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Thread: Pakistani politics (catch all)

  1. #21
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Pakistan's Musharraf, Rival Discuss Sharing Power - 29 July, Washington Post.

    Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto appeared to draw closer to an improbable alliance Saturday, with a top Musharraf adviser confirming that the two had met and pronouncing the exchange "very successful."

    The Pakistani news media reported the meeting Friday, but the government denied it at the time. On Saturday, however, federal minister Sheikh Rashid said the usually bitter rivals had held discussions in the United Arab Emirates aimed at creating a power-sharing arrangement. Representatives for Bhutto, who has been living in exile since 1999 and leads the country's largest opposition party, would not confirm the meeting for the record but also would not deny it.


    Musharraf has been struggling in recent months with vigorous challenges to his eight-year rule. They have come both from Islamic extremists waging a violent insurgency as well as from moderate forces looking to oust the president and end military rule through upcoming elections.


    With his popularity in decline, Musharraf badly needs allies. Bhutto needs a way back into the country without facing criminal charges relating to alleged corruption. She has said she wants to return for a third term as prime minister, even though that is now barred by the Pakistani constitution.


    While the two leaders have vastly different visions for Pakistan, both are regarded as moderates. An alliance would probably be welcomed by the United States and other Western powers that are hoping that moderate forces can unite to battle rising militancy in Pakistan.


    "The country is in a serious crisis," Rashid said in an interview on Pakistan's Dawn News television station. "So we have to move fast, and we have to move to national consensus."


    Negotiations have been reported for months, but a face-to-face meeting indicates they have reached an advanced stage ...

    Interesting developments - meetings between Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto now confirmed, as have been rumored for weeks. Interesting to see if a Bhutto-Musharraf alliance will coopt a significant portion of the civilian opposition that is the greatest threat to Musharraf.

  2. #22
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Pakistan - some different pointers

    I recently attended a seminar in London and the audience were reminded by both official and un-official speakers that the secular parties in Pakistan last had 85% of the popular vote. Interestingly a similar % supported the government's action at the Red Mosque, when polled by a popular, privately owned TV station.

    Whether a Bhutto-Musharraf agreement will be finalised, let alone endorsed in an election is a moot point.

    dabidbfpo

  3. #23
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    ICG, 31 Jul 07: Elections, Democracy and Stability in Pakistan
    ....Influential international actors, particularly the U.S. but also the EU, should rethink the wisdom of relying solely on the military. That policy is largely responsible for growing anti-U.S. sentiment among pro-democracy Pakistanis, who view Washington’s support for Musharraf’s authoritarian regime as hypocritical and unjustifiable. Full restoration of democracy would best serve the interests of both Pakistan and its Western friends. Supporting a deeply unpopular military regime is no way to fight terrorism and neutralise religious extremism. Pakistan’s two most popular national political parties are pragmatic, centrist groupings, whose political interests dictate the diminution of militant forces in the country. They are the international community’s most natural allies.

    The choice in this election year is stark: support for a return to genuine democracy and civilian rule, which offers the prospect of containing extremism, or continued facilitation in effect of a slide into military-led, failing-state status prone to domestic unrest and export of Islamic radicalism domestically, regionally and beyond.

  4. #24
    Council Member Nat Wilcox's Avatar
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    Default Just who are you calling "naive" Hillary?...Let the games begin!

    Obama 'would strike' in Pakistan

    Mr Obama said Pakistan must do more to end terrorist operations US presidential candidate Barack Obama has said he would order military action against al-Qaeda in Pakistan without the consent of Pakistan's government.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6926663.stm

  5. #25
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Awesome. Can't wait for the Pakistani press to get ahold of this.

  6. #26
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    Default Pakistan: The Taliban's Godfather

    GWU's National Security Archive, 14 Aug 07:

    Documents Detail Years of Pakistani Support for Taliban, Extremists
    A collection of newly-declassified documents published today detail U.S. concern over Pakistan's relationship with the Taliban during the seven-year period leading up to 9-11. This new release comes just days after Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, acknowledged that, "There is no doubt Afghan militants are supported from Pakistan soil." While Musharraf admitted the Taliban were being sheltered in the lawless frontier border regions, the declassified U.S. documents released today clearly illustrate that the Taliban was directly funded, armed and advised by Islamabad itself.

    Obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, the documents reflect U.S. apprehension about Islamabad's longstanding provision of direct aid and military support to the Taliban, including the use of Pakistani troops to train and fight alongside the Taliban inside Afghanistan. The records released today represent the most complete and comprehensive collection of declassified documentation to date on Pakistan's aid programs to the Taliban, illustrating Islamabad's firm commitment to a Taliban victory in Afghanistan.

    These new documents also support and inform the findings of a recently-released CIA intelligence estimate characterizing Pakistan's tribal areas as a safe haven for al-Qaeda terrorists, and provide new details about the close relationship between Islamabad and the Taliban in the years prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Declassified State Department cables and U.S. intelligence reports describe the use of Taliban terrorist training areas in Afghanistan by Pakistani-supported militants in Kashmir, as well as Pakistan's covert effort to supply Pashtun troops from its tribal regions to the Taliban cause in Afghanistan-effectively forging and reinforcing Pashtun bonds across the border and consolidating the Taliban's severe form of Islam throughout Pakistan's frontier region.....

  7. #27
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I don't often comment on your postings but I do

    read most all of 'em.

    Thank you for providing them.

  8. #28
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Musharraf foe wins right to return - LATIMES, 23 Aug.

    Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled Thursday that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a bitter foe of the country's president, can return from exile to lead his opposition party in parliamentary elections.

    The ruling was the latest in a series of political blows to President Pervez Musharraf, an army general who has ruled unchallenged for most of the last eight years but for whom very little has gone right in recent months.

    Pakistan's political turmoil is being closely watched in Washington. Musharraf, 64, is considered a crucial ally in the United States' war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, but the depth of his commitment to quelling Islamic radicals has been questioned by some Bush administration officials and outside observers.

    Sharif, whom Musharraf ousted in a military coup in 1999 and banished the following year, has emerged as the politician perhaps best positioned to pose a strong challenge to the president, whose popularity is at an all-time low ...

  9. #29
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Double bombing kills at least 42 in Hyderabad - WASHINGTON POST, 25 Aug.

    Two bombs exploded Saturday night in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, killing at least 42 people and seriously injuring about 50, officials said.

    The first bomb went off just after 7:30 p.m. in an amusement park during a laser light show, killing nine people in an area filled with families.


    About 10 minutes later, a second bomb tore through a popular restaurant, according to news reports. Television images showed terrified families grabbing their children and jumping over security barriers to get out, while thick plumes of black smoke and dust clouded the air. Bloodied victims rushed from the scene of the attack, in the city's popular Kothi market.
    [Two other bombs were defused in the city later Saturday, one under a footbridge in the busy Bilsukh Nagar commercial area, and another in a movie theater in the Narayanguba neighborhood, a police official said, according to the Associated Press. Late-night movie showings were canceled across the city.


    ["Available information points to the involvement of terrorist organizations based in Bangladesh and Pakistan," Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh state, where Hyderabad is located, told reporters Sunday after an emergency state Cabinet meeting, the AP reported. He did not name the groups.]
    One has to wonder if this is aimed at undermining relations between Pakistan & India. Rapprochement with India has been one of Musharraf's principle achievements.

  10. #30
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The "hidden hand"

    An outrage in India comes as no great suprise as the prospect of elections loom in Pakistan.

    In an odd way the re-appearance of an external threat to Pakistan could help Musharraf. Even possible American military action across the border. An external threat bolsters the role of the Pakistani army and their claim to be the national guardian.

    It does not take long to find suitable suspects for such an outrage, then I am no expert on India (where a terrorsit trial recently concluded after a ten year plus trial process).

    davidbfpo

  11. #31
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Musharraf nears deal with Bhutto - Guardian, 29 Aug.

    General Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistan president, and Benazir Bhutto, his exiled rival, have almost reached a power-sharing agreement, a minister said today.


    The two have been conducting not-so secret negotiations for months on such a deal, with Ms Bhutto, who has lived outside of Pakistan since 1998, calling for Gen Musharraf to step down as head of the army and become a civilian president.

    Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, the railways minister and a close ally of the general, said the issue had been settled.
    "There is no more uniform issue. It has been settled and the president will make an announcement," Mr Ahmed told a news conference.

    The pressure on Gen Musharraf and Ms Bhutto, who twice served as prime minister, to strike a bargain intensified when the supreme court last week ruled that Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister overthrown by Gen Musharraf in 1999, can return from exile in London.
    Mr Sharif has said he intends to go home before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, beginning in mid-September. He has been gaining popular support, whereas Ms Bhutto may have damaged herself politically in being willing to strike a deal with the highly unpopular Gen Musharraf. Behind the scenes, the US has been pushing the two to make a deal ...

  12. #32
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Make a deal and lose?

    If the Bhutto-Musharraf "deal" is finally concluded and then accepted by her party and the military - that is the first stage.

    Next follows the presidential election, which Musharraf is reported as hoping will be the current national parliament and the provincial assemblies - not a direct, popular vote. Most sources suggest Musharraf can "fix" this vote, assuming that the supreme court do not intervene and the "fixers" accept the ir orders.

    Then in late 2007 - early 2008 is the national, popular election for the national parliament and the provincial assemblies. When Bhutto & the PPP offer themselves to the voter, against a collection of opponents, the religious parties, Musharraf's "shell" party (PML-Q) and Nawaz Sharif & the PML.

    Who will win then? Again most sources do not predict what will happen.

    Is a Bhutto-Musharraf coalition a vote winner? What happens if the popular vote, with no "fixing", does not elect Bhutto?

    I think Musharraf would not survive long, especially if Sharif won. Or the army "had enough" and replaced him or the elected government.

    Watch and wait is one option. Ensuring a free vote in the elctions is something Pakistan's friends can help with. A election monitoring mission, not under EU / US / NATO auspices, my own preference is for a Commenwealth-led mission, with EU / US / NATO support (money).

    Now back to my armchair.

    davidbfpo

  13. #33
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Pakistani capital on high alert / suicide blasts in Rawalpindi - LATIMES, 5 Sep.

    Police stepped up security and put this capital on high alert Tuesday after apparent twin suicide bombings in a nearby army garrison city killed 25 people and injured more than 60.

    The double blasts struck at the heart of Pakistan's military establishment in Rawalpindi, which adjoins Islamabad and is home to President Pervez Musharraf and other senior government figures.

    Although there was no claim of responsibility, officials suspect that the morning bombings were linked to the volatile situation in the region along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, where government forces have been battling Islamic militants with ties to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

    The explosions also heightened the political tension gripping Pakistan as Musharraf, whom the White House regards as a key ally in its battle against terrorism, fights to keep his job amid a sharp drop in popularity.

    The military -- the power base for Musharraf, who is the country's top general as well as its president -- also has been hit by setbacks and embarrassments. On Thursday, for instance, as many as 200 soldiers were taken captive by suspected militants in the border region of South Waziristan.

    Striking Rawalpindi "shows that the militants have grown stronger and bolder, and that's the message they want to convey," said Talat Masood, an analyst and retired lieutenant general. "What is happening in tribal areas where they have abducted more than 100 soldiers proves that they have become stronger."

    The first explosion occurred about 7 a.m., during the morning rush hour, on a bus traveling near the military headquarters and only a few miles from Musharraf's residence and office. Television video showed the bus reduced to little more than a charred frame hung with bits of flesh and clothing.

    Officials speaking on condition of anonymity said the bus was full of civilian and military employees of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the army's powerful intelligence outfit. But publicly, authorities said only that the passengers worked for the Defense Ministry ...
    Are we finally seeing the "end of the affair" between Islamist radicals and the Pakistani security services? If Musharraf and the Army eventually choose to abandon them and ally with Bhutto or other secular forces in Pakistani society, this could be a pivotal moment.

  14. #34
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Sharif deported from Pakistan - AP, 9 Sep.

    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was deported Monday hours after he had landed in Pakistan from seven years in exile hoping to campaign against the country's U.S.-allied military ruler, officials said.

    About four hours after he arrived on a flight from London, Sharif was taken into custody and charged with corruption, but then quickly spirited to another plane and flown out of Pakistan toward Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, an intelligence official said.

    An official in President Gen. Musharraf's office confirmed Sharif was deported but did not divulge his destination. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to media. There was no immediate formal confirmation from the government.
    Pakistan's Dawn News TV and ARY TV networks also reported that Sharif's destination was Jeddah.

    Sharif's deportation came despite a landmark Supreme Court ruling last month that the two-time former premier, whose elected government was ousted by Musharraf in a 1999 coup, had the right to return to Pakistan and that authorities should not obstruct him.

    "It is a violation of the constitution, and it is a violation of the court order under which Nawaz Sharif was allowed to arrive and stay in Pakistan," Sadique ul-Farooq, a close aide to Sharif told The Associated Press ...

  15. #35
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    In Pakistan Musharraf is in an impossible situation; he came to power by coup, is not popular, leads a state created & defined by religion - during the dissolution if colonial India - and has the much larger & more powerful ‘old enemy’ to his south. His situation was comparatively stable pre 9/11; he had the India problem to his south - but domestically could command popular support here. To his north he had a Muslim Taliban which was not a problem to him until the US issued its ‘you are either with us or against us’ ultimatum. Scared of the US aggressively taking sides with India he acquiesced and joined Bush’s ‘war on terror’ - initially not domestically popular but manageable. As US Islamophobia increased and disastrous policy initiatives unfolded in Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon and Somalia being ‘in league’ with the US has considerably weakened him domestically emboldening the Supreme Court to defy him and the already quasi-independent north to disown him completely. To take aggressive action in the north – where intelligence is very poor – at a time when he is trying to reposition himself as a candidate for democratically elected President will make him unpopular to the point that his rigging of the elections will need to be so blatant it risks severe civil disobedience. Obama - and others - statements regarding uninvited military action within Pakistani sovereign territory aren't helpful and provide a propaganda bonanza in the tribal areas. The problem is – as always – backlash; have we not learnt from all our interventions into the domestic politics of other countries propping up corrupt regimes because they profess some antipathy to our current ideological bet noir (for last century read Communism and for this Islamism) risks popular overthrow with the new power swinging the other way and blaming America with a vengeance for their previous suffering. What kind of nuclear Pakistan do you think will emerge if we push Musharraf to a point he cannot contain his own very Muslim people? Not that I necessarily think getting rid of him is a bad thing he is a nasty piece of work but following the usual US ‘lesser of two evils’ logic he is - currently - our nasty piece of work.

    Some links:
    US documents show Pakistan gave Taliban military aid:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/pakistan/S...149588,00.html
    Some insight into the pre 9/11 relationship between Pakistan & Taliban Afghanistan.

    Generals Waiting in the wings:
    http://www.dawn.com/2007/09/07/top4.htm
    Musharraf needs to step down from the Army to run as a civilian for President, this article discusses who he may pick to replace himself. Given the role of the military in Pakistani politics not an insignificant decision.

    Humour - Pakistan-style: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6984262.stm
    An interesting look at the juxtaposition of roles amongst those jocking for the PM's job.
    Last edited by JJackson; 09-10-2007 at 02:45 PM.

  16. #36
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Western plans for Pakistan - down the drain?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...11/wpak211.xml

    A distraction from Washington's grand design, by
    Ahmed Rashid (who is an excellent reporter / analyst)

    Nawaz Sharif is not part of the American script for the war on terror and the future of Pakistan, written by mandarins in the US State Department. He is considered neither fish nor fowl, too close to the fundamentalist mullahs and too unpredictable.The real script is to save the beleaguered Gen Pervez Musharraf, and involves another former prime minister in exile - the fragrant Daughter of the East, Benazir Bhutto. When in a few weeks' time she repeats yesterday's homecoming saga from London, the very police that manhandled Mr Sharif will welcome her and she will be allowed to lead a procession to her hometown.That is because the West is desperate to bring her and Gen Musharraf into a loveless marriage so that the general can combat the terrorists and the lady play democracy. This, they hope, can keep the crumbling edifice of military rule going for a few more years or at least until Osama bin Laden is winkled out of his home in the tribal regions of North and South Waziristan.And that is where the whole plan falls apart because in a country like Pakistan, a failing state hovering over the abyss, there are too many loose ends to tie up.Ms Bhutto's popularity has plummeted since it became apparent that she is trying to cut a deal with the army. The more she is seen as part of some Bush game plan, the more she is mistrusted by a populace that hates the army as much as it hates the Americans.Then there is the crumbling morale in the army. Two weeks ago US and Nato forces in Afghanistan were shocked to discover that 300 Pakistani soldiers - their erstwhile partners in the war on terrorism - had surrendered to the Taliban in Waziristan without firing a shot.Soldiers in the badlands controlled by the Taliban and al-Qa'eda are deserting or refusing to open fire. The White House is panic-stricken. That is because Gen Musharraf in his hubris has utterly failed to convince Pakistanis or the army that Pakistan has to fight not America's war, but its own war against ever-expanding extremism.Pakistan's own Taliban are running wild in large parts of the country, beheading women, burning video shops, launching suicide bombers against army convoys and taking over law and order in towns just 100 miles from Islamabad.On Sunday the Pakistani Taliban issued a letter warning legislators from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League that more than 300 suicide bombers were ready to kill them if they voted for another five-year stint for Gen Musharraf in the presidential elections.The other loose cannon is the supreme court, which may well rule in the next few days that Mr Sharif has every right to return to Pakistan and that Gen Musharraf cannot stand as president and also remain army chief.If that happens, Gen Musharraf's only course would be to impose martial law and dismiss the chief justice - which would almost certainly plunge Pakistan into an even deeper unknown.The West would like to see an orderly transition to some kind of watered-down democracy headed by Gen Musharraf and Ms Bhutto, so that its two major concerns - persuading the army to confront the Taliban and keep its nuclear weapons under lock and key - are safeguarded.However, that agenda looks increasingly at risk. By sending Mr Sharif into exile, Gen Musharraf and his Western allies have only bought themselves a little time but they may find that they have only speeded up the meltdown of Pakistan.

  17. #37
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Shorter this time!

    Links to stories / analysis on Pakistan:

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default...-9-2007_pg7_42

    Analyst looks at the US incursion option into FATA

    http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayA...continent&col=

    Child suicide bomber

    http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayA...continent&col=

    Clashes in South Waziristan

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/art...r_musharr.html

    US analyst writes

    davidbfpo

  18. #38
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    Default Pakistani opinion poll

    Terror Free Tomorrow, Pakistanis Reject US Military Action against Al Qaeda; More Support bin Laden than President Musharraf: Results of a New Nationwide Public Opinion Survey of Pakistan, 11 September 2007.

    Nearly three quarters of Pakistanis oppose unilateral American military action to pursue Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters based inside Pakistan. Moreover, a third or more of Pakistanis have a favorable view of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and bin Laden. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is also the least popular political leader in Pakistan today (38% favorable)—falling considerably behind bin Laden (46% favorable).

    These are among the many significant findings of a new nationwide public opinion survey in August covering both rural and urban as well as all four regions of Pakistan.

  19. #39
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Not sure where to put this in the many Pakistani threads, but an interesting read.

    Increasing Talibanization in Pakistan's Seven Tribal Agencies - Jamestown Foundation.

    The government of President Pervez Musharraf is facing policy failure in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. Taliban forces and their sympathizers are becoming entrenched in the region and are aggressively expanding their influence and operations (especially in Tank, Dera Ismail Khan and Swat Valley in the North-West Frontier Province). A lethal combination of Musharraf's political predicament and declining public support, a significant rise in suicide attacks targeting the army and the reluctance of soldiers deputed in the area to engage tribal gangs militarily further exacerbates this impasse ...

  20. #40
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    CNN's reporting a bomb detonated near the Bhutto convoy recently, killing over 110 people. Seems someone isn't happy she returned.

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