Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bye Bye Musharraff?

Pakistan may be getting interesting again. And I mean aside from the nation's long-standing limpid response in fighting Al-Quaeda. The leader of the nation's Muslim League-Nawaz party, Siddique-ul-Farooq, was recently quoted as claiming that they had the support of 300 of the 440 members of Pakistan's two houses of Parliament aligned to work for Musharraf's impeachment. Apparently one of the groups supporting Farooq's efforts is the PPP (Pakistan People's Party) and four senators from the Afghan border tribal areas (you know, where bin L is probably safely hidden away).

While Musharraff took power as the head of a military coup, he should be happy to learn that his new army chief, Gen. Kiyani, has said he's not interested in following that example. Which may mean that the next transition of power in Pakistan would come democratically, despite Musharraff's best efforts.

But what would that new power be? And considering that representatives interested in overthrowing Musharraff may be well tied to those helping to hide bin-Laden, would Pakistan's support against Al-Quaeda move from pitiful to nonexistent? And given the current state of affairs in his government, Musharraff must certainly be rethinking any involvement he had (and I believe he did) in last year's assassination of Benazir Bhutto. From the Australian News:

The political turmoil came amid ferocious fighting in Pakistan between the army and al-Qa'ida and Taliban-linked militants. Militants yesterday delivered the bullet-riddled bodies of 20 soldiers to Pakistan army commanders, while Taliban officials warned that anyone who supported Mr Musharraf would be killed.

Mr Musharraf's hope that the army -- particularly army chief Ashfaq Kayani -- would support him have not been realised. . . . Polls show most Pakistanis are convinced the country's ISI intelligence agency and other spy agencies were involved in Bhutto's murder.

Reports yesterday said emissaries from the civilian Government had warned Mr Musharraf that if he did not bow to the inevitable and "quit with honour", he could be put on trial.

Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's widower who now leads the Pakistan People's Party, raised the issue of corruption, telling reporters that when the "charge sheet" against Mr Musharraf was presented it would claim the President misappropriated hundreds of millions of dollars of US money given for supporting the war on terror.

Mr Zardari said: "Our grand old Musharraf has not been passing on all the $1billion a year the Americans have been giving for the armed forces. The army has been getting $250-$300 million reimbursement for what they do, but where's the rest?

"They claim it's been going in budget support, but that's not the answer. We're talking about $700million a year missing. The rest has been taken by Mush for some scheme or other, and we've got to find it."

The impeachment move has sparked panic in London and Washington, where the nuclear-armed Pakistan is increasingly seen as a far greater danger than Iraq or Afghanistan.


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