US considering alternate arrangement if Musharraf falls

November 15th, 2007 - 4:02 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov 15 (ANI): Bush Administration officials have reportedly lost faith in President Pervez Musharrafs ability to survive after imposing emergency in Pakistan, and have begun discussing alternative arrangements.
Several officials said that with each passing day, more officials were coming around to the belief that Musharraf’s days are numbered and that Washington should begin considering contingency plans, including reaching out to other Pakistani generals.
Officials involved in discussions in Washington said the Bush Administration remains wary that the US is cutting backroom deals to install the next leader of Pakistan.
“They don’t want to encourage another military coup, but they are also beginning to understand that Musharraf has become part of the problem,” said one former Bush Administration official.
In meetings on Wednesday, White House, State Department and the Pentagon officials huddled together to decide what message Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte would deliver to Musharraf and perhaps more importantly, to Pakistan’s generals when he arrives in Islamabad on Friday.
Bush Administration officials said that they still hope that Negroponte can salvage the fractured arranged marriage between Musharraf and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
But in Pakistan, foreign diplomats and aides to both leaders said that the chances of a deal between the leaders was evaporating 11 days after Musharraf declared de facto martial law.
While Pakistan remains a haven for al Qaeda and other Islamic militants, senior White House, the State Department and the Pentagon officials now say they recognise that the Pakistani Army remains a powerful force for stability in Pakistan.
The International Herald Tribune quoted the officials as saying that there is little prospect of an Islamic takeover if Musharraf falls.
If Musharraf is forced out of power, they say, it would most likely be a gentle push by fellow officers, who would try to install a civilian President and push for parliamentary elections to produce the next Prime Minister.
Many Western diplomats in Islamabad said they believed that even a flawed arrangement like that one was ultimately better than an oppressive and unpopular military dictatorship under Musharraf.
According to the paper, the diplomats also warned that removing Musharraf might not be that easy.
Army generals are unlikely to move against Musharraf unless certain “red lines” are crossed, such as countrywide political protests or a real threat of a cut-off of US military aid to Pakistan.
Pakistan’s corps commanders have long been kingmakers inside the country. At the top of that cadre is General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Musharraf’s designated successor as Army Chief.
Kayani is a moderate, pro-American infantry commander who is widely seen as commanding respect within the army and, within Western circles, as a potential alternative to Musharraf.
Senior administration officials in Washington said they were concerned that the longer the constitutional crisis in Pakistan continues, the more diverted will be Pakistan’s Army in its war against terror.
Pressure could build on Musharraf, experts said if the corps commanders believed that the president’s actions threatened the billions of dollars in annual aid from Washington that has become the lifeblood for Pakistan’s military.
“The military is pretty demoralized right now,” said Christine Fair, a Pakistan analyst in Washington. “But what keeps Musharraf in the position he is in with the military is the huge largess from the United States.” (ANI)

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