Here, keep this warship. It’s free.
Osama’s right-hand men better watch out — The New York Times has written another powerful editorial that puts Gen Musharraf squarely in the dock. The ordinary response to such editorial honesty is the rapid promotion of certain unfortunate terrorists followed by a quick send-off and transfer to American hands.
Even now, Pakistan’s military ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, seems to invest far more energy in explaining his government’s tolerance of Taliban activities than he does in trying to shut them down…He has been an intermittent collaborator in the fight against international terrorism rather than a fully committed ally.
Yet well-supplied Taliban fighters keep showing up to battle American troops in Afghanistan. He insists that the training camps are still shut down and that he is committed to thwarting the Taliban, but says he must proceed cautiously so he doesn’t inflame militant groups in Pakistan. That would be more persuasive had the general not spent close to six years marginalizing mainstream parties and cutting deals with Islamic extremists to reinforce his rule.
When questioned about why he has repeatedly violated his promises to restore civilian democracy, General Musharraf argues that he must retain power because Pakistan needs his strong and effective hand. Washington needs to ask him why that strong hand seems so helpless against the Taliban [NYT]
And while Gen Musharraf can tell the Americans off for pursuing Taleban fighters into Pakistani territory, the United States has yet to as much as show Musharraf any stick. Right now, the United States is one big carrot farm for the General. Here’s a new one.
One of the items is the decommissioned US Navy vessel USS Fletcher, which is slated to be transferred to Pakistan on a grant basis. This means that the vessel is essentially given to Pakistan free of charge, with the latter having to pay only for transportation charges.
The Fletcher, ship number DD-992, is a Spruance-class destroyer. Such vessels are about 563-feet long and displace over 9,000 tons and outsize every single ship in India’s surface naval fleet except aircraft carriers, and thereby would give Pakistan a visible confidence boost when it compares its navy with India’s. The US Navy has decommissioned all of its 24 Spruance-class vessels. The Fletcher was one of the last such ships to be decommissioned when it went out of service on October 1, 2004. [Kaushik Kapisthalam/Asia Times]
Afterword: It is hard not to be cynical about this whole business of how Musharraf has been allowed to get away with everything — Kargil, IC-814, September 11, nuclear proliferation, Mukhtar Mai and the continuing destabilisation of Kashmir and Afghanistan. The least the United States could do is to stop lionising him as a moderate and a model for other countries. It could also stop selling arms to an unrepentent dictatorship.