Monday, August 18, 2008

Panic And Jubilation In The Wake Of Musharraf's Resignation

Now that Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has resigned, we can expect a tidal wave of propaganda -- some of it deliberately false, some well-meaning but still false -- about how nervous we should be for our future.

After all, Pakistan has terrorists and nuclear weapons. And only Pervez Musharraf could keep them apart. Or so the story goes.

We've been hearing variations on this story for years; but it's still only a story. We get it from the right and from the left:

Let's attack Pakistan
; We were attacked on 9/11 by terrorists from Pakistan; Pakistan is going ballistic and we don't even have anyone left in our government who knows anything about Pakistan, let alone somebody in a position to do something...

I don't always agree with Larisa Alexandrovna but I always pay attention. Just yesterday she wrote:
[A] civil war is bad, but a civil war in the same country housing both Al Qaeda and nukes, is really bad....

[A] civil war or any serious power structure threat in another country - especially Pakistan - is a threat of epic proportions.

Forget the Russian-Georgian conflict for a moment. Forget Iraq for a moment. Forget everything for one moment and understand, that if Pakistan explodes into a power struggle, that struggle/conflict will be the match that lights a world war [...] that we are not equipped to deal with anymore....
Were we ever equipped to deal with something like that? Not within my memory. But the "if" in Larisa's analysis is a big one, in my opinion.
So while our entire nation is drunk on election scandal after scandal, and while our entire nation is being bled dry of finances and human treasure, no one - NO ONE - is watching this crisis as it unfolds. They are all too busy playing at politics to care [...]
Not true. I've been up all night watching it unfold. I've been watching it unfold for the best part of the past two years. I've written dozens of posts about it. And I've just about given up on American politics ...

But Larisa's not talking about me. At least I hope she's not talking about me. (I don't mind being called a nobody, but does it have to be in capital letters?)

No, I think Larisa is talking about the federal government. And I think this because she continues:
They are all too busy playing at politics to care and they have already long ago removed any qualified intelligence expert on Pakistan from their post. We know very well that this administration replaced qualified people with political sock-puppets who are now in positions to fuck things up even more, but certainly not to understand the brewing world crisis.

I [loathe] Musharraf and want him removed from office. But right now, any change, big or small in the region is going to be a catastrophe. A change of ISI-backed Musharraf is going to be an epic catastrophe.
I hate to pass up a chance to be an alarmist, but I don't buy the story.

My understanding of Musharraf and his role in the events of the world runs much closer to the analysis published a few weeks ago by Samad Khurram, called: "Musharraf more dangerous than Osama in the War on Terror". It starts with a shocking revelation:
The former head of the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence’s (ISI) political cell recently confessed that he was responsible for political manipulation in Pakistan’s 2002 elections that led to Islamists coming to power in two provinces and gaining 59 seats in the National Assembly. This fraud was the work of the America’s supposedly unfaltering ally in the War on Terror, General (ret.) Pervez Musharraf and his desire to paint an image of Pakistan as an extremely dangerous, unstable country ready to fall into the hands of extremists the moment he leaves.

Musharraf pretends that he is the only hope for the US in Pakistan. Closer analysis, however, suggests that his claims are far from true. In the 2008 elections—which were much freer and fairer than those of 2002—only 6 seats went to the Islamists. In addition, a secular party won the majority of seats from the North-West Frontier Province where the War on Terror is actually taking place. These results prove that the people of Pakistan are against religious fundamentalism, something the US has largely ignored. In 1999, Pakistan was a stable country with a moderate political party in power. There were no suicide bombings, no abductions by extremists, and people were free to move about without security personnel. By 2007, Pakistan was among the world’s most dangerous places. This transformation is the result of Musharraf’s long, incompetent rule.
Of primary importance, in Musharraf's long, incompetent rule, and another detail missing from almost all Western news reports: His alliance with George Bush in the clearly bogus war against clearly bogus terror has been an utter disaster -- seen as treason by many Pakistanis and rightly so, in my opinion.

Samad Khurram won't go into the dark places where I tend to dig: he's not about to remind his readers how phony 9/11 looked at the time, or how much phonier it appears in hindsight.

He's headed in the right direction:
There are many other pieces of evidence to support that Musharraf is not committed to fighting terrorism now, or if he ever was. Musharraf’s own speeches and words, such as, “[I am] not going around trying to locate Osama bin Laden and Zawahri, frankly” are the biggest confirmation of his indifference. In addition, Washington has been shocked by news reports that the majority of the funds given to Pakistan are not used for the War on Terror. This news is corroborated by widely available pictures of troops in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas moving around in traditional ‘chappals’ (open foot shoes) and poor equipment. If even a small portion of the U.S. aid were spent on weapons upgrades, bullet proof jackets, reconnaissance devices and training, the results would have been much better. The Pakistan Army would have performed better: more terrorists caught, fewer casualties and more leads to Osama bin Laden.

Over the past eight years, Pakistan has received $11 billion from the U.S. in direct aid for fighting terrorism, billions from other countries for curbing extremism and development projects, and access to secret intelligence. In response to this, Musharraf has been repeatedly diverting funds in efforts to retain his support within the army, upgrade weapons to be used against India, or pay his supporters and crackdown on political opponents. His long, highly extravagant foreign tours to publicize his book or beg for more aid are hardly helpful in fighting terrorism. [...]

Last November, on the pretext of fighting terrorism a “state of emergency” was declared in Pakistan, and resulted in a country-wide crackdown on the judiciary, media, human rights activists, and anyone who could possibly oppose Musharraf. This was followed by the release of 25 high profile terrorists including former Taliban Defence Minister Mullah Obaidullah, who has close ties to Osama bin Laden and is the highest-ranking Taliban official ever captured.
But, even having laid out all this detail, Samad Khurram doesn't realize (or won't say) just as Larisa Alexandrovna doesn't realize (or won't say) that the Global War on Terror is completely bogus: the terror is bogus and the war is bogus too.

And Musharraf's role in the bogus war on bogus terror is to be a bogus ally. In other words, he's a liability on purpose, because this is exactly what the United States needs.

Without such powerful liabilities, the bogus war on bogus terror would be over by now, and the multi-billion dollar per year "homeland security" trough would be closed as well.

Instead, Samad Khurram spins the same line we usually see:
Musharraf is a major liability in the War on Terror, yet the Bush Administration fails to see this and continues to provide him unfaltering support.
In any case, as I was saying, the bulk of the panic is confined to people far away from Pakistan.

People on the ground there don't seem too concerned.

Bloomberg says Pakistani investors like the news:
Pakistan's Karachi Stock Exchange 100 Index jumped 4.5 percent after President Pervez Musharraf resigned...
The BBC reported people dancing in the streets of Rawalpindi, and lawyers giving thanks in the streets of Islamabad. [Dawn has published ample confirmation.]

And Bilawal Bhutto Zardari says Musharraf's resignation avenges the assassination of his mother!!

But let's not get too carried away.

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