The Great Carrot Farm

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.

4 thoughts on “The Great Carrot Farm”

  1. This may have something to do with it..

    Pakistan defying the Bush world order?

    3 August 2005: Even while the United States has given notice that it will pursue a relationship with India dehyphenated from Pakistan, Pakistan is not willing to accept the new order, and is acting up in different – and dangerous – ways.

    About ten days ago, after prime minister Manmohan Singh’s successful US tour, where he signed a nuclear cooperation deal, the Pentagon and America’s national security council called up General Pervez Musharraf for a review of counter-terror policies and actions following the London bombings. Musharraf, diplomats said, used that opportunity to throw hints about commencing a missile race against India if the US provided it missile defence systems.

    Musharraf’s point was simple and forceful. Missiles were viewed as a national symbol of security, and any system set to counter it in India would be intolerable. Pakistani public opinion would not accept it. To assuage that opinion, therefore, Pakistan would have to authorise a new missile build up. But that was not all of Musharraf’s threat.

    He went on to say, according to diplomats, that Pakistan would shop around for its own missile shield, and its likeliest seller could be China, which tested a new defence system sometime in June, to which two Pakistani generals were invited. China is deploying the system in some of its coastal cities against a Taiwanese missile strike, but there are some doubts in Pakistan about its entire efficacy, and this is being evaluated. For the record though, both Musharraf and his foreign minister, Khursheed Ahmed Kasuri, have spoken to the Chinese about its shield.

    The Chinese, angry and dismayed by the Indo-US nuclear deal, in part because India did not consult it, as we have already reported, is willing to go along with Pakistani demands. As old political and military allies, they would have gone along anyhow, although China was trying to slow down on parts of the relationship very sensitive to India, but it is back to a no-holds-barred approach. When such a missile shield is ready for Pakistan, depending on Pakistan’s satisfaction with its performance, is all in the future, but one thing is clear in the present.

    That thing is that Pakistan is willing to test the outer limits of its relationship with the United States, despite being its MNNA ally, or maybe, because of it. There was an interesting late spin in Musharraf’s discussion with his American callers He reminded them of Pakistan’s MNNA status, but particularly a clause in it, which allows an ally to approach the US Congress directly with complains against the administration whose military aid policies may jeopardise its national security. In other words, Pakistan could attempt to block US sales of the missile defence system to India with the US Congress, saying that the sales would destroy its security. It is unlikely that anyone in the Bush administration would admire Pakistan’s chutzpah, and as our second intelligence suggests, patience with Musharraf is running out, but damagingly, Musharraf could have an ally in the American Congress.

    The second intelligence, about the Congressional Research Service (CRS) document submitted to president George W.Bush, in early July, exhumes the old arguments to continue with Musharraf and the military regime till at least 2010 to keep Islamic fundamentalism at bay, but diplomats suggest the administration is not impressed. It is apparently sticking to its schedule that Musharraf shed his uniform by 2007, appoint a new army chief, and oversee elections in which Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharief, and their own and other secular parties participate, and enable the peaceful formation of an elected government. Musharraf has the option of going out of uniform and contesting elections himself, but the army has to return to the barracks.

    The CRS paper, prepared with CIA and independent research inputs, argues the worst would happen if the military prematurely withdraws. There will be “chaotic disorder”, it says, if Musharraf is not allowed to continue for at least another five years, and it will make Pakistan “insecure” and “unstable”.

    “General Musharraf,” goes the argument, “may be an individual, but he represents an institution which supports the strongest pillar of Pakistani politics and power.” Because of his military background, “unwanted elements” fear to challenge him. Since political and civilian institutions are in “disarray” because of their past abuse, the fundamentalists, chiefly the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), confined yet to two provinces, would gain an upper hand. The CRS says that the Pakistan military is blocking the MMA’s move to the Pakistani heartland, causing the Islamic political alliance to interfere in Afghanistan, but with army withdrawal, the fundamentalists would have a run of the country. But the administration remains unconvinced that Musharraf could do any more by remaining martial law administrator beyond 2007.

    Seen in perspective, both Musharraf and the military are battling with their erstwhile staunch ally, the US, to remain in power, and if that becomes impossible, they are threatening to become spoilers, destroy the building peace momentum with India, and start a dangerous missile race in the sub-continent. Since China sees in this both an opportunity to try to displace the US in Pakistan’s equation, difficult at this time, and to scare India for aligning more openly than ever before with America, it is also willing for more obvious intervention. Pakistan’s argument of an exacerbated Indian threat after the deployment of missile defence systems is bogus, both because India has a no first use policy, and the MNNA status effectively rules out Indian aggression against Pakistan, because that would amount to Indian aggression against the US. But obviously, the loss of nuclear parity with India is unbearable, and now, there is mounting threat that the US is serious about restoring democracy in Pakistan.

    This is not to suggest that fears of fundamentalist growth in Pakistan after the military’s withdrawal are far drawn, but it misses three or four points. The MMA was a military creation, after Nawaz Sharief and Benazir were exiled, to make secular politics and secular parties redundant, and it is seriously questionable if the alliance is not part of the military’s political projects. Two, Musharraf now admits that he was in no position to curb fundamentalism despite his public commitment in January 2002 to do so, so how does it become better if he remains?

    Three, the Pakistani military is becoming increasingly jihadised, as we have reported and analysed over the past few weeks, and keeping the military in power would only create and establish a military-jihadi monstrosity, which would defy future solution. Terrorism in India has only grown under Pakistan’s military rule, and the London bombings reinforce that Pakistan remains a terrorist state, which could soon become a military terrorist state. If we don’t want that, Pakistan’s rogue behaviour, and China’s rogue support systems, should be contained. As the US’s MNNA ally, Pakistan has no reason to have atomic weapons, and because China is posturing as India’s strategic rival, we have every reason to expand our nuclear programme. But above all, democracy must be restored in Pakistan soon.

    The Musharraf experiment has failed.

  2. So far I haven’t read a single piece of article on America’s design to sell arms to both India and Pakistan. First, America sells arms to India and then to balance the strength it “gives” (cause Pakistan can’t really afford them) arms to Pakistan. Then Indians Military gets pissed and they think India is not upto par with Pakistan now. So they buy more arms from US. Then we repeat the cycle again. It seem to have been going on for a while! Who is the real winner : American Defense Companries and their investors (read American Govn’t Elites)!

  3. What cycle are you talking about? This is the first time India is considering buying American arms after the Cold War. And it hasn’t happened as yet.

  4. The cycle has been there for some time. In the cold war era, it was the soviets who supplied India with arms and Pakistan would turn to the US or its allies for arms. Pakistan has f-16s, they have a fleet of c-130s, they had US destroyers on lease, brittish war ships(type 21) and the list goes on. It is clear that the US war machine is what gains from this.

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