Tag Archives: Musharraf

What Should Be America’s Policy Toward Musharraf?

The United States for years has been President Musharraf’s chief cheerleader and has supported virtually every aspect of his rule in Pakistan. However, triumph by opposition parties in last month’s parliamentary election gave an overwhelming majority to the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz coalition, confronts America with new challenges. Teresita Schaffer and Jeffrey Ellis, writing in the current issue of South Asia Monitor, raise questions regarding how will the Bush administration or any future adminisration respond to the new configuration of power.

The stage is set for an early test whether Musharraf is prepared to accept a significant reduction in his powers in order to placate the new government or whether he intends to stand fast and refuse to make changes such as restoring Pakistan’s judiciary to its former positions. The authors suggest the new coalition has a vast array of problems to face regardless of issues in dealing with Musharraf. There is now a wheat shortage, power outages, suicide bombers and fighting in the northwest region. Both leading political parties appear more willing than Musharraf– or the United States– to arrange political settlements with militants in order to end violence.

At this point, no one knows for certain what a new president like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will do about Musharraf. Will political solutions take precedence over military?

US Moves From Personality To Nation In Pakistan

The United States government apparently is considering the importance of what Senator Joseph Biden has termed, moving away from “a policy focused on personality” to one focused on what is best for the people of Pakistan. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte made clear the Bush administration decision to cooperate with whoever has been elected by the people of Pakistan to lead their nation. Ironically, a major Bush argument in 2000 against the Clinton admnistration was its focus on nation building. Bush apparently is now convinced trying to impose US will on other nations invariably results in disaster.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, President Musharraf is also moving in the direction of cooperating with Pakistan’s political leaders. He is willing to compromise on the key issue of his sacking of judges who opposed him. Musharraf has offered to retore the judges provided none of them is allowed to sit on cases involving the president.

An important issue still to be resolved is what would happen if Pakistan’s new parliament instituted impeachment against President Musharraf. Which judges would then sit in judgement on the president?

New Pakistan Government Vows Independent Course

The triumphant Pakistan People’s Party(PPP) has seleced Makhdam Amin Fahim as the new prime minister of the nation as it worked with a broad new coalition of political parties to confront President Musharraf. The Pakistan Muslim League-N has agreed to join the coalition on condition that the demand of its leader, Nawaz Sharif, for restoration of judges sacked by President Musharraf are restored to their former positions. The coalition is working on new plans which would curtail the powers of the president such as ending his right to dissolve parliament and ensure he no longer has the power to replace judges because they oppose his views.

President Musharraf made clear in a column for the Washington Post his desire to work with the new coalition and put together a comprehensive political, economic, and military strategy that would end terrorism and restore stability to his nation. All Pakistan parties and the president were reassured by the resounding defeat of Muslim parties in the last election. It is evidence the people of Pakistan reject terorrism and violence.

The American military is concerned the new coalition will curtail further drone attacks in the northwest volatile regions of Pakistan. There is also worry the new government might emphasize negotiations with militants rather than military efforts. Perhaps, the Pakistan moderates realize negotiations that lead to peace are more desirable than continued fighting.

Musharraf Party Loses In Pakistan Election

Results from the voting in Pakistan reveal widespread lack of enthusiasm for President Musharraf since his political party, PML-Q suffered a severe defeat. The Pkistan People’s Party of Benazir Bhutto led all parties having captured at least 88 seats in the National Assembly while the Pakistan Muslim League-Mawaz which has been working with the PPP came in second with 65 seats. There are 269 seats in the National Assembly with 26 still to be determined. Pesident Musharraf has promised to cooperate with any party that gains triumph in the election. “I will say from my side, whichever politcal party will win,…. I will give them full cooperation at president.” There were reports in several areas of the nation, particularly where Pushtuns live, that many women were barred from voting on grounds to do so violates their religion.

It is apparent there was a lower estimate of people voting than expected which may be due to fears of violence if they went to a polling place. As the results come in, the evidence is overwhelming that Musharraf has lost. The question now to be faced by Pakistan is whether the PPP and the PML-N will cooperate to take action that might result in the ouster of Musharraf as president. If they take such action, what will happen?

Is Bush Administration Helping Musharraf?

In a last minute surprising move the Bush administration has hired Democracy International to serve as monitors in order to ensure the Pakistan election tomorrow is conducted in a fair and honest manner. It previously contacted the Carter Center and the Asia Foundation but these groups declined to serve as monitors on grounds it was impossible to ascertain the honesty of the election due to security conditions. Democracy International has never served as a monitor for elections. Mark Scheider, of the International Crisis Group, blasted the Bush decision claiming it was unreasonable to “go in two or three days before the election and expect to be able to make a judgement.” He said this contradicts “lessons learned in 25 years of election monitoring.”

Meanwhile, back in Pakistan, Asif Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, which polls estimate will receive close to 50% of a fair vote, said the Musharraf government is harassing party workers, several have been killed and installations raided. The last minute Bush decision raises questions. Is it an attempt to lend international support to Musharraf if questions arise concerning the honesty of the election?

Butto Party Pledges To Remove Musharraf

BabarAwan, a key leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, vowed his party would initiate procedures to remove President Musharraf from office. “the oouster of Musharraf will put Pakistan back on the track of real democracy.” Bhutto’s husband, party leader Asif Ali Zardari, had previously left open the issue as to whether his group would work with Musharraf or seek to get rid of him. Recent poll figures indicate the PPP is well ahead in parliamentary races and may even gain a majority of votes. Awan’s comments came one day after President Musharraf warned opposition parties not to claim election fraud and attempt demonstrations in protest of the vote count.

It is interesting that President Musharraf has already derided poll figures and urged his followers not to pay attention to “foreign pollsters.” Ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif rejected Musharraf’s comments and pledged to organize nation wide protests if there is any evidence of vote fraud. His party believes Musharraf will attempt to rig the elections, much as President Kibaki did in Kenya.

A United States funded poll by the International Repulican Institute found at least half of Pakistan voters supporting the PPP while only 14% favored Musharraf’s PML-Q. By early next week there will be riots in Pakistan or peace. It all depends on whether or not President Musharraf accepts the will of the Pakistan people.

Musharraf–Who Exactly Supports Him?

Pakistan’s President Musharraf has endured turmoil, conflict, and eroding support from various sectors of what once was his alliance of friends. The United States is beginning to turn away from him as their attention shifts to Pakistan military leaders, Saudi Arabia has lost confidence in his ability to govern, and the latest BBC World Service poll reveals a large majority of Pakistanis — 64%– believe the stability and security of Pakistan would improve “if President Pervez Musharraf were to resign now.” Only about 25% of respondents believe things would get worse if he left. There is little doubt he did stabilize the nation in the 1990s and allowed freedom of expression to emerge.

Perhaps, his greatest mistakes stem from keeping Benazir Bhutto’s party, the PPP, and the PML-N out of an active role in government. America forced him to accept an alliance with Bhutto and Saudi Arabia forced Nawaz Sharif to be allowed to participate in politics. His efforts to get himself elected for a secomd five year stint and is firing of Supreme Court justices began the process of creating extensive discontent throughout the nation. His actions sparked the lawyer rebellion and in the aftermath of the Bhutto death, the nation appeared to plunge into chaos.

The best thing for Pakistan is for the PPP and the PML-N to assume some role in government. At the least, it allows Musharraf to share success and failure with others. In the long run, his days in leadership are numbered. The main problem is no figure stands out as cacpable of assuming leadership in the difficult times that lay ahead.

Musharraf “Foreign Hand” Ploy

An editorial in the Lahore Daily Times criticised the Musharraf government for explaining away problems by casting blame on a “foreign hand” as being behind those forces causing problems. It quoted federal interior secretary, Syed Kamal Shah, as asserting the government had “cedible evidence” that “hostile foreign intelligence agencies” were fanning terrorism in Pakistan. Although no names were mentioned, it is assumed the foreign sources are from India. “We can recall the number of times the government and its senior bureuacrats have relied on it to explain acts of terrorism in the past.”

Musharraf is continually blaming America or Great Britain or India for his own failures. The Taliban was created by Pakistan’s ISI and tribal unrest in northwest regions is the result of local groups expressing anger toward the government. Musharraf, not foreign hands, instituted a state of emergency, it was Musharraf, not outsiders, who sacked members of the Supreme Court who opposed his dictatorial rule. During his current trip to Great Britain, the president has boasted that he cracks down on terrorism while all the British do is talk, but never take action. Perhaps, Musharraf has not lately gazed on the situation in the northwest where there is open rebellion. Its not me, its them is his ongoing explanation.

Electoral Winner Will Assume Power, Promises Musharraf

President Pervez Musharraf during his trip to Europe promised next month’s elecltion s in Pakistan will be free of any government control. “We muast have fair and transparent elections. Whoever wins, obviously power will be handed to them” he told reporters. Although, he is a strong supporter of human rights, the Pakistan president complained people in Europe and the United States appeared to have an “obsessive” interest in this topic. He blamed the death of Benazir Bhutto on militant leader, Baitullah Mehsud, and lamented that his political opponents were trying to link him to the assassination.

Musharraf has every right to complain about other nations seeking to influence the course of events in Pakistan, but he ignores how his own actions have led this to happen. The imposition of a state of emergency, the sacking of Pakistan Supreme Court judges, and restrictions on how media reports events only provided fuel for those who believe the people of Pakistan have a right to live in a nation governed by the rule of law.

Three Crises Of Musharraf’s Pakistan

In a rec ent talk with Pakistan reporters, President Musharraf discused the three crises confronting Pakistan. The crisis of establishing a vibrant democratic society, the war against terrorism and extremism, and the crisis of the economy if the first two can not be resolved. He admtted to the press there could be another crisis if al-Qaeda and the Talibanized militants were able to defeat the Pakistan army and can control of nuclear weapons. The president said he was prepared to work with a national unity government, but only after completion of the February election.

If Musharraf’s party, the PML-Q gains an undisputed majority in parllament it will trigger charges of vote rigging and throw Pakistan into another crisis of faith in the honesty of a Musharraf government. Pakistan’s public has literarlly given Musharraf a free hand over the past six years to combat extremism and, apparently, his approach is not proving very successful. It is unclear why another six years will produce anything different from what as transpired. Perhaps, the mother of all crises will soon be upon Pakistan if Pakistan’s army is unable not merely to contain, but to defeat militant insurgents in the northwest region of the nation.