Mush-Bush ambushed?

About The Author

""Dr. Shanthie Mariet D’Souza is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. She has Expertise in US Policy towards Afghanistan, Terrorism, Indo-US relations, Indo-Afghan Relations.

Dr. Shanthie is also an visiting Fulbright Scholar at South Asia Studies, The Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC (2005-2006). Her Research experience includes Research Associate at Database & Documentation Centre of the Institute for Conflict Management, Guwahati, Assam (2004-05); and Editorial Assistant at the United Service Institution of India, New Delhi, 2001. She has also Participated in International Exchange Programmes like Indo-Canada Youth Exchange Programme (1994-95), and the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies Summer Workshop on "Defence Technology and Co-operative Security in South Asia" at Lahore, Pakistan, (February-March 2005). Dr. Shanthie has visited and conducted field studies in the United States, Canada, Pakistan Afghanistan and India’s North East.

Dr. Shanthie has also represented Karnataka & Goa Directorate as the Senior Wing Best Cadet at the National Cadet Corps (NCC) Republic Day Camp (RDC) and the Prime Minister?s Rally, New Delhi from 05 -29 January 1994 and was adjudged the Third Best Cadet (Bronze Medallist) at All India Best Cadet Competition, RDC, 1994, New Delhi. Seventh position in the B.A. Examinations, 1995, School of Social Work, Roshini Nilaya Mangalore University. 

For America, Musharraf, despite his deception, remains a lovable rogue. After the John Negroponte visit, it is clear that Washington would continue using different languages for different levels of the bilateral track

""Pakistan is slowly, but surely, marching towards anarchy. And the overall scenario appears to be the fallout of the strategic alliance that the country continues to share with the United States. The US support to the military regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf has severely undermined the democratic aspirations of the Pakistani people. While the Bush Administration continues to view Mr Musharraf as the safest bet in fighting terror in the region, it is increasingly pushing the country into the hands of the extremists.

Firm commitment of the US and its support to Gen Musharraf continues to survive odd admonitions that the US issues against certain policies of the General. For example, on September 24, the Bush Administration said it was "extremely disturbed” at the arrest of Pakistani Opposition leaders accused of fomenting trouble ahead of a key court ruling on the General’s re-election bid. Gen Musharraf’s Pakistan, knowing fully well that such an off-sync caution can be overlooked with impunity, brushed off the criticism.

Despite evidence and statements by US officials on the questionable role played by Pakistan in the global war on terror, the Bush Administration sees no alternative to Gen Musharraf in its counter-terrorism campaign. The US is attempting to deal with Pakistan through "policy triage and by focussing on the personal leadership of President Musharraf," both of which are "flawed concepts."

Much of the criticism of America’s Musharraf policy is based on the premise that the US seeks the establishment of a moderate enlightened state in Pakistan and indeed, desires to promote the forces of democracy in that country. The White House has continued to maintain that the "US-Pakistan strategic partnership is based on the shared interests of the two countries in building a stable and sustainable democracy and in promoting peace, security, stability, prosperity, and democracy in South Asia and across the globe". Nothing possibly could be farther from truth.

Pakistan remains relevant to the US only to the extent of being an ally in its efforts in Afghanistan, besides keeping the radical Islamists in check. To that extent, the US is willing overlook Pakistan’s misdeeds and misadventures, even if it means, to some extent, hampering the role of the international community in Afghanistan.

Benazirs of the world who described the Bush Administration’s over-reliance on Gen Musharraf as a "strategic miscalculation" and the Nawaz Sharifs of the world who made an adventurous attempt at setting off the forces of democracy in Pakistan can wait. The odd criticisms of the Bush policy by the strategic thinkers in US are also overlooked. Although calls for democracy in Pakistan continue to come from Washington, there is uncertainty that free election would establish a stable, US-friendly Government willing to fight terrorists the way the Americans want Pakistan to do so.

The following data establishes the rationale behind US engagement with Pakistan. The vast majority of US assistance to Pakistan since 9/11 has not been directed to Pakistan’s underlying faults, but to counter-terrorism objectives focussed on Pakistan’s western border. Close to 60 per cent of the $ 10.58 billion dispensed to Pakistan since 9/11 has gone towards reimbursing US partners for their assistance in the war on terror.

A report sponsored by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington, found that almost $ 1.6 billion has been dedicated to security assistance with roughly 15 per cent for direct cash transfers to Pakistan’s Government. This leaves 10 per cent of funding for development and humanitarian assistance.

Gen Musharraf is overriding in retaining the mantle of power. And the US does not appear to be too troubled about the scenario, even if it means re-rigging of the election or the manipulation of the electoral laws prior to that. Not much thought appears to have been given to the possibility of the overwhelming opposition to the possible tampering of the election if likely to produce in Pakistan.

The Musharraf regime does not appear to be able enough to overcome those. The consolidation of the anti-Musharraf forces in Pakistan invariably would strengthen the Islamists with an anti-US agenda. That sort of a scenario creates further problems for the US, concerns about which has already been expressed in various American opinions. An article published in the Washington Post on September 23 indicated the concerns in the US about the dangers of Pakistan’s nuclear nuclear warheads, between 24 and 55, falling into the hands of Islamists.

A recent poll by the Pew Research Centre had his approval rating at 34 per cent, down by 20 points. It found seven in 10 Pakistanis worried that the US would attack their country; 64 per cent said the US was more of a threat than India.
Discussions with Pakistanis on the street reveal an inconsistency in the US policy: The US purports to transport democracy in other countries while extending it resolute support behind the non-democratic regimes in Muslim countries and keeping a military leader afloat in Pakistan. There is also an enduring perception that Gen Musharraf is an American stooge, who acts on the advice of the American Government. This was reflected in the plummeting popularity levels of the General.

[This article was previously appeared on The Pioneer]

Author: Dr. Shanthie Mariet DSouza- New Delhi