Will America Assassinate General Musharraf?


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Will America Assassinate General Musharraf?

July 20, 2006

General Musharraf wants to remain president-in-uniform till 2012. America wants 
to keep Pakistan occupied by its armed forces for as long as possible. It seems 
that with these complimentary objectives, Musharraf and Washington are getting 
along well. The reality, however, is totally different.

The United States extracted all concessions from General Musharraf through sheer
blackmail. Musharraf would never have surrendered Pakistan¹s sovereignty and 
independence merely on a phone call from Collin Powell or George W. Bush if he 
were not blackmailed for the ISI¹s role in Operation 9/11.

      For further details on how his
      supporters have blackmailed General
      for the ISI's getting in the 9/11 trap, read
      ³From BCCI to ISI², by Abid Ullah Jan

Of course, the ISI was used to frame Arabs for the 9/11 attacks. But in the 
process, ISI¹s guilt was established as an agency supporting and financing the 
so-declared hijackers. There are ample reasons to believe that evidence about 
ISI¹s involvement in 9/11 was used to blackmail General Musharraf into the 
quickest surrender of our age.

Washington knows that the general did not concede much by choice. With elections
for the next parliament due in 2007, General Musharraf is desperately building a
political base in the country to get a re-election from the new parliament for 
the next term or to get a change in the constitution to a presidential democracy
to be able to shed the uniform and also to retain the political and executive 
powers as president. If he succeeds in this plan, this will go in favour of 
Washington. But Washington sees some serious problems, which would derail 
Musharraf¹s bid to remain the most powerful man in Pakistan. This may lead 
Washington to settle General Musharraf¹s issue the way it dealt with General 
Zia. The following factors show that assassinating Musharraf might become one of
the best options for the United States in the present circumstances.

General Musharraf has not outlived his utility for Washington as yet. However, 
it is not possible for General Musharraf to remain the army chief forever. The 
best way Washington believes its interest could be served is to make General 
Musharraf¹s autocratic rule look more democratic. For that, instead of crafting 
new webs and making another leader to fully submit, Washington would like to see
Musharraf become another Hosnie Mubarak in Islamabad. Washington now wants him 
to shed his uniform and become a civilian president in the present setup.

The dilemma before Washington, however, is that no civilian ruler can use the 
military in the service of the United States as effectively as General Musharraf
is doing as the military chief. At the same time, the U.S. efforts to create an 
alternate political leadership in the country to increase pressure on Musharraf 
also seem to be getting nowhere.

General Musharraf¹s present political allies are more of a liability than asset 
for him now. The main political allies, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML 
Quid-e-Azam group), are most corrupt, inefficient and ineffective, with no hope 
of securing required seats in the next elections. There is also serious internal
dissent within the PML (Q).

General Musharraf¹s other ally, Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), is also 
considered a corrupt, blackmailing, sub-nationalist-minded, mafia-styled gang, 
which is fully exploiting the weaknesses of the general. MQM is the most 
unreliable, even treacherous, political ally for him.

Musharraf propped up the religious alliance of Muthahida majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and
then used it for constitutional changes in his favour. Musharraf reneged on 
public promises to MMA to relinquish the post of chief of army staff as part of 
the process of restoring democracy in Pakistan. Islamabad¹s suspension from 
commonwealth was lifted on the condition that General Musharraf would give up 
his military uniform by the end of 2004 as a proof of his commitment to 
democratic reform. Now the religious alliance is sensing his weaknesses and is 
gearing up its barrage against him.

There is a very strong perception within the religious parties that the MQM was 
behind the Karachi blast in April 2006. Scores of people, including prominent 
MMA leader Haji Hanif Billo, were killed when a bomb went off at a religious 
gathering in Karachi. Since then, the government has contemplated no action 
against the MQM, a factor that will agitate more public anger.

Former prime ministers Nawaz, Sharif and Benazir are now flexing their muscles 
to challenge him in the coming days. There are talks of joint efforts to remove 
Musharraf and even the MQM is signaling that it is willing to join such a 
campaign. If Benazir and Nawaz decided to return before the elections, even 
their arrest would make them political heroes, creating more embarrassment for 
the general.

The entire governance and economy is in a big mess. Musharraf relied on Shaukat 
Aziz, who has miserably failed on all counts. Inflation is wrecking the life of 
the common man ­ the vote bank in any elections. That vote bank is not impressed
with Shaukat Aziz blowing smoke in their face with economic jargon. For a common
man, for example, it is enough to know that the sugar crisis is still haunting 
the country. The prices have almost doubled in recent months to record levels. 
Still, there are no imports and all the national demands are being met in 
abundant supply from local stocks. The price hike gave windfall profits of 
billions of rupees to a few select sugar cartel mafias within a few months. The 
much-vaunted National Accountability Bureau was forced to drop the probe 
immediately after it started. The common man knows that corruption is at an 
all-time high within the state machinery. Abuse of power and authority are daily
headlines. Police and the judiciary system remain most corrupt as well.

Thus, General Musharraf and Washington are now left with extremely limited, 
difficult and almost impossible options.

1.  Even if the military is still behind him, it is highly unlikely that he may 
decide to confront the Americans, forget about democracy, stop taking 
international pressures, and take absolute power in his own hands once again as 
he had when he took power in October 1999. It does not seem possible that 
Musharraf would once more abolish the assemblies, defer the constitution, draft 
his own constitution, and declare a presidential system or even martial law. In 
the past, he formed a team of so-considered honest, selfless and efficient 
professionals to rectify the damages done in the past few years and tried to 
bring back control in the economy, security, governance, judiciary and social 
welfare of the country. He has clearly failed. Of course, the suffering masses 
are not interested in democracy or martial law. They want security, dignity, 
cheap food and energy, as well as economic development. It does not matter to 
them who delivers this. Nevertheless, it will be a huge task to fool them twice 
with the same mantra. On the part of General Musharraf, it would amount to 
saying, ³I am redoing the eight-year experiment.²

1.  Another option is renegotiating with the Americans. It is not a problem for 
him to bend backwards even more. He would send Pakistani forces to Iraq, 
recognize Israel, commit more troops to Miranshah, take responsibility for 
finishing off the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Madrassas in Pakistan, and 
allow more unrestricted access to the United States into Pakistan¹s security and
intelligence, as well as nuke apparatus. Nevertheless, for sustaining all this 
he has to remain the chief of armed forces. With these measures, he can 
immediately become the blue-eyed boy of the Americans once again and there will 
be no further chatter in Washington about democracy. But Musharraf will have a 
revolt on hand in the home front and perhaps even a rebellion in the army.

1.  The third option is to contest elections with whatever support base the 
general has so far and keep Benazir, Nawaz and Sharif out of the electoral 
process to weaken their collective nuisance. Some heavy-duty management will be 
required to ³arrange² the required results and to neutralize the MMA and 
PPP/Nawaz factor. The general has done this with the help of ISI before and can 
do the same again. Consequently, MQM will continue to exploit the situation and 
basically nothing will improve in the country in terms of economy and governance
or law and order; likewise, the same team of suspects will reappear to exploit 
him even further for the next four years. Things can get mismanaged if Nawaz and
Benazir decided to come back before the elections and launch a street protest 
calling their court cases politically motivated. The MMA would also join them 
and a bit of ³hidden hand² support could start an unexpected but very real 
inferno. Even if everything goes well, the general will have to give up his 
position as the military chief. Losing his military position will make the 
general lose all attractiveness to Washington, which is mainly concerned with 
sustaining Pakistan¹s occupation with the Pakistani armed forces and using the 
Pakistani army in the interest of the United States.

1.  The fourth option is that the general reads the writing on the wall and 
decides to quit, handing over power to the next army chief who would promise the
elections or would decide to stay in power depending upon what he wants to do. 
Musharraf will have to leave the country with his family and may settle in some 
friendly or neutral country like Turkey or a country in Europe. This option 
suits Washington, but General Musharraf is addicted to power to an extent that 
it is highly unlikely that he will hang his boots up so easily.

1.  The last option is assassination. He may be assassinated either by his army 
men, any local resistance groups, Baluchistan Liberation army assassins, or 
someone sent by the Americans to blame ³religious extremists² and pave the way 
for another general to take over and continue Pakistan¹s occupation for another 
decade or so. Being in charge of the general¹s personal security in many ways, 
it is only the Americans who can successfully carry out the assassination 
operation against him. His departure in a violent manner will serve many of the 
U.S.¹s objectives.

In the next few weeks or months, events would basically unfold in one of the 
many options discussed above. Right now, both Musharraf and Washington are 
confused and have not clearly decided on any of the options.

The assassination option carries the most weight. We know from experience that 
leaders in the Muslim world who associated themselves with Washington 
unconditionally are doomed. The Shah of Iran, General Zia and Saddam Hussein are
prominent examples. General Musharraf may continue to rule by force and power, 
but would not have any grassroots support and hence would remain on shaky ground
within his own country.

Washington is now giving General Musharraf a very tough time. He is not finding 
the courage to stand up to Washington or to face the nation. He has gone silent 
these days and is not defending U.S. actions, nor is he making supportive 
statements about the U.S. strategy in the Muslim world. He was under the 
misconception that Washington would appreciate his concessions, which it was 
obtaining from the general through blackmail, as his favors. This, however, was 
not the case. Washington didn¹t appreciate the ³sincerity² and ³sacrifice² of 
the entrapped general. Now, the disillusioned general is annoyed and offended by
the American rebuffs to his demands and is feeling ditched and betrayed. That is
a sick feeling for a man who had put all his eggs in one big American basket and
is now left alone and abandoned to be replaced with another strongman, who could
keep himself in uniform for a longer period than the burnt out General 
Musharraf. A more docile and cooperative political leadership would be the last 
option considered in Washington.

General Musharraf is in the middle of nowhere at the moment. His only option is 
to come out clean on his relations with the Americans and to give voice to what 
he has been hiding from his people and the whole world. He might be portrayed as
insane as a result, but to save Pakistan and the world from the scourge of a 
greater war, he must tell the truth and the whole story of his entrapment to 
grab the initiative back and restore the confidence of his nation in his words 
and deeds. Unless General Musharraf restores the confidence of his people in his
policies at home by telling the whole truth about the way the ISI was used in 
9/11 and how Pakistan has been blackmailed, he is doomed.

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