Integrated development, politics and social empowerment in India and beyond

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Jamila Verghese
Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

American efforts to bail out Musharraf from the pit he has dug for himself with their help are completely mistaken. Musharraf is beyond redemption.

Supping With The Devil

The US joins Musharraf’s charade but the game is up. Musharraf has destroyed every vestige of trust in Pakistan.

By B G Verghese

Deccan Herald / Tribune, 19 November, 2007

The breathless American working of the telephone to Islamabad and the too-ing and fro-ing of emissaries from Washington to Musharraf has been of little avail. The US pet has become a monster that its master does not know quite how to tame. In seeking to trade every kind of aid and political comfort to keep “fighting terror”, successive US regimes, with other Western members of the “coalition of the willing”, have built Pakistan into a font of terror which seemed all right , though at terrible cost to the hapless people of Pakistan, as long as others were  victims. India has paid a huge unacknowledged price for such “collateral damage” that makes America’s own “terror” casualties puny by comparison.

Despite talk on restoring “democracy” in Pakistan, the US has joined Musharraf’s  game of charades which even Benazir Bhutto – a handy façade and no  democratic icon herself – has discovered to her cost. Musharraf’s promises, timetables and democratic vision entail grandstanding and if he moved from supporting jihad to “fighting terror” some years ago, the move was first tactical, then strategic and now totally amoral and opportunistic. The General’s coup against the judicial impedimenta to his authoritarian designs amounts to martial law with controlled freedom until the new judicial bench of servitors endorses his “re-election” as President-in-uniform. Both the coup and its subsequent defence has left none in doubt that the General’s power comes from the barrel of the Pakistan Army. 

To rattle his American interlocutors, Musharraf has said Pakistan’s nuclear armoury is safe in the hands of the military but that elections held in a “disturbed (read democratic) environment” could result in control over nuclear weapons falling into the hands of “dangerous elements”. Such blackmail should serve as a timely reminder to Washington that it has over the years condoned or even assisted the garnering of nuclear weapons capability by Pakistan, and even negotiations for its sale by the latter to rogue states and non-state actors, in exchange for short term gains, some of them cosmetic but entirely self serving, in the “war on terror”. 

Much of this is no secret and has been revealed from time to time in credible media disclosures that have been met with thundering silence. The grim catalogue of American guilt, treachery and practiced deceit in this regard is now chillingly told by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clarke in “Deception: Pakistan, the United States and the Nuclear Weapons Conspiracy”. Successive US Presidents have stoically lied to Congress, the American people and the world to “conjure a grand deception” which, the authors write, “have served further to destabilise it and to empower those bent on global jihad”.

The jihadi “war on terror” the US claims to wage was nurtured by it, using Pakistan as a surrogate. To fight the Soviets in Afghanistan the Americans recklessly proliferated nuclear technology that they knew would soon be  weaponised. Pakistan was given carte blanch to pursue its nuclear ambitions and its own war of terror (in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in India) and was financed to do so, while the US and some of its allies looked away. With this, the US endorsed Pakistan’s tutelage of the Taliban and other forms of Islamic radicalism to rear “good Muslims” who would confront the Soviet atheists. It also encouraged proliferation of small arms that were to wreak havoc on human rights in South Asia, and narcotics to keep Afghan warlords happy and in funds. The born again Ugly American played Jekyll and Hyde with consummate skill.

The US bombed Iraq in search of non-existent WMD even as it rewarded Pakistan despite knowing that it was being aided by China to build a nuclear arsenal and was proliferating its clandestinely acquired nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea, Libya and others. The notorious A.Q Khan sowed the dragon’s teeth from Kahuta with the full support of the Pakistan state and a protective US cover. The demonisation of Islam by the US in the wake of Afghanistan was matched by the Islamic radicalization of Pakistan as state policy. Now all these chickens have home to roost. 

What is the moral of this sorry story? American efforts to bail out Musharraf from the pit he has dug for himself with their help are completely mistaken. Musharraf is beyond redemption. He has destroyed every vestige of trust in Pakistan. Another less megalomaniac General is not the answer. The Army itself has been part radicalised and corrupted by its vested interest in the business-industrial-feudal complex that it operates at the cost of the citizen and state. The people of Pakistan yearn for true democracy, secular progress and good neighbourly relations. They are searching for a new vision of themselves, a new politics and new institutions. The forces arraigned against such an outcome are formidable but not invincible. The struggle will be hard and could take long. But the international community has some levers too, especially America which can yet learn from its crass follies. A rogue Pakistan constitutes a clear and present international danger. The world needs to help an imperiled and embattled Pakistan to choose and win democracy.

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