Posted by MataHarley on 24 August, 2008 at 2:08 pm. 5 comments already!


While the US media has again been mesmerized by all things Obama these past few weeks, there has been news in the rest of the world. Adding to the world eyeing the Russia-Georgia conflict warily, we have the country who is key to the global war against the Islamic jihad movement— Pakistan…

Key to the Biden selection may just be an Obama, to his credit, astute to the unique quandary of Pakistan in the next POTUS term. Astute, yes? But does Biden, perceived as a Pakistani expert by many, share Obama’s cowboy policy towards Pakistan?

Some Pakistan recent history and events

The chapter currently ending began Nov 2007 with Musharraf stepping down as General of the Pak Army (after winning the election for the Presidency) … and continues in a new chapter with Musharraf’s resignation, forced by impending impeachment proceedings successfully led by the two largest power sharing parties in the parliament, PPP’s Zardari (Bhutto’s widower) and PML-N’s Nawaz Sharif.

The western world was convinced that the rise of the PPP party to power early this year would introduce not only democracy to Pakistan, but a new era of a more effective terror ally. That’s because the western world preferred to ignore the history of both Bhutto’s and Nawaz’s ties to militant Islamists. A history that the Pakistanis themselves well remember. So upon Musharraf’s resignation, reaction in the nation was mixed.

Down with the American stooge.” Jaffar Shah, a retired soldier in Peshawar, said: “The root cause of all problems has gone. I wish I could fire shots to show my joy but unfortunately I can’t do that.” People in Karachi handed out sweets and danced in celebration. “Thank God he’s resigned. The country will do much better now. It’s a victory for the people,” said a businessman. In Lahore, the sound of drums and cheers of joy echoed throughout this ancient walled city. Elsewhere, people fired Kalashnikovs in the air to celebrate. Some Pakistanis harboured what seem unrealistic expectations for the post-Musharraf outlook: “Inflation is surely going to go down now,” said one shopkeeper.

Others were less optimistic as despite Musharraf’s unpopularity, many Pakistanis are suspicious of the civilian politicians — a number of whom have returned to power — were dogged by accusations of corruption and mismanagement when they ruled in the 1990s. Some said they feared that with Musharraf gone, the coalition would be beset by infighting between them. Other Pakistanis sounded a note of caution, saying that the nation would now likely see more political chaos. “I think we should see about the state of the country. The coalition have been saying Musharraf was a big obstacle. We will see what they do now,” Ahmed, a political analyst said

As controversial as Musharraf was – certainly no saint, but no demon either – as a US ally, the larger question is if his replacement is merely an act of jumping from the frying pan into the fire in US-Pakistan relations.

Per Pakistan laws, an election for a new President must occur within 30 days of the resignation. One thing Musharraf’s presence had on parliament was it served as the tie that bound the PPP and PML-N, normally warring factions. In the wake of his disappearance, this fragile alliance between the two powerhouses is suffering a rift, and internal politics can paralyze Pakistani progress in many fronts.

And as a demonstration of the conscious eye on power by the Pak coalition parties, they’ve long vowed to strip Musharraf’s presidential power to dismiss parliament and make top military and judicial appointments. However Zardari, casting his ambitions on the Presidential seat himself, opted against doing this to keep those same powers for himself. This is representative of the very problem of their past corrupt PM admins… this quest for all encompassing power, with more than a healthy dose of corruption.

True to form, Zardari has announced himself as the PPP candidate, and the war of words between Zardari and Nawaz has begun.

The PML-N leadership is almost in a state of mourning after what is now being considered as the death of a dream which, the party leadership claims, was kept alive by Mian Nawaz Sharif by showing extreme patience, maturity and vision, despite repeated and embarrassing betrayals by Zardari.

“We were trying to show to the world and our military and civilian establishment that the politicians have learnt their lessons and they would now practice the politics of principles, never indulge in petty power politics and lead by example, sacrificing their personal and party interests for larger national causes,” the PML-N leader said.

“But Mr Zardari could not pull himself out of the groove of grabbing key positions, rewarding his cronies and friends and never overcoming the fear factor,” the leader said. This PML-N assessment will be presented before a key kitchen cabinet meeting of the party bosses at Raiwind on Sunday and a full party Central Executive Committee meeting on Monday to decide the party policy after the coalition is formally declared dead and buried.

Since last fall, the state of Pakistan has been in free fall… both for security and for economic repercussions of the price of oil. Certainly the latter can not be tied to the political changes, but the increase in terrorism since Musharraf was General is quite notable… as well as the further entrenchment of Taliban/AQ cells.

The truces made in 2006 with these militants fell apart just a year later. Musharraf had been criticized by the US for capturing, but letting the militants go with what appear to be random selection.

But is the new coalition government any different? Or perhaps even worse for paralyzed inaction?

They too signed deals with the militants under the promises they would not wreak terror on Pakistan soil, harbor foreign militants, and deport the same. Yet the new coalition government has released large numbers of Taliban prisoners in it’s short tenure as part of the negotiations. These truces are unraveling faster than those attempted by the Musharraf government. And this new government is less inclined to use the army to reign in the terrorists.

Add to that, the infiltration of corruption into both the Pak intel services and the military of jihad supporters. Who will ferret out these dual agents and gain the upper hand on terrorist cells, proliferating in Pakistan?

As a result, Pakistan has had a notable increase on terror attacks in the past 8-9 months, and the violence rages on even now as the two parties war for power of the Presidency.

This new Pak rule has the Pentagon and CIA at odds on how to deal with the changes in Musharraf’s wake. The new government is resisting US anti-terrorist training for the Pak army. They are also not effective in battling the terrorists themselves. Recently the CIA leadership has favored more large scale, cover and direct action in Pakistan (ala the Cowboy Obama) while Pentagon and WH admin officials resist military action on the soil of a perceived ally – progressing towards democracy (at least in words…) – that will fuel a new spate of anti-US reaction worldwide.

Obama-Biden on Pakistan

Which brings us to the naïve Obama, perhaps bolstering his Pakistan foreign policy credibility by adding Biden. Joe “let’s split Iraq up” Biden is a supporter of the PPP, and a critic of Musharraf’s relationship as an ally. But how does he propose to change this? The way any Democrat thinks… throw money.

But Biden doesn’t suggest US cash for fighting terrorism… he wants to triple US humanitarian aid to Pakistanis, to the tune of $1.5 bil annually. Needless to say, the influx of cash from the US with no military strings wins the hearts of the Pakistanis… but just what good will it do for fighting terrorism if they continue to resist doing it internally, and block the US from either training, or acting within their borders?

In my opinion, Biden, who suggests he possesses superior understanding on Pakistan, has totally missed the boat with his recent August statements on Musharraf’s resignation…

“The two major parties in the governing coalition – the PPP and the PML-N – worked together to bring about a change in government through constitutional and nonviolent means. This transition represents the first time in Pakistani history in which a president installed by the military has been removed by constitutional political action.

“I urge Pakistan’s leaders to focus now on the pressing challenges of the future and resist the temptation to settle scores of the past. President Musharraf made the right choice in stepping down. I hope his resignation marks the end of the political turmoil that has immobilized the Pakistani government in recent months.”

If Biden couldn’t see the stabilizing factor Musharraf had, nor predicted the inevitable power war that would ensue, he’s only slightly more savvy than Obama on Pakistan foreign policy. Add to that, throwing more cash at Pakistan when many US citizens are royally PO’d enough for the cash we’re already shipping their way… with nothing to show for it… is not going to go over well here. The US doesn’t want to support Pakistan. We want to support their war on terror. Needless to say, Biden’s foreign policy credentials are not only overrated, but are totally misguided considering what it is the US wants from Pakistan.

We know what we’ll get with Obama-Biden… more non-military aid from US taxpayers, and little results from this ineffectual government for aid in controlling Islamic jihad. How about McCain?

If you’ve read much of my rants and dissertations here, you’ll know I feel I have no dog in this POTUS race. I am unthrilled with both, and just more antagonistic towards BHO for his domestic policies alone. But McCain’s policy, previously framed around working with Musharraf, needs to undergo alternations and clarification.

Back in March, he also advocated for a “multidimensional approach”, and hinted at additional incentive money in addition to the training of law enforcements and armies… but not with any specifics to amounts, or the oversight to keep this US money flowing.

“Prevailing in this struggle will require far more than military force. It will require the use of all elements of our national power: public diplomacy; development assistance; law enforcement training; expansion of economic opportunity; and robust intelligence capabilities. I have called for major changes in how our government faces the challenge of radical Islamic extremism by much greater resources for and integration of civilian efforts to prevent conflict and to address post-conflict challenges. Our goal must be to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the vast majority of moderate Muslims who do not want their future controlled by a minority of violent extremists. In this struggle, scholarships will be far more important than smart bombs.”

He’s sounds a lot like a nuance Obama thus far…

“The resignation of President Musharraf is a step toward moving Pakistan onto a more stable political footing. Pakistan is a critical theatre in countering the threat of al Qaeda and violent Islamic extremism, and I look forward to the government increasing its future cooperation (with the US).”

Not enough substance for me. I believe McCain’s got a better handle on Russia/Georgie, but thus far I’m not hearing enough specifics from the GOP candidate on how Pakistan will fit into his dedication to battling the global Islamic jihad movements.

But then, he may have some time. For a as Arif Rafriq says at the Pakistan Policy blog:

Forecasting the next administration’s policy toward Pakistan is of questionable utility. Pakistan’s present volatility suggests that U.S.-Pakistan relations could be more shaped by the ground realities in Pakistan than in the United States. When campaign promises and track records meet present exigencies and the burden of responsibility, the latter two take precedence.

The next POTUS will have to have deep understanding of the region, the internal players vying for power, and the rapid changes that Pakistan will be undergoing. In short, it will be an very important foreign policy, with less ability to genuinely shape that nation’s politics, but most surely in constant reactionary mode.

But one thing is certain… performing military actions on Pakistani soil, without their cooperation or permission, is a recipe for guaranted inflation for warfare.

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