Friday, November 16, 2007

Musharraf, Bhutto, and the United States

The remarkable falling out between Bhutto and Musharraf since he declared a state of emergency nearly two weeks ago on the surface dashes all US hopes for a stable democratic government in Pakistan amenable to Washington's dictates in the "war on terror".

Yet the seemingly calamitous developments - which have provoked widespread demonstrations against Musharraf's government - might in fact still fit into the US's grand scheme for the embattled country: to gain control of its nuclear weapons so they do not fall into the hands of Islamist fanatics.

Contacts close to the power circles in Pakistan told Asia Times Online that there is a feeling that the US is prepared to take "hurricane" measures to ensure the safety of the country's nuclear arsenal. The thinking goes that by changing horses and supporting Bhutto, the US could exploit the current unrest by dictating new terms to Pakistan in the "war on terror" and coerce it into allowing the US to safeguard its nuclear stockpile.


Enter, therefore, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, whom Musharraf is expected to meet "soon" in Riyadh for what the official Pakistani media describe as "important discussions".

Musharraf aims to convey to the West - and to the US in particular - through King Abdullah that the Americans would never be allowed to fill any vacuum in Pakistan. Rather, chaos will play directly into the hands of the very militants and extremists the West fears so much and who have ever-growing bases just hours from the capital in the tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan.
I mean...why would Pakistan resist? We've done so well in every other country we've dealt with in that area....

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