Saturday, September 23, 2006

What Is Musharraf Up To?

So Pervez Musharraf claims that Dick Armitage told a Pakistani general that the US would bomb Pakistan back to the stone age if they didn't cooperate in the war on terror. Armitage now denies it, George Bush say if it happened it was Colin Powell's fault. My question is: why on earth is Musharraf disclosing this? As the story linked above notes, it hurts him badly on the domestic front. It is impossible for him to claim to be helping the US on a principled basis now. And while capitulating to US threats might have been a wise policy choice it is politically indefensible. The Islamic extremists in Pakistan have already tried to assassinate Musharraf (more than once). It is hard to imagine him wanting to pour more fuel on that fire.

I can only come up with two possible explanations: a) he is selling his book or b) looking for an excuse to resist cooperating with the US. Certainly he has succeeded at moving copies of his book with this claim, but I don't buy that as a real explanation. I look at this in conjunction with the news clip I posted a couple weeks ago about Pakistan bailing on the hunt for Al Qaeda as possibly representing a major repositioning for Musharraf and Pakistan. When the US comes and starts leaning on Musharraf to buck up and kill some terrorists he will now respond, "well hey guys, I'd love to cooperate, but I'm so unpopular now (and so by the way are you Americans) because of this 'stone age' thing I really can't afford to help. But have fun storming the castle!" Maybe that's not it, but there's something going on here. Musharraf is not so stupid as to not realize political price he would pay for going public on this. Somewhere there's a payoff for him...

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