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l February 2004 l

The Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

l Vol 3, No 9 l

E D I T O R ' S   C H O I C E

Pak editor takes Musharraf to task
From SA Tribune

Musharraf started off as a popular man, though a military dictator, who raised hopes with his Kamal Ataturk rhetoric. Soon he allowed himself to be surrounded by same old discredited corrupt politicians and their paid cronies in the Establishment who led him to the garden path, says South Asia Tribune Editor-in-Chief, Shaheen Sehbai

Pervez Musharraf is a very unlucky man. The more he tries to extricate himself from the densely clogged web of domestic and regional hot wires, the more he sinks into the cesspool of uncertainty, despair and hopelessness.

Tragically all of this can easily be traced to his sheer incompetence, his bloated ego, pointless arrogance and needless bravado.

He started off as a popular man, though a military dictator, who raised hopes with his Kamal Ataturk rhetoric. Soon he allowed himself to be surrounded by same old discredited corrupt politicians and their paid cronies in the Establishment who led him to the garden path.

He committed one blunder after another domestically and internationally. First he threw away the Agra Summit with his macho, commando style diplomacy, held his phony referendum and manipulated the October elections. He did all this riding the tiger of his nuclear deterrence to keep the Indians away from a military adventure.

He was insulted by US President Bill Clinton but then came 9/11 and Musharraf jumped on the Bush bandwagon, throwing out all his old policies and positions one after another. The only factor which helped him was his grip on his Army. Then he planned a systematic purge of all those who could threaten him within the Army and announced he would take off his uniform when everyone senior to him had been packed home.

The continuing and threatened purge resulted in serious attempts to eliminate him physically, though Musharraf will never admit it could have been an inside Army job. Al-Qaeda was a convenient suspect.

After wasting 15 months, through sheer crookedness and arm-twisting, he pulled some politicians on board to get a Parliamentary majority. Then he came to the Parliament, sweated out his 15 minutes of infamy and left thinking his troubles may be over. Not yet.

Bang came the Western media blitz that Pakistan had been proliferating nukes and even during Musharraf’s days shipments to Libya had been detected. His nuclear deterrence had become an albatross around his neck. Now he is doomed if he admits the blame and will be damned if he does not.

No one else, fortunately, can be held responsible for Musharraf’s predicament. For the last 4 years he has been calling all the shots so he must take all the blame. His so-called elected Prime Minister has been too cunning with his folk wisdom – he never claimed to be in charge and always addressed the boss with his real title.

Musharraf has got into this box because he cannot think like a leader or a visionary. All his advisers are either boneheads or pygmies who cannot survive a day after Musharraf is gone. So their entire world depends on Musharraf’s survival. Hence all their policies and strategies are against those who could threaten Musharraf. In the process if they have to compromise anything or everything to anybody or everybody else in the world, they could care less.

This is exactly what they have done. Unnecessary concessions and compromises were made to the US, though the same friendly policies could have been pursued with dignity, self-respect and a modicum of sovereignty intact.

When the heat on Kashmir starting hurting, compromises were made without even checking what had already been achieved in the past by politicians, though discarded by Musharraf and his jackboots. Just compare the Lahore Declaration with the Islamabad Declaration and show us the difference. There is a “composite dialogue on all issues” in the Lahore Declaration and that too without any promise of stopping the Kashmiris from their struggle.

In fact a “composite dialogue” had always been the Indian slogan while we were always insisting the “Core Issue of Kashmir” must be addressed first. So Musharraf, under pressure, had to throw away the UN resolutions, the LoC ceasefire card, the numerous CBMs, just to obtain what had already been conceded by Vajpayee in Lahore without a heavy price. When personal friends like Income Tax expert Tariq Aziz, with no diplomatic or international experience, conduct such high level State negotiations, what else can be expected, except a veiled surrender.

But the most critical test has now come to a head with the nuclear proliferation issue. Here again Musharraf is not using the collective wisdom to meet a serious challenge to the entire nation. He thinks he can handle this one alone and like all his previous decisions, he will end up with the worst of both the worlds.

Already, instead of taking a solid principled position on the issue, the country’s top scientists have been made the scapegoat, insulted, humiliated and dumped, forcing an spirited outcry on the streets. Is this a dignified position? Can Musharraf get away with throwing mud in everyone’s eyes? Will anyone agree with him that the Army was not involved in the whole affair? The then Army Chief General Aslam Beg is so nervous he is shouting from every roof top he is not involved. Beg even said Benazir was responsible. How stupid he thinks everybody is? Why can’t Beg be debriefed and asked some relevant questions?

Musharraf has to come clean on this issue with a mature and dignified position, putting the facts straight, admitting that the State knew what was going on but had to look the other way as the country needed a nuclear capability, by hook or by crook.

Every other country has done that, so what is wrong in admitting that Pakistan too had used the black market. Has not India done it, or did the US not send enriched Uranium to Iran, or were the Germans and French not supplying nuclear parts to Israel, South Africa and everybody who wanted them. What did Israel do to a whistle blower in Europe?

But such forthright positions can be taken by leaders when they stand on solid legitimate ground themselves, supported by the nation. Musharraf’s weakness is that he lacks legitimacy and knows that. So all he does is defensive in nature and self-protecting.

If he had been the duly elected and recognized President of the country and today the Parliament had adopted a unanimous resolution supporting the country’s nuclear stand, Musharraf would not have been hiding from his own shadow, fearing where the next bullet would come from.

Even now he can go back to the people and retrieve the situation. He may have to curb his ego but in Pakistan’s interest, it may not be a big price.

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