M A I N   N E W S

Time of reckoning for Musharraf
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 21
The time of reckoning is fast approaching for Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf as the American press continues its relentless pressure on the General as well as President George W. Bush over the increasingly lawless tribal regions of Pakistan.

It also explains stunning remarks from General Musharraf and Pakistan Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam over Kashmir. The opinion of an influential section in the establishment here is that such remarks are deliberately being tossed up from Islamabad to deflect the focus from General Musharraf’s real worries. These worries, though not necessarily in that order, are: deteriorating political situation in Baluchistan, increasing Talibanisation of Pakistan’s tribal areas and the approaching deadline for General Musharraf for taking a decision on shedding his uniform.

The Washington Post, in a stinging editorial today, said Pakistan’s tribal areas look a lot like Afghanistan in 2001 - - and the Bush administration is tolerating it.

The newspaper lambasted the Musharraf regime for a deal which it struck with pro-Taliban leaders in North Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan, three months ago. Under the deal, Pakistan agreed to abandon military operations, withdraw the army and release prisoners in exchange for promises that the militants would cease cross-border attacks and disarm the foreign terrorists in their midst.

This has put the Bush administration, too, in a quandary as attacks on US forces in Afghanistan have increased. Despite this, President Bush has not issued any warning or even a tough statement against General Musharraf.

The Washington Post editorial said: “As senior administration officials now acknowledge, General Musharraf's assurances were empty -- as they have been many times before. According to multiple independent reports, Waziristan has been thoroughly Talibanised, and the fundamentalists are spreading their influence through adjacent border districts. Cross-border attacks and the deaths of American soldiers that they cause are up significantly. Al-Qaeda is reliably reported to be operating training camps in North Waziristan with the help of scores of foreign militants who are schooling recruits in suicide bombing and the use of improvised explosive devices. According to a stunning report in the current edition of Newsweek, they are also preparing Western citizens who could carry out major terrorist attacks in Britain or the United States.”

The US has provided General Musharraf strategic cover and billions of dollars in military and economic aid since 2001.

According to the Congressional Research Service, since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the US Congress has approved more than $500 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as for terrorism-related operations elsewhere. The Bush administration is pitching for an additional $100 billion in the coming year which would bring overall expenditures to $600 billion, exceeding those for the Vietnam War, which, adjusted for inflation, cost $549 billion.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |