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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Failed U.S. Mission to Pakistan
In what looks like an emergency mission, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher yesterday descended on Pakistan. Reviewing Pakistani news sources, the mission seems to have failed. It started off with undiplomatic pressure.
According to sources, this particular visit was not planned. Instead, the US side contacted Islamabad expressing a desire for the visit.
"The reaction from Pakistan was that a new government was not yet in place and even the new prime minister had not been sworn in. It was advised that some later date could be arrived at with mutual consultation. However, both the officials insisted on coming," confided one source.
In seperate sessions Negroponte and Boucher met with Musharraf, the leadership of the PML-N party of Nawaz Sharif and the PPP leadership around Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Today they will meet the new Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, who is also a member of the PPP, as well as with heads of other parties. Interestingly Anne W. Patterson, the US ambassador to Pakistan, did not take part in any of the meetings.
The task seems to be twofold:
Political analysts said the US officials’ visit was aimed at defusing a possible confrontation between the new parliament and the presidency.
Another purpose of the visit, they said, was to seek commitment from the new coalition government about Pakistan’s role in the war on terror.
With regard to Nawaz Sharif that mission failed on both issues. On point 1:
Talking to US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher here at Punjab House on Tuesday, he made it clear on visiting US authorities that he would not work with President Pervez Musharraf at any cost.
and point 2:
“Pakistan wants to see peace in every country, including the US. However, to ensure peace in other countries, we cannot turn our own country into killing fields,” Mr Sharif said in categorical terms.
The reaction to the U.S. demands from the PPP party, at least on point 2, was slightly friendlier, but essentially the same:
During his talks with the visiting American officials, vice secretary of state John Negroponte and Richard Boucher, co-chairman PPP Asif Ali Zardari has made it clear that he wished to settle disputes with militants through dialogue and not through offensive against them.
A Private TV channel reports that Asif Ali Zardari espoused his views in reaction to the American desire to keep up the previous policies and steps against the militants.
It is very unlikely that the new prime minister Gillani will have a different view on U.S. style War of Terror than the heads of his coaltion parties. With regards to Musharraf, he will not have any friendly word either. Giliani is the scion of a leading landowner family from Punjab.
He was sent to jail by Gen. Musharraf in 2001, serving five years following a conviction over illegal government appointments. After being sentences by the Musharraf regime in 2001 he told reporters that the charges were “concocted and were fabricated to pressurise him to leave the PPP… Since I am unable to oblige them, they decided to convict me so that I could be disqualified and an example set for other political leaders who may learn to behave as good boys.”
The U.S. pressure team came late. The new elected government was swift in taking over. It immediately freed the judges Musharraf had jailed or put under house arrest and it cleaned up the government hierarchy. By now Musharraf has lost most of his allies in the military and in politics.
Chief of Army Staff Gen Pervaiz Ashfaq Kayani has replaced Maj-Gen Mian Nadeem Ejaz with Maj-Gen Mohammad Asif as Director-General of the Military Intelligence (MI). ...Maj-Gen Nadeem Ejaz has close family relations with President Pervez Musharraf, and was appointed to the position almost two years ago.
Head of Military Intelligence, the infamous Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, is a key position in Pakistan. Another key position was held by Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, the legal mind behind past Pakistani dictators as well as behind Musharraf:
Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, the legal architect of almost every [Provisional Constitutional Order] which repeatedly subverted the Constitution, has been finally removed from his job along with other advisers and special assistants of the past military regime. ...With Pirzada's exit, President Musharraf is left with only one key aide outside the presidency – Attorney-General Malik Muhammad Qayyum, who too would be replaced within a few days time.
It looks likely that Musharraf will have to leave his job pretty soon. The U.S. War of Terror in Pakistans North West tribal area will have to stop. U.S. policy on Pakistan has completely failed. As The News editorializes:
[T]he panic in the American camp is no one else's fault but a situation caused by Washington's own acts of omission and commission. The White House and the State Department never listened to advice – often coming from within America – in the last many years telling them not to put all their eggs in one (individual's) basket. Now it is time to face the consequences of a bad policy.

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