Friday, November 16, 2007

If Musharraf falls . . .

US making contingency plans

The News International, November 16, 2007

WASHINGTON: Almost two weeks into Pakistan’s political crisis, Bush administration officials are losing faith that the Pakistani president, Gen Pervez Musharraf, can survive in office and have begun discussing what might come next, senior administration officials told the New York Times.

In meetings on Wednesday, officials at the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon huddled to decide what message Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte would deliver to General Musharraf — and perhaps more important, to Pakistan’s generals — when he arrives in Islamabad on Friday.

Administration officials say they still hope that Negroponte can salvage the fractured arranged marriage between General Musharraf and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. But in Pakistan, foreign diplomats and aides to both leaders said the chances of a deal between the leaders were evaporating 11 days after General Musharraf declared de facto martial law.

Several senior administration officials said that with each day that passed, more administration officials were coming around to the belief that General MusharrafĂ­s days in power were numbered and that the United States should begin considering contingency plans, including reaching out to Pakistan’s generals.

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