General Kiyani must become USs new man in Pakistan: Stratfor

January 3rd, 2008 - 3:37 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

Washington, Jan 3 (ANI): The United States is finding it difficult to back President Pervez Musharraf in power with each passing day. And that means that a new personality, such as Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Kiyani, must become Washingtons new man in Islamabad.

All that the Americans want is status quo in Pakistan, as the country is a key ally in their fight against terror, said leading US strategic group Stratfor.

The US strategy in Pakistan has been to support Musharraf and rely on him to purge and shape his countrys army to the extent possible and to gain its support in attacking al Qaeda, and contain Islamist radicals in the country.

Straftfor says that Washington is not going to get an aggressive, anti-Islamist military in Pakistan, but it badly needs more than a Pakistani Army that is half-heartedly and tenuously committed to the fight.

The endgame of the US fight against terror has to be always played out in Pakistan. There are two reasons that could account for this. The first is simple: Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda command cells are located in Pakistan. The war cannot end while the command cell functions or has a chance of regenerating.

The second reason is more complicated. The NATO and the US are engaged in a war in Afghanistan. Where the Soviets lost with 300,000 troops, the Americans and NATO are fighting with less than 50,000. Any hope of defeating the Taliban, or of reaching some sort of accommodation, depends on isolating them from Pakistan.

“So long as the Taliban have sanctuary and logistical support from Pakistan, transferring all coalition troops in Iraq to Afghanistan would have no effect. And withdrawing from Afghanistan would return the situation to the status quo before 9/11,” Stratfor said.

If dealing with the Taliban and destroying al Qaeda is part of any endgame, the key lies in Pakistan, it added.

Third, Musharrafs intentions were inherently unpredictable. Musharraf reflects all of the ambivalence and tensions of that institution. His primary interest was in holding on to power. To do that, he needed to avoid US military action in Pakistan while simultaneously reassuring radical Islamists that he was not a mere tool of the US.

Musharrafs position was entirely tactical, shifting as political necessity required. He was constantly placating the various parties, but since the process of placation for the Americans meant that he take action against the jihadis. He took enough action to keep the Americans at bay, not enough to force his Islamist enemies to take effective action against him.

From the US point of view, Musharraf and the Pakistani Army might have been unreliable, but any alternative imaginable would be even worse. Even if their actions were ineffective, some actions were taken. At the very least, they were not acting openly and consistently against the US.

Were Musharraf and the Pakistani Army to act consistently against US interests as Russian logistical support for US operations in Afghanistan waned, the US/NATO position in Afghanistan could simply crack, the stratfor said.

Therefore, the US policy in Pakistan was to do everything possible to make certain Musharraf didnt fall or, more precisely, to make sure the Pakistani Army didnt fragment and its leadership didnt move into direct and open opposition to the US.

The United States understood that the more it pressed Musharraf and the more he gave, the less likely he was to survive and the less certain became the Pakistani armys cohesion. Thus, the U.S. strategy was to press for action, but not to the point of destabilising Pakistan beyond its natural instability.

The Pakistani Army was the one functioning national institution in Pakistan. For the senior leaders, it was a vehicle to maintain their own power and position. For the lowest enlisted man, the army was a means for upward mobility, an escape from the grinding poverty of the slums and villages.

The Pakistani army obviously was fictionalised, but no faction had an interest in seeing the army fragment. Their own futures were at stake. And therefore, so long as Musharraf kept the army together, they would live with him

Even the less radical Islamists took that view.

A single personality cannot maintain a balancing act like this indefinitely. No one was satisfied with Musharraf any longer, and pressure was building for him to “take off his uniform” in other words, to turn the army over to someone else and rule as a civilian.

Musharraf understood that it was only a matter of time before his personal position collapsed and the army realised that, given the circumstances, the collapse of Musharraf could mean the fragmentation of the army.

Musharraf therefore tried to get control of the situation by declaring a state of emergency and getting the military backing for it. His goal was to convert the state of emergency and taking off his uniform into a position from which to consolidate his power.

Elections would confirm his position, which was that the civil institutions could not function and that the army, with or without him as official head, had to remain the centre of the Pakistani polity.

Then someone killed Benazir Bhutto and changed the entire dynamic of Pakistan. Whoever ordered her death would have had one of two motives.

First, they wanted to destabilise Pakistan, or second, they wanted to kill her in such a way as to weaken Musharrafs position by showing that the state of emergency had failed.

The loser in the assassination was Musharraf. He is probably too canny a politician to have planned the killing without anticipating this outcome. Whoever did this wanted to do more than kill Bhutto.

They wanted to derail Musharrafs attempt to retain his control over the government. This was a complex operation designed to create confusion.

The Straftfor said that first suspect is al Qaeda who would benefit from the confusion spawned by the killing of an important political leader. The more allegations of complicity in the killing are thrown against the regime, the more the military regime is destabilised thus expanding opportunities for jihadis to sow even more instability.

Second suspects are elements in the army wanting to use the assassination to force Musharraf out, replace him with a new personality and justify a massive crackdown.

Two parties who cannot be suspected in the killing are the US and Musharraf; neither benefited from the killing.

Musharraf now faces the political abyss and the US faces the destabilisation of Pakistan as the Taliban is splintering and various jihadi leaders are fragmenting. This is the last moment the US would choose to destabilise Pakistan, the Stratfor said. (ANI)

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