A general scapegoat

Or, the Peshawar shuffle

It was Lt Gen Safdar Hussain, the Pakistani army’s corps commander in Peshawar who had first hunted, then embraced, then hunted, then met Abdullah Mahsud, a tribal al Qaeda leader from Waziristan. It was under his watch that the Taliban re-emerged from mere remnance to resurgence. It was he who told the Americans off after they entered Pakistani territory in search of Taliban militants. And it was the territory under his watch, that according to Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Pakistan’s Islamist opposition leader, the Pakistani army was training Taliban for infiltration into Afghanistan.

It has been reported (via India Defence) that the United States has asked for his replacement which the Pakistani military establishment has predictably denied. But even if reports about an American influenced reshuffle were accurate, it would only mean that Gen Hussain has joined A Q Khan as yet another scapegoat for the Pakistani army’s crimes. Gen Musharraf would hardly have been ignorant of Gen Hussain’s sympathies when he posted him to a sensitive command. Besides, even if Gen Hussain’s dalliance with the Taliban was an unsanctioned rogue operation, it is unlikely that Musharraf would have been unaware of something going on right under his nose.

Replacing Gen Hussain as Peshawar corps commander may placate the United States for now. But it would be naive to believe that Pakistan’s support for the Taliban will disappear with him.