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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pakistan : Breaking the cycle

PAKISTAN : BREAKING THE CYCLE
Mike Ghouse, November 11, 2007
There is a paradigm shift in making. The US Foreign policy thinking is toying with the idea of supporting the Pakistan people as opposed to the Pakistan Government, i.e., from Musharraf Policy to Pakistan Policy. The only way to put bad policies out of circulation is to advance pragmatic sustainable ideas.

The hallmark of democracy is to give value to opinions, and the sign of civility is to debate, as to how an idea is good in the long haul, at the end of the game, all will own the idea, as the idea would have developed with input from participating members. The best policy is "our policy" and not "my policy". Let's work on our language to be inclusive and goal oriented.

An acknowledgement is being made about our failed policies in Iran, Afghanistan and else where. A new policy may be taking shape that is going to be people centered, and Insha Allah, it should bring some positive results to our interests and the interests of Pakistan.

Any policy equation that has one party taking advantage of the other will boomerang. That is the moment you are down, the one that you took advantage of before is ready to jump on you. Any such advantage is deleterious to lasting peace or sustaining the relationship and thus, the cycle continues. Only the one with power can break that cycle with a full sense of justice, justice for one and all, other wise it will fail.

President Musharraf, like many other generals, monarchs and dictators made an assumption of eternity of one's life. It is embarrassing to hear President Bush, Senator Biden and others repeat "He is going to take the uniform down" - it is like stripping him in public.

President Musharraf is clean, he has a good heart and a soul, he means good for Pakistan and he has not robbed her wealth. However, he needs to be in touch with the public, he has shielded himself with Chamchas (Yes men) who adore him and tell him "sir, every thing is going just the way you wanted", don't worry, we will show them, we have the power" kind of talk. It is these people that will cause a loss of a potentially a good leader to Pakistan. President Musharraf should listen to the heroes of Pakistan, the ones who are risking their lives on the street to restore the nation to her people. They lawyers and the journalists, they will speak the truth, although they may be motivated by politics of other kind.

President Musharraf can restore his grace and dignity by going to the Pakistani Public and assuring them that he is not for life and that he has made mistakes, which he will restore the court system and he will let the media report with full freedom, and the emergency will be lifted. His intentions are good and he is not afraid of any inquiry. He has got to lay out the plan what he is going to do.

If he can do that, I am certain, the public trust in him will increase and he will have a say in the future of Pakistan. The Pakistani public is moderate and will honor him for being truthful. He has got to do that, or else, he will be made to do it. If he fails to do that, he will be asked to strip and he will have no choice but to oblige, one item at a time and then he may have to seek asylum at Crawford Ranch.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the www.FoundationforPluralism.com and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of the www.WorldMuslimCongress.com with a simple theme: "Good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com

_____________ 7 PERSPECTIVES _____________

  1. Democracy’s Root: Diversity By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
  2. Pressure builds as Bhutto pushes ahead to endgame - Peter Beaumont
  3. Bhutto’s Persona Raises Distrust, as Well as Hope - Juan Perez
  4. Trust Us, So, What About Those Nukes? By DAVID E. SANGER
  5. U.S. military aid to Pakistan misses its Al Qaeda target - Greg Miller
  6. Pakistani Leader Calls for January Polls - Munir Ahmed
  7. Breaking the cycle - Mike Ghouse

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Democracy’s Root: Diversity

    By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

    Published: November 11, 2007
    Last Tuesday, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia met Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican — the first audience ever by the head of the Catholic Church with a Saudi monarch. The Saudi king gave the pope two gifts: a golden sword studded with jewels, and a gold and silver statue depicting a palm tree and a man riding a camel.
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    Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
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    The BBC reported that the pope “admired the statue but merely touched the sword.” I think it is a great thing these two men met, and that King Abdullah came bearing gifts. But what would have really caught my attention — and the world’s — would have been if King Abdullah had presented the pope with something truly daring: a visa.

    You see, the king of Saudi Arabia, also known as the Keeper of the Two Holy Mosques of Mecca and Medina, can visit the pope in the Vatican. But the pope can’t visit the king of Saudi Arabia in the Vatican of Islam — Mecca. Non-Muslims are not allowed there. Moreover, it is illegal to build a church, a synagogue or a Hindu or Buddhist temple in Saudi Arabia, or to practice any of these religions publicly.

    As BBCnews.com noted, “some Christian worship services are held secretly, but the government has been known to crack down on them, or deport Filipino workers if they hold even private services. ... The Saudi authorities cite a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad that only Islam can be practiced in the Arabian Peninsula.”

    I raise this point because the issue of diversity — how and under what conditions should “the other” be tolerated — is roiling the Muslim world today, from Lebanon to Iraq to Pakistan. More churches and mosques have been blown up in the past few years than any time I can remember.

    A senior French official suggested to me that maybe we in the West, rather than trying to promote democracy in the Middle East — a notion tainted by its association with the very Western powers that once colonized the region — should be focusing on promoting diversity, which has historical roots in the area.

    It’s a valid point. The very essence of democracy is peaceful rotations of power, no matter whose party or tribe is in or out. But that ethic does not apply in most of the Arab-Muslim world today, where the political ethos remains “Rule or Die.” Either my group is in power or I’m dead, in prison, in exile or lying very low. But democracy is not about majority rule; it is about minority rights. If there is no culture of not simply tolerating minorities, but actually treating them with equal rights, real democracy can’t take root.

    But respect for diversity is something that has to emerge from within a culture. We can hold a free and fair election in Iraq, but we can’t inject a culture of diversity. America and Europe had to go through the most awful civil wars to give birth to their cultures of diversity. The Arab-Muslim world will have to go through the same internal war of ideas.

    I just returned from India, which just celebrated 60 years of democracy. Pakistan, right next door, is melting down. Yet, they are basically the same people — they look alike, they eat the same food, they dress alike. But there is one overriding difference: India has a culture of diversity. India is now celebrating 60 years of democracy precisely because it is also celebrating millennia of diversity, including centuries of Muslim rule.

    Nayan Chanda, author of a delightful new book on globalization titled “Bound Together: How Traders, Preachers, Adventurers, and Warriors Shaped Globalization,” recounts the role of all these characters in connecting our world. He notes: “The Muslim Emperor Akbar, who ruled India in the 16th century at the pinnacle of the Mughal Empire, had Christians, Hindus, Jain and Zoroastrians in his court. Many of his senior officials were Hindus. On his deathbed, Jesuit priests tried to convert him, but he refused. Here was a man who knew who he was, yet he had respect for all religions. Nehru, a Hindu and India’s first prime minister, was a great admirer of Akbar.”

    Akbar wasn’t just tolerant. He was embracing of other faiths and ideas, which is why his empire was probably the most powerful in Indian history. Pakistan, which has as much human talent as India, could use an Akbar. Ditto the Arab world.

    I give King Abdullah credit, though. His path-breaking meeting with the pope surely gave many Saudi clerics heartburn. But as historic as it was, it left no trace. I wished the pope had publicly expressed a desire to visit Saudi Arabia, and that the king would now declare: “Someone has to chart a new path for our region. If I can meet the pope in the Vatican, I can host Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Shiite and Buddhist religious leaders for a dialogue in our sacred house. Why not? We are secure in our own faith. Let us all meet as equals.”
    Why not?

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    Pressure builds as Bhutto pushes ahead to endgame

    Freed opposition leader makes U-turn over fired lawyers and calls on her supporters to march. By Peter Beaumont

    Sunday November 11, 2007
    The Observer


    President Pervez Musharraf began buckling to international pressure yesterday as Pakistan's attorney-general, Malik Mohammad Qayyum, suggested the state of emergency - announced eight days ago amid his 'post-modern coup' against his own regime - could be lifted within a month.It came as the temporary house arrest imposed on former Prime Minister and opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, to prevent her from addressing a rally of tens of thousands of her supporters in Rawalpindi on Friday, was also lifted.

    If the army to the demands of Washington and London, which have been attempting to broker a power-sharing deal between Musharraf and Bhutto, comes after Musharraf suggested elections, originally planned for January, would go ahead by 15 February.The reversals came as Bhutto aligned herself for the first time with deposed chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. The move by Musharraf is unlikely to be enough to end days of protests - led by lawyers and journalists - over Musharraf's purging of the country's Supreme Court, which had sought to hold the regime accountable for corruption and human rights abuses.
    The drama has given the impression of a series of contrived set-piece performances designed to bolster the individual standing of Musharraf and Bhutto. As such it has appeared to diplomats as an increasingly cynical game, divorced from the realities of a country being pulled apart by Islamist extremism, Musharraf's dictatorial tendencies and the political opportunism of Bhutto.

    Under pressure to respond to the declaration of emergency on 3 November, Bhutto has gradually shifted her position from one that for days saw her pointedly ignore the plight of the detained chief justice of the Supreme Court towards a defence of the 'real Supreme Court', which she now insists is the only court that can rule on the legality of Musharraf's re-election as President by a compliant National Assembly without having first given up the role of Chief of Staff of the Army.

    The changing of her narrative was in evidence on Friday, as 'BB' was trapped inside a pleasant, leafy street of Islamabad to prevent her leading a rally of her Pakistani People's party supporters to the neighbouring garrison city of Rawalpindi. As she addressed supporters and the media, after failing to cross a barricade of barbed wire that she charged was 'illegal detention' by the state, Bhutto's rhetoric, when she described Musharraf's proposals for a February election as a 'bit vague,' had coalesced into a more powerful peroration.
    In it she subtly elided the crucial issues of Pakistan's current political crisis to suggest a continuum between the 'dictatorship of the Taliban' in Afghanistan, infecting northern Pakistan, with the 'dictatorship' of Musharraf. If it is a performance that Bhutto is putting on, it is familiar. On 18 November 1992, in the middle of an identical struggle with the then Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, Bhutto was penned in by barbed wire in an adjoining street as she tried to reach the same Rawalpindi Park, the Liaquat Bagh. She spoke then as now of a 'long march' from Lahore to Islamabad.

    'It is all a game,' said Kashif Abbasi, one of the blacked-out anchors from ARY One World TV in the scrum outside Bhutto's house. 'It's all part of her negotiation.'

    It was not only among staff of the television stations closed down for criticising Musharraf that the tepid leadership of 'BB' and other 'opposition' leaders has come in for criticism in the last week. Outside the District Court in Islamabad last week, Tasadduq Abbosi, a 25-year-old lawyer, joined several hundred colleagues, including senior members of the Islamabad Bar Association, to demand that Musharraf step down.

    'The problem,' he said, 'is that civil society is just not moving. It is just the lawyers really. We need the unions and public to join in.'

    The issue of the lack of more popular support was taken up by Zaffar Abbas, the Islamabad editor at Dawn newspaper. 'You cannot blame the market traders for standing by while the lawyers demonstrate,' he said last week as a direct feed from an affiliated TV station played in his office. Images that, if they were not blacked out, might have had a profound effect on mobilising support against Musharraf's clampdown.
    'They will only join the rallies when they think there can be a chance of change. Unless one of the opposition parties gets its people on the streets it will remain like this.'

    The result is the opposition to the emergency thus far has limped along with demonstrations of a few hundred, largely uncovered in a country whose televisions have effectively been unplugged and amid targeted arrests of precisely those people at local level - lawyers, human rights activists and party organisers - who could act in organising large-scale opposition. Yesterday, however, in a reversal of her lack of support for Chaudhry, Bhutto put on a show with a new script, appearing in her white SUV at the head of a column of supporters, to very publicly demand his restitution. 'He is the real chief justice,' Bhutto blared over a megaphone.

    Bhutto repeated her call for supporters to join her in a 'long march' next week from Lahore to Islamabad to insist that 'President Musharraf honour his commitment before the Supreme Court and the promise he made to the Pakistan People's party during talks that he'll take off his uniform by 15 November.' But the story of the last week is of her airbrushing the chief justice out of the picture, along with her sponsors in Washington or the UK, including British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. The troubled history of the Supreme Court under Chaudhry - suspended by Musharraf in March, reinstated after a campaign, and now purged again along with like-minded judges - is at the heart of the crisis.

    For in Pakistan, where the Supreme Court has traditionally been weak in the six decades since the state's establishment, Chaudhry and his colleagues had in 12 months reinvented it as a powerful new interlocutor in Pakistani society after eight years of steady, unpopular army encroachment into all aspects of Pakistan's life. Acting on its own initiative, the court has demanded the appearance of intelligence chiefs to explain the disappearance of hundreds of 'missing' people held by the agencies on suspicion of militancy. It challenged nationalisations from which it suspected senior government figures had received kickbacks.

    And following the siege in July of the militant Red Mosque in Islamabad - the Lal Masjid - it insisted on investigating the circumstances of the assault on the mosque, upholding the rights of hundreds of madrassa students being held without charge, before most controversially ordering its reopening.

    The central, divisive issue was the suspicion by Musharraf that the court was preparing to declare his recent re-election as President while still in uniform illegal. And while Musharraf has said one of the reasons for purging the court was its reopening of the mosque, it has not been lost on his critics that two of the judges who have agreed to join his new Supreme Court with reduced powers are the same who ordered the reopening.

    Nor has it been ignored that Musharraf's new Supreme Court is essentially powerless. Its size has been cut by almost a third. Its so-called 'suo moto' privilege to call cases on its initiative has been removed. Crucially Musharraf's new provisional constitution insists no court should be able to issue decrees against 'the President, Prime Minister or any authority designated by the President'.

    Bhutto hesitated in calling for Chaudhry's restitution because the allegations of corruption against Bhutto were revoked by a National Reconciliation Ordinance thrashed out with Musharraf. An aggressive and independent Supreme Court - under a reinstated Chaudhry - might yet revoke that ordinance.

    'The crisis here has emerged in large part because Musharraf and others are not used to the idea of the courts doing what they ought to,' says Ali Dayan Hasan, the Human Rights Watch researcher in South Asia, based in Lahore. 'The army is resented by just about everyone now, including the Pakistani elite. In Musharraf's years in power it has extended its influence into all areas of society.'

    So much so, argues Hasan, that Bhutto could not be 'swanning around' without the army's permission. 'It is,' he adds, 'a good reason to be cynical.'


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    Bhutto’s Persona Raises Distrust, as Well as Hope
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/world/asia/11bhutto.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&th&emc=th

    From a street protest in the morning, above, to a lavish diplomatic reception Saturday night, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto moves easily between roles.


    By JANE PERLEZ
    Published: November 11, 2007
    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 10 — A day after she was barricaded in her home, surrounded by police officers and barbed wire, the opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was quickly back to a world to which she is more accustomed on Saturday.
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    Closely Watched, Bhutto Is Allowed to Move (November 11, 2007)
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    David Guttenfelder/Associated Press
    Ms. Bhutto’s supporters were beaten by the police Saturday as she arrived, in the white car, at the home of the ousted justice.
    By the evening Ms. Bhutto was guest of honor at a high-flying diplomatic reception in the Parliament building here, greeting ambassadors and exchanging nods before television cameras, even as anxieties about the future of Pakistan, now entering its second week of de facto martial law, intensified at home and abroad.
    If the sudden turnabout seemed incongruous with the troubles that have befallen her nation, it was telling of just how fluid the crisis here remains — and of how easily Ms. Bhutto moves from rallying her supporters on the streets to soaking up the trappings of power and ceremony with which she has long been familiar.
    Such paradoxes have only added to the skepticism that swirls around her here, less than a month after her return from eight years in exile to avoid corruption charges. And it has added to the speculation that, tense as the situation remains, she and her old nemesis, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, may yet have enough ambition in common to run Pakistan together.
    Ms. Bhutto, 54, returned to Pakistan to present herself as the answer to the nation’s troubles: a tribune of democracy in a state that has been under military rule for eight years, and the leader of the country’s largest opposition political party, founded by her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, one of Pakistan’s most flamboyant and democratically inclined prime ministers.
    But her record in power, and the dance of veils she has deftly performed since her return — one moment standing up to General Musharraf, then next seeming to accommodate him, and never quite revealing her actual intentions — has stirred as much distrust as hope among Pakistanis.
    A graduate of Harvard and Oxford, she brings the backing of Washington and London, where she impresses with her political lineage, her considerable charm and her persona as a female Muslim leader.
    But with these accomplishments, Ms. Bhutto also brings controversy, and a legacy among Pakistanis as a polarizing figure who during her two turbulent tenures as prime minister, first from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996, often acted imperiously and impulsively.
    She also faces deep questions about her personal probity in public office, which have resulted in corruption cases against her in Switzerland, Spain and Britain, as well as in Pakistan.
    Ms. Bhutto has long seen herself as the inheritor of her father’s mantle, her colleagues say, and she has talked often about how he encouraged her to study the lives of legendary female leaders ranging from Indira Gandhi to Joan of Arc.
    Following the idea of big ambition, Ms. Bhutto calls herself chairperson for life of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, a seemingly odd title in an organization based on democratic ideals and one she has acknowledged quarreling over with her mother, Nusrat Bhutto, in the early 1990s.
    Saturday night at the diplomatic reception, Ms. Bhutto showed how she could aggrandize. Three million people came out to greet her in Karachi on her return last month, she said, calling it Pakistan’s “most historic” rally. In fact, crowd estimates were closer to 200,000, many of them provincial party members who had received small amounts of money to make the trip.
    It is such flourishes that lead to questioning in Pakistan about the strength of her democratic ideals in practice, and a certain distrust, particularly amid signs of back-room deal-making with General Musharraf, the military ruler she is said to oppose.
    “She believes she is the chosen one, that she is the daughter of Bhutto and everything else is secondary,” said Feisal Naqvi, a corporate lawyer in Lahore who knows Ms. Bhutto.
    When Ms. Bhutto was re-elected to a second term as Prime Minister, her style of government combined both the traditional and the modern, said Zafar Rathore, a senior civil servant at the time.
    But her view of the role of government differed little from the classic notion in Pakistan that the state was the preserve of the ruler who dished out favors to constituents and colleagues, he recalled.
    As secretary of interior, responsible for the Pakistani police force, Mr. Rathore, who is now retired, said he tried to get an appointment with Ms. Bhutto to explain the need for accountability in the force. He was always rebuffed, he said.
    Finally, when he was seated next to her in a small meeting, he said to her, “I’ve been waiting to see you,” he recounted. “Instantaneously, she said: ‘I am very busy, what do you want. I’ll order it right now.’“
    She could not understand that a civil servant might want to talk about policies, he said. Instead, he said, “she understood that when all civil servants have access to the sovereign, they want to ask for something.”

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    Related
    Closely Watched, Bhutto Is Allowed to Move (November 11, 2007)
    Times Topics:
    Pakistan Benazir Bhutto
    Today Ms. Bhutto still rules the party with an iron hand, jealously guarding her position, even while leading the party in absentia for nearly a decade.

    While Ms. Bhutto has managed to maintain much of her freedom of movement this week, her biggest rival in the party, Aitzaz Ahsan, the leader of the lawyers’ movement against General Musharraf, was jailed on the first night of the emergency rule.

    Mr. Ahsan is a Cambridge University-educated lawyer who served in her father’s cabinet, and then hers, and he defended Ms. Bhutto in a series of corruption cases in the early 1990s.

    But in an illustration of Ms. Bhutto’s attitude to competition, he was quickly frozen out by Ms. Bhutto after he was introduced around Washington last year as a possible counterbalance to General Musharraf, senior members of the party said.

    Mr. Ahsan’s wife, Bushra Ahsan, said Ms. Bhutto, a frequent e-mailer who is addicted to her Blackberry, failed to congratulate her husband when he won the case to reinstate the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, in July.

    Both men have spearheaded the resistance to General Musharraf’s military rule this year at great personal risk.

    When Mr. Ahsan won election as the leader of the Supreme Court Bar Association this month, again he heard nothing from Ms. Bhutto, Ms. Ahsan said. “She has not shown any approval of my husband,” Ms. Ahsan said.

    Members of her party who have rallied around Ms. Bhutto on her return argue that she has attributes in Pakistan’s sparse political landscape that make her the best choice against General Musharraf. Chief among them, they say, is sheer determination.

    “I’ve tried to suggest to her that Musharraf is not willing to share power,” said Syeda Abida Hussain, a former Pakistani ambassador to Washington. “If he can dodge the world, why can’t he dodge you?” Ms. Hussain said she asked Ms. Bhutto.

    But in returning to Pakistan, Ms. Bhutto believed that it was possible to join General Musharraf in some kind of transition to democracy, she said.

    Of Ms. Bhutto’s personal qualities, Ms. Hussain said: “I see her as a vulnerable, hurt person. She’s a chilly, imperial person. She’s firm.”

    In the last few months, as she has prepared her comeback, Ms. Bhutto has attended a swirl of public and private events, including a black-tie dinner for 150 at the Royal Air Force Club in London, and she has sought to bring her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, back into the public fold.

    Ms. Bhutto’s marriage to Mr. Zardari was arranged by her mother, a fact that Ms. Bhutto has often said was easily explained, even for a modern, highly educated Pakistani woman.

    To be acceptable to the Pakistani public as a politician she could not be a single woman, and what was the difference, she has asked, between such a marriage and computer dating?

    Ms. Hussain, the former ambassador, described Mr. Zardari as “a warm-hearted fool,” who lacked Ms. Bhutto’s education. He is known for his love of polo and other perquisites of the good life like fine clothes, expensive restaurants, homes in Dubai and London, and an apartment in New York.

    He was minister of investment in Ms. Bhutto’s second government. And it was from that perch that he made many of the deals that have haunted the couple in the courts, said a former prosecutor general at the National Accountability Court, Farooq Adam Khan, who in 2000 headed the body set up to investigate corruption among public officials.

    In an interview, he said the court believed the couple had illegally taken $1.5 billion from the state. It is a figure that Ms. Bhutto has vigorously contested.

    Indeed, one of Ms. Bhutto’s main objectives in seeking to return to power is to restore the reputation of her husband, who was jailed for eight years in Pakistan, said Abdullah Riar, a former senator in the Pakistani Parliament and a former colleague of Ms. Bhutto’s.

    “She told me, ‘Time will prove he is the Nelson Mandela of Pakistan,’” Mr. Riar said.

    One of Ms. Bhutto’s informal advisers is a longtime friend, Peter W. Galbraith, a former senior staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a former American ambassador to Croatia.

    Mr. Galbraith said he and Ms. Bhutto believed they first met in 1962 when they were children: he the son of John Kenneth Galbraith, the American ambassador to India; she the daughter of the future Pakistani prime minister. Mr. Galbraith’s father was accompanying Jacqueline Kennedy to a horse show in Lahore.

    They met again at Harvard, where Mr. Galbraith remembers Ms. Bhutto arriving as a prim 16-year-old fresh from a Karachi convent who liked to bake cakes.

    Cohabitation — with Ms. Bhutto as prime minister and General Musharraf as president — made a lot of sense for Ms. Bhutto and the Bush administration before last week, Mr. Galbraith said.

    As prime minister, Ms. Bhutto would not be able to control the military, the institution that mattered most in Pakistan, he said. But she would confer legitimacy to a government that has seen its authority steadily erode under General Musharraf.

    By this weekend, with General Musharraf giving little sign of when he would let up on his emergency powers, Ms. Bhutto was straddling a fine line, Mr. Galbraith said.

    “Now,” he said, “Benazir can only cohabit with him at great cost to her legitimacy.”


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    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/weekinreview/11sanger.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    Trust Us, So, What About Those Nukes?

    By DAVID E. SANGER
    Published: November 11, 2007

    WASHINGTON


    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?

    Pakistan's nuclear protections "are already the best
    in the world," he said then, in an interview. He
    launched into a detailed description of the controls
    he had put in place. Chief among them was that only a
    small group of top officials — General Musharraf and
    men he trusts — hold the keys to moving or using a
    weapon.

    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. The leaking of much of the
    technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya, starting in
    the late 1980s, often coincided with times of
    political turmoil when Pakistan's leadership was weak
    and its attention elsewhere.

    That precedent was driving much of the fear in
    Washington last week as General Musharraf clung to
    power by declaring a state of emergency and trying to
    quell political demonstrations and near-rioting in the
    streets — the fear that leaks would resume and that
    Pakistan might even lose control over a nuclear
    arsenal of uncertain size — estimated at from 55 to
    115 weapons.

    General Musharraf dismissed such possibilities in
    2005. "There is no doubt in my mind that they can ever
    fall in the hands of extremists," he said, relaxed and
    confident, as he was filmed for a New York Times
    documentary, "Nuclear Jihad: Can Terrorists Get the
    Bomb?" But over the years he has said many things that
    turned out to be too optimistic, including a
    declaration at the White House that Osama bin Laden
    was probably dead.

    So Bush administration officials have quietly begun
    debating — along with the new leaders of France and
    Britain — just how bad things could get in a country
    whose nuclear controls are just seven years old and
    have never been tested by chaos, street turmoil or a
    violent government overthrow.

    "We just don't have any idea how this is going to
    unfold," one senior administration official conceded
    late Friday. With that uncertainty, the nuclear
    problem took on at least two dimensions.

    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."

    Even if it never comes to a loss of control over
    weapons or their components, the crisis carries
    another level of danger. Administration officials say
    privately that if the chaos in the streets worsens, or
    Al Qaeda exploits the moment, Pakistan's government
    could become distracted from monitoring scientists,
    engineers and others who, out of religious zeal or
    plain old greed, might see a moment to sell their
    knowledge and technology.

    Dr. Khan did just that. Some of his most profitable
    moments, including sales of centrifuge technology to
    Iran that the International Atomic Energy Agency is
    still investigating, took place at moments of great
    government weakness in Pakistan.

    Mr. Khan's global nuclear manufacturing and sales
    network was shut down only three years ago, after
    international pressure on Pakistan intensified, and
    after General Musharraf consolidated enough political
    leverage to take down Dr. Khan — a man who is still a
    hero to Pakistani nationalists.

    The administration says it hopes to put Pakistan on a
    path to democracy. But Washington's actions show it
    does not want to go so fast that nuclear control
    becomes a casualty. So President Bush was on the phone
    to General Musharraf on Wednesday to press for the
    patina of a return to democracy: He said General
    Musharraf must shed his title as army chief, hold
    parliamentary elections early next year, and find a
    way to work with Benazir Bhutto, the opposition leader
    with whom the United States has urged him to share
    power. The general promised to hold elections by
    February, but the crisis was far from over.

    "The nightmare scenario, of course, is what happens if
    an extremist Islamic government emerges — with an
    instant nuclear arsenal," said Robert Joseph, a
    counterproliferation expert who left the
    administration this year. John R. Bolton, the former
    United Nations representative who has accused Mr. Bush
    of going soft on proliferation, said more bluntly that
    General Musharraf's survival was critical. "While
    Pervez Musharraf might not be a Jeffersonian
    democrat," Mr. Bolton said, "he is the best bet to
    secure the nuclear arsenal."

    Americans might feel better about the arsenal if they
    knew how big it was — or even where the weapons were
    stored. Pakistan has done its best to keep that
    information secret.

    There are also more than a dozen nuclear facilities,
    from fuel fabrication plants to laboratories that
    enrich uranium and produce next-generation weapons
    designs, that Al Qaeda and other terror groups have
    eyed for years. How safe are they?

    Last year, the Pakistanis sent Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai,
    whom General Musharraf had put in charge of nuclear
    security, to Washington. In briefings for officials
    and reporters, he maintained that the era of A. Q.
    Khan was "closed."

    On paper, the relatively new system he described looks
    impressive: weapons are kept separate from delivery
    systems, nuclear cores from their detonators. The
    people who run the system are screened, presumably for
    both mental stability and latent sympathies with Al
    Qaeda and the Taliban. Other Pakistani officials have
    described ways they protect nuclear material as it is
    trucked around the country or tinkered with in the
    laboratory still named for Dr. Khan.

    But some former and current American officials are
    skeptical: They remember General Musharraf's
    assurances five years ago that no nuclear technology
    was leaking. New histories of the Khan network,
    notably "The Nuclear Jihadist," by Douglas Frantz and
    Catherine Collins, detail how well Dr. Khan in fact
    worked the Pakistani system, cutting some military
    officials into the deals, and using the air force to
    deliver nuclear goods.

    In retrospect, it is clear that Dr. Khan's
    proliferation business thrived when Pakistan's
    leadership was at its weakest and most corrupt.

    His relationship with Iran flourished in the chaos
    that followed the death of President Muhammad Zia
    ul-Haq in a suspicious plane crash in 1988; the first
    deliveries of centrifuges to Iran took place in 1989,
    and there are competing accounts about whether it was
    done behind the back of Ms. Bhutto, who says she
    opposed any such nuclear trade. But she helped cut the
    first missile deals with North Korea. And the Khan
    network started doing business with Libya in 1997,
    just as Islamabad was consumed with political
    jockeying that involved the generals and Nawaz Sharif,
    the prime minister whom Mr. Musharraf overthrew two
    years later.

    "The diffusion of domestic political power among the
    troika of the president, prime minister and the army
    chief," said a major study of the Khan network
    published earlier this year by the International
    Institute for Strategic Studies in London, "obscured
    the command and control authority over the covert
    nuclear weapons program."

    It was General Musharraf who finally confronted Dr.
    Khan — after he had consolidated power, and,
    conveniently for the Pakistani military, after
    Pakistan itself had become a nuclear power.

    Some experts say they think the institutions Mr.
    Musharraf built starting around 2000 will prove
    durable because they rely on Pakistan's strongest
    institution, the military. "The military realized that
    they didn't have the sophisticated command and control
    they needed," said Neil Joeck, a Pakistan expert at
    the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a
    professor at the University of California at Berkeley.
    He says the military's protections are strong and the
    labs "very professional."

    Still, figuring out what to do if Pakistan's weapons
    or nuclear material fall into the wrong hands has been
    the subject of many Pentagon simulations. Earlier this
    year, a participant concluded a description of them
    this way:

    "Once you've figured out the weapon is gone, it's
    probably too late."


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-uspakistan5nov05,1,7007026.story?ctrack=1&cset=true
    From the Los Angeles Times
    U.S. military aid to Pakistan misses its Al Qaeda target

    The Frontier Corps battling the militants is outgunned
    and poorly trained, officials say. Funding instead
    goes to equipment more suited for conventional warfare
    with India.
    By Greg Miller
    Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

    November 5, 2007

    WASHINGTON — Despite billions of dollars in U.S.
    military payments to Pakistan over the last six years,
    the paramilitary force leading the pursuit of Al Qaeda
    militants remains underfunded, poorly trained and
    overwhelmingly outgunned, U.S. military and
    intelligence officials said.

    Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf cited the rising
    militant threat in declaring a state of emergency on
    Saturday and suspending the constitution.

    But rather than use the more than $7 billion in U.S.
    military aid to bolster its counter-terrorism
    capabilities, Pakistan has spent the bulk of it on
    heavy arms, aircraft and equipment that U.S. officials
    say are far more suited for conventional warfare with
    India, its regional rival.

    That has left fighters with the paramilitary force,
    known as the Frontier Corps, equipped often with
    little more than "sandals and bolt-action rifles,"
    said a senior Western military official in Islamabad,
    even as they face Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters
    equipped with assault rifles and grenade launchers.

    The arms imbalance has contributed to Al Qaeda's
    ability to regroup in the border region, and reflects
    the competing priorities that were evident even before
    this weekend between two countries that are
    self-described allies in the "war on terrorism" but
    have sharply divergent national security interests.

    The situation also has emerged as a significant
    obstacle as the United States and Pakistan seek new
    approaches after a series of failed strategies in the
    frontier region, where Osama bin Laden and other top
    Al Qaeda leaders are believed to be hiding.

    U.S. officials have urged Pakistan to move more
    aggressively against militants and bolster the
    capabilities of the Frontier Corps, an indigenously
    recruited force of about 80,000 troops, half of them
    based in the tribal areas, that was formed under
    British rule and is traditionally used to guard the
    border and curb smuggling.

    Even front-line units with upgraded weapons are
    woefully unschooled in counterinsurgency tactics,
    other officials said. Late last month, Islamic
    militants captured dozens of fighters and paraded them
    before Western journalists, the latest in a series of
    embarrassing encounters.

    Pakistan has recently indicated that it will enlarge
    the corps and expand its role in pursuing Al Qaeda.
    But because the Frontier Corps has been all but shut
    off from U.S. military aid and payments to Pakistan,
    U.S. officials said the new strategy amounts in some
    ways to starting from scratch more than six years
    after the Sept. 11 attacks.

    "The view in Washington is that the Frontier Corps is
    the best way forward because they are locally
    recruited, speak the language, and understand the
    culture, terrain and local politics," said a senior
    Pentagon official, discussing internal deliberations
    on Pakistan policy on condition of anonymity.

    But transforming the corps into a force that can
    contend with militants in the tribal area "will take
    years to bring to fruition," he said.

    Partly because of that timetable, the goal of
    dismantling Al Qaeda and its hub of operations in the
    border region has given way to expectations among U.S.
    intelligence and military officials that the United
    States and Pakistan face a years-long struggle simply
    to contain the terrorist network and keep it from
    expanding.

    "I think it's worse than starting from scratch," said
    Bruce Riedel, a former South Asia expert at the CIA
    and the White House now with the Brookings
    Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

    "The most optimistic of scenarios we're looking at is
    a very long-term effort to try to stabilize the
    badlands of northwestern Pakistan," Riedel said. "The
    alternative is . . . a more or less permanent Taliban
    state within a state in northwest Pakistan."

    Plans to build up the Frontier Corps are not
    universally supported by U.S. military officials.
    Loyalties within the corps are thought by many
    observers to be divided. Members are recruited mainly
    from Pashtun tribes with long-standing mistrust of
    outsiders. Most reject militant ideology, and have
    suffered hundreds of casualties in the fighting. But
    many also are devoutly religious and feel some degree
    of sympathy for the Islamists' cause.

    "There is a push-back among some that the Frontier
    Corps is not a reliable ally of the United States,"
    said Seth Jones, a military expert at Rand Corp. "The
    concern is that you give them additional training and
    equipment, and they could end up helping militants
    rather than taking action against them."

    Perhaps as a hedge against those concerns, the U.S.
    Special Operations Command has recently begun
    exploring efforts to pay off tribal militias in the
    region that are not affiliated with the Pakistani
    government, and arm them to root out Al Qaeda and
    Taliban militants, a source familiar with the
    discussions said.

    "You can't buy them, but you can rent them," said the
    source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of
    the sensitive nature of the discussions. "There is a
    very serious effort to look at this."

    The CIA also operates in the area, and has doubled the
    number of case officers based in Pakistan in recent
    years, former agency officials say.

    Despite the concerns, U.S. officials said there is
    widespread agreement that boosting support to the
    Frontier Corps is worth the risk, a position that
    reflects deep frustration with a string of failed
    strategies in the border region.

    An early failure was a plan to keep Al Qaeda
    operatives from crossing into Pakistan when U.S.
    troops invaded Afghanistan in late 2001. That was
    followed by ineffective forays by thousands of
    Pakistani regular army troops and aborted peace
    agreements with tribal leaders who did not fulfill
    pledges to clamp down on the militants.

    By last summer, U.S. intelligence agencies concluded
    that the peace deals had given Al Qaeda room to
    regroup and rebuild its ability to train and plan
    attacks on Western targets.

    Under new pressure from the United States, Musharraf
    resumed military incursions earlier this year, with
    Frontier Corps fighters teaming up with Pakistani
    regular army units. The effort produced a series of
    bloody and clumsy confrontations that may have
    strengthened the militants' position in the tribal
    areas.

    Especially demoralizing was the Aug. 30 capture of
    about 250 troops, most of them members of the Frontier
    Corps, who surrendered without a fight. Over the next
    two months, a few dozen were released but at least
    three were beheaded. Over the weekend, 211 were freed
    in exchange for 25 militants held by the army.

    Taking on Al Qaeda and Taliban militants represents a
    significant departure for the Frontier Corps, whose
    members are typically outfitted with castoffs from the
    regular army. Led by army officers who often disdain
    the assignment, Frontier Corps units have obsolete
    artillery pieces, have to travel by foot because they
    have no ground transport, lack night-vision equipment,
    and have almost no air power.

    "Yesterday they had one helicopter operating," a
    senior Western diplomat in Islamabad said during a
    recent interview. "If they had two, it was a good
    day."

    Reluctant to offend a crucial ally, the United States
    has placed few conditions on the military aid, part of
    a larger package of U.S. aid and payments totaling
    more than $10 billion. As a result, Pakistan used much
    of it to acquire big-ticket weapons systems and other
    items to shore up its conventional defense
    capabilities, U.S. officials said.

    The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which
    oversees U.S. weapons transfers, said that shipments
    to Pakistan since the Sept. 11 attacks had included
    some equipment that could be useful in pursuing
    militants in the tribal areas, including 4,000 radios
    and 12 refurbished attack helicopters. But even those
    items went to the regular army, the agency said, and
    are unlikely to be shared with the Frontier Corps,
    which falls under a separate branch of the Pakistani
    government.

    The majority of Pakistan's purchases have been of
    items that would be difficult to deploy in
    counterinsurgency fights, including harpoon missiles
    designed to sink warships, F-16 fighter jets, maritime
    surveillance aircraft and refurbished howitzers that
    have to be towed into position.

    "It's hard to make arguments that the bulk of what is
    being provided by the U.S. is very effective for
    counter-terrorism operations," said Alan Kronstadt, a
    specialist in South Asian affairs at the nonpartisan
    Congressional Research Service. "A lot of the military
    assistance has been much more useful for a potential
    war with India."

    Musharraf's emergency declaration could force a review
    of U.S. aid, a move Democratic lawmakers said Sunday
    they would support.

    The U.S. and Pakistan have spent part of the last year
    developing what one Pentagon official described as a
    "multiyear plan" to bolster the Frontier Corps'
    capabilities, U.S. officials said.

    Pakistan has already begun recruiting more troops,
    with plans to expand the corps to 100,000.U.S. funding
    would help pay for the increase, as well as a training
    center that will focus on counterinsurgency tactics.

    The Pentagon has budgeted $55 million in
    counter-narcotics funds for the Frontier Corps this
    year to pay for night-vision equipment and
    communications gear. But the Pentagon is also seeking
    additional funding in a separate category that could
    be used for weapons. Officials declined to discuss
    specifics.

    "It's nothing really sexy," said the senior Pentagon
    official involved in Pakistan policy. "But they need
    to be at least on par with the militants."

    greg.miller@latimes.com

    Times staff writer Laura King in Islamabad contributed
    to this report.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20071111/D8SRHVE80.html

    Pakistani Leader Calls for January Polls
    November 11, 2007

    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Pakistan's military ruler said Sunday elections would be held by January but set no time limit on emergency rule that has suspended citizens' rights, claiming it was essential for fighting terrorism and ensuring a free and fair vote.
    Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto called the announcement a "first positive step" but said it would be difficult to hold elections under emergency rule. She added that she had "not shut doors for talks" with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Other opposition parties said Musharraf's sweeping powers, which have led to thousands of arrests, would only make a mockery of the democratic process.
    THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Pakistan's military ruler said Sunday elections would be held by January but set no time limit on emergency rule that has suspended citizens' rights, claiming it was essential for fighting terrorism and ensuring a free and fair vote.
    In his first major news conference since suspending the constitution a week ago, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf bristled at criticism of his commitment to democracy and was unapologetic about his decision to purge the top ranks of the judiciary, which had challenged his dominance.
    He said he expected to face no foreign sanctions for resorting to authoritarian measures and declared the current parliament would be dissolved in the coming week, paving the way for elections to be held on schedule - despite earlier concerns they could be delayed by up to a year.
    "We should have elections before the 9th of January," Musharraf told reporters at his presidential residence in Islamabad.
    The army chief imposed the state of emergency on Nov. 3, citing the growing threat posed by Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants. But the main targets of his crackdown have been his most outspoken critics, who claim the move was an attempt to maintain his grip on power.
    Thousands of people have been arrested, independent-minded judges have been removed, and almost all but state-run TV news have been taken off the air.
    Sounding indignant and sometimes angry, Musharraf said the declaration of the emergency was in the interests of Pakistan, not to keep power.
    "It was the most difficult decision I have ever taken in my life," said Musharraf, wearing a dark blue suit rather than his army fatigues.
    "I could have preserved myself, but then it would have damaged the nation. I found myself between a rock and a hard surface. I have no personal ego and ambitions to guard. I have the national interest foremost," he said. "Whatever the cost, I bear responsibility, and I stand by it."
    Musharraf will please his Western allies with his announcement of early elections, but could worry them with his refusal to commit to a date for lifting the emergency, which many observers and critics here say is tantamount in martial law.
    He declared it was necessary to address the "turmoil, shock and confusion" in Pakistan.
    "The emergency contributes toward better law and order and a better fight against terrorism," the military ruler said, adding that it would "reinforce our hand" to use the regular army to fight Islamic militants in the interior of the troubled northwest, beyond lawless tribal regions of Afghanistan.
    He also claimed the emergency would "ensure absolute, fair and transparent elections," and said that Pakistan would invite international observers to scrutinize the vote.
    Critics scoffed at his claims, noting that under the present suspension of the constitution, public gatherings are illegal. Others asked how campaigning could take place, citing concern about intimidation or threats of arrest.
    "How can the elections be held in a free and fair manner when the emergency is in place?" asked Zafar Ali Shah, a senior leader of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N party.
    Musharraf said opposition supporters who had been arrested since the emergency would be released to take part in the polls, but warned they could be detained again.
    Anyone who "disturbs law and order and wants to create anarchy in the name of elections and democracy, we will not allow that," he said.
    His comments followed a decision to amend a law to give army courts sweeping powers to try civilians on charges ranging from treason to inciting public unrest - which in theory could include opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, who has vowed to lead a 185-mile protest march Tuesday in defiance of a ban.
    Musharraf - seen by the U.S. as a close ally in the so-called war on terror - promised that military operations against Islamic militants in the volatile northwest would continue until they are defeated.
    "There's no time limit for that," he said.
    He also declared he would give up his army uniform, but only once his controversial Oct. 6 presidential election victory had been endorsed - regarded by many observers as a formality now that he has remade the Supreme Court and ousted popular judges.
    His opponents argue he should have been disqualified because he contested the vote as army chief.
    "The moment they give a decision ... I should take an oath of office as civilian president of Pakistan. I hope that happens as soon as possible."
    He dismissed speculation that he could struggle to maintain the loyalty of the powerful army once he ruled as a civilian.
    "Even if I'm not in uniform, this army will be with me," Musharraf said.
    President Bush earlier described promises to restore civilian rule as "positive," throwing Washington's support firmly behind the embattled Pakistani leader.
    Musharraf said foreign leaders who had telephoned him were understanding of the situation in Pakistan and that he did not expect international aid to be cut.
    "They do understand our ground realities, mainly the issue of terrorism and how we have to combat it," he said. "If we are on the path to democracy I'm sure they will understand and no such problem will occur."
    Musharraf launched a tirade against the recently deposed chief justice, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, who this year had become a thorn in the president's dominance of Pakistan. He defended the decision to oust him, alleging that Chaudhry had engaged in corruption.
    Musharraf said there was no chance that any of the Supreme Court judges who were removed or refused to take the oath of office under his "provisional" constitution would be reinstated.
    "Absolutely, absolutely. There's no question," he said. "Those who have not taken oath are gone."
    Three reporters from Britain's Daily Telegraph, meanwhile, left Pakistan on Sunday after being expelled in protest of a commentary in their newspaper that used an expletive in reference to Musharraf - who was unapologetic.
    The editorial had infringed "norms of behavior," he said. "I expect an apology."
    ---_
    Associated Press writer Munir Ahmad contributed to this report.

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