June 1, 2008

Blatant interference (IN PAKISTAN AFFAIRS)

Filed under: NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER MARCH 24-2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 2:53 am
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JUNE 01, 2008


PRESIDENT Bush’s reiteration of support for President Musharraf would be widely resented as a blatant interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs. While it might help the latter prolong his tenure a little longer in the face of strong public opposition, it would create a perception that he is more of a US nominee than a President enjoying the support of Parliament. What is more, this would impair the image of the leaders of the ruling coalition who have reiterated again and again that the departure of President Musharraf was only a matter of days. Mr Zardari is already on record as having said that the ruling coalition was in a position to manage the two-thirds majority needed to impeach the President. In case the PPP Co-Chairman makes a retreat after Washington’s stand, his earlier statements would be considered empty heroics and his credibility damaged. The perception of the government bending to US pressure would have an adverse impact in the tribal areas, where doubts would be created about its capacity to bear Washington’s growing pressure to renounce the ongoing peace process, which has produced salutary results. The statement also belies repeated assurances by American leaders that Washington has no favourites in Pakistan. It would also indicate that the contradiction by the US embassy of what it called a fabricated story that Mr Negroponte is coming with a message to Pakistan concerning Musharraf was only pertinent in details but was incorrect in essence. A message was in fact under preparation and has now been delivered by the US President himself.
It is futile to expect, as President Bush does, that his Pakistani counterpart would be able to further strengthen US-Pakistan relations. Nothing has tarnished the image of the US in the Third World than its blatantly open support for tinpot dictators. The support being extended to President Musharraf would indicate that Washington feels more comfortable with arbitrary rulers willing to carry out its wishes in disregard of public sensitivities, than with elected governments. In the present case, the opposition to US support would come both from the Parliament and political forces, lawyers’ organizations and broad sections of civil society outside it.
Prime Minister Gilani has called on the Bush administration to enhance economic and military aid for Pakistan to strengthen democracy. The government, which claims it is working hard to make Parliament sovereign, must weigh how far dependence on the US is in consonance with its professions. There is an urgent need on its part to develop closer links with China, Russia and Arab countries to be able to get rid of the dependence on the US, which is used by it to turn Pakistan into a client state.


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