Thursday, July 11, 2002

The Times on Musharraf's Popularity

Interesting analysis from the New York Time's Dexter Wilkin's on Musharraf's waining popularity at home. Apparently, Musharraf's alliance with the West and his alleged ending of state sponsorhip of terrorism (this Pro-West persona has been labelled "Busharraf") has caused him to lose affection in Pakistan.

I imagine the Bush administration is growing quite scared with the prospects of a coup in Pakistan, or just any hardliner taking power. "Nine months after joining the Western coalition against terrorism, General Musharraf, 58, is isolated in his own land, increasingly a figure of ridicule and the focus of a growing anti-Western fury that is shared by Islamic militants and the middle class alike." His lack of popularity and subsequent removal from power would be devastating to American interests with regards to both Al-Qaeda/Taliban in Afghanistan as well as with tensions between India and Pakistan. Any hardliner that comes into power would most likley resume full-scale support to Kashmiri insurgents primarily because it is in Pakistan's interest to keep the international spotlight on Kashmir. What better way then to have the world live in fear of a nuclear flashpoint in South Asia?

"General Musharraf's dutiful carrying out of Washington's demands is galvanizing a widespread feeling here that he has largely traded away Pakistan's sovereignty to the United States and that Pakistan's new policy toward Kashmir is the latest in a series of humiliations he has endured at America's hand. " I think a major problem with the way Musharraf has conducted his business is firstly with the way he jumped ship from being pro-terrorism (support to "freedom fighters") to being with the Americans in the war on Terror. The second problem is, the Americans, while suggesting that they were keeping Pakistani domestic concerns in mind, really, in the end, did not care. How is it in Pakistani interests to stop support to the Taliban, or to Jihadi's fighting in Kashmir? In reality it isn't. I am not saying it is right for Pakistan to support these groups as of course it is both wrong and illegal, but as everyone now knows , the Taliban allowed the Pak's to train Jihadi's for insurgency in Kashmir and that of course was in Paksitani interests. And, as Musharraf slowly moves away from these things his domestic support wains.

It could get dangerous for both Musharraf and the U.S. if American support slows, as it seems to be the only thing allowing Musharraf to stay in power. "If America stops its support, Musharraf wouldn't last for a day," said Usman Majeed, 31, a businessman in Islamabad, echoing the sentiment of many middle-class Pakistanis. "Musharraf is doing all these unconstitutional things because he has America's support. But America is not our friend." When the middle class begins to become disenchanted, I think the dangers of instability rise.


Post a Comment

<< Home