Monday, November 05, 2007

UK and US Back Musharraf in Private

No surprise given that President Musharraf is the good dictator favoured by the West. It has emerged in The Guardian today that there is a fair chance that the US and the UK gave Musharraf clearance to announce emergency rule. From The Guardian:

A Musharraf aide told the Guardian that the Pakistani president had "satisfied" objections raised by Mr Brown during the conversation. "There was pressure from the US and Britain in the beginning. But later on, when the government gave them the detail that elections will be held on time, and the president will take off his uniform, they did not have any objections," the official said, on condition of anonymity. A Foreign Office official insisted "no consent was implied or given".

Of course, the Foreign Office are hardly likely to admit this, but the truth is that the West relies rather heavily on Musharraf, particularly in relation to the so-called 'War on Terror' and the war in Afghanistan.

Despite claims in The Guardian that the West has issued an ultimatum to Musharraf, officials in the US are taking a slightly different stance. One senior official responsible for policy matters regarding Pakistan has claimed:

"The problem is we have a war in Afghanistan, and Pakistan is a coalition partner. We have troops on the ground in Afghanistan, and it's hard to have a good outcome there if Pakistan is not cooperating."

He also added:

“I think Musharraf has rolled the dice. He believes that the odds are in his favor, that the public is going to accept this and that the public response to this is containable without a lot of violence. But it’s a risk and we don’t know what the public reaction will be.”

And there is the problem for the US and the UK. they have invested a great deal in Musharraf in their attempts to deal with the situation in the northwest of Pakistan and are unlikely to do anything unless things escalate. Behind closed doors that US and UK will be hoping that is not another Burma, because they don't want to have to take any action in Pakistan, or face increased public pressure to do so. No, they will sit tight, keep their fingers crossed and ride this one out. After all, Musharraf is the good dictator