A finger pointed at Dhaka (and Dubai)

Internationalising the terrorism issue

When accosted by a frowning teacher, the first trick that naughty primary school students use is denial. When that doesn’t work, they try one or both of the following: develop stomach ache and point finger at classmate.

It’s stomach ache time when you hear about Pakistan being "a victim of terror". And now Pakistani authorities have used the third trick by letting it slip that they are "closing in on a Bangladeshi connection to the terrorist strike and are said to have evidence of not only the involvement of a banned militant organisation, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami, Bangladesh (HuJI-B), but also of its role in planning the attack and training the terrorists."

They allege that at least one of the terrorists came from Bangladesh, and that the plot was partially hatched in Dubai. Now they can afford to drag Bangladesh into this but naming Dubai can have political repercussions for Pakistan and personal repercussions for its political leaders. Still, it is illuminating to know that Pakistan might allege that the terrorist attacks were conducted by "‘international network of Muslim fundamentalists’ present in South Asia and spread all the way to Middle East" and might even be
"remotely linked to Al Qaeda’s international terror network." (Now who would have suspected that?)

Tomorrow, you’ll see a foreign office spokesman in Dhaka asking "but where’s the evidence"? Groan.

Finding a home for Mushie

…if he does get a ‘dignified’ exit

Pervez Musharraf is toast.

When will he go, in what manner will he go, and where will he go? The first two questions are too complicated. Assuming he does get a ‘dignified exit’ that he now seeks, where will General Musharraf spend the first few years of his retirement?

He has too many enemies in a political culture where vendettas are the norm. So he’ll have to get out of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

He could head over to the New England region of the United States to live in comfortable retirement. But doing so would reinforce allegations that he is an American stooge. So he might spend time in the US on ‘extended’ visits, but is unlikely to want the US to be his country of residence.

The Saudi king reportedly asked Nawaz Sharif to take it easy on General Musharraf. Now it would be delicious irony if General Musharraf became the official Pakistani-leader-in-exile, replacing Mr Sharif, but the general has certain lifestyle choices that would make Saudi Arabia a rather uncomfortable retirement home.

So it is that Turkey becomes a leading contender to host the man who holds it in admiration. It is an American ally, an Islamic country, lifestyle choices no bar, and a place where General Musharraf spent some years as a kid. The plane on the tarmac of Islamabad’s airport might well have filed flight plans for Istanbul.

There are other destinations like Dubai and London, also places that host Pakistani-leaders-in-exile, but then, these locations suggest that the said exile has active politics in mind, not retirement.

And finally, there is the village of Chak 13 BC near Bahawalpur in Punjab province. General Musharraf owns land there. In fact, he is the numberdar there, the person who collects water taxes and land revenues on behalf of the state. They don’t want him as army chief and president. Nobody has said anything about not wanting him as the village tax collector.