Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pakistan: Musharaf's Balancing Act in Trouble

By now, most of you know that the siege of the radical Islamist Red Mosque, the Lal Masjid has ended with over 100 people dead, including Taliban cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi.

Pakistani troops, after a protracted siege ended up storming the building with great loss of life.

I deliberately haven't been reporting on this story because I wanted to see what effect this would have on Pakistan and Musharaf as a whole.

The immediate effects appear to be an increase of support for the Musharraf regime from the Bush Administration, who had been pressuring Musharraf to crack down on the Taliban/Al-Qaeda influence in Pakistan - and a major deterioration in his standing with the Pakistani public and with al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Musharraf is already in trouble at home because of his bungled attempts to fire the country's chief justice and ram through illicit `elections'.

About 500 people chanting "Death to Musharraf!" rallied for an hour Wednesday in the northwest frontier city of Peshawar."This (mosque attack) is part of our government's action against religious elements to please America," said Shabbir Khan, a lawmaker from an opposition Islamic party, at the demonstration.

About 15 other Islamic opposition lawmakers gathered in front of the Supreme Court in Islamabad, blaming Musharraf for Pakistan's troubles, including the mosque attack, and calling for his resignation.

Musharraf has been playing a double game for a very long time, posing as an ally of Washington (and pocketing $10 billion dollars worth of US aid in the process)and making occasional forays against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda when pressured to do so, while allowing them a safe have in Waziristan and looking the other way when they attack US troops in Afghanistan across the border.

Pakistan was a close ally of the Taliban government in Afghanistan before our invasion.And Pakistan,of course not only had and has nuclear weapons, but it made a policy of their proliferation to rogue nations like Iran through Pakistani scientist A.Q, Khan....whom Musharraf still won't allow American agents to question. As a matter of fact, neither Khan nor any of the top ringleaders of his Nukes-R-Us operation have ever been brought to trial.

Instead of invading them as he did Iraq, President Bush decided to try the `hearts and minds' approach with Mubarrak, with the sort of conflicted results I've described.

The Red Mosque is hardly the only hardline mosque in the country, and it's obvious to me that Musharraf intended the fireworks to take some of the spotlight off of his ongoing political problems resulting from his silly attempt to oust Pakistan's chief justice..with the nice side benefit of looking good in Washington's eyes.

He appears to have miscalculated.

Sheik Ayaman Zawahiri,Al-Qaeda's number 2 released a new videotape on today calling for Pakistanis to wage holy war against the Musharraf regime, in revenge for the attack on the mosque.

"Muslims of Pakistan: your salvation is only through Jihad," al-Zawahri said in the video, which was subtitled in English.

"Rigged elections will not save you, politics will not save you, and bargaining, bootlicking, negotiations with the criminals, and political maneuvers will not save you."

"Musharraf and his hunting dogs have rubbed your honor in the dirt in the service of the Crusaders and the Jews."( always the Joooos with these people! ff)

Al-Zawahri described imam Abdul Rashid Ghazi's death as a "dirty, despicable crime committed by Pakistani military intelligence" on the orders of Musharraf.

"This crime can only be washed away by repentance or blood."

This may very well mean that Musharraf's treaty with Al Qeada and the Taliban is history...and given how entrenched and popular they are in Pakistan, we could be talking civil war.

Just a quick reminder....unlike Iran, Pakistan already has an ongoing nuclear weapons aresenal,complete with operational cruise missiles.

Musharraf, by the way, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt yesterday when an anti-aircraft missile was fired at his helicopter.....and just missed him.

If Musharraf leaves ( horizontally or otherwise) we are going to have to do what the Bush Administration has been avoiding for years and should have done a long time decisively with Pakistan


Anonymous said...

An invasion of Pakistan? You got to be joking.

I much prefer the clinton method of lobbing a few cruise missilles every now and then for this particular situation.

Freedom Fighter said...

hi Nazar!
How are you?

I might point out that there are lots of ways to deal with countries like Pakistan decisively that don't involve invading.

don't let the Bush Admnistration;s fiasco in Iraq warp your perpectives.

There is severe diplomatic pressure (also known to us laymen as threats) designed to get them to pick sides instead of being allowed to play both ends against the middle.

There are also trade and economic embargoes, punitive raids that take out things like nuclear facilities, valuable infrastructure and bodies, there's regime change like we did in places like Guatemala in the 1950's..

And ultimately,there's the option of turning the place into a wasteland.

Before we invaded Iraq,president Bush was given two detailed plans.

One, by the much-maligned Donald Rumsfeld involved bombing the crap out of Saddam,leveling his suspected WMD facilities and other targets, killing a whole bunch of people, ala Reagan and other words,pulling his fangs and not invading.

The second plan, by Clinton CIA Director George Tenent and then SS Colin Powell was the one that involved the fantasy of invading and converting Iraq into a model of `Arab democracy.'

Bush picked the second one..and then put Rumsfeld in charge of implemeting it, with the facilities, troops and preparation we had on hand at the time.

I think we've seen how that turned out.