Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 13, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

MUSHARRAF WATCH....The latest from Pakistan:

Hundreds of riot policemen blocked the opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and her supporters from setting out today on a planned march from Lahore across 160 miles of Punjab Province to the capital, Islamabad.

Ms. Bhutto, barricaded in her home here, called for the resignation of Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, in a telephone interview with CNN this morning. She told a group of reporters by telephone that her political party, which usually commands about one-third of the popular vote, will probably boycott the parliamentary elections planned for January, The Associated Press reported.

Obviously Musharraf is safe as long as has the support of the Army, but it looks like it's pretty much time to start the countdown clock on that. I'll be surprised if Musharraf is still in power by the end of the year.

UPDATE: Over at Global Affairs, Manan Ahmed writes that "The tide seems to be receding" and asks, "Is it over?"

It is, if you conceive of it as an instant reaction to an authoritarian step — a flash of anger and frustration that is slowly simmering back down. It is, if you believe that the lawyers and the students represent rather insulated factions of the overall society who do not effect life in a significant enough manner for "ordinary Pakistanis".

....Yet, I do not believe that these are KwiK E Protests that will just go away. Think back to the amazing crowds — hundreds of thousands — that mobilized for the Chief Justice. Think also of those reports about the unpopularity of Musharraf, the fall from grace of the Pakistan Army, the growing discontent about the state of affairs in Pakistan. None of that has changed. None of those miseries have gone away. The Baluchistan crisis is now the Swat and Baluchistan crisis. The Islamists have not disappeared.

These nascent protests will not go away. In fact, they have awakened a new segment of the civil society against The General. A fact that is abundantly clear to those inside.

Kevin Drum 11:06 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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Comments

It may depend on how devoted the Bush Administration (principally, Chaney) is to propping up Musharraf and keeping him in power by continuing the flow of money (essentially bribes) to the generals or whether they switch their support to another general.

Posted by: Ben Brackley on November 13, 2007 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Be prepared to be surprised.

Posted by: bubba on November 13, 2007 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

On what basis do you make a claim like that? As far as I can see, the massive protests that the opposition was hoping for simply have not happened. The Bush administration obviously either can not or will not apply any real pressure, leaving Musharraf right where he's been all along, as a virtual dictator.

I'd be delighted to find you're right, but I'm just not seeing anything that points to that.

Posted by: PaulB on November 13, 2007 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

It's amazing how long an egomaniacal sociopath in control of a quiescent miltary can stay in power, especially with fully one half the civilian population fervently hoping he's either deposed or thrown in jail. Sometimes such madness can last for upwards of 8 years.

Posted by: steve duncan on November 13, 2007 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

We're repeating the same mistakes we made in our blind support of the Shah of Iran. Ignore the will of the people, and the US will earn their wrath for decades.

Posted by: Speed on November 13, 2007 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Off-topic, but a must read ...

Wage stagnation in the Reagan Revolution era (1981-2007) is a myth; the poorest incomes are rising fastest! The wealthiest incomes are the only ones shrinking. As I've been saying here and elsewhere, the only way to determine actual wage stagnation is to survey and track actual taxpayers; not look at wage level tables which only show the "elevator," rather than peoples movement on it.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110010855

RESPOND TO THIS KEVIN DRUM IF YOU HAVE THE GUTS.

TOH

Posted by: The Objective Historian on November 13, 2007 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

"I'll be surprised if Musharraf is still in power by the end of the year."

What year? This year? I'm 100% certain he will still be in power in seven weeks. End of 2008, he probably still be there.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on November 13, 2007 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

I doubt Cheney and the rest of the Administration will switch their support to another general by the end of the year as long as Musharraf can maintain a semblance of stability.

To some extent, it seems to me that Musharraf and Bhutto are engaged in a sort of Kabuki dance around the edges for establishment support in the West as much as in Pakistan. Unlike the lawyers, Bhutto seems to be seeking a compromise with a somewhat diminished Musarraf still in power. An arrangement may still be worked out, but I doubt it will result in the reinstatement of the Chief Justice.

I can't see Cheney switching horses before the end of the year and as long as the US is funneling money to the generals, a successful challenge from within the military in unlikely to emerge.

Posted by: benbrackley@hotmail.com on November 13, 2007 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Awww, Kevin -- you're so cute to imagine that Musharaff can stay in power, until Bush comes to shove...

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 13, 2007 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

08 new years eve party pictures from Dubia will feature Musharaff partying with MJ.

Posted by: tin foil on November 13, 2007 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

There is a deep crisis of legitimacy in Pakistan. The foreign powers will likely back what they should not back which is the status quo and precarious stability. The equation entirely depends on the wild card that is the Pakistani military. There are plenty in the military that are unhappy with Musharraf, but Bhutto cannot command their obedience. Many people demand change from the Westernized under echelons of society that support Bhutto (her relationship to the Western order is similar to that of the deposed Shah of Iran) to the fundamentalists in the hinterlands. It is a mess of a country that wants to change but cannot. It is certainly one of the less controlled dictatorships in the region.

Posted by: bellumregio on November 13, 2007 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

If I were a central planner I would make a deal with the generals to let Bhutto step in as the toothless leader of Pakistani "democracy". I would make a big velvet, cedar, perfumed Revolution with lots of flags and bunting just like the other "democracies" in the oil country east of the Danube.

Posted by: bellumregio on November 13, 2007 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

I can PROVE that ALL people WHO are REALLY poor are ACTUALLY RICH! and that ALL PeoPLE who aRe actuaLLY RICH have GOTTEN POORER! And ALL WHITE PEUPLE ARe really BLack and ALL blacks are ReaLLY not B LAKC .. An d the d ef ic it d oessnt re ally ex ist s I ad k d ake mme e
d f
?
sd
e

Posted by: The Moron Historian on November 13, 2007 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

What we think of as "democracy" is really veddy civilized Anglo-American culture. You have to analyze different cultures objectively rather than through the putrid rose-colored lenses of political correctness to gauge the effect of democracy. If democracy is governing by the will of the people, in some countries the will of the people is to kill each other, as in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia. Democracy is equivalent to genocide in these cultures, so permanent military occupation is the only viable solution to "dictatorship." I wouldn't want to predict what democracy in Pakistan would produce, but it would probably be partly nasty and partly unstable and nuclear.

Posted by: Luther on November 13, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

"What we think of as "democracy" is really veddy civilized Anglo-American culture."

Bullshit.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 13, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

But consider: Our dictator supports theirs (handsomely)!:

Pakistan's Dictatorships and the United States
By Stephen Zunes [Foreign Policy In Focus]

In his 2005 inaugural address, President George W. Bush declared that the United States would support democratic movements around the world and work to end tyranny. Furthermore, he pledged to those struggling for freedom that the United States would "not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors." Despite these promises, the Bush administration -- with the apparent acquiescence of the Democratic-controlled Congress -- has instead decided to continue U.S. support for the dictatorship of General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president. ...
.

Posted by: Poilu on November 13, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

"I'll be surprised if Musharraf is still in power by the end of the year."


not to worry..

..the rapture will fix all of that...

Posted by: GWB on November 13, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Wage stagnation in the Reagan Revolution era (1981-2007) is a myth; the poorest incomes are rising fastest! The wealthiest incomes are the only ones shrinking."

I'll bite.

The WSJ trumpets that 58% of those in the bottom quintile had moved to a higher quintile from

According to a similar report in 1992, 85% of those in the bottom quintile moved to higher quintiles between 1979 and 1988.

So that's a 27% decline in income mobility for the poorest quintile over 15 years.

To find this out took about 20 seconds using a new-fangled thing called "Google". Perhaps a nice young person at a research library could show you how to use it. We wouldn't want your objectivity to be marred by an inability to do research, now, would we?

Anything else I can set you straight on?


Posted by: Sock Puppet of the Great Satan on November 13, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

And don't all these reports just measure college kids getting their first real jobs? They're in the bottom fifth when they're tending bar or waiting tables through and right after college or law school, then they get jobs as office drones or associates and move up: shazzam!

A lotta blue smoke.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 13, 2007 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

As long as Pakistan policy is beingrun from Cheney's office, it is going to be FUBAR
And who's most responsible for that policy? Here's what Rashid wrote in The Post in June:
"Current and past U.S. officials tell me that Pakistan policy is essentially being run from
Cheney's office. The vice president, they say, is close to Musharraf and refuses to brook any U.S. criticism of him. This all fits; in recent months, I'm told, Pakistani opposition politicians visiting Washington have been ushered in to meet Cheney's aides, rather than taken to the State Department.

Here's more from Bush's Sept. 22, 2006, joint press availability with Musharraf at the White House: "I admire your leadership. I admire your courage. And I thank you very much for working on common strategies to protect our respective peoples."
…Greg Miller writes in the Los Angeles Times: "Despite billions of dollars in U.S. military payments to Pakistan over the last six years, the paramilitary force leading the pursuit of Al Qaeda militants remains underfunded, poorly trained and overwhelmingly outgunned, U.S. military and intelligence officials said. . . .
"[R]ather than use the more than $7 billion in U.S. military aid to bolster its counter-terrorism capabilities, Pakistan has spent the bulk of it on heavy arms, aircraft and equipment that U.S. officials say are far more suited for conventional warfare with India, its regional rival.

Posted by: Mike on November 13, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

The U.S. government has blocked the United Nations from imposing sanctions or other means to enforce UN Security Council resolution 1172, passed unanimously in 1998, which calls on Pakistan to dismantle its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. This contrasts with the Bush administration's partially successful efforts to impose tough international sanctions against Iran for violating UN Security Council resolution 1696 calling for restrictions on its nuclear program, even though the Islamic Republic is still many years from weapons capability and is therefore much less of a threat to international peace and security than is Pakistan. One more example of the double-dealing hypocrisy and selective outrage that has made the United States an international pariah.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on November 14, 2007 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum is just another stooge for the supporters of the Project for the New American Century. Unlimited war, with phony government excuses. I wonder if Mr. Drum will be attending the next fake Fema news conference.

Posted by: another stooge on November 15, 2007 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK
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