A break between US and Musharraf seems improbable: CSM

November 14th, 2007 - 8:35 am ICT by admin  
A Christian Science Monitor report said that anything more than intensified diplomacy - calling for a restoration of rights and for holding scheduled elections as soon as possible - is unlikely, at least over the short term.

It said that America’s safety and the demands of the war on terror trump immediate concerns about democracy in Pakistan.

“That Bush administration perspective explains why the US - as disturbed as it may be by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of a state of emergency - is expected to refrain from steps that could weaken Pakistan’s leader. President Bush has regarded Mr. Musharraf as a major ally in the fight against Islamic extremism,” said the report.

Agreeing to the fact that the US options for influencing Musharraf are limited, analysts feel that it is a high time for a new Pakistan policy that is less Musharraf-centric.

The report quoted them as saying that the military ruler, they say, may not last long at the helm of a nuclear power in a volatile region, adding that it was clear that US interests in a stable Pakistan, free of al Qaeda’s influence, have not advanced under Musharraf.

“We have to start by acknowledging that we don’t have that many options in this relationship. And, we should take our history with Pakistan into account, which shows that any sticks we’ve wielded or sanctions we’ve imposed haven’t had direct impact on Pakistan’s actions,” said Karl Inderfurth, a former assistant secretary for South Asian affairs who is now at George Washington University.

“But we need to be engaged with the Pakistanis in this time of crisis. Our action should be nuanced and broad-based, and we should be consulting the international community on this,” he added.

Referring to the statements of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a White House spokesperson that the US was in no mood to set aside its concerns about the war on terror, the report said that as Washington tries to influence Musharraf, the United States may seek to pressure the Pakistani military - and indeed is already showing signs of doing so.

The US Embassy said that a US-Pakistan Defence Consultative Group meeting to be held in Islamabad this week has been postponed on the grounds that awaiting “conditions are more conducive to achieve the important objectives of the meeting.”

Such signals to the Pakistani military could indirectly influence Musharraf to step back from actions that he claims are directed at Islamic militants, but have come across more as a personal power grab.

“The most important actions the US can take are those that will catch the attention of the Pakistani military, which has never liked being at loggerheads with the Americans,” Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani government official now at Boston University’s Center for International Relations, was quoted, as saying.

Haqqani said that the US military may be focused on Pakistan’s fight with extremists, but the country’s rising political instability does not necessarily mean US military officials will favour a kid-glove approach to Musharraf.

“They will see that if Musharraf is going to commit more troops to controlling demonstrators and riots in the streets, that will mean less attention to the war on terror,” said Haqqani.

Some observers have drawn attention to the differences in approach of the Bush administration to recent antidemocratic measures by the military junta in Myanmar and Musharraf’s moves.

Bush was quick to publicly condemn Burmese leaders and to push for international sanctions, but on Pakistan, he has so far maintained a silence, which suggests both the difference in the two country’s strategic importance to the US and the opportunity the US may have for influencing Pakistan, Haqqani says. (ANI)

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