‘America’s friend’ Musharraf had to go, say Kashmiris

August 19th, 2008 - 12:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Aug 19 (IANS) The end of Pervez Musharraf’s nine-year rule in Pakistan has evoked mixed reactions in Jammu and Kashmir, though a majority feel the “dictator” had to go and that his exit should provide some lasting lessons for future leaders of Pakistan vis-a-vis relations with the US.“He was a dictator and he had to go. He ruled with the blessings of George Bush and Bush was the first to withdraw when Musharraf needed help. Imagine, Bush refused to take his call,” said Muzaffar Ahmad, a college teacher here.

The common man in the Kashmir Valley too felt that he trusted the Americans too much, like earlier military dictators in the country.

“This has been the story of General Ayub Khan, General Zia-ul-Haq and now General Musharraf. The Americans used all these three Pakistani dictators and finally ditched all of them. Imagine, Condoleezza Rice (the US secretary of state) saying Musharraf’s asylum was not even on their table,” said Gowhar Maqbool, a businessman here.

“They called him their ally in the war against terror and when the new political dispensation in Pakistan went gunning for him, the US was totally indifferent,” 48-year-old Maqbool added.

Many in Kashmir are of the view that Musharraf’s resignation would strengthen democracy in Pakistan.

“His was fundamentally an illegitimate regime. He ousted Nawaz Sharif and now nemesis came visiting him. He must have no complaints. Every dictator says he staged a coup for the good of his country,” said Shabir Ahmad, an activist of the Jamaat-e-Islami party.

Musharraf’s exit has brought into sharp focus the traditional mistrust towards American governments which Muslims here have harboured for many decades now.

“Any Muslim ruler whether democratically elected or a dictator, always faces the inevitable threat of US betrayal if he sides with them.

“They supported Musharraf’s dictatorship when they needed him. They now say they are supporting democracy in Pakistan and that is why Musharraf had to go. It is a logic nobody would buy.

“The fact of the matter is that the American government supports nobody, but its own vested interests,” said Sajad Ahmad, 45, an engineer.

Several people said Musharraf deserved the betrayal as he had let down his own people.

“He launched military operations against his own people. He allowed the Americans a free hand in arresting and jailing people of Pakistan when they came under their suspicion.

“The fact is, he used them and they used him and now since they no longer require him, they have dumped him,” said Bashir Manzar, a local newspaper editor.

The separatist leaders and the mainstream politicians of the state are presently bogged down in the political turmoil over the transfer of land to a Hindu shrine management board. Musharraf’s inglorious exit hardly attracted their attention.

Musharraf resigned as Pakistan president Monday to avoid impeachment. The 65-year-old former general announced in a nationally televised speech that he was stepping down in “the best interest of the country”. He did not say if he planned to remain in Pakistan or go abroad - amid speculation that he might settle down in Saudi Arabia or Turkey.

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