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April 17, 2008

Musharraf's Relegation
Posted by Adam Blickstein

The Guardian has an article about a new security agreement being devised by Sen. Biden between the U.S. and Pakistan that would nearly triple non-military aid to Pakistan, including a "democracy-dividend", basically a billion dollar dog-biscuit reward for holding peaceful elections.  The aid money would go towards civilian counter-terrorism, spent on "civilian law enforcement institutions, such as the interior ministry, the intelligence bureau and the federal investigation agency rather than being channelled almost exclusively through the army and the military-run Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) organisation."  General Musharraf has exerted firm control over the ISI, where a majority of American aid has been routed through in the past. This has led to billions in misspent, mismanaged, and missing dollars, not to mention the ISI's purported ties to terrorism and the Taliban. Needless to say, Biden's plan represents an important and welcome strategic shift for U.S./Pakistan relations, one which embraces the civilian government, and relegates Musharraf to persona non grata in Pakistan, something confirmed in the Guardian piece:

A US administration official said: "Each day Musharraf's influence becomes less and less. Civilians are in control. People aren't meeting with Musharraf any more ... we are very pleased with the new civilian government."

Another development in the proposed deal which further shows an erosion in U.S. reliance on Musharraf: 

Pakistani government will be consulted before any further air strikes against militants on Pakistani soil by US unmanned "Predator" aircraft...Pakistani officials say they have been given assurances by Washington that there will be close consultation with the civilian government, not with Musharraf, before any future [predator] strikes.


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Ah, yes, more US taxpayer dollars to Pakistan, that's the ticket. The benefactor is the new US boy in Pakistan, Bhutto's widower Asif Zadari, who is even more crooked than Musharraf.

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