a damning attempt at destroying a professional army from within.
Some of this appears to be eerily similar to the campaign waged against the Pakistani military in 1999, when, in July that year, an unsigned full page advertisement appeared in major American newspapers with the following headline: “A Modern Rogue Army With Its Finger On The Nuclear Button.”
Till this day, it is not clear who exactly paid for such an expensive newspaper full-page advertisement. But one thing is clear: the agenda behind that advertisement is back in action.
Strangely, just a few days before Mrs. Bhutto’s statements about restructuring the ISI and her open call to army officers to stage a mutiny against their leadership, the American conservative magazine The Weekly Standard interviewed an American security expert who offered similar ideas:
“A large number of ISI agents who are responsible for helping the Taliban and al Qaeda should be thrown in jail or killed. What I think we should do in Pakistan is a parallel version of what Iran has run against us in Iraq: giving money [and] empowering actors. Some of this will involve working with some shady characters, but the alternative—sending U.S. forces into Pakistan for a sustained bombing campaign—is worse.” Steve Schippert, Weekly Standard, Nov. 2007.
In addition to these media attacks, which security experts call ‘psychological operations’, the American media and politicians have intensified over the past year their campaign to prepare the international public opinion to accept a western intervention in Pakistan along the lines of Iraq and Afghanistan:
Newsweek came up with an entire cover story with a single storyline: Pakistan is a more dangerous place than Iraq.
Senior American politicians, Republican and Democrat, have argued that Pakistan is more dangerous than Iran and merits similar treatment. On 20 October, senator Joe Biden told ABC News that Washington needs to put soldiers on the ground in Pakistan and invite the international community to join in. “We should be in there,” he said. “We should be supplying tens of millions of dollars to build new schools to compete with the madrassas . We should be in there building democratic institutions. We should be in there, and get the rest of the world in there, giving some structure to the emergence of, hopefully, the reemergence of a democratic process.”
The International Crisis Group (ICG) has recommended gradual sanctions on Pakistan similar to those imposed on Iran, e.g. slapping travel bans on Pakistani military officers and seizing Pakistani military assets abroad.
The process of painting Pakistan’s nuclear assets as pure evil lying around waiting for some do-gooder to come in and ‘secure’ them has reached unprecedented levels, with the U.S. media again depicting Pakistan as a nation incapable of protecting its nuclear installations. On 22 October, Jane Harman from the U.S. House Intelligence panel gave the following statement: “I think the U.S. would be wise – and I trust we are doing this – to have contingency plans [to seize Pakistan ‘s nuclear assets], especially because should [Musharraf] fall, there are nuclear weapons there.”
The American media has now begun discussing the possibility of Pakistan breaking up and the possibility of new states of ‘Balochistan’ and ‘Pashtunistan’ being carved out of it. Interestingly, one of the first acts of the shady Maulana of Swat after capturing a few towns was to take down the Pakistani flag from the top of state buildings and replacing them with his own party flag.
The ‘chatter’ about President Musharraf’s eminent fall has also increased dramatically in the mainly American media, which has been very generous in marketing theories about how Musharraf might “disappear” or be “removed” from the scene. According to some Pakistani analysts, this could be an attempt to prepare the public opinion for a possible assassination of the Pakistani president.
Another worrying thing is how American officials are publicly signaling to the Pakistanis that Mrs. Benazir Bhutto has their backing as the next leader of the country. Such signals from Washington are not only a kiss of death for any public leader in Pakistan, but the Americans also know that their actions are inviting potential assassins to target Mrs. Bhutto. If she is killed in this way, there won’t be enough time to find the real culprit, but what’s certain is that unprecedented international pressure will be placed on Islamabad while everyone will use their local assets to create maximum internal chaos in the country. A dress rehearsal of this scenario has already taken place in October when no less than the U.N. Security Council itself intervened to ask the international community to “assist” in the investigations into the assassination attempt on Mrs. Bhutto on 18 October. This generous move was sponsored by the U.S. and, interestingly, had no input from Pakistan which did not ask for help in investigations in the first place.
Some Pakistani security analysts privately say that American ‘chatter’ about Musharraf or Bhutto getting killed is a serious matter that can’t be easily dismissed. Getting Bhutto killed can generate the kind of pressure that could result in permanently putting the Pakistani military on a back foot, giving Washington enough room to push for installing a new pliant leadership in Islamabad.
Having Musharraf killed isn’t a bad option either. The unknown Islamists can always be blamed and the military will not be able to put another soldier at the top, and circumstances will be created to ensure that either Mrs. Bhutto or someone like her is eased into power.
The Americans are very serious this time. They cannot let Pakistan get out of their hands. They have been kicked out of Uzbekistan last year, where they were maintaining bases. They are in trouble in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran continues to be a mess for them and Russia and China are not making it any easier. Pakistan must be ‘secured’ at all costs.
This is why most Pakistanis have never seen American diplomats in Pakistan active like this before. And it’s not just the current U.S. ambassador, who has added one more address to her other most-frequently-visited address in Karachi, Mrs. Bhutto’s house. The new address is the office of GEO, one of two news channels shut down by Islamabad for not signing the mandatory code-of-conduct. Thirty-eight other channels are operating and no one has censored the newspapers. But never mind this. The Americans have developed a ‘thing’ for GEO. No solace of course for ARY, the other banned channel.
Now there’s also one Bryan Hunt, the U.S. consul general in Lahore, who wears the national Pakistani dress, the long shirt and baggy trousers, and is moving around these days issuing tough warnings to Islamabad and to the Pakistani government and to President Musharraf to end emergency rule, resign as army chief and give Mrs. Bhutto access to power.
So what should Pakistan do in the face of such a structured campaign to bring Pakistan down on its knees and forcibly install a pro-Washington administration in Islamabad ?
There is increasing talk in Islamabad these days about Pakistan’s new tough stand in the face of this malicious campaign.
As a starter, Islamabad blew the wind out of the visit of Mr. John Negroponte, the no. 2 man in the U.S. State Department, who came to Pakistan last week “to deliver a tough message” to the Pakistani president. Musharraf, to his credit, told him he won’t end emergency rule until all objectives are achieved.
These objectives include:
Cleaning up our northern and western parts of the country of all foreign operatives and their domestic pawns.
Ensuring that Washington’s plan for regime-change doesn’t succeed.
Purging the Pakistani media of all those elements that were willing or unwilling accomplices in the plan to destabilize the country.
Musharraf has also told Washington publicly that “Pakistan is more important than democracy or the constitution.” This is a bold position. This kind of boldness would have served Musharraf a lot had it come a little earlier. But even now, his media management team is unable to make the most out of it.
Washington will not stand by watching as its plan for regime change in Islamabad goes down the drain. In case the Americans insist on interfering in Pakistani affairs, Islamabad , according to my sources, is looking at some tough measures:
Cutting off oil supplies to U.S. military in Afghanistan. Pakistani officials are already enraged at how Afghanistan has turned into a staging ground for sabotage in Pakistan. If Islamabad continues to see Washington acting as a bully, Pakistani officials are seriously considering an announcement where Pakistan, for the first time since October 2001, will deny the United States use of Pakistani soil and air space to transport fuel to Afghanistan.
Reviewing Pakistan’s role in the war on terror. Islamabad needs to fight terrorists on its border with Afghanistan. But our methods need to be different to Washington’s when it comes to our domestic extremists. This is where Islamabad parts ways with Washington. Pakistani officials are conisdering the option of withdrawing from the war on terror while maintining Pakistan’s own war against the terrorists along Afghanistan’s border.
Talks with the Taliban. Pakistan has no quarrel with Afghanistan’s Taliban. They are Kabul’s internal problem. But if reaching out to Afghan Taliban’s Mullah Omar can have a positive impact on rebellious Pakistani extremists, then this step should be taken. The South Koreans can talk to the Taliban. Karzai has also called for talks with them. It is time that Islamabad does the same.
The Americans have been telling everyone in the world that they have paid Pakistan $10 billion dollars over the past five years. They might think this gives them the right to decide Pakistan’s destiny. What they don’t tell the world is how Pakistan’s help secured for them their biggest footprint ever in energy-rich Central Asia.
If they forget, Islamabad can always remind them by giving them the same treatment that Uzbekistan did last year.
Courtesy : http://www.ahmedquraishi.com
28 Dec 2007, 1208 hrs IST,PT/ISLAMABAD: Doctors at a Rawalpindi hospital struggled for over half-an-hour to revive former Pakistan Premier Benazir Bhutto after she was shot by a suicide attacker, before declaring her dead.
A report sent by the Rawalpindi General Hospital to the Punjab provincial government said all efforts by its doctors to revive Bhutto failed and she was declared dead 41 minutes after she was brought to the emergency department at 5.35 pm local time.
The hospital’s report said Bhutto had open wounds on her left temporal bone from which “brain matter was exuding”. It said she was not breathing when she was brought to hospital and her pulse and blood pressure “were not recordable”.
It said Bhutto was taken to the operation theatre where “immediate resuscitation was started” by a team of doctors headed by the principal of the Rawalpindi Medical College. LINK
WASHINGTON: Two US lawmakers scheduled to meet with former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and President Pervez Musharraf were advised to leave the country after Bhutto’s assassination.
Senator Arlen Specter, a Republican, said in a telephone interview from his Islamabad hotel room that he and Rep Patrick Kennedy, a Democrat, were to dine with Musharraf and meet later on Thursday night with Bhutto.
He said he heard about the attack on Bhutto as he was dressing for the dinner with Musharraf.
“Our foreign policy had relied on her presence as a stabilising force,” Specter said, emotionally describing her death as “a real, real, real shock.”
“I knew her personally …. She was, as you know, glamorous, beautiful, smart,” he said. “Her loss is a setback. But you have to face what is. And now without her we have to regroup.”
Bhutto was shot to death yesterday in a suicide attack that also killed at least 20 others during a campaign rally in Rawalpindi. She served twice as Pakistan’s prime minister between 1988 and 1996 and had returned to Pakistan from an eight-year exile on October 18 to seek the office again.
After learning that she was dead, Specter, Kennedy and Anne Patterson, the US ambassador to Pakistan, went to Bhutto’s campaign headquarters and laid flowers there under her photo.
“They were crying and they were sobbing,” Specter said, describing the people there.
Specter described the atmosphere in Islamabad as unsettling, saying he felt apprehensive about being an American there out at night. LINK
Artist Anoushka Shankar performs at an event in New York (PTI Photo).
Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to return home from exile next month. (AFP)
US soldiers from Camp Warhorse near Baghdad go via chopper on intelligence gathering mission (AP).
Condolence prayers offered at symbolic grave memorializing victims of Hyderabad bombing. (PTI)