Friday, December 08, 2006
It’s curious that the western press made little of the coup attempt against Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan soon after his arrival from abroad. The attempt did not take place while he was away but immediately after he returned. Presumably the idea was to shut him up so that after the coup he would have no voice to reveal information about his usurpers. A ring of rockets was set up to attack his residence and apparently one was set off by an Air Force officer by his cell phone, which was discovered, leading police to him and a long list of others involved with him. Mostly they were said to be middle rank officers in the Air Force, all of whom are described as “Islamists”. All of the several attempts on Musharraf’s life have come from the armed forces, and especially the air force. And presumably all have been instigated by Islamists. While in the United States Musharraf had admitted that former ISI officials had been supporting the Taliban. Apparently he decided to reign in those elements even before he returned: he sent instructions to “check on top officials.” The most notable of them were retired Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, former director general of the ISI, and retired Colonel Ameer Sultan, who is said to have “founded” the Taliban movement. Musharraf also is said to have ordered that some major Al-Qaeda figures being protected by the Taliban in Waziristan be apprehended, contrary to a deal the Pakistani army had made with the tribesmen in Waziristan. It was in this context that retired squadron leader Khalid Khawaja, a former ISI official who once fought alongside Osama bin Laden against the Soviets in the1980s, said plainly what some of us have wondered about: that the officials who were helping the Taliban were doing so on state instructions. For the state to renounce them and punish them for what they did, as if they were acting illegally was a betrayal. No wonder the military are disaffected. How long can Musharraf survive?