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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2611

Will Musharraf relent now?

By Sarla Handoo - Syndicate Features

Of the 15 persons arrested in 7/11 Mumbai blasts case, 11 have been found to be Pakistanis, not just nationals but the ones who got training in Pakistan to cause blasts in Mumbai. This has been proved not by politicians in India but by a duly established court of law. The hand of ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence Agency, in the blasts has been established. If it has put Islamabad in a tight corner after its repeated denials of any involvement in the blasts it has also embarrassed New Delhi since it recently decided to have a joint mechanism with Pakistan to fight terrorism.

The Court verdict has vindicated India’s stand that Pakistan has a hand in the blasts. In the earlier cases also it has come out with proofs to establish its allegations of terrorist activities taking place in India at the behest of Pakistan which Islamabad has been rejecting out of hand. Will Pakistan respond now?

Despite its best efforts it is becoming increasingly difficult for Pakistan to negate its involvement in terrorist activities. Look what the Afghan president Hamid Karzai has to say about Musharraf. He holds Pakistan responsible for the recent upsurge of Taliban violence in Afghanistan. He told UN General Assembly that NATO forces would not be able to deal with insurgents in Afghanistan unless “terrorist sanctuaries” outside Afghanistan are destroyed. He clearly meant the bases existed in Pakistan.

Though Musharraf rejected the allegations, Hamid Karzai remains unconvinced. During their recent concurrent visit to the US, the two used epithets like ‘ostrich’ and ‘snake’ to describe each others’ efforts in dealing with terrorism.

Karzai minced no words in saying that Pakistan has been harbouring Taliban rebels and that General Musharraf has failed to draw people away from the Islamic militants. He said Pakistan’s toleration of Militants helped make Afghanistan unstable. He went to the extent of saying some in the region (meaning Pakistan) used extremists to maintain political power.

No less important is the truce, which the General has arrived with the militants in tribal pockets of North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) by ending the military campaign against the terrorists, in exchange for no attacks against his forces. He has thus given up to the terrorists. Hamid Karzai equates this with "trying to train a snake against somebody else."

Though Musharraf tries to defend the deal by saying that the agreement is with the tribal leaders and not the terrorists, it finds no takers across the world. Even the US, which cautiously endorsed the deal, is disturbed. And that prompted President Bush to remark that if he finds concrete evidence of presence of Osama-bin-Laden in Pakistan he would order his forces to enter Pakistan. The verbal brawl between America’s two important allies in the fight against terror has put the US into an odd situation.

As if that was not enough, the secret report by the British Defence Ministry made public by the BBC, has added to the General’s misfortunes. It says that the ISI is indirectly backing Islamist terrorism and that Pakistan Intelligence Agency should usefully "be dismantled." The leaked report was written by a British Army officer for the Defence Ministry think-tank. It criticizes the ISI for its continuing support to Al-Qaida. The British Government says the report has "no standing" with it, but has not denied its existence.

Upon his own admission, Pakistan received bounty money to the extent of $70 to 80 million, from the US for handing over wanted Al Qaida terrorists. If that is the case, it only indicates that General Musharraf is more concerned about his own welfare than meeting the terrorist challenge.

It appears that Musharraf is aware that time is running out for him and the US may stop funding him any time. That would make his position extremely tenuous. The campaign to promote the sales of his book launched from the US seems to be part of the same realization.

And look at the rage in Canada on General Musharraf’s remarks about Canadians whining at a few causalities of their soldiers in Afghanistan. Leading Canadian papers Globe and the Mail questioned Pakistan’s bonafides in the war on terror. They described Pakistan "at best a reluctant and marginal ally in the fight against terrorism".

So, who is convinced by what General Musharraf is saying about his ‘magnificent’ role in curbing terrorism!

No one really! But who will tell the General that he is wasting his time in trying to impress the world. The world knows the role played by his country in dealing with terrorism. It is only because of strategic compulsions that Pakistan continues to be a favourite of the US so far.

Perhaps the General too knows it well. Is his so called cooperation too a strategic compulsion for him? May be yes.

The crucial question is will the General relent now or will he continue to take refuge under what he calls “conclusive evidence”.

- Syndicate Features -

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