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vendredi 23 novembre 2007

Émission de L'Autre Monde du 18 novembre 2007: La crise au Pakistan









Émission de L'Autre Monde du 18 novembre 2007: La crise au Pakistan


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Voici enfin les informations concernant le cas du Pakistan qui est sous le coup non seulement d'une dictature supportée par les États-Unis, mais aussi d'une instauration de la loi martiale et d'une sauvage répression. Pervez Musharraf qui a saisi le pouvoir en 1999 par un coup d'état refuse de quitter la scène autant politique que son poste de chef de l'armée. Malgré le fait que le Pakistan est censé être un grand allié de Washington dans la guerre contre le terrorisme, le Pakistan a depuis longtemps supporté le terrorisme tout comme les Talibans. On se rappelera que l'Al Qaida fut crée par la CIA à travers des canaux comme le ISI pakistanais, qui est l'agence des services secrets là-bas.

Maintenant, n'oublions pas aussi de noter que le Pakistan a pu développer son programme nucléaire que parce qu'il receva le support technique et matériel et surtout le couvert des États-Unis, de façon clandestine. Et la bombe nucléaire de la Korée du Nord est devenu une
réalité à cause de l'aide du père de la bombe nucléaire pakistanaise et des manipulations de Rumsfeld.

Alors le gros problème qu'on a est le chaos qui règne dans le pays et du fait que les Talibans prennent des villages qui ne sont qu'à 4 heures de routes de la capitale Islamabad, ce qui rend nerveux beaucoup d'observateurs internationaux pour le risque grandissant que les bombes nucléiares tombent des mains d'extrémistes.

Encore une fois, on voit à l'oeuvre des politiques étrangères débiles qui font des gros "backfires". Mais qu'à cela ne tienne, le régime Bush a déclaré que Musharraf, le dictateur qui a déjà tué plusieurs centaines de civils en quelques semaines, qui a déclaré l'état d'urgence et la loi martiale dans tout le pays, est un grand démocrate et homme de démocratie.

Voilà enfin une définition claire de ce qu'ils entendent par "démocratie" Et n'oubliez pas que c'est la même chose qu'ils veulent pour nous ici en amérique aussi. L'Union Nord Américaine, ça vous dit de quoi....?

Pour avoir tout le reste de mes commentaires sur la situation au Pakistan, ne manquez pas d'écouter l'émission du 18 novembre et celle de cette semaine, soit le 25 novembre.


The man who knew too much

He soon discovered, however, that senior officials in government were taking quite the opposite view: they were breaking US and international non-proliferation protocols to shelter Pakistan's ambitions and even sell it banned WMD technology. In the closing years of the cold war, Pakistan was considered to have great strategic importance. It provided Washington with a springboard into neighbouring Afghanistan - a route for passing US weapons and cash to the mujahideen, who were battling to oust the Soviet army that had invaded in 1979. Barlow says, "We had to buddy-up to regimes we didn't see eye-to-eye with, but I could not believe we would actually give Pakistan the bomb.

This is a repeat of Iraq. The US Government spent YOUR tax dollars to give Saddam the weapons he used against Iran, then sent YOUR kids in to die fixing that mess.


Pakistanis lose rights to free speech, assembly, property rights, lawyers


U.S. Aid to Musharraf is Largely Untraceable Cash Transfers

Musharraf, of course, has been a crucial American ally since the start of the Afghanistan war in 2001, and the U.S. has rewarded him ever since with over $10 billion in civilian and (mostly) military largesse.

In fact, however, a considerable amount of the money the U.S. gives to Pakistan is administered not through U.S. agencies or joint U.S.-Pakistani programs. Instead, the U.S. gives Musharraf's government about $200 million annually and his military $100 million monthly in the form of direct cash transfers. Once that money leaves the U.S. Treasury, Musharraf can do with it whatever he wants.

This isn't really "foreign aid": this is a bribe.

Foreign aid is supposed to have something approximating accountability attached to it.

This arrangement has none.

And don't you find it comforting just how money gets thrown at some of these thugs who are, in essence, "our thugs" while homeless vets are sleeping in our streets?


Musharraf's new court to give him 5-year term

Pakistan's Supreme Court is expected to declare within days that President Pervez Musharraf can legally stay in office for another five years.

If this landmark endorsement emerges, it would clear the way for Gen Musharraf to end the state of emergency having secured his grip on power. Allies predict he would then resign as army chief, in accordance with Western demands, and allow elections to be held.


200 killed as Pakistani troops battle border militants

Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, who secured a new five-year term in office in a controversial vote at the weekend, faces intense US pressure to crack down on militant activity.

Washington fears North Waziristan has become a safe haven for al-Qaida forces, which are using it as a launching pad to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan.

so Musharraf is slaughterintg his own to keep Washington happy.

But how long can this continue before he's dealing with a backlash his army can no longer control?


A reign of terror in Islamabad

The Constitution Avenue on Saturday presented the scene of a virtual battlefield. The blood of journalists and lawyers soaked the ground who fell victim to the worst-ever brutality of the police in the capital’s history – thanks to the newly-appointed police chief Marvat Ali Shah.

Musharraf is hanging by a thread in Pakistan.

And it appears that Washington will move heaven and earth to keep him in power because, after all, he's "our" thug.

The question is, just how long the will the Pakistani people continue to take the abuses his regime's "law enforcement" stooges hand out before there is a national uprising?


Knives out for Musharraf as US loosens ties

Any US move to back away from General Musharraf requires delicate diplomacy that will fall to the Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte, who is to arrive here today. He will reiterate US insistence that General Musharraf must end his state of emergency before elections that are to be held by January 9.

Diplomats said Mr Negroponte's message might be tempered by a division within the Bush Administration, where some policymakers say General Musharraf could still survive and so must not be alienated. They added that Mr Negroponte also must avoid appearing to interfere in Pakistani affairs.

Let me get this straight: " Mr Negroponte also must avoid appearing to interfere in Pakistani affairs"?

I hope the writer of this article appreciates the intense irony of that statement.


Musharraf Faces Limited Options

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, said that while a complete military takeover under martial law had been ruled out, a state of emergency that would allow for the postponement of elections for up to a year and the curtailment of individual liberties was still on the table. "Martial law is a very harsh word," Hussain said in an interview. "Emergency rule is not so harsh."

Memo to Chaudray Shujaat Hussain: the Pakistani people are very intelligent: please do not insult them with this attempted softening of language to make what is being considered in the name of "security" sound like something more gentle.

The Pakistani people know precisely what they are dealing with in Musharraf, and understand that there is really no such thing as "martial law light".


Bush makes effort to salvage rule by Musharraf

Fearing the collapse of a friendly government, the Bush administration has begun a concerted public effort to salvage the presidency of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf by pushing him to compromise with political opponents and abandon emergency rule, US officials said yesterday.

US envoys intend to warn their longtime ally that they believe his power is ebbing, that he must lift the two-week-old emergency decree and work with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and other opposition figures to stabilize the country.

Anyone in Washington who still thinks that some sort of political rapprochement between Bhutto and Musharraf is truly possible is probably in a really deep state of denial.

American intervention in the Pakistani political scene will make things worse, not better, for Musharraf, as a majority of Pakistanis believe that US support for Musharaff is a huge part of the problem.


U.S. seeking alternatives to Pakistan routes for Afghanistan war supplies

The U.S. military is seeking alternatives to transporting supplies to Afghanistan via Pakistan which is undergoing political instability, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

According to the Defense Department, 75 percent of military supplies for Afghanistan have to be transported through or over Pakistan, including 40 percent of oil supplies.

This is going to be tricky in the extreme.

Neighboring states include Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Iran.The question has to be asked, which of Afghanistan's neighbors would be really happy to see a stepped up US presence in their country?

And the honest answer has to be, not very many, if any, at the moment.


Commonwealth ultimatum to Pakistan

Commonwealth foreign ministers threatened Pakistan last night with expulsion from their organisation if its president, Pervez Musharraf, fails to repeal the state of emergency and step down as army chief in the next nine days.

The world is watching and collectively holding its breath, wondering just how safe those nukes in Pakistan really are.

And the Taliban have recently captured several cities in the Swat valley region of Pakistan, just a 4 hours drive from Islamabad.


Musharraf Gives No Date for End to Rule

In a defiant news conference Sunday, the Pakistani president, General Pervez Musharraf, refused to give a date for the end of the de facto martial law that he imposed more than a week ago and suggested that it would continue indefinitely, including during parliamentary elections in early January.

Speaking one day after President George W. Bush said General Musharraf was the best president for Pakistan, the general said the emergency decree was justified by the need to fight terrorism, and would "ensure absolutely fair and transparent elections."

Smooth move, there, Pervez!

It's almost as though the man wants to provoke the very violence he claims he wants to prevent.

Look for this to get much more ugly very quickly.

And there's not a heck of a lot the US can do to stop it, particularly after Bush's claim that the General "was the best president for Pakistan".

What this has shown to the world, in no uncertain terms, is that the US is always ready to back bloody despots, if those despots happen to be supportive of US interests.

This absolutely puts the lie to Bush's statements about wanting to sow the seeds of democracy around the world

If what we see in Pakistan is this administration's definition of "democracy", would someone please tell me what a dictatorship looks like to them?


Pakistanis' anger at Musharraf extends to U.S.

"We blame the U.S. directly for keeping us under the rule of the military," said Arfan Ghani, a 54-year-old professor of architecture. Musharraf, who heads Pakistan's army, is just "another dictator," Ghani told an American reporter, "serving the interests of your country."

This administration has no other people than themselves to blame for this.

And it dovetails very neatly with the myopic, not-thought-through haze which has passed for "foreign policy" in this country for far too many years.

The names on this Hit Parade" of thugs who were "our Thug"s include - but are not limited to: The Shah of Iran, Manuel Noriega, Ngo Dinh Diem, Saddam Hussein, and - currently - Pervez Musharraf.


AFP: US has plans to safeguard Pakistan's nukes: report

The United States has developed contingency plans to safeguard Pakistani nuclear weapons if they risk falling into the wrong hands, but US officials worry that their limited knowledge about the location of the arsenal could pose a problem, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

Former and current administration officials say they believe that Pakistan's stockpile is safe, the paper said.

But they worry that its security could be weakened if the current turmoil persists or worsens. They are particularly concerned by early signs of fragmented loyalties among Pakistan's military and intelligence leaders, The Post said.

Take a good look at Pakistan on a map, particularly the western border.

Any kind of US military incursion (with or without the government's blessing), gives the US a Western front for a potential attack on Iran.


Pakistan blocks Bhutto with house arrest

"I am your sister fighting for democracy," she told police through a megaphone as she tried to get through a wall of barbed wire.

This was one big fat, hairy mistake on Musharraf's part.


U.S. strategy for Pakistan looks increasingly fragile

In pushing for the deal that took Benazir Bhutto back to Pakistan, the U.S. administration hoped to build a broader base of support that might help General Pervez Musharraf stay on as president.

But Musharraf's sweeping crackdown over the past week has raised questions about that strategy, not least when he sent thousands of police officers on Friday to prevent Bhutto from leading a protest rally against his imposition of de facto martial law.

Translation: this gambit has blown up like a bad trick cigar in this administration's face.

U.S. options at this point are severely limited.


SETTING UP IRAN GOES AWRY AS TEHERAN SPIT OUT THE BAIT OF PLANTED NUKE-PLANS...

It is interesting that Teheran stated that those blueprints in these documents were handed "unasked" to Iran some years ago by Abdul Qadeer Khan, a Pakistani nuclear expert who had close contacts with the CIA.


Commonwealth ultimatum to Pakistan

Commonwealth foreign ministers threatened Pakistan last night with expulsion from their organisation if its president, Pervez Musharraf, fails to repeal the state of emergency and step down as army chief in the next nine days.

The world is watching and collectively holding its breath, wondering just how safe those nukes in Pakistan really are.

And the Taliban have recently captured several cities in the Swat valley region of Pakistan, just a 4 hours drive from Islamabad.


Musharraf Gives No Date for End to Rule

In a defiant news conference Sunday, the Pakistani president, General Pervez Musharraf, refused to give a date for the end of the de facto martial law that he imposed more than a week ago and suggested that it would continue indefinitely, including during parliamentary elections in early January.

Speaking one day after President George W. Bush said General Musharraf was the best president for Pakistan, the general said the emergency decree was justified by the need to fight terrorism, and would "ensure absolutely fair and transparent elections."

Smooth move, there, Pervez!

It's almost as though the man wants to provoke the very violence he claims he wants to prevent.

Look for this to get much more ugly very quickly.

And there's not a heck of a lot the US can do to stop it, particularly after Bush's claim that the General "was the best president for Pakistan".

What this has shown to the world, in no uncertain terms, is that the US is always ready to back bloody despots, if those despots happen to be supportive of US interests.

This absolutely puts the lie to Bush's statements about wanting to sow the seeds of democracy around the world

If what we see in Pakistan is this administration's definition of "democracy", would someone please tell me what a dictatorship looks like to them?


Pakistanis' anger at Musharraf extends to U.S.

"We blame the U.S. directly for keeping us under the rule of the military," said Arfan Ghani, a 54-year-old professor of architecture. Musharraf, who heads Pakistan's army, is just "another dictator," Ghani told an American reporter, "serving the interests of your country."

This administration has no other people than themselves to blame for this.

And it dovetails very neatly with the myopic, not-thought-through haze which has passed for "foreign policy" in this country for far too many years.

The names on this Hit Parade" of thugs who were "our Thug"s include - but are not limited to: The Shah of Iran, Manuel Noriega, Ngo Dinh Diem, Saddam Hussein, and - currently - Pervez Musharraf.


AFP: US has plans to safeguard Pakistan's nukes: report

The United States has developed contingency plans to safeguard Pakistani nuclear weapons if they risk falling into the wrong hands, but US officials worry that their limited knowledge about the location of the arsenal could pose a problem, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

Former and current administration officials say they believe that Pakistan's stockpile is safe, the paper said.

But they worry that its security could be weakened if the current turmoil persists or worsens. They are particularly concerned by early signs of fragmented loyalties among Pakistan's military and intelligence leaders, The Post said.

Take a good look at Pakistan on a map, particularly the western border.

Any kind of US military incursion (with or without the government's blessing), gives the US a Western front for a potential attack on Iran.


200 killed as Pakistani troops battle border militants

Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, who secured a new five-year term in office in a controversial vote at the weekend, faces intense US pressure to crack down on militant activity.

Washington fears North Waziristan has become a safe haven for al-Qaida forces, which are using it as a launching pad to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan.

so Musharraf is slaughterintg his own to keep Washington happy.

But how long can this continue before he's dealing with a backlash his army can no longer control?


Pakistanis lose rights to free speech, assembly, property rights, lawyers


Tribal revolt pushes Pakistan to brink

A full-scale insurrection is taking hold in Waziristan, the most restive part of the tribal region which lies on the border with Afghanistan. It is an uprising not by a few foreign Taliban or al-Qaeda fighters, but the local population.

"Tomorrow they may declare the Islamic emirate of Waziristan," said Talat Masood, a retired general. "This is the greatest challenge since 1971 [when East Pakistan broke away to become Bangladesh]."

The only question is, how long can Musharraf manage to hang on without losing the rest of his military support?

When that happens, all bets are off.

Musharraf is a thug and a dictator, but he's OUR thug and dictator, and his latest murderous attacks against his own people was for Washington's consumption.

But more and more, it looks as though the people of Pakistan have absolutely had enough.


Civilians killed in military strike

Pakistani aircraft bombed a village bazaar packed with shoppers near the Afghan border yesterday, pushing the death toll to 250 in four days of fighting — the deadliest clashes since Pakistan extended its support to the U.S.-led war on terror in 2001.

The attack on Epi village in North Waziristan tribal region killed dozens of militants and civilians — deaths that are likely to harden domestic opposition to President Pervez Musharraf's alliance with Washington.

Good ol' Pervez: willing the hearts and minds of his citizens, one dead civilian Pakistani at a time.

But this was not for national consumption: this was Musharaff's way of saying to Washington, "Look, I'm so butch on your war on terror that I'm going to bomb innocent people to convince you just how butch I am."


Civilians killed in military strike

Pakistani aircraft bombed a village bazaar packed with shoppers near the Afghan border yesterday, pushing the death toll to 250 in four days of fighting — the deadliest clashes since Pakistan extended its support to the U.S.-led war on terror in 2001.

The attack on Epi village in North Waziristan tribal region killed dozens of militants and civilians — deaths that are likely to harden domestic opposition to President Pervez Musharraf's alliance with Washington.

Good ol' Pervez: willing the hearts and minds of his citizens, one dead civilian Pakistani at a time.

But this was not for national consumption: this was Musharaff's way of saying to Washington, "Look, I'm so butch on your war on terror that I'm going to bomb innocent people to convince you just how butch I am."






.

*****Musharraf Isn't the First, but He Should Be the Last

In his 2005 inaugural address, President George W. Bush declared that the United States would support democratic movements around the world and work to end tyranny. Furthermore, he pledged to those struggling for freedom that the United States would "not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors." Despite these promises, the Bush administration – with the apparent acquiescence of the Democratic-controlled Congress – has instead decided to continue U.S. support for the dictatorship of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president.

Every time this country's policy makers back a particular carnage-prone dictatorial thug, because he's "our thug", they seem astonished that the people of that country aren't exactly responding to its leadership by throwing rose petals at the feet of their dictator.

You would think the folks in Washington would have learned from history, but they appear to be amazingly resistant to being able to do that.

And those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it.

November 13, 2007

Musharraf Isn't the First, but He Should Be the Last
America's dictatorial 'allies' in Islamabad by Stephen Zunes

In his 2005 inaugural address, President George W. Bush declared that the United States would support democratic movements around the world and work to end tyranny. Furthermore, he pledged to those struggling for freedom that the United States would "not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors." Despite these promises, the Bush administration – with the apparent acquiescence of the Democratic-controlled Congress – has instead decided to continue U.S. support for the dictatorship of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president.

On Nov. 3, the U.S.-backed chief of the Pakistani army, fearing an imminent ruling by the Supreme Court which could have invalidated his hold on power, declared a state of emergency. He immediately suspended the constitution, shut down all television stations not controlled by the government, ordered the arrests of thousands of political opponents and pro-democracy activists, fired judges not supportive of his crackdown, jammed mobile phone networks, and ordered attacks on peaceful demonstrators. Leading Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir reported that the U.S. embassy had given a green light to the coup in large part due to its opposition to the chief justice of the Pakistani Supreme Court Iftikhar Chaudhry, who had issued key rulings challenging the government's policies on political prisoners, women's rights, and the privatization of public enterprises. Musharraf's efforts to sack the chief justice six months ago resulted in months of protests which led to his reinstatement just a few weeks before this latest crackdown.


No Impact

Within hours of the martial-law declaration, a Pentagon spokesman tried to reassure the regime that "the declaration does not impact on our military support." This reiteration of support comes despite the fact that the U.S.-armed police and military, instead of concentrating on suppressing extremists waging a violent jihad along the Afghan border as promised, are instead suppressing judges, lawyers, journalists, and other members of the educated, urban middle class struggling nonviolently for the restoration of democracy. Indeed,

Musharraf originally seized power in October 1999 following an effort by the democratically elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to dismiss him from his position as army chief. Sharif has been exiled by Musharraf ever since; an attempt by the former prime minister to return in September was aborted at the airport and he was immediately deported.

Despite its unconstitutionality and its repression, the United States has sent over $10 billion in military and police aid to Pakistan over the past six years to prop up Musharraf's regime.

During his visit last year to Pakistan, Bush praised Musharraf's commitment to democracy just hours after Pakistani police beat and arrested scores of opposition leaders and anti-Bush protesters.

Bush has commended Musharraf's "courage and vision" while Negroponte told the recent House panel that the dictator was "a committed individual working very hard in the service of his country." Similarly, Columbia University president Lee Bollinger – who called Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a "cruel and petty dictator" in his introduction of the Iranian president – introduced Musharraf at an earlier forum by expressing his "great gratitude and excitement" of hosting "a leader of his stature," praising the Pakistani general's "remarkable" contributions to his country's economic development and the "international fight against terror."


Support for Extremists

The Bush administration and its supporters claim that the United States must continue its backing of the Pakistani dictatorship because of its role in suppressing Islamist extremists. The reality, however, is far different. For its first two years in power, Musharraf was a major supporter of the Taliban regime,

"On terrorism, Pakistan helped nurture the Taliban" and that "Many in the government have sympathized with or provided support to the extremists."

In a press conference during a recent visit to Washington by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in which Bush tried to blame Iran for the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Karzai corrected him by noting that Iran had actually been quite supportive of his government's efforts and it was actually Pakistan that was backing the Taliban.


Support for Previous Dictators

For decades, the United States has backed the military dictators who have ruled Pakistan.


Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons

Beginning in the late 1970s, as the extent of Pakistan's nuclear program became known, the international community began expressing concerns over the possibility of politically unstable Pakistan developing nuclear weapons. Throughout the 1980s, however, the Reagan and the George H. W. Bush administrations formally denied that Pakistan was engaging in nuclear weapons development despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In addition, the United States continued supplying Pakistan with F-16 aircraft even as nuclear analysts concluded that Pakistan would likely use these fighter planes as its primary delivery system for its nuclear arsenal. To publicly acknowledge what virtually every authority on nuclear proliferation knew about Pakistan's nuclear capability would force the United States to cut off aid to Pakistan, as required by U.S. laws designed to enforce the non-proliferation regime. The annual U.S. certification of Pakistan's supposed non-nuclear status was halted only in 1990, when the Soviet-backed Afghan regime was finally collapsing.

However, George H.W. Bush's administration insisted that the cutoff of aid did not include military sales, so the transfer of spare parts for the nuclear-capable F-16s aircraft to Pakistan continued. President Bill Clinton finally imposed sanctions against the regime when Pakistan engaged in a series of nuclear weapons tests in 1998, but the sanctions as well as restrictions regarding military aid to new nuclear states were repealed by Congress and the Bush administration three years later.


UN Resolutions

The U.S. government has blocked the United Nations from imposing sanctions or other means to enforce UN Security Council resolution 1172, passed unanimously in 1998, which calls on Pakistan to dismantle its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. (This contrasts with the Bush administration's partially successful efforts to impose tough international sanctions against Iran for violating UN Security Council resolution 1696 calling for restrictions on its nuclear program, even though the Islamic Republic is still many years from weapons capability and is therefore much less of a threat to international peace and security than is Pakistan.)

Indeed, the United States has released the previously suspended sale of sophisticated nuclear-capable F-16 fighter jets to that country. A Bush administration official claimed that the U.S. fighter-bombers "are vital to Pakistan's security as President Musharraf prosecutes the war on terror" despite the fact that these jets were originally ordered 15 years earlier, long before the U.S.-led "war on terror" began. They were suspended by the administration of the president's father out of concerns about Pakistan's nuclear program and the Pakistani military's ties with Islamic terrorist groups, both of which are of even greater concern today.


Rogue States

One of the most disturbing aspects of U.S. support for the Pakistani regime is that Pakistan has been sharing its nuclear materials and know-how with North Korea and other so-called "rogue states." The Bush administration chose to essentially ignore what journalist Robert Scheer has referred to as "the most extravagantly irresponsible nuclear arms bazaar the world has ever seen" and to instead blame others. For example, even though it was actually Pakistanis who passed on nuclear materials to Libya, the Bush administration instead told U.S. allies that North Korea was responsible, thereby sabotaging negotiations which many had hoped could end North Korea's nuclear program and resolve that festering crisis. Similarly, though it was Pakistan which provided Iran with nuclear centrifuges, the Bush administration is now citing Iran's possession of such materials as justification for a possible U.S. military attack against that country.

The Bush administration, despite evidence to the contrary, claims that the Pakistani government was not responsible for exporting such dangerous materials, but that these serious breaches of security were solely the responsibility of a single rogue nuclear scientist named Abdul Qadeer Khan. Unfortunately, the Pakistani military regime has not allowed U.S. intelligence access to Khan, the former head of Pakistan's nuclear program, whom the 9/11 Commission noted "was leading the most dangerous nuclear smuggling ring ever disclosed." Recently pardoned by Musharraf, he now lives freely in Pakistan while Pakistani anti-nuclear activists have been exiled or jailed.


Blowback

Despite President Bush's claim that Islamist extremists attack American because they "hate our freedom," the reality is that most people in Pakistan and other Islamic countries don't have anything against our freedom. They do, however, recognize that the United States shares responsibility for their repression through its unconditional support of the dictatorship that denies them their own freedom. And, without the opportunity to press for changes through the political system, some turn to violence and extremism.


The American Public

In 1971, during the height of the massacres of Bengalis by the Pakistani army, a small group of American Quakers organized a flotilla of canoes in Baltimore Harbor to block a Pakistani freighter from docking where it was to be loaded with American arms and munitions while other protesters on shore blocked the train which carried the weaponry. Though most of them were arrested and the weapons were eventually loaded, the publicity from the event alerted the American public to the largely clandestine U.S. military support for the Pakistani regime.

When protesters met another Pakistani freighter attempting to pick up weapons in Philadelphia shortly thereafter, dockworkers refused to load the ship, preferring to not get paid that day rather than to work for what their local union leader referred to as "blood money." Within weeks, in the face of public outcry against U.S. support for the genocidal Pakistani regime, Congress cut off military aid, a testament to the power of nonviolent direct action.

Given the unwillingness of both the Republican administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress to stop U.S. military support for the current Pakistani dictatorship, it may be time once again for concerned citizens to engage in similar nonviolent actions to end U.S. support for the oppression. For those at risk as a result of U.S. policy are no longer just those currently oppressed by the Pakistani regime. Some day, as a result of a possible blowback from this policy, it could be Americans as well.

Plans by President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to attack Iran have been at least temporarily derailed by the mounting crisis in Pakistan. Not only is this important South Asia nation a key US ally in its conflict with anti-western Muslim groups (aka "the war of terror"), the US also planned to use three Pakistani air bases it now controls to launch air attacks against Iran.

Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party commands broad popular support, particularly among the poor and illiterate. But her attempt to unleash mass demonstrations has so far been thwarted by violent police repression against her supporters and the arrest of her political allies.

Musharraf’s imposition of martial law, arrest of Supreme Court justices who were going to rule illegal his continued role as commander-in-chief and president, arrest of other opposition figures and muzzling the formerly feisty media have proven most embarrassing to the Bush Administration which claims to be an apostle of democracy. Bush, who claims to have invaded Afghanistan and Iraq in order to bring them the light of democracy, must continue supporting Pakistan’s military dictator or see his war in Afghanistan collapse.

So, under heavy pressure from Washington, Musharraf agreed to hold elections on 15 January and release some jailed opponents. Washington hailed Musharraf. In reality, however, it was another cynical ploy. Every election Musharraf has held since seizing power in 1999 has been rigged. Does anyone really believe there will be fair elections in Pakistan under martial law or with the media gagged?

Musharraf, who commands less than 8% popular support, and is widely hated as an American stooge, knows he would lose any honest election. What he plans are the same kind of farcical "democratic elections" held by the US-backed military dictatorships of Egypt and Algeria.

My Pakistani sources report growing unrest in the 619,000-man armed forces. Senior commanders, recently promoted by Musharraf after pre-approval by Washington, still support him. But they are increasingly dismayed by the threat of a clash with civilians. Many senior officers fear their continued support of Musharraf is turning the public against the armed forces and injuring its good name.

Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, the newly named vice chief of staff, could be Pakistan’s next strongman. If Musharraf is overthrown, killed or driven from office, Washington has chosen Gen. Kiyani as its Plan B, either with or without Benazir Bhutto. Kiyani has close links to the US and received part of his military training there.

Benazir Bhutto tells me pro-Taliban tribesmen and Uzbek allies in Northwest Frontier Province on the Afghan border are rapidly taking over cities and towns. Army troops ordered to attack them have surrendered or refused to fire. The Swat Valley, which is well inside Pakistan, fell to Islamists two weeks ago.

This could mark the beginning of a rebellion in the ranks. The loyalty of the army’s senior officers has been rented by billions of dollars of secret aid the CIA has funneled through Musharraf. Those who could not be bought were ousted, including Pakistan’s most capable military men.

Official post-9/11 US aid to Pakistan is $10.6 billion, but "black" payments are many times higher. Some reports put them at $1 billion monthly. These mammoth payoffs have not trickled down to the mid and lower ranks. They have vanished into the pockets of the military brass and senior officials. Pakistan’s armed forces are still woefully deficient in modern arms.

In lauding Musharraf, President Bush made no mention of the dictator’s disgraceful firing of Supreme Court justices who were about to declare Mush’s ongoing rule violated the constitution. Nor has Bush or the US Congress issued any demands that the exiled former PM Nawaz Sharif, leader of Pakistan’s other major political party, the Muslim League, be allowed to return to contest elections.

So much for supporting democracy. In the name of fighting extremism, Musharraf has jailed or intimidated nearly all of Pakistan’s political moderates.

In Washington’s wrongheaded view, it’s either Mush or the mullahs. Or if Musharraf falters, then it’s Bhutto or Gen. Kiyani.


Musharraf's Army Losing Ground in Insurgent Areas

In vast stretches of the country's rugged and wild northwest -- heartland of the Islamic extremist insurgency -- President Pervez Musharraf's army did not have any more control than it did when the military-led government imposed emergency rule nine days ago. In some areas, it had less.


Pro-Taliban militants take over key town in NWFP

The militants have taken over Alpuri, the headquarters of Shangla district and home to political affairs minister Amir Muqam, 'Dawn' newspaper reported on Wednesday. The militants already control almost 80% of the territory of nearby Swat district.

Pakistan warns against nuclear weapons grab

Pakistan warned Monday it had sufficient "retaliatory capacity" to defend its nuclear weapons, after a report the United States had made contingency plans to stop them falling into the wrong hands.

Memo to Pakistani Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mohammad Sadiq: forgive me, but the capabilities of the Pakistani army don't seem to be making a dent in the Swat Valley area of Northern Pakistan, where the Taliban are now in control of a number of cities which are just a 4 hour drive from Islamabad.


U.S. to Send Special Envoy to Confront Musharraf

“The president thinks we need to lift the emergency rule in order to have free and fair elections,” said Dana Perino, the White House spokeswoman. A senior administration official said that it remained an open question whether free elections could be held that reflected the true wishes of the Pakistani people if General Musharraf continued to jail or otherwise detain the opposition.

The comments reflected increased frustration within the administration over General Musharraf’s power grab, as well as mounting uneasiness about how much longer Pakistan can continue in the present chaos before descending into further instability. The plan to send an envoy to Pakistan was described by administration officials who declined to elaborate further about the mission.

Memo to Dana Perino: "free and fair" elections in Pakistan under Musharraf's dictatorship will be just about as "free and fair" in Algeria or Egypt.

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