In Support of Musharraf

There is a concerted attack in the western mainstream media to tar the Waziristan accord and President Musharraf along with it, however it’s the story framing that reveals the agenda in our press.

Our press is united in opposition to the accord because President Bush is supporting it, reporters tend to take the most nihilistic view of anything they cover, and besides it’s easy to take shots at Musharraf when Pakistan’s in election season. 

It is however perilous to undermine Musharraf at this time: Pakistan has nukes, there are many splintered extremist parties opposed to Musharraf, Iran is exhibiting signs of supporting insurgency in Balochistan as well as sending fighters to Afghanistan, and the devil we know is probably better in this instance.

Yesterday there were two attempts to assassinate Musharraf within 12 hours, both failed. If the accord were not effective against Al Qaida, would there be attempts? If Musharraf continues to support a farm league for the Afghanistan insurgency, then why are they after him?

UPDATE: MUSHARRAF DODGES THIRD ASSASINATION ATTEMPT

ISLAMABAD: The third attempt in a row on President Pervez Musharraf’s life was foiled when security agencies found and defused two 107mm rockets ready to launch, installed at the Kashmir Highway near the Lok Virsa turning, right in front of the headquarters of a sensitive agency, official sources told The News.

The Kashmir Highway is one of the three routes of President Musharraf’s motorcade and the president could take this route for the Presidency, security agency sources said. Army experts as well as local police and other security agencies rushed to the scene and cordoned off the area after taking over the control by encircling yellow tape around the scene.

The bomb disposal unit of Army defused the rockets, wired with some devices after about 45-minute efforts, the sources said. Military experts, police and personnel of Army and civil security agencies have combed the nine kilometres area adjacent to the routes to trace any other missile fixed around it, the sources said.

The terrorists seemed to be repeating the previous plot for targeting the president by firing rockets at his motorcade, the official sources on condition of anonymity said the rockets were fixed in a thick growth between a trees cluster, the same way as rockets were planted at Constitution Avenue adjacent to the Privatisation Commission.

Authorities earlier claimed that it was ‘mock exercise’ to check the response and reaction from the security agencies after the serious threat to the president’s life but acknowledged the reality through an official statement saying, “Today at 9am, two 107mm Rockets were found in green belt close to Kashmir Highway Islamabad. The law-enforcement agencies promptly reacted on the scene and defused the rockets. Local police are investigating the case.”

 

One reason could be that he has severed ties with the Afghanistan Taliban through the accord, another could be that elections are coming up. One of Musharraf’s opponents points out the dichotomy below, and even accuses Musharraf of being Taliban (a laughable thing now, if Musharraf’s Taliban, why are they trying to kill him?) From the Frontier Post:

Asfandyar held the Pakistani government equally responsible for fuelling international terrorism with its flawed policies. He said Musharraf sought to prove his relevance and importance by playing up issues such as Taliban, extremism and terrorism. “Musharraf is talking of the Taliban who were backed by his own government at one point in time. Under a well-thought-out plan, local Taliban have been created in FATA,” he maintained. Asfandyar insisted Pakhtuns were a moderate, democratic and peace-loving nation, with no extremist tendencies. “Taliban can’t represent Pakhtuns, 90 percent of whom abhor Taliban-style politics.” He went on to say: “Now is the time Musharraf thought for the welfare of Pakhtuns living on this side of the Durand Line instead of making statements in favour of those living in Afghanistan.” Asfandyar could not read the real motives behind Musharraf’s efforts to speak for Pakhtuns of Afghanistan at a time when the Balochs, Sindhis, Seraikis and Pakhtuns felt their rights were under threat. “I wonder why Musharraf is trying to cheat the world powers by projecting himself as a supporter of Pakhtuns,” he said, adding the general could be a representative of Taliban.

Election rhetoric aside, at one point the ISI in Pakistan was actively fueling the Taliban, as Bill Roggio points out at the Fourth Rail. Musharraf undoubtably had designs on Southern Afghanistan’s Pashtun areas — however that, like a lot of things changed on 9/11. Retired ISI are now actively opposing him, and perhaps like our CIA leakers, they have friends still on the inside. From the Fourth Rail Article:

This is also a warning from the pro-Taliban elements of the ISI (or Inter Services Agency, Pakistan’s intelligence agency), both active and retired, as they fear Musharraf act against them based on pressures from the West. Hamid Gul, the former director of the ISI, recently warned Musharraf that he risked opening “Pandora’s box” by taking action against him and the ISI. Gul is the architect of Pakistan’s ‘strategic depth’ strategy that led to the rise of the Taliban.

I have long looked at Hamid Gul as a mercenary double or triple agent, at any given time he is promoting the line of the party paying him the most at the moment, including promoting anti-Pakistan propaganda from India at times. If you go back pre-September 11th, there are also stories of responsibility for the failed missile strikes on Bin Laden camps:

The US missile strike on Afghanistan on this day inadvertently reveals connections between al-Qaeda and the ISI. Two of the four camps in Afghanistan hit had strong connections to the ISI, and five ISI officers and some twenty trainees are killed. The US also loses the element of surprise. General Joseph Ralston, the vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was purposely scheduled to eat dinner with General Jehangir Karamat, the Pakistani Army’s chief of staff, in Islamabad, Pakistan the night of the missile strike. At one point during the dinner, Ralston looks at his watch and announces that in ten minutes about sixty cruise missiles will be entering Pakistan’s airspace on their way to Afghanistan. This is done to make sure the missiles wouldn’t be misidentified and shot down. [New Yorker, 1/24/2000] But this carefully timed ploy is not successful. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke claims he was promised by the Navy that it would fire their missiles from below the ocean surface. However, in fact, many destroyers fired their missiles from the surface. [Clarke, 2004, pp. 188-89] He adds, “not only did they use surface ships—they brought additional ones in, because every captain wants to be able to say he fired the cruise missile.” [New Yorker, 7/28/2003] As a result, the ISI (or bin Laden sympathizers within) had many hours to alert bin Laden. Clarke says he believes that “if the [ISI] wanted to capture bin Laden or tell us where he was, they could have done so with little effort. They did not cooperate with us because ISI saw al-Qaeda as helpful in pressuring India, particularly in Kashmir.”

On the other hand, I take anything coming from Clarke’s direction with a large grain of “is this ClintonProp?” salt. I still suspect that the Clarke camp in the CIA is responsible for all of the leaks we’ve seen. We also see Gul’s stripe three days after 9/11 promoting the “Zionist Lobby Conspiracy” theory.

Let’s fast forward back to the present and review events happening now, since the fact that Nato is fighting Taliban trained in Pakistan doesn’t mean the training part is still going on:

  • The accord is repatriating Afghan Taliban to Afghanistan, and moving foreign elements out, this started in early August and matches timing with the huge upswing in activity in Afghanistan. (70 families from Chitral alone, I suspect most of these returning Taliban are now in Kunar.)
  • The accord means all foreigners must register, this is going on right now, it started in Chitral with the big drive coming in Mid-October, watch for fireworks then.
  • Foreign students must have a letter from their government to study in Pakistan. This is a very important measure against madrassas.
  • Taliban returning back to Pakistan from Afghanistan have been captured in droves. (246 at last count)
  • New border posts have gone up and the Pak army has not moved back to peace stations, they are still out there on the border, and 800 have died the past two years fighting the insurgents on the border.
  • With the exception of some ethic Sunni vs. Shia fighting over a shrine that appears to be unaligned with Al Qaida/Taliban, overall violence in the tribal regions has gone down compared to the summer.

 Sometimes to make peace, you have to do it with some people you don’t like. The tribes of Waziristan created asymetrical warfare, and they are the true masters of it. To win this war, we are going to have to make peace with some of the Taliban, but we must find the original leaders and take them out or that’s not going to stick.

I checked with Bill yesterday, and he states that according to his sources some Talib training camps are still  operational in Pak, so another sign that the accord is not working.

It’s still too early to call, and I continue to hold out hope that there is some method to Musharraf’s and Bush’s seeming madness. Soon with winter the back passes and hidden ways to Afghanistan will close, and we will see then if there is a push against any remaining foreign Taliban inside Pakistan. Time will do the tell.