Tuesday, February 7, 2006 at 10:57 AM

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf: A friend indeed who’s a friend in need…

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Until he honoured Osama bin Laden by invoking his name during last week’s State of the Union Address, I thought President Bush’s initial disdain for his elusive nemesis had developed into appropriate disregard. Because, as far as the war against Islamic terrorists is concerned, America faces a far greater threat from the 1000 mini bin Ladens that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned Bush about than from the shadowy Osama or the pretenders to his diabolical throne like Abu Musab al Zarkawi. And, no one in Bush’s coalition of the willing seems to understand this transformative military (and psychological) fact more than Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

In fact, in a September 2005 60 Minutes interview, Musharraf rendered bin Laden irrelevant as follows:

“[We] are not certainly on a trail of one man….[We] are fighting terrorism, wherever it is. If Osama happens to be there incidentally, he will be killed or captured.”

Therefore, the time is past due for Bush to stop casting bin Laden as the embodiment of all that terrorizes America and the world today, and start hailing Musharraf for his heroic military efforts and personal sacrifices in this war. And frankly, Musharraf can do with a little show of appreciation. Because even though Mubarak has talked a good war strategy, no Muslim leader has demonstrated more zeal in helping Bush execute his military objectives than President Musharraf:

His efforts include apprehending top al Qaeda leaders like Ramzi bin al-Shahib – a roommate of Mohammed Atta and one of the planners of the World Trade Center attack, Ahmed Ghailani – who was under indictment in the United States for his alleged role in the African embassy bombings and Khalid Sheik Mohamed – the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks; picking up the hot pursuit of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters that U.S. forces chase across his border from Afghanistan; and mounting an aggressive campaign to “reform” the Saudi-funded Madrassas that educate so many Muslim boys in the Jihadist ideology of hate. (Indeed, Madrassas similar to the one attended by the student who was convicted recently for plotting to assassinate President Bush.)

And despite all this and more, what has Musharraf gotten in return?

First and foremost, because of his anti-terror initiatives, Musharraf has been called a traitor by fellow Muslims and has sustained numerous fatwas (religious orders to assassinate him); his character has been impugned by his American allies (including senators and even the CIA Director Porter Goss) who unfairly accuse him of not doing enough to capture bin Laden (or to rid his security forces of Islamic extremists); and he’s had to address his long-suffering nation on too many occasions to explain why American missiles keep killing innocent Pakistanis in vain attempts to eliminate terrorist suspects – like the spectacular failure a few weeks ago when an unmanned Predator aircraft fired missiles that killed 18 civilians (including women and children) but missed the target – al Qaeda’s no. 2 man Ayman al-Zawahiri (who appeared on video days later to taunt Bush and further condemn Musharraf to death).

Naturally, few Pakistanis care for Musharraf’s explanations – especially the tribal chiefs in the mountain provinces who are reportedly more sympathetic to the foreign holy warriors they protect than to Musharraf’s Army (searching to destroy them) who many Pakistani tribesmen regard as little more than hired mercenaries doing America’s dirty work.

Given his travails, therefore, one can understand why Musharraf seems so nonplussed and indignant when he hears American officials questioning his commitment to the global war on terrorism. Indeed, Bush would advance his war strategy far more effectively if he were to increase financial aid to Pakistan to help Musharraf redress the economic and social conditions that breed alienated and disaffected Islamic extremists; instead of pouring billions of dollars into Halliburton’s reconstruction money pit in Iraq.

Moreover, he should limit U.S. military aid to hardware specifically geared towards fighting al-Qaeda and Taliban forces (like helicopters and communications equipment) and suspend, indefinitely, any sale of jet fighters (nuclear-capable F-16s) that are impractical for this purpose and would only fuel the arms race with India, which neither Pakistan nor India can afford.

Nevermind them Pervez, this Danedar Chai’s for you!

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  1. Anonymous February 7, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    I agree with you that president Musharraf deserves more credit for his efforts. You are absolutely right in raising questions about the military equipment Musharaf claims he needs to fight terrorists. And you are right to caution BUsh against granting this request because it really would destablise relations with India.


  2. Anonymous February 7, 2006 at 2:52 pm

    I can see how we have to tread lightly on the subject of arms to Musharraf because India may look at such gifts as provocative. But India is not helping our terroism war effort one iota while Pakistan is.

    He needs all the help we can give. What ever happen to “If you’re not with us, you’re against us”?

    No leader of a Muslim country has done more to fight Alqida, than President Musharraf.


  3. Richard February 7, 2006 at 4:12 pm


    I am impressed by your ability to address the complex permutations of so many issue in one concise post. I’ve read books on these issues that have not clarified them as well as you have here. The way you suggest Bush structure aid to Pakistan is simply brilliant.

  4. Abrar February 16, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    Amazing article and very well articulated. As a Pakistani, it is very heart-warming to see that some Americans and esp a lawyer like you , holds a favorable opinion of Pakistan’s efforts in war on terror.

    Its true, Musharraf is in a big dilemma. In Pakistan, his actions are being seen as bowing down to America. And this is given the opposition political parties a platform to badmouth him!! I really hope Musharraf comes out as a winner in this situation and America does not let him down. Else, the moderates, majority in number but silent, will have no defensive arguments while discussing American actions with the fundamentalists in Pakistan and Muslim World.

    I have added you to my BLOGROLL!!

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