Musharraf Plays Bush for a Fool

Admittedly not a hard thing to do to a man who would lose a game of checkers to a 16 oz. bag of shredded mild cheddar cheese.

We learn today that all of the reasons the White House has been backing Musharraf, and all of the ways in which the White House was trying to make it look pretty — make it look like they weren’t ever backing a dictator — are falling apart.

* The White House had hoped former Pakistani Prime Minister Bhutto would take part in a for-show power-sharing agreement with Musharraf.  It now apprears she will not do so.

* Musharraf’s aides are now admitting the declaration of martial law had little to nothing to do with cracking down on extremists.

* Those aides also say no moves are planned against said extremists.

More after the jump . . .

London Times Online reports:

From The Times

November 6, 2007

Benazir Bhutto threatens demonstrations as police use teargas on lawyers

Benazir Bhutto, the former Pakistani Prime Minister, vowed yesterday to bring her supporters on to the streets to force President Musharraf to lift a state of emergency and restore democratic rule.

— snip —

Until Saturday, Miss Bhutto had been in talks with General Musharraf on a power-sharing deal, backed by the US and Britain as a way to broaden the Government’s mandate to combat Islamic extremism. She now appears to be on a collision course with the President, whose emergency measures have banned political rallies and taken private television channels off the air.

This puts the US’s and the West’s little scheme in the toilet.  The New York Times described the scheme on Sunday:

Musharraf Leaves White House in Lurch

By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and HELENE COOPER
Published: November 4, 2007

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 – For more than five months the United States has been trying to orchestrate a political transition in Pakistan that would manage to somehow keep Gen. Pervez Musharraf in power without making a mockery of President Bush’s promotion of democracy in the Muslim world.

— snip —

There has long been a deep fear within the administration, particularly among intelligence officials, that an imperfect General Musharraf is better for American interests than an unknown in a volatile country that is central to the administration’s fight against terrorism. In recent months the White House had been hoping that a power-sharing alliance between General Musharraf and Pakistan’s former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, would help the general cling to power while putting a democratic face on his regime.

But with Bhutto now on a “collision course” with Musharraf, White House dreams of putting a happy face on a dictatorship are ended. 

On a seperate note, it appears that Musharraf has been playing Bush for a fool.  Today, Bush said:

. . . I asked the Secretary [Rice] to call him to convey this message: that we expect there to be elections as soon as possible, and that the President should remove his military uniform. Previous to his decision we made it clear that these emergency measures were — would undermine democracy. Having said that, I did remind the Prime Minister that President Musharraf has been a strong fighter against extremists and radicals, that he understands the dangers posed by radicals and extremists. After all, they tried to kill him three or four times. And our hope is that he will restore democracy as quickly as possible.

Bush is backing Musharraf, apparently, because Musharraf is an ally in the war on terror.  Musharraf himself has encouraged this idea.  London Times Online writes, “General Musharraf told the foreign ambassadors that he had declared the emergency because the courts and the media were interfering in his campaign against Islamist militants.”

However, we read in Tuesday’s Washington Post a double whammy on all of this talk.

(Whammy 1) Islamabad officials are now acknowledging that Musharraf’s declaration of martial law had little to do with “extremists”.

(Whammy 2) Musharraf has no intention of cracking down on “extremists” in the near future.

On Saturday, Musharraf said he had declared an emergency in the interest of fighting terrorism. But top Musharraf aides have conceded that his primary motivation was an impending Supreme Court decision that would have disqualified him from serving another term.

Musharraf aides have said the government has no plans to use the emergency to launch an offensive against insurgents in the northwest, where the military has suffered embarrassing losses recently. On Sunday, authorities freed 30 Taliban fighters in exchange for more than 200 captured soldiers, even as police continued to round up activists from the mainstream political parties.

Quoth Bush:

Q Thank you, sir. It was just last week that you said again that your administration stands with people who yearn for liberty. How does that square with continuing to partner with Pakistan, given what’s going on now, and given that President Musharraf has gone back on promises before?

PRESIDENT BUSH: As I said earlier in my statement, that we made it clear to the President [Musharraf] that we would hope he wouldn’t have declared the emergency powers he declared. Now that he’s made that decision, I hope now that he hurry back to elections. And at the same time, we want to continue working with him to fight these terrorists and extremists, who not only have tried to kill him, but have used parts of his country from which to launch attacks into Afghanistan, and/or are plotting attacks on America.

So now that Bhutto is on “a collision course” with Musharraf, the West faces a much starker decision.  Side with her and her progressive backers, or side with Musharraf, who now acknowledges through his people that he declared martial law to hold on to power and who has no intention of strongly facing Islamic radicals in the near future — the supposed justification for White House winking at Musharraf’s draconian tactics.

No way to have it both ways, now. 

13 comments

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  1. DailyKos.

  2. Cheney’s guy 1, Condi’s girl 0

    • fatdave on November 6, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    ..how they’re shuffling the hush money.

    • Edger on November 6, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    60 Years of Pakistan
    by Alok Bansal, Research Fellow at New Delhi’s Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis.

    As Pakistan completes 60 years of existence, it is passing through a critical phase. The state’s writ does not run over almost half its territory. Most people consider themselves as Sindhis, Baloch, Pakhtoons, Mohajirs and Punjabis first rather than as Pakistanis. Pakistan as a nation is kept together artificially by the only institution that functions – the army.

    Despite belated attempts by the judiciary to assert its independence, the fact is that for most part of Pakistan’s existence the courts have been dysfunctional and came out with the bizarre ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ to justify military coups. Pakistan’s greatest tragedy has been that barring the armed forces or army to be specific, no other credible institution has emerged. The judiciary, legislature and bureaucracy-all have crumbled during Pakistan’s six decades’ journey.

    Sub-nationalism emerged as a serious threat to the Pakistani state. Islamic fundamentalists challenge the writ of the government across the length and breadth of Pakistan. Islamabad’s frequent flip-flops on the foreign policy front and frequent incursions by American armed forces within Pakistani territory have compromised its sovereignty in the eyes of its citizens.

    Given that history it is not too far a stretch to assume that all of Rice and Bush’s protestations are nothing but smoke, mirrors, and bullshit to feed the American public, and that they helped orchestrate Musharraf’s martial law, to anger Islamic fundamentalists within the country and destabilize Pakistan as much as possible. It would not surprise me to find that at least some in the administration, particularly in Cheney’s camp, would like nothing better than an Islamic fundamentalist coup or takeover of nuclear armed Pakistan to give them the perfect excuse for cranking up the WOT rhetoric again, nuking Pakistan, and Iran next door. The rapturists on Bush’s side of the aisle would love it as well.

    • Edger on November 6, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    yesterday at-Largely:

    Musharraf has not said how long the emergency will be in effect.  This is not to be confused with the state of emergency Mr. Bush declared in his country on September 14, 2001 that is still in effect and will be for the indefinite future.  These two states of emergency are completely different, of course.  Mr. Bush declared an emergency after terrorists attacked two major cities in his country.  Mr. Musharraf declared an emergency as terrorists threatened to take control of his country.

    Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has accused Musharraf of using the specter of terror to maintain his hold on power.  Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore has accused Bush of using the threat of terror to commit “a gross and excessive power grab.”

    America is the first true global hegemon in the history of humanity.  Pakistan is not and never will be.  America has the largest economy of the world’s nations, posting an estimate gross domestic product of over $13 trillion in 2006.  Pakistan’s 2006 economy, at just under $438 billion, was 26th among the world’s countries, and less than four percent the size of America’s.

    And yet, amazingly, Pakistan can get whatever it wants from America while America can’t get anything it wants from Pakistan (see, I told you the two countries were different!).  Condi Rice is reviewing whether or not we should try to make Musharraf behave by cutting off his allowance, but as Senator Joe Biden (R-Delaware) has astutely noted, our “hands are tied” from cutting Pakistan’s foreign aid because, despite Condi’s assertions to the contrary, the Bush administration has in fact put “all its chips” on Musharraf.

    That brings up a couple more differences between America and Pakistan.  If Musharraf falls from power, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons might fall under the control of known lunatics, while America’s nuclear weapons are already under the control of known lunatics.

    And who do we have to handle this situation?  Condoleezza Rice and her department full of career diplomats who don’t want to deploy to Iraq, the invasion of which created the foreign policy pickle barrel we now find ourselves in.

    Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, bless this bed that we lie on…

    • Edger on November 6, 2007 at 8:32 pm


    Benazir Bhutto speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
    London, UK, July 20th, 2007

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