Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hating Musharraf
Those chickens are comin' home to roost

Upon the return of Benazir Bhutto, the western media was all a'gog. Hailing her as Pakistan's deliverer from the evil Musharraf. Proclaimed A Hero for Democracy, she was given press passes for her less than stellar, and corruption riddled, past PM terms. Then, upon death, unofficially canonized by the same history challenged media (tho saved from such a real perilous fate by her Muslim religion...).

On the opposite end of the stick was the harsh criticism and journalistic sniping at Musharraf. He stood as the fall guy, demonized for all of Pakistan's failures in controlling the al Qaeda and Taliban in their tribal regions.

Western media then rejoiced at Benazir's PPP party victory in elections... sure that such a change would result in a more democratic Pakistan, and a thorough clean up of the militants in their midst.

Musharraf, who previously had
threatened to resign if the Parliament so much as whispered the word "impeach" in his direction, now finds himself politically isolated after the inauguration of the new Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Not only does Nawaz Sharif have it in for Musharraf, Gilani also has his past beefs with Pakistan's President. Both have been booted out, and/or jailed and arrested by Musharraf - both charged with corruption. And payback for the Prez is proving to be a real bitch as they apply pressure for his ouster.

So it's no surprise that rumours abound regarding his imminent resignation. Who can blame the guy? The western media treated him slightly better than they treat our own President, totally oblivious to the narrow line a Muslim President must walk, and unappreciative for the help he has provided the US. Fact is, Muslim countries do not like to be seen as cooperating overtly with the evil western US. So most aid needed to remain below the NYT's press radar in order to minimize backlash from the Pakistanis themselves.

Well, congratuations, all you history challenged PPP/Benazir lovers. You are about to be granted that "Pakistan" you have craved since Bhutto's return. A Pakistan that rejects your perceived enemy, Musharraf, and comes up with a new way to deal with the militants in their midst....

There's no more military missions. It's negotiate with the bad guys time.

But Mr Negroponte and Mr Boucher scheduled early calls on Mr Sharif and Mr Zardari, both of whom have indicated that the new democratic coalition intends following a very different policy from Mr Musharraf on the war against terror and dealing with jihadi militants.

Both said this week they believed the Washington-backed military assault against the jihadis had failed and that they were keen to try negotiations in an effort to end the wave of suicide bomb attacks.

It must be pointed out that Sharif's past ties to hardline militants is still of great concern, especially given his position of power today. A position made possible by Musharraf's agreement not to enforce the 10 year exile to Saudi Arabia... thereby signing his own political death warrant.

It must also be noted that the history of negotiations with the militants in the tribal regions has produced more broken truces and failures than the joint military attempts.

Which brings us to today... Pakistan has basically elected an "Obama" impersonator... a prime minister who believes in talk over fighting. Mr. "let's talk" Obama, on the other hand, has just boxed himself into a foreign policy corner. His publicly laid out
cowboy policy towards Pakistan, threatening to go in without their permission if he has "actionable intelligence", is not going to sit well with Gilani and the new power in Parliament.

Needless to say, this new and lesser approach by a perceived ally will present problems for either candidate landing in the Oval Office. McCain will face resistance for cooperative joint missions, formerly granted by Musharraf on the sly. And the presumed DNC nominee, Obama, is now on a direct collision course with Pakistan unless he starts furiously backpeddling.

These events will give new meaning to Joni Mitchell's lyrics, "Well, don't it always seem to go - That you don't know what you got till it's gone".... The media drove the US into a frenzy of hate against Musharraf.

Yet he shall be sorely missed when those chickens do indeed come home to roost.

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