Experts express incredulity over Bushs emphatic backing of Musharraf

November 21st, 2007 - 3:05 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov.21 (ANI): Several outside analysts and a key Democratic lawmaker have expressed incredulity over U.S. President George W. Bush emphatic support to and backing of Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf.
Bush yesterday said that Musharraf “hasn’t crossed the line” in so far as declaring an emergency in his country, and “truly is somebody who believes in democracy.”
The comments, delivered in an interview with ABC News anchor Charles Gibson, contrasted with previous administration statements — including by Bush himself — expressing grave concern over Musharraf’s actions.
The Washington Post quoted experts and analysts as saying that Bushs comments were a sign of how personally invested he has become in the U.S. relationship with Musharraf.
“What exactly would it take for the president to conclude Musharraf has crossed the line? Suspend the Constitution? Impose emergency law? Beat and jail his political opponents and human rights activists?” asked Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a presidential candidate.
“He’s already done all that. If the president sees Musharraf as a democrat, he must be wearing the same glasses he had on when he looked in Vladimir Putin’s soul,” Biden added.
Tom Malinowski, Washington director of Human Rights Watch, said: “It’s hard to imagine how the administration will be able to achieve anything in Pakistan if the president is so disconnected from reality.”
“Almost everyone in Pakistan who believes in George Bush’s vision of democracy is in prison today. Calling the man who put them in prison a great democrat will only discredit America among moderate Pakistanis and give Musharraf confidence that he can continue to defy the United States because Bush will forgive anything he does,” Malinowski added.
Husain Haqqani, who now teaches at Boston University, said Bush’s comments yesterday suggest that, “the president of the United States does not grasp the situation in Pakistan correctly.”
“Musharraf’s support and significance to the United States is overestimated by a White House that is bogged down by other concerns,” he warned.
The shift in stance, according to the paper, appears part of a broader strategy to ease the crisis in Pakistan.
Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte carried a terse message to Musharraf during talks last weekend, urging the general to step down as chief of the army.
Now, after this strong personal show of support from the president, the Bush Administration expects the general to shed his military uniform before the end of the month, an administration official said.
Bush was asked in the interview if there is any line Musharraf should not cross. “He hasn’t crossed the line. As a matter of fact, I don’t think that he will cross any lines.”
Bush has closely linked his administration to Musharraf since the weeks after the attacks of September 11, 2001, when the Pakistani president sided with the United States in its drive to oust the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.
Although the current crisis has prompted the administration to launch a review of its aid to Pakistan, officials said yesterday that they are looking favourably at continuing most economic and military aid, which has surpassed 10 billion dollars since 2001.
Musharraf has provided extensive assistance to the United States in its efforts to seize high-profile al-Qaeda suspects, but his devotion to the fight has been increasingly questioned by some U.S. officials and outside experts.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said in an e-mail message that the president does believe that President Musharraf believes in democracy, and there is evidence to that fact based on the reforms he’d put in place over the last several years.”
Some officials indicated that the view among many in the administration is that Musharraf may be able to survive the crisis and remain in power.
“Unless the opposition parties can mount some kind of street campaign, it looks like Musharraf will stay in power for the near future,” said Stephen P. Cohen, a Brookings Institution scholar and an authority on South Asia.
“It is now up to the generals. When you have no effective state, no rule of law, it’s only people with guns, who can remove a leader — and that means the generals,” he added. (ANI)

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