The Talking Dog

November 3, 2007, Plus que ca change, plus que c’est la meme chose

And so we come to that point in our show where General President (or is it President General) Pervez Musharraf (also known as "Our Man in Islamabad") has decided, once again, to declare a "state of emergency" and suspend Pakistan's constitution, in the face of violence on the streets, former PM Benazir "Pinky" Bhutto returning (probably to lead opposition to Musharraf) and the Supreme Court of Pakistan all set to find enough irregularities in the recent "election" to put Musharaf's continued rule in jeopardy, and so, like, well Rudolph Giuliani... Musharaf just doesn't want to give up power at what should be the end of his term.

It's really difficult to know what to say to this (other than my French attempt at a post title there, which means, more or less, same excrement different day). Musharaf ascended to the helm of Pakistan by a coup in the late 1990's, and declared martial law then, too. This is just how the game is played in Pakistan, as unpopular civilian rule is replaced by unpopular military rule, vice versa, and back and forth.

American policy has been to back Musharraf, despite his roles, at various times, in the disastrous Kargil attacks in Kashmir, his assistance in stirring up Islamist extremists in Kashmir and Afghanistan (and yes, that includes you know who), his role in the advancement of Pakistan's nuclear proliferation, and... well, you get the idea. I'm nearly finished with a book that recently came over my transom (Deception: Pakistan, the United States and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons by A. Levy and C. Scott-Clark) which makes one's hair stand on end in describing the history of Pakistan's transformation from third or fourth world basket case to nuclear exporter and proliferator... it seems the stuff of a spy novel, except it has happened, right under our noses, with the full knowledge and connivance of American governments from Carter to G.W. Bush (with Ronald Reagan mostly responsible, as his Administration largely paid for Pakistan's nuclear program).

While it's bad enough that a country full of Islamist extremists (including OBL and the leadership of AQ itself) even has nuclear weapons... that same country is exporting the weapons and technology to make the weapons to even more unstable and troublesome countries. And yet, American post-9-11 policy has been to attack the heads of the hydra, rather than the proliferating beast itself (as, after all, we have few options, having insisted on vilifying the other potential logistical gateway to Afghanistan, Iran).

Despite all of these enumerated nightmares doomsday scenarios issues, American policy has been to keep Pres./Gen. Musharraf in power (over his country of 140,000,000 by and large miserably poor people) at all costs. Thus, American policy appears to be closely aligned with Pakistani policy at least in this one area, as Pres./Gen. Musharraf also wants to keep Musharaf in power at all costs. So we now have an "emergency" in Pakistan. Again. While we all continue to hope that the Islamabad Macchiavellian can keep all of the balls he is juggling -- including internal Islamist extremists (including mullahs and of course AQ), his own military, the United States, his country's own nuclear export business, etc.-- from crashing down on him, with untold consequences for everyone else. On Earth.

Allah be praised, God help us, or whatever other homile is appropriate... Because this could all end up being... bad. Very bad.

Update: Bruce the Veep sends us the breaking news that Musharraf has sacked the Supreme Court, arrested Pinky (Benazir Bhutto) and taken control of the press and other institutions. And away we go...