Posts Tagged ‘pervez musharraf’

Pakistani Parliament Reacts against US Incursions

May 14th, 2011 Comments off

Pakistan’s elected parliament held a 10-hour session on Friday and decided at the end of it that US incursions, including drone strikes, into Pakistan must cease. The American drone strikes in the northwest, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas have long been unpopular in parliament and with the general public (though in some of the FATA administrative divisions as few as 10% say they even care; some are more worried about al-Qaeda spreading local terrorism than about drones).

parliament said that if the drone strikes do not cease, it will take revenge by impeding the free passage of NATO materiel destined for landlocked Afghanistan.

In an unprecedented move, the Pakistani military allowed itself to be grilled by the civilian parliamentarians. Gen. Shuja Pasha, the current head of Inter-Services Intelligence, took responsibility for two major intelligence errors– failing to find Bin Laden even though he was in Abbotabad near the military academy, and failing to detect US helicopters coming into the country to carry out the mission against Bin Laden. Gen Pasha even offered to resign if the parliament asked that of him. Accountability and contrition and willingness to step down are not generally attributes of the Pakistani officer corps.

Many countries in the greater Middle East are characterized by ‘dual sovereignty.’ That is, there are two major seats of power, authority and legitimacy rather than just one. For decades, in Turkey the civilian, elected government was constrained by the power of the officer corps. The same thing was true in Pakistan. In Iran, the elected parliament and prime minister are constrained by the Supreme Leader, a cleric.

Since 2007, when military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf made the mistake of sacking the chief justice of the Supreme Court, civilian society has been gradually asserting itself against the military. It has had successes and failures. The Pakistan Spring of 2007-2008 force Gen. Musharraf from power and returned the country to the civilian political parties such as the Pakistan People’s Part, the Muslim League, the MQM, and so forth. Musharraf ultimately had to step down. But although the army went back to the barracks, and the civilian political parties came to power, the power of the army has been virtually unchecked nevertheless. In the Musharraf period, there was no dual sovereignty, since

We should not overestimate the significance of Friday’s parliamentary session. It is a little unlikely that parliament can effectively stop the drone strikes. And President Asaf Ali Zardari and his prime minister Gilani are both complicit in allowing the US to hit Pakistan, according to state department cables released by Wikileaks.

Still, Friday saw steps forward toward ending dual sovereignty and restoring a rule of law and civilian control over the military in Pakistan.

The US, which has long held that Pakistan should move to a more democratic system, is therefore in a conundrum. If parliament is asserting more prerogatives, this is a good thing from Washington’s point of view. But the assertion of those rights threatens US ability to act with impunity toward Pakistan and toward the Taliban in that country.

The drone strikes have long been questioned by civil libertarians and they should only continue if a) they are carried out by the Department of Defense, not the CIA (government officials cannot even discuss a classified CIA operation); and b) if there is a status of forces agreement between the US and Pakistan governing their use.

The Pakistani parliament will have done us all a great favor if it helped provoke this outcome.

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Secret Pakistani Deal with US on Bin Laden

May 10th, 2011 Comments off

It turns out that when President Obama ordered the Navy SEALs to get Usama Bin Laden in Abbotabad, he did not infringe against Pakistani sovereignty after all. Rather, he was acting in accordance with a longstanding secret agreement between Washington and Islamabad, according to The Guardian. The agreement even stipulated that the Pakistani government would be constrained by public opinion to condemn the US action in the aftermath, however insincere the rebuke might be.

Those who are unnecessarily worrying that Obama’s raid was lawless or set a precedent can rest easy; the only precedent is not military, but rather for back-room deals among governments who then put on public Kabuki plays.

The shadowy agreement explains why Prime Minister Gilani gave such a tepid speech on the whole affair. He demanded no apology from the United States, appointed no commission of inquiry, and did not seem unduly alarmed (because he was not). He said that Bin Laden’s demise greatly benefited Pakistan, on which, he said, Bin Laden had declared war. Gilani, a relatively secular politician from a prominent Sufi family of Multan, was no doubt delighted to have Bin Laden out of the way. He did push back against suggestions that the Pakistani military knowingly harbored Bin Laden, though he admitted that the terrorist’s residence in Abbottabad was an embarrassment. Maybe not as big an embarrassment, he archly suggested, as invading a whole country such as Iraq on the basis of mistaken intelligence about WMD. But an embarrassment nevertheless.

Aljazeera reported on the speech, but went to press before the Guardian’s revelation.

The Guardian reports that a decade ago, then Pakistani dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf made a deal with Washington acknowledging that US troops could come into Pakistan to strike at top al-Qaeda leaders whenever they liked. Aware that any such incursion would be unpopular, Musharraf warned his new American patrons that the Government of Pakistan would likely condemn it in public so as to assuage the population. The agreement was reaffirmed during the transition to civilian, parliamentary rule, in spring-summer of 2008, according to The Guardian

In August of 2008, as the civilian government was about to take over from Gen. Musharraf, US officials met with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani . He pledged to them that the Pakistani military would prosecute to the end its then campaign in Bajaur against the Pakistani Taliban. The US embassy reported back to Washington,

‘ [Interior Minister Rehman] Malik suggested we hold off alleged Predator attacks until after the Bajaur operation. The PM brushed aside Rehman’s remarks and said ‘I don’t care if they do it as long as they get the right people. We’ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it.’

Bush & Gilani

Bush & Gilani

Other cables confirm that it has been routine for US special operations forces to work in tandem with their Pakistani peers on Pakistani soil, with the secret concurrence of Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani.

Not only was Gilani merely going through the motions in Monday’s speech, but so was virtually the entire country. In the last couple of years, al-Qaeda’s favorability rating in Pakistan has fluctuated between 9% and 18%. I would argue that in any society, at least 10% of the people who answer polls are looney toons or have very strange politics, so in reality almost no reasonable Pakistanis thought much of Bin Laden. There have been no massive demonstrations in the wake of his killing. In June of 2007, 50,000 people are said to have come out in Lahore to demand the reinstatement of the supreme court justice who had been dismissed by the military dictator, Musharraf. They were offended by an attack on the rule of law by a general. So we know what gets Pakistanis exercised. The small scattered demonstrations against Bin Laden’s death in Pakistan during the past week, mostly by members of the minority fundamentalist party (the Jama’at-i Islami) have been a posthumous humiliation for him.

Since nearly 60 percent of Pakistanis think the US is their enemy, whatever passion the raid on Bin Laden elicited had far more to do with defense of the nation’s borders than with any admiration for al-Qaeda terrorism. Of course, 64% of Pakistanis say want better relations with the US, which has to raise questions about what they mean by that ‘enemy’ crack.

The raid on Abbotabad reopened recent wounds for many Pakistanis. This spring has been dominated by the scandal of CIA operative Raymond Davis, who shot two men in broad daylight in downtown Lahore last January, then got himself arrested while he was taking photographs of the corpses and inventorying their private effects. An extraction team from the US embassy ran over another Pakistani with their van in their haste to reach the scene, and anyway arrived too late to prevent the arrest. Davis was finally released when the US allegedly paid $2.4 million in blood money (diya) to family members, who under Islamic law have the prerogative of not pressing charges if they are satisfied with the diya offered.

Please don’t tell the Oklahoma state legislature, which recently attempted to outlaw resort to any element of Islamic law.

The Davis saga played to Pakistani fears of having been infiltrated by masses of Blackwater/ Xe operatives, anxieties stoked by the big US military footprint in the area as a result of the Afghanistan war next door. On the other hand, the polarization might be lessening. Few Pakistanis any longer admire those violent Pashtuns of southern Afghanistan who struggle against US and NATO troops

It was in a post-Davis Pakistan that the mission against Bin Laden took place. Luckily, most Pakistanis had no use for al-Qaeda, and so public anger hardly boiled over at his death. Urban middle class people even welcomed it, because they feel that al-Qaeda has made their lives insecure with its domestic bombings and has smeared them with the tag of terrorist when they travel to the west.

Ultimately, the key to the erratic behavior of the Pakistani government toward the US and its interests lies in a basic contradiction. The Pakistani elite is wedded to the $3 billion in aid that the US donated to them in 2010. That elite is also allied with the US against some of the Taliban factions. On the other hand, the Pakistani officer corps sees Afghanistan as their sphere of influence, and refuses to cede it to the US. Elements of the Inter-Services Intelligence seem to be allied with Jalaluddin Haqqani and his network, which fights the US and Karzai in Afghanistan and is based in North Waziristan.

These contradictions make it tough for the Pakistani political class to save face. But that is what Gilani and others were trying to do in his recent speech.

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Lawsuit over Drones in Pakistan forces CIA Station Chief to Flee

December 18th, 2010 Comments off

The Guardian reports that a lawsuit brought by a Pakistani journalist over wrongful deaths in drone strikes has forced the CIA station chief in Islamabad to flee the country. The official’s identity was discovered by the journalist, Karim Khan of North Waziristan from other journalists or possibly from disgruntled elements in the Pakistani military. It was alleged that the station chief had entered the country on a tourist visa and so had no diplomatic immunity.

The episode demonstrates the miseries of postmodern warfare, wherein President Obama is treating Pakistan the way Henry Kissinger treated Cambodia. If the US is going to conduct military operations in a country, it should be in the terms of a Status of Forces Agreement, and should be carried out by the Department of Defense. To have the CIA just lob missiles onto civilian villages in another country is wrong for all kinds of reasons. CIA operations are covert and US officials cannot even talk about them in public. There therefore can be no public debate or scrutiny of the policy. And, the whole operation breaks US law, since it is essentially a mass assassination campaign, not a war.

While the Pakistani courts might have been reluctant to pursue the case, public anger in Pakistan over the drone strikes runs high and Khan might have landed an activist judge. Activist judges, after all, played a major role both in overthrowing the US-backed military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and in curbing the powers that the executive had arrogated to itself. Could the US drone program be next in its sights?

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Gen. Busharrraf

October 18th, 2010 Comments off

“Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is stated to have shared a lunch with a couple of members of Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, at a Chinese restaurant in Kensington area of central London a few days ago.”

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Musharraf going to UAE to plot possible political comeback

March 23rd, 2010 Comments off

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who resigned under the threat of impeachment in 2008, is reportedly considering a political comeback and plans to meet counterparts and supporters in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to discuss his political future.
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Zardari Turns Nuclear Arsenal over to PM Gilani

November 29th, 2009 Comments off

By far the most important news coming out of Pakistan has nothing to do with al-Qaeda or the Taliban. It is a tale of the maneuvering of a wounded, corrupt presidency to avoid snap parliamentary elections, and to avoid renewed scrutiny by a newly feisty Supreme Court. And,I would argue that it is about poor economic management of the country, which is weakening the present government.

Pakistan’s beleagured President Zardari turned over control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal to his prime minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, on Saturday. In Pakistan’s parliamentary system, the prime minister is sometimes very powerful, but martial law provisions have in recent years invested the president with more powers. Zardari is under pressure from civilian politicians of all stripes to rescind his own extensive presidential powers and to return to a parliamentary system. Zardari has been slow to renounce the control the president gained under Gen. Pervez Musharraf, which has added ot his considerable unpopularity. Zardari faces several outstanding corruption cases, now that an amnesty passed by Musharraf in 2007 has expired, but he continues to enjoy immunity as long as he remains president. Zardari therefore suddenly has a powerful incentive to keep his government from falling, and to assauge the anger at him of the Supreme Court and parliament. Relinquishing some key presidential powers may buy Zardari time.

AFP reports that the official inflation rate in Pakistan this year is 10 percent, and the true rate is much higher because that figure only measures government-supplied goods whereas most people shop in the markets. AFP adds:

‘ The rupee has depreciated by 35 per cent in the last year while electricity, gas and petrol prices have doubled in the last two. The country faces a crippling energy crisis, producing only 80 per cent of its power needs, causing debilitating blackouts and suffocating industry. ‘

There are also high prices for staples such as sugar.

AFP quotes a Pakistani observer saying that bad economic performance does not bring down governments in Pakistan– rather they most often fall prey to military coups. But popular movements and demonstrations do help bring down governments, as with Bhutto in 1977. The return to civilian rule in 1988 was a function not only of the death in a plane crash of Gen. Zia ul-Haq, but also of the demonstrations launched by the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy from the mid-1980s, which dissuaded the military from trying to stay in power. And popular demonstrations were key to the fall of Gen. Pervez Musharraf in 2007-2008. Anything that rallies the urban masses in Pakistan can affect the fortunes of the sitting government, and people are upset about the economy.

The rival of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, led by Nawaz Sharif, might already have attempted to bring down the the government (elected February 2008) and force midterm elections, except for fear of so destabilizing civilian politics and bringing the military back in. Still, the PMLN believes that the PPP government may well fall before its 5-year mandate is up. Nawaz Sharif is said to prefer even Zardari’s presidency to another officers’ putsch.

End/ (Not Continued)

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What did Rawalpindi Militants Want?

October 11th, 2009 Comments off

A hostage standoff at Pakistani military HQ in Rawalpindi ended violently on Sunday morning when Pakistani troops stormed the compound where the militants had holed up with 25 hostages. Three of the hostages were killed in the course of the assault, along with two army troops and four militants.

Earlier the militants, some dressed in Pakistani military uniforms, had driven up to the entrance. When they were nevertheless challenged, they opened fire, killing several Pakistani troops and two officers, one a brigadier, and some of them were killed. Others escaped, and managed to take hostages for a time.

AP has video on the end of the hostage crisis at the military HQ. One of the hostage-takers is said to have been wearing a suicide bomb belt, but Pakistani Special Ops agents took him out before he could detonate it.

Since there is a general American hysteria over Pakistan, it is important to note that the militants just carried out a garden-variety terrorist operation. They did not take or hold anything except on a very temporary basis, and there were not that many of them. The incident is a sign that small terrorists bands can be resourceful and can deploy terrorist operations for civil political gain. The incident does not prove that military HQ is open to being routinely attacked. Any mention of Pakistan’s nuclear enrichment program in this connection should be viewed with suspicion.

Geo satellite television broadcasting in Urdu reported that the “Amjad Faruqi Brigade” of the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (Taliban Movement of Pakistan) called the television station and said it was responsible for the attack on Pakistan army HQ in Rawalpindi. The group made several demands:

1. Former President Gen. Pervez Musharraf must be brought to justice

2. The US military must cease being afforded the use of military bases in Pakistan

3. Xe (the mercenary outfit they still call Blackwater) must be expelled from Pakistan (the Pakistani public believes that their country is crawling with Xe mercenaries)

On Friday, some 49 persons were killed and dozens wounded in a market bombing claimed by the Taliban, as Aljazeera English reports:

The Pakistani government underlined that these attacks have only stiffened its resolve to launch a major military operation in Waziristan to clean out the Taliban and allied movements.

End/ (Not Continued)

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Musharraf says US involvement in Middle East unacceptable to Muslim world

September 28th, 2009 Comments off

Lahore, Sep. 28 : Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said that the Muslim world would not accept America's involvement in the Middle East peace process because the US has always been pro-Israel.
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PML-N urges Supreme Court to hear petition against Musharraf afresh

September 11th, 2009 Comments off

Islamabad, Sep 10: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) has asked the Supreme Court to hear afresh the petition against Gen Pervez Musharraf for violating the court's order in sending party leader Nawaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia in 2007.
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Saudi Arabia not in favour of Musharraf’s trial

September 1st, 2009 Comments off

Saudi Arabia Tuesday said it is not in favour of a trial against former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf which could further deteriorate the volatile political situation in that country, the Online news agency reported.
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