Why America HANDLES Musharraf with kid gloves?

An IDC Analysis 


New Delhi, 21 January 2003

Rightly there is an outcry and anger in India, especially in political circles, over USA treating Musharraf, like we in India treat our sons-in-law –– with kid gloves. In an earlier analysis on oil in the Central Asian region and again at this juncture we wish to recall the Indian custom where the son-in-law and his parents, we call them "Samdhis", are treated with kid gloves.

Indians love their daughters and will sacrifice anything to get them married and after marriage keep them happy. After all their pride is at stake. Most marriages in India are still marriages of convenience, in large measure arranged and fixed –– just see the Matrimonial Columns. Then again, the Dowry –– money and goodies including jewellry provided by the girl's parents at the time of marriage, though banned and illegal, is still in vogue and customary. In many cases it is demanded, or else the marriage is called off. A similar situation seems to exist between Pakistan and USA with Musharraf being the proverbial son-in-law. USA for the time being is loosely courting and engaged to Pakistan.

The Hindu reported that Russia, India's best friend had signed an MOU through Gazprom with Pakistan to build a $3.5 billion pipeline from Iran to Pakistan and feasibility studies are on. Musharraf is to visit Russia soon. Kyrgistan also signed an MOU to supply oil through a pipe line via Afghanistan. UNOCAL and US leaders like Bush and Cheney have great interest, personal and national in the future of the oil from the Central Asian Republics.

India always wanted a part of the action but Pakistan has borders with Iran, China and Afghaistan and is the best warm water port for exports of oil from the region. Pakistan is also geographically located astride the Oil sea route from the Gulf.

USA's war against Iraq as per Stratfor is also all about oil, and India can do little about Pakistan's geographical position, but accept it. In the future we may have to cooperate on oil. Then again Muslim nations secretly support Pakistan and some are looking to share its nuclear know how for Bomb technology, which they may well do if USA ditches Pakistan. It shared the know how with North Korea. 

USA knows all this but we tend to be ostrich like, not facing reality, and AG Noorani in latest Frontline has alluded to it. This makes Musharraf cocky. Luckily our economy is doing well, and so when we are militarily and economically stronger Pakistan will relent.

We learn that at the height of the Kargil war R K Misra discussed a border along the Chenab River as track two with Ambassador Naik and that is now the deal Pakistan raises with USA.

We wonder how many who were busy with Pravasi Bharitya Divas followed PM's speech at Petrotech last week, when he said that India must increase its OIL RESERVES. It came at a time when Iran's offer for a pipeline to India and Pakistan was in the air, and the deal if it comes about it will have to be underwritten by Pakistan. An agreement was signed by the leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan to launch a US$3.2 billion gas pipeline. The agreement defines the legal mechanisms for creating a consortium to build and operate the pipeline. The project, which will carry natural gas from Turkmenistan's huge Daulatabad-Donmez field, is expected to bring Afghanistan more than US$300 million in transit fees annually and create some 12,000 jobs in Pakistan. USA will try to implement it.

ENERGY SECURITY, which Mr Kelkar attended to when he was in Petroleum Ministry, needs India's attention today. We reiterate that India has look to energy security with reality and one day necsessity may make us join hands with Pakistan or control it for Energy Security. Today it seems an impossiblity, but then the Berlin wall came down, the cold war ended abruptly and Russia collapsed.

For the time being USA has to treat Pakistan with kid gloves, and we hear PM and NSA Brajesh Mishra who met USA's Condelezza Rice understand this. It is a dilemma for other Indian foreign policy makers.

Finally Prof Steve Hoffman who was in India for the umpteenth time had this to say. The elite of Pakistan and the Military are in close touch with the US Establishment and he mentioned that Ambassador Mahilaha Lodhi of Pakistan who did extremely well in USA, now supports Musharraf in Pakistan. If USA ditches Pakistan it could become an Islamic diehard state so the elite tell USA "Help us to help ourselves not become Islamic." USA's dharma is to help create open societies. Neo-conservative Republicans love this language. India has to accept reality. Musharraf has the toughest job in the world and ADB just congratulated him. Oil could be his saviour if he decides to cool it on India's Kashmir border.

In this context, one of our viewers brought to our notice an article in Wall Street Journal by Ralph Peters (a retired Army officer), who explains USA's longterm interests lie in India. Even he misses the "son in law" point. We post some excerpts.




“Whenever a voice on the airwaves generalises about Pakistan, I want to ask, "Which Pakistan do you mean?" Beyond the facade of a flag and customs officers at major airports, there is no integral, unified State behind the name. Does the pundit mean the feudal territories east of the Indus river, which resemble 15th century England with electricity? Or the tribal lands to the west, where the blood feuds and clan rule of medieval Scotland are supercharged by religious ferocity?

Does the Pentagon spokesperson mean the mega-city of Karachi, which the government cannot rule firmly, or the frontier settlements where Islamabad does not even pretend to rule, deferring to tribal elders? Mughal Pakistan yearning for the "liberation" of Kashmir, or Pathan Pakistan dreaming of a Pukhtunistan between Kabul and Peshawar? Mohajir or Baluch Pakistan? Or Islamic Pakistan, blaming unbelievers for its self-inflicted failures? Today's Pakistan is a military pretending its sponsor is a functioning state.

As a firm believer in democracy and the rule of law, I nonetheless recognize that military government is the best, if feeble hope, for keeping Pakistan together and making any progress at all. Even the most nationalistic Pakistanis will tell you that the civilian politicians pandered to cancerous extremists and ignored the law whenever they could not exploit it to family advantage.”

  • Musharraf –– now heads an internally divided government, in which some elements cooperate impressively with American counterparts, while others work to protect violent extremists and preserve terrorist networks.

  • Musharraf –– is but a man of limited vision. And that vision focuses obsessively on the reunification of Kashmir. Since the events of 9/11 returned America's attentions to Pakistan.

  • Musharraf –– has left Pakistan in a strategic muddle as he and his paladins attempt to placate the U.S. in its war against terrorism, while hesitating to pursue the bold actions against fanatics and renegades necessary if the state is ever to grow healthy –– not least because the extremists have been fervent allies on the Kashmir issue.

  • After 9/11, Musharraf and his supporters needed to purge the extremist elements that had crowded into the Inter Services Intelligence agency and, to a lesser extent, the military. Instead, Musharraf played musical chairs at the top, while leaving the radicalised field structures largely intact. He now heads an internally divided government, in which some elements cooperate impressively with American counterparts, while others work to protect violent extremists and preserve terrorist networks.

  • At present, Washington has no choice but to work carefully with Gen. Musharraf, a head of state who insists on a sovereignty he cannot enforce over territory that continues to harbour both international terrorists and Afghan renegades. There are no better options available to Washington than continuing to pressure the Pakistani government behind closed doors, while avoiding any public humiliation of a leader who, however imperfect, remains preferable to any known alternatives. On the crucial issue of the hot pursuit of terrorists across the Afghan border into Pakistan, the U.S. must not be deterred, but must go to all possible lengths to maintain public deniability.

  • Perhaps the best for which we can hope is that Pakistan will continue to muddle through, never quite collapsing. Incremental progress against Pakistan-based terrorists may be the best level of cooperation we realistically can expect, given the indecisive nature of the Musharraf regime. Increasingly, Pakistan looks like a problem that can only be contained, not solved.

  • Meanwhile, the long-term strategic and economic interests of the U.S. lie across the border in India and we must manage our engagement on the subcontinent artfully.

  • While the U.S. should endeavour to defuse nuclear confrontations, it must avoid any involvement in the insoluble Kashmir issue, in which an honest broker would merely alienate both parties.

  • Finally, Washington must plan for various scenarios were the current government in Islamabad will fall, if Gen. Musharraf were to be assassinated, or, the worst case, if hostilities were to break out between India and Pakistan.

  • In Gen. Musharraf, the U.S. is bound to a Hamlet, a man torn between action and inaction. We cannot exit the stage, but we should avoid too close an embrace of the leading actor.

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