Bush phones Mush, tells him to restore civilian rule quickly

November 14th, 2007 - 10:15 am ICT by admin  
American dailies and foreign news agency reports said that it was the first phone conversation between Bush and Musharraf since the latter announced a state of emergency across Pakistan on Saturday through a Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO).

According to the New York Times,Pakistani and American officials said that Musharraf sought to assure Bush that the emergency is temporary and that he still plans to call for elections.

“My message was that we believe strongly in elections, and that you ought to have elections soon, and you need to take off your uniform. You can’t be the president and the head of the military at the same time,” the paper quoted Bush as telling Musharraf.

“My message was very plain, very easy to understand, and that is, the United States wants you (Musharraf) to have the elections as scheduled and take your uniform off,” Bush later said during a news conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon, Virginia.

Bush Administration officials are unanimous in saying that American financial support for Pakistan will continue regardless of whether Musharraf reverses course.

Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte told a House committee on Wednesday that “the bottom line is, there’s no question that we Americans have a stake in Pakistan.”

Several administration officials have been quoted by the paper as saying that they believe Musharraf will come around sooner than later, and that every opportunity will be provided to him to rectify his actions. But, they cautioned that Washington’s verbal support to Islamabad may not last for very long.

One official dealing with Pakistan issues was quoted as saying that the White House is concerned about any appearances that the United States is secretly engineering a political transition in Islamabad.

He said that Washington could ill-afford to be seen as overreaching itself in the political process in Islamabad, but added that options for replacing Musharraf should the need arise, existed.

Among the possible successors are the Vice Chief of the Pakistan Army, Lt. General Ashfaq Kayani.

“He’s somebody we know well, and he’s tough on Al Qaeda.He’s somebody we can work with,” the NYT quoted the official, as saying.

Meanwhile, in article for Newsweek,Sumit Ganguly, a professor of political science and research director of the Center on American and Global Security at Indiana University, Bloomington, has said that the crisis that Pakistan now faces is unlike any other that it has confronted since 9/11, or indeed earlier.

Ganguly believes that Musharraf does not have many options and adds that “What will transpire in Pakistan in the next several weeks and months will depend on the choices of key domestic and external players.”

He further goes on to say that if Musharraf’s past is any guide,he will try to find some way to hold an election in January, the result of which is all but a foregone conclusion.

“An election of dubious validity that simply makes Musharraf and Army headquarters happy will only deepen and worsen the current state of political disarray and upheaval across Pakistan,” he warns.

Benazir Bhutto, he says, would need to shed her “propensity for rank opportunism” and be seen to be throwing her lot with others protesting against the emergency and the continuance of the Musharraf regime.

Musharraf, ganguly says, “may have to devise another strategy than simply packing the nation’s jails”.

He sees the United States and, to a lesser degree, the United Kingdom also playing a key role in the emerging developments in Pakistan.

Washington and London need to move away from their muted and mixed responses, and be seen to be critical of what has happened in Pakistan in the last six days, he concludes. (ANI)

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