Topic: War on Terror
Boy, it has been a real bad week for our good buddy Pervez Musharraf. Last week, he finally took action against the radical "Red Mosque," from which Islamic radicals had been enforcing with impunity their own brand of Sharia law in the heart of Islamabad. Apparently, for about six months Musharraf didn't see any danger from a group of bearded whackos rampaging through the streets of the country's capitol city, busting up video stores and kidnapping people off the streets. The fact that they were acting very much like the Taliban doesn't seem to have registered with out good ally in the WOT.
When he actually got around to doing something about this embarrassment, the resulting assault on the mosque, which killed about a hundred people, including the leader of the mosque, wound up inflaming Islamic fundamentalists all over Pakistan. In past week over 150 people, civilians and soldiers have died in the backlash against the attack on the mosque. All those suicide bombers that Musharraf has been more than happy to see cross the border into Afghanistan have now returned to roost in Pakistan.
As if that weren't bad enough, a new U.S. National Intelligence Estimate says al-Qaeda has found safe haven in Pakistan, thanks to his peace pact he signed with them and the Talibs back in September, which has allowed it to regroup and retool. Some people in the United States are even starting to think that Iraq may not be the main front in the WOT, after all, they think it might actually be Pakistan! Imagine that!
And if even that all weren't bad enough, today the Pakistan Supreme Court reinstated Musharraf's troublesome Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudry. [AP] This doesn't bode well for his plans to keep wearing his uniform while he manufactures a new term for himself as the country's president. He had planned to remove Chaudry in order to smooth his way to being elected by the current parliament, but that isn't going to fly.
Now that Chaudry is there to point out the fact that such a maneuver violates the Pakistani constitution, Musharraf is in a pickle. Meanwhile, the US government looks on with puzzling disinterest. Perhaps Dick Cheney's Rasputin, David Addington, is counseling his Dark Master that a victory for Chaudry in the case of "The Justice v. The President" might undermine his "Unitary Executive" theory? Chaudry's lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan, told the Pakistani Supreme Court that, "The executive cannot invest itself with undefined emergency powers." [NYT] That sound like dangerous terrorist talk to me, I don't know. . .
How else to explain why a month ago, while the Chaudry removal was roiling the Pakistani body politic, the US was going out of its way to vow its unquestioning loyalty to their bastard in Islamabad? When Deputy secretary of of State John "give me a new job" Negroponte visited Pakistan on June 16 he restated the United States' total backing for Musharraf.
The same day Sean McCormick said, "We believe that President Musharraf is an agent for positive change, not only in the region." At the same moment the British government was bestowing a Knighthood on Salmon Rushdie. This caused uproar in radical Islamic circles around the world and inspired Ijaz ul-Haq, the country's religious affairs minister, to say: "If someone exploded a bomb on his body, he would be right to do so unless the British government apologizes and withdraws the 'sir' title." [newsvine]
The fact that a member of Musharraf's government advocated suicide bombing -- his protestations that his words were "misreported" notwithstanding -- seemingly hasn't given cause for this administration to question its support for the dictator Musharraf. [Clearly, the administration is upholding a crucial principle by backing the prerogatives of the executive.] Of course, this administration isn't exactly known for it's ability to see beyond its nose, so it's not much of a surprise that they've really painted themselves into a corner in Pakistan. T
This particular corner is unfortunately a very dangerous, nuclear tipped one. As Iftikhar Chaudry's lawyer Ahsan told the NYT back in June, "The Americans have got all their eggs in one basket and know only one phone number in Pakistan and that is now a dud number because it cannot communicate with any Pakistani citizens." [unusual court case at center of Pakistan’s political fight] It's one thing to alienate the Islamic radicals, but when you also piss off the moderate and secular majority of Pakistan, you're really screwing the pooch.
Does anyone know Benazir Bhutto's number? Or Nawaz Sharif's? If you do please give it to Condi Rice before OLB has gets his hands on the Islamic Bomb.