As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The New Pakistan

How will we reverse-Midas-touch the next leader of Pakistan and move the nuclear-armed country even closer to Islamic rule?

Almost two weeks into Pakistan’s political crisis, Bush administration officials are losing faith that the Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, can survive in office and have begun discussing what might come next, according to senior administration officials.

In meetings on Wednesday, officials at the White House, State Department and the Pentagon huddled to decide what message Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte would deliver to General Musharraf — and perhaps more important, to Pakistan’s generals — when he arrives in Islamabad on Friday.

Administration officials say they still hope that Mr. Negroponte can salvage the fractured arranged marriage between General Musharraf and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. But in Pakistan, foreign diplomats and aides to both leaders said the chances of a deal between the leaders were evaporating 11 days after General Musharraf declared de facto martial law.

Several senior administration officials said that with each day that passed, more administration officials were coming around to the belief that General Musharraf’s days in power were numbered and that the United States should begin considering contingency plans, including reaching out to Pakistan’s generals.

The Army is powerful in Pakistan, and an Islamic takeover is indeed remote. But the country is crying out for democracy right now, and replacing one general with another general will just perpetuate the belief that the US is arming dictators to oppress the Pakistani people. That's the ONLY thing that would bring pro-democracy forces into an uneasy alliance with the Taliban-like Islamist parties, and once that reaches the election stage, there's no telling the outcome.

The option should be cutting off aid until the Pakistanis are allowed full self-determination and a functioning legal system. That's the only way in which the military would break from Musharraf and the parliamentary system would be restored.

Then there's this moment of clarity from the Bushies:

Senior administration officials in Washington said they were concerned that the longer the constitutional crisis in Pakistan continued, the more diverted Pakistan’s army would be from the mission the United States wants it focused on: fighting terrorism in the country’s border areas.

The officials said there was growing worry in Washington that the situation unfolding in the mountainous region of Swat, where Islamic militants sympathetic to the Taliban and Al Qaeda are battling Pakistan’s Army, was a sign that General Musharraf — and the Pakistani Army — might be too busy jailing political opponents to fight militants.

Ya think?

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