— The assassination of former Prime Minister killed the Bush administration’s last hope that could simultaneously defeat and the and return his country to democratic rule.
This hand out picture released by Pakistan’s Press Information Department shows Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf addressing reporters in Islamabad, 3 January 2008. A team of police from Britain’s Scotland Yard is expected to arrive in Pakistan on Friday to help probe the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto as the controversy over her death rages on. (AFP/PID-HO)
Now, experts on Pakistan say the administration faces a tough choice: Press its unpopular and isolated ally to resign or share the blame as Musharraf drags his nation toward a violent implosion that could give Islamic extremists a more extensive haven in western Pakistan than the one they already have.
“Musharraf has become a symbol of everything that is wrong,” said Ijaz Khan , a Peshawar University professor of international relations….
Doubt Concerning Continued Unilateral Support for Mr. Musharraf
By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
January 4, 2008
We have been involved with the situation in Pakistan for several years. We have been blessed to know Muhammad in the tribal areas of Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan. And we have been perplexed by America’s unquestioning support for Pervez Musharraf as exemplified by Vice President Cheney’s statement of unilateral support for Musharraf in the autumn on 2006 and the early winter of 2007.
Mr. Musharraf became the beneficiary of some of the strongest verbal and financial support the United States was doling out to an ally in the war against terror.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert on Sunday, September 10, 2006, Vice President Dick Cheney expressed such strong U.S. Government support for President General Musharraf of Pakistan – that I thought at the time the words were clearly over the top.
Mr. Cheney expressed U.S. support for Musharraf as follows:
“President Musharraf has been a great ally. There was, prior to 9/11, a close relationship between the Pakistan intelligence services and the Taliban. Pakistan was one of only three nations that recognized, diplomatically recognized the government of Afghanistan at that particular time. But the fact is Musharraf has put his neck on the line in order to be effective in going after the extremist elements including al-Qaeda and including the Taliban in Pakistan.”
“There have been three attempts on his life, two of those by al-Qaeda over the course of the last three years. This is a man who has demonstrated great courage under very difficult political circumstances and has been a great ally for the United States”.
“So there’s no question in that area along the Afghan/Pakistan border is something of a no man’s land, it has been for centuries. It’s extraordinarily rough territory. People there who move back and forth across the border, they were smuggling goods before there was concern about, about terrorism. But we need to continue to work the problem. Musharraf just visited Karzai in, in Kabul this past week, they’re both going to be here during the course of the U.N. General Assembly meetings over the course of the next few weeks. We worked that area very hard, and the Paks have been great allies in that effort.”
“Pakistan, we’ve gone in and worked closely with Musharraf to take down al-Qaeda. Saudi Arabia, same thing. In all of those cases, it’s been a matter of getting the locals into the fight to prevail over al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda-related tyrants.”
“Think of Musharraf who puts his neck on the line every day he goes to work, when there’ve been attempts on his life because of his support for our position. And they look over here and they see the United States that’s made a commitment to the Iraqis, that’s gone in and taken down the old regime, worked to set up a democracy, worked to set up security forces, and all of a sudden we say it’s too tough, we’re going home. What’s Karzai going to think up in Kabul? Is he going to have any confidence at all that he can trust the United States, that in fact we’re there to get the job done? What about Musharraf? Or is Musharraf and those people you’re talking about who are on the fence in Afghanistan and elsewhere going to say, ‘My gosh, the United States hasn’t got the stomach for the fight. Bin Laden’s right, al-Qaeda’s right, the United States has lost its will and will not complete the mission,’ and it will damage our capabilities and all of those other war fronts, if you will, in the global war on terror.”
Have you ever heard any President or Vice President of the United States express such unbridled support for anyone at any time?
Now the U.S. needs to reassess — and our options are limited.