The beginning of the end of Musharraf?
The love affair between the US and Musharraf seems to be finally coming to an end as the US finds a new lover in the new Army general of Pakistan Ashraf Kiyani. Latest news points to Kiyani allowing the US troops to put their foot on the Pakistani soil in the guise of training and exercises. But the truth points to the other way that it could be to meet the terrorist challenge in the North West Frontier of Pakistan where the local government has no say in the law and order affairs.
The United States will soon have boots on the ground inside Pakistan following a decision by the Pentagon to send Special Forces, ostensibly to train Pakistani troops to meet the terrorist challenge that is threatening to destabilise the country.
“New approaches” appeared to be a euphemism for covert US intervention in Pakistan where anti-American sentiment is high. AP reported that the program envisages a timeline stretching to 2015. US officials put plenty of gloss on the intervention plan to save Pakistan’s face, saying a central assumption in the approach is that no such US training contribution would be made without the Pakistani government’s prior approval.
But they have also indicated that Pakistan has accepted the new US plan, having left Washington with little choice as its vaunted military ceded territory to Al Qaeda and Taliban elements on its western border, amid reports of troop desertion and surrender. US officials are now letting it be known that they have Kiyani’s green signal for the operation, even as Musharraf has been protesting any direct US action. Before leaving for Pakistan, Fallon cryptically said US assistance will now be “more robust” and Pakistan had shown greater willingness to accept that help.
Publicly, US officials are repeating ad nauseum that US forces would go to Pakistan only with the approval and at the invitation of the Pakistani government, and their mandate would be strictly to train the Pakistani military in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operation.
But the real motive – hand’s on monitoring and control — is evident from the fact that such training could be imparted any other place, including in the United States itself, as it happens in the case of joint exercises between India and the US.
On Thursday, the LA Times ran a story saying “the Pentagon is making plans to send military personnel to Pakistan to train its security forces, taking advantage of promising ties with the country’s new top general.” Across the continent, a Washington Post columnist wrote a spot report from Rawalpindi on the meeting between Fallon and Kiyani that clearly undermined Musharraf, and virtually spelt his political obituary.
In contrast with the Musharraf years, it quoted Fallon saying, “I would expect the army gets a lot more attention now because the guy who’s in charge only has one job…I’m encouraged that he seems to understand the necessity of doing counterinsurgency.” The reference was to Kiyani, who had emerged as a Washington favorite with glowing portrayals in the U.S media even as Musharraf is being trashed as a has-been who is now a serious liability to the United States.
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Above picture courtesy: Air Force Link