Friday, November 16, 2007

Pakistan, Bush and the bomb

Asia Times, November 15, 2007

By Jonathan Schell

The journey to the state of emergency just imposed on Pakistan by its self-appointed president, General Pervez Musharraf, began in Washington on September 11, 2001. On that day, it so happened, Pakistan's intelligence chief, Lieutenant General Mahmood Ahmed, was in town. He was summoned forthwith to meet with then-deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, who gave him perhaps the earliest preview of the global George W Bush doctrine then in its formative stages, telling him, "You are either 100% with us, or 100% against us."

The next day, the administration, dictating to the dictator, presented seven demands that a Pakistan that wished to be "with us" must meet. These concentrated on gaining its cooperation in assailing Afghanistan's Taliban regime, which had long been nurtured by the Pakistani intelligence services in Afghanistan and had, of course, harbored Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda training camps. Conspicuously missing was any requirement to rein in the activities of Abdul Qade Khan, the "father" of Pakistan's nuclear arms, who, with the knowledge of Washington, had been clandestinely hawking the country's nuclear-bomb technology around the Middle East and North Asia for some years.

Musharraf decided to be "with us"; but, as in so many countries, being with the United States in its "war on terror" turned out to mean not being with one's own people. Although Musharraf, who came to power in a coup in 1999, was already a dictator, he had now taken the politically fateful additional step of very visibly subordinating his dictatorship to the will of a foreign master. In many countries, people will endure a homegrown dictator but rebel against one who seems to be imposed from without, and Musharraf was now courting this danger.

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