Cole in Salon: The Fall of Bush’s Man in Pakistan; Dawn: Bush was Last Holdout

My column is out in Salon.com:

“The fall of Bush’s man in Pakistan:” (Despite Pervez Musharraf’s despotism and double-dealing with U.S. enemies, George W. Bush, John McCain and the GOP embraced him to the bitter end.)

Excerpt:

‘ It is a measure of the Bush administration’s broken foreign policy that the departure of Pervez Musharraf, the corrupt, longtime military dictator of Pakistan, is provoking fears in Washington of “instability.” Despite Bush’s warm embrace, Musharraf gutted the rule of law in Pakistan over the previous year and a half, including sacking its Supreme Court. He attempted to do away with press freedom, failed to provide security for campaigning politicians and strove to postpone elections indefinitely.

The Bush administration has made a regular practice of undermining democracy in places where local politics don’t play out to its liking, and in that, at least, Musharraf was a true partner. But stability derives not from a tyrannical brake on popular aspirations; it derives from the free play of the political process. Musharraf’s resignation from office, in fact, marks Pakistan’s first chance for a decent political future since 1977. ‘

Read the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Dawn (Karachi) explains how George W. Bush was convinced to let Musharraf go. The article says:

  • Bush was the last holdout supporting Musharraf in Washington, long after Rice and Cheney had concluded he was not viable
  • PM Yousef Raza Gilani’s recent trip to Washington was in large part aimed at convincing Bush and others that the dictator had to go. “The prime minister took a team of ‘Musharraf experts’ with him to the luncheon and they played a key role in persuading Mr Bush to stop supporting the Pakistani leader.”
  • U.S. Ambassador Anne W. Patterson “argued that if Washington continued supporting Mr Musharraf it would end up stoking massive anti-American feelings in Pakistan.”
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen made three trips to Pakistan and engaged in intensive discussions with his opposite number, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, receiving assurances that without Musharraf the Pakistani military would remain committed to the fight against the neo-Taliban and al-Qaeda.
  • Pakistani Ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani, expertly worked Congress and the Senate, as well as think tanks, trying to convince them that Pakistan would not be “unstable” without Musharraf.

    (People in Washington are so funny. Musharraf has been like a one man hurricane in Pakistan for the last year and a half; he was the source of most of its instability.)

  • But Bush wanted assurances that Musharraf would be granted legal immunity and be secure, either staying in Pakistan or going abroad. He enlisted the help of Britain and Saudi Arabia: “The British sent their former ambassador in Islamabad, Mark Lyall Grant, to Pakistan and the Saudis sent their intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz to negotiate the terms for Mr Musharraf’s departure.” The Saudis also put pressure on former PM Nawaz Sharif, leader of the Muslim League (N), to tone down his rhetoric (Sharif was in exile in Saudi Arabia for years and is close to its elite).
  • Once Bush was convinced Musharraf had to step down, the super-majority in the Pakistani parliament began moving against him.

    I am a little surprised to discover that Bush was the last holdout, not Cheney. If the man really does have no common sense and is the ultimate decision-maker, that would clarify what has gone wrong for the last 7 years!

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