A subtle sign of Zia, perhaps
Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post has not been at his most charitable in his commentaries on Pakistan and Musharraf in recent years. So when he observed a ‘subtle change’ in Musharraf during his latest visit to Washington, there must be something in it.
But when you hand a Pakistani general a club with which to belabor Indiaâ€™s leadership and he declines to swing it, you know some things have changed. He turned away my question about Indiaâ€™s intentions by noting that New Delhi is working with Pakistan toward peace and â€œis looking in a more westerly directionâ€ in foreign policy.
Musharraf also candidly acknowledged that Pakistan has recently complained to Iran about nuclear weapons blueprints passed to Tehran by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan and his accomplices. At least in terms of improving his credibility, Musharraf seems to be not only surviving in a difficult job but actually growing into it. [Washington Post]
So has the General turned over a new leaf, or is it that his charm has begun to work on hard-nosed journalists, even of the Hoagland kind? Musharraf has only said what is necessary for him to retain the image that he projects to the international media, especially Americans — that he remains that ‘lynchpin’ standing between America and the chaos of Islamic terrorism. Badmouthing India risks drawing attention to Pakistan’s continued tolerance, nay sustenance, of anti-India jihadi infrastructure on its territory. Candidly pointing fingers at Iran and Khan portrays him as being oh-so-cooperative in the race to stop nuclear proliferation (and/or demonise Iran). Sorry Jim, he just got the better of you.
Dean Godson is closer to the mark when he writes that America’s handling of Musharraf has a taste of ‘Zia redux’ about it.(linkthanks Vijay Dandapani)
General Tommy Franks recalls in his memoir “American Soldier” that the Pakistani strongman reassured him that the day bin Laden comes into Pakistan, “my intelligence people will know.” Now he avers that he cannot always be sure who exactly his forces are engaging within his own country.
General Musharraf’s comments shed renewed light upon the concept of “hammer and anvil” that coalition forces and the Pakistanis were meant to enact as they squeezed Al Qaeda from both sides of the border. If there aren’t enough American hammers, as the Mohajir caudillo suggests, then it’s also fair to say that the Pakistani anvil hasn’t been around as often as the Americans would like. [New York Sun]