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Let’s see if we can unwrap this Pakistan situation (update)
Posted by: McQ on Sunday, November 04, 2007

In reality, it seems like an extreme way to deal with a Supreme Court Musharraf disagrees with:
He accused the country’s Supreme Court of releasing 61 men who he said were under investigation for terrorist activities. “Judicial activism,” he said, had demoralized the security forces, hurt the fight against terrorism and slowed the spread of democracy. “Obstacles are being created in the way of democratic process,” he said, “I think for vested, personal interests, against the interest of the country.”
The dispute apparently goes back a few months:
“This is the first time Musharraf has brought in military rule to sustain himself in power,” he said. “He felt threatened by the Supreme Court.”

Mr. Chaudhry, the former chief justice, has been the focal point of the opposition to General Musharraf since the president fired him in March. With support from lawyers, judges and a wide public following, Mr. Chaudhry led a street-style political campaign against his summary firing that helped fuel popular sentiment against General Musharraf.

The Supreme Court reinstated Mr. Chaudhry this summer, and in September it ruled in favor of General Musharraf, saying he could run for re-election while still in uniform.
Hardly the portrait of a "Constitutional" ruler, but then it would be hard to argue that a guy who took over the country in a bloodless coup in 1999 was particularly concerned about the Constitution.

However, given the political situation in Pakistan and the fact that the country is on the eve of the election season, this may be a mistake by Musharraf. Opposition leaders and candidates are obviously going to take advantage of this situation as an object lesson as to why Musharraf should be voted out of office (obviously if they are ever able to have an election). And it appears that said opposition leaders plan some street protests to push their case:
Late Saturday evening, Islamabad and other major cities were quiet. But analysts said that General Musharraf’s fate would play out on Pakistan’s streets over the next three to four days.

If Ms. Bhutto’s party and other opposition groups are able to mount nationwide street protests, the general could be forced from power. In the past, Pakistan’s army has ousted military leaders when they felt their actions were damaging to the army as an institution.

“If there are street agitations and a lot of people are arrested, he’ll have problems,” Mr. Rizvi said.

At the same time, Ms. Bhutto’s political career is at stake as well, Mr. Rizvi said. If she fails to lead protests, she will lose legitimacy as an opposition leader, he said. And if she tries and produces a paltry turnout, she could find herself in jail or exile.
Or, unfortunately, dead (as there has already been one assassination attempt on her on the day she returned).

The US has been less than supportive of Musharraf's move:
In blunt and brief comments on Saturday, American officials condemned General Musharraf’s move. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanded a “quick return to constitutional law.” And in Washington, the White House spokesman, Gordon D. Johndroe, said, “This action is very disappointing,” and he called on General Musharraf to honor his earlier pledge to resign as army commander and hold nationwide elections before Jan. 15.
Before the chicken-littles of the left get too wound up about this, it's a situation we need to see develop a bit more. Frankly, it appears to be an internal political dispute much more than a threat by extremist Islamists (and the possibility that they may take over the government, get the bomb, and, well, you know the rest). The US needs to maintain and probably ratchet up the pressure on Musharraf to reinstate Constitutional power and desist from using martial law as a method of settling political problems. Such moves, however, are a characteristic move of authoritarian dictators, and there's little doubt that Musharraf, if given the opportunity, would be exactly that.

The other point the US needs to stress is it would be extremely unwise to delay the Jan. 15 elections or to go after opposition leaders if they lead protests against Musharraf's actions. Musharraf must be reminded that in a free country, such protests must be allowed. And, in as volitile a state as Pakistan is at the moment, any sort of brutal suppression could be the spark that sets off the magazine of open revolt. And if that happens, all sorts of bad outcomes could be the result.

This will be an interesting week or two in Pakistan and we need to monitor developments in that country closely. It will also be interesting to see if US diplomacy can, in that short time, make a positive difference.

UPDATE: Not good. Not good at all:
Pakistan's government on Sunday continued a nationwide crackdown on the political opposition, the media and the courts, one day after President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule and suspended the constitution in a bid to save his job.

Police throughout the country raided the homes of opposition party leaders and activists, arresting hundreds. Top lawyers were also taken into custody, and at the offices of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in the eastern city of Lahore, 70 activists were detained. Journalists covering the raid had their equipment confiscated by police, and were ordered off the premises.

The international advocacy group Human Rights Watch issued a statement condemning the move as "an appalling attack on human rights defenders."

Up to 500 opposition activists had been arrested in the last 24 hours, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said Sunday.

Aziz said the extraordinary measures would remain in place "as long as it is necessary." Aziz said parliamentary elections could be postponed up to a year, but no decision has been made regarding a delay.
Those actions and statements really up the ante. They go beyond a possible internal dispute and are fairly significant signals that Musharraf is headed towards establishing completely totalitarian rule. Things could get ugly quickly.

Question: Where's the military on all of this?
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Before the chicken-littles of the left get too wound up about this
Yeah, nothing to worry about: One of the 8 countries in the world with nuclear weapons in on the verge of becoming a failed state. Oh, and this just happens to be the area where Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda are, sttting comforably with signifcant popular support. (More than 50% of Pakistanis approve of bin Laden.) C’mon, McQ, I’m not sure what the U.S. should do — or even what we can do given our "other commitments" — but this is hardly the time to pretend that everything is hunky-dory. Pakistan is now the most dangerous country on the planet. While I think you’re on the right track in saying that America should ratchet up the pressure on Musharraf to democratize, I’m not sure what we can do that we have not already done. I’m not even sure of the U.S.’s preferred end-state for Pakistan. But let’s at least recognize that the U.S. has to pull together because this an extermely serious situation, regardless of how it transpired. It is hardly the time to play partisan politics by bashing "the chicken-littles of the left." That is craven and benath you.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
It happened because during the ’90s someone fell down on the job preventing nuclear proliferation. Instead they were busy keeping the waters superficially calm so they could claim a great legacy. (and some want to put that same crew back in office)

As for our current handling, invading Pakistan without the government’s authorization, which is the only other option, would have destabilized the Pakistani Government on the spot or united them with the pro AQ forces against us.

So basically DS is calling for us to have recreated Iraqi situation in Pakistan but with a much more hostile populous.

BTW, how would we have pursued AQ in Afghanistan without some degree of agreement from Pakistan? Seen a map lately?
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
So basically DS is calling for us to have recreated Iraqi situation in Pakistan
I am not even remotely suggesting such a thing. And, as I told McQ, this is simply not the time to be looking to assign blame. Now is the time to figure out the best course of action for the U.S. Frankly, I’m not sure there is anything we can do that won’t make matters even worse right now. But we must be prepared to do whatever is necessary to keep Pakistan’s nuclear weapons secure and, most importantly, ensure that these weapons are kept from the Islamaofacsists. I’m not suggesting that President Bush should say such a thing right now, but truly all options must be on the table. All options.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
The best course, it would appear, is to sit quietly and watch, and be ready to support Musharraf at need.

Let’s remember what Musharraf is up against... something like 50% of the people in his country support Usama Bin Laden. It’s admittedly a guess, but I’m willing to bet not a lot of them care much for the Constitution, either, particularly when they’d like to re-write it to the Taliban’s approval.

And what do you suppose will happen when such a government gets hold of the nukes in that country?

We can get all wrapping up in moralizing arguments about how we should be supporting Democracy and Musharraf is not play that game. But the bottom line is, out here in the real world, that unless Musharraf wins this one, Democracy doesn’t have much hope, there.

And what of Bhuto? Interesting you ask. Certainly she is a player, here and Musharraf will do well to cut a deal with her. And your question Buce asks about the military bears on this as well..

The fact is that the 50/50 split I spoke of, also happens to be true within the ranks of the Military there, by what I’ve been reading... and she simply doesn’t have the support of the Military, whereas Musharraf has it... mostly, if grudingly. IN a raw election, Bhuto would win a split election... perhaps 60/40 or something like that... and then be overthown by the AQ operating in the country, and the military wouldn’t lift a finger to stop them, so great is the sympathy for AQ.

I suspect that for whatever faults Musharraf has, he sees all this, and is reacting accordingly. Is it the best move? I’ve no idea. But given the conditions, I’m not willing to condemn it ouright, just now.








 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
But we must be prepared to do whatever is necessary to keep Pakistan’s nuclear weapons secure and, most importantly, ensure that these weapons are kept from the Islamaofacsists. I’m not suggesting that President Bush should say such a thing right now, but truly all options must be on the table. All options
Gotta say I agree.

Laying recriminations and blame over how Pakistan arrived here is next to useless now.

It blows, but it is possible that the "best" way to see this through is to wind up supporting a strongman (*LONG SIGH*)

Islamists must not get power there
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Shark;
Irony abounds... wasn’t that the lesson we learned in Iran? We got worried about the strongman tactics with the Shah.

His replacement should be a lesson to those who worry about strongman tactics, now.



 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Here’s one country where Erb’s cultural theory probably holds up better. You have an Islamic country with various tribal splits, a feudal society, and lots of illiteracy. 164 million people, 20,000 Madrassas and the nuclear bomb.

In the worst case scenario, what might be the easiest thing to remove from that equation if it comes down to it? The bombs.

So, hopefully we have thought about that a bit. What units are controlling them, where are they located etc.? Are those units more or less Islamist? Could we deploy troops to "protect" them in case of emergency?

But before that nightmare sort of decision has to be made, maybe we should be making aquaintence if not friends with multiple partners in the country. That’s probably why we support democracy there - not because its the most stable, necessarily, but because you can talk to all of the potential winning factions. You’d be trying to avoid the blowback scenario of "you backed the Shah, so we hate you forever, Great Satan."

What are the factions right now? Bhutto, Sharif, Musharraf, and various Islamists? How are we doing with each of those?

The other way is to back Musharraf to the hilt, and make damn sure their military is happy as can be in the circumstances. Keep in mind they’ve lost thousands of men in the past couple months alone!
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
It might have been possible to slow or stop the AQ Khan network, but Pakistan has been like this for a long time and I don’t think we can do much about it. And basically China gave them the bomb, no?

Frankly, I’d like to hear what plans India has if Islamic extremists take over Pakistan. The USA might not be the first target in mind for those nukes...

Could we even prevent an Islamist takeover? I am not sure that’s possible with the numbers. One thing in our favor may be that if the radicals implement too much crazy Islam stuff in the non-Pashtun areas, it could make them less popular over time. Most likely the whole world would just clench its collective buttocks.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
In the worst case scenario, what might be the easiest thing to remove from that equation if it comes down to it? The bombs.

So, hopefully we have thought about that a bit. What units are controlling them, where are they located etc.? Are those units more or less Islamist? Could we deploy troops to "protect" them in case of emergency?
As I gather it, the rockets and the warheads are stored in different locations. The idea being they’d have to attack two separate locations to get their hands on a functioning unit, or so the idea goes.

I can’t speak to the loyalties of the PK military units assigned to guard them, but given the 50/50 spilt I spoke of before, I can’t imagine that question hasn’t been addressed. I mean, if it had not, we’d have seen one of ’em fired off, already.

Balances of power within such places do shift, however, so how long that tatic holds... is anyone’s guess.


 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Pakistan is primarily a problem for India, secondarily a problem for the United States.

That said, there is much that can be gained in a crisis of this sort, if we have sufficient operators on the ground.

I trust, blindly, that someone who can be relied on is ready if Musharraf gets iced. I use "relied" here in the loose sense, but not so loose that the nukes get loose.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Pakistan is primarily a problem for India, secondarily a problem for the United States.
Well, that’s how it’s been for a long time, now, Martin... agreed. But a Usama BinLaden driven government becomes a threat to anything within range of the rockets, including Afghanistan, which those idiots would love nothing better than to re-aquire.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us

 
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