Pakistan After Musharraf: What’s New…?
Pakistan’s democratically-elected government, despite the dire predictions/propaganda in the western world, is functioning no better or worse than under the military dictator Pervez Musharraf’s regime. However, a democratically-elected government has a moral and popular platform to wage a war on terror.
“The Election Commission on Friday set September 6 as the date lawmakers will elect a new president, after the resignation earlier this week of President Pervez Musharraf,” reports NYT.
“The senior party in Pakistan’s governing coalition on Friday nominated Asif Ali Zardari, widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, as its candidate in elections for president. The announcement of the election date came a day after twin suicide attacks outside the country’s biggest weapons factory complex, in Wah, 20 miles north of the capital, Islamabad.”
(What does the powerful coalition leader Nawaz Sharif think about Zardari’s nomination? See here…)
No one denies that the going is tough. The Australian has an interesting story under the heading “Pakistan Turns Table On Militants”. “He has one of the world’s most dangerous jobs — turning back the seemingly unstoppable tide of al-Qa’ida and Taliban-linked jihadi militancy sweeping across nuclear-armed Pakistan.
“And Rehman Malik (photo above), as we talk in his Islamabad office, makes it clear that the days of pussyfooting in Pakistan’s fight against the militants are over. ‘Look, we’ve got two choices,’ says Malik, formerly one of Benazir Bhutto’s closest aides and now Pakistan’s security supremo who heads the Interior Ministry.
” ‘Either we can hand this country over to the Taliban, or we can fight. I am going to fight’. Under Malik, Pakistan’s policy has been transformed from one of retreat to pursuit of al-Qa’ida and the Taliban. But his tough rhetoric has also him a target of Islamic militants.
“The suave, 57-year-old one-time boss of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency, the equivalent of the Australian Federal Police, is an increasingly controversial figure as he takes Pakistan’s war into areas it has previously avoided.
“In the few short weeks since Malik and (prime minister) Gilani returned from the White House, Pakistan’s much-vaunted role in the war against terrorism has been transformed. For the first time in many months, the country is on the offensive, forcefully seeking to reassert the Government’s writ while also pursuing dialogue with the militants and a path to peace.
“Suddenly and with little fanfare, Islamabad’s security forces are aggressively on the offensive in key areas where for months, if not years, the Government had virtually given up, leaving the militants to set up Sharia courts.” More here…
And here are more juicy bits about Rehman Malik in Wikipedia: “Benazir Bhutto appointed Rehman Malik as chief of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) which then launched a secret war against the Taliban supporters in Pakistan, which amounted to a direct attack on the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
“The Pakistani military was equally dismayed by reports of FIA contacts with the Israeli secret service, the Mossad, which had been cooperating with Indian secret service RAW to investigate Taliban supporters…On 5 November 1996 Ghulam Asghar, head of FIA, and Rehman Malik, the Additional Director General FIA, were arrested. More here.
Another important development is that General David Petraeus would soon take over as head of U.S. Central Command, the army command that includes Pakistan (as well as the Middle East). Can he pull off another miracle, helping Pakistan’s General Ashfaq Kayani to train Pakistani units to fight jihadis? More here…