“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mr. Musharraf's Busman's Holiday

Even as he tries to "get away" and rub shoulders with the world's movers and shakers in Davos, Pervez Musharraf's troubles mount in Pakistan.

Musharraf has been making the rounds of Europe, reassuring everyone that elections back home will be free, fair and transparent.

He says that Pakistan is a modern, nuclear country. Investors must know that Pakistan is stable and growing economically and is no "banana republic."

Musharraf says that the strategy against al-Qaeda is to "defeat them militarily. They have no right to be in Pakistan, they're foreigners. The Taliban are our own people and we must ween the population from militant Taliban. Secondly, do not allow any militant cross border movement and do not allow anyone to support cross border movement."

Musharraf says that there is total cooperation at both the strategic and tactical levels between US and Paki intelligence. There is total cooperation, he says, on both sides of the border. He says that al-Qaeda has been eliminated from Paki cities and valleys where they once numbered in the hundreds. Now, "in much smaller numbers," they are taking refuge in the mountains.

While he was away in Europe and his army was in the middle of a counter strike against high-jacking militants, Musharraf was blindsided by "some of his own." Retired senior Paki officers declared that Musharraf is the irritant in the umma and should step down. The question is, are these retirees speaking for themselves or do they represent the views of the active military as well?

Well, of course, every Islamo-moonbat knows he's our stooge and the statement by SecDef Gates (offering US help) probably didn't help Musharraf's cause but everyone's hoping that nothing will happen to derail the February parliamentary elections.

What happens after February? Well, we're taking one day at a time.

BTW - Don't miss the last paragraph of the article...
Pakistani Forces Battle Border Militants
Jan 25 09:52 AM US/Eastern
Associated Press Writer
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Pakistani security forces backed by helicopter gunships and artillery targeted militant hide-outs in the country's northwest on Friday, killing up to 30 rebels, a military statement said.

Two paramilitary troopers also died in the attack on Dara Adam Khel, a town in North West Frontier province, a day after a group of suspected militants hijacked four truckloads of supplies including ammunition and other military materials.

Also on Friday, Pakistan's government responded angrily to a group of retired military commanders who appealed to President Pervez Musharraf to resign in order to promote democracy and combat religious militancy.

The timing of the call appeared designed to embarrass Musharraf, who was in Europe on a tour aimed at reassuring Western leaders about his ability to restore democracy and prevail in the escalating combat between government troops and Taliban rebels along Pakistan's mountainous border with Afghanistan.

Information Minister Nisar Memon described the retired military officials' call as unconstitutional, and said he was "dismayed at such lack of understanding of national issues by people who have held important positions in the past."

On Tuesday, Pakistan Ex-Servicemen's Society urged the U.S.-backed leader to resign immediately "in the supreme national interest," in a statement signed by more than 100 retired generals, admirals, air marshals, other senior officers and enlisted ranks.

Memon said that rather than issuing "irresponsible press statements," the group should focus on improving the welfare of retired military personnel.

On Friday, a former top intelligence official joined the calls for Musharraf to leave office, saying there was a "widespread belief in the country that you and your government has now become a huge part of the problem."

"While the army and paramilitary (forces) are deployed to fight in many parts of North West Frontier Province, the police and rangers are busy beating up civil society in the city streets," Masood Sharif, a former head of Pakistan's main domestic intelligence agency, said in a letter to the president.

While the group of retired servicemen does not speak for active officers, its tough stance could help erode military support for Musharraf, who was commander of the army until stepping down last month and whose popularity has waned considerably in the past year.

Speaking in Davos, Switzerland, where he was attending a meeting of the World Economic Forum, Musharraf described his critics as "insignificant personalities" whom he had dismissed from service.

He vowed that his government would carry on the fight against terrorism, and said parliamentary elections scheduled for Feb. 18 would be free and transparent.

This fall, Musharraf purged the Supreme Court which was poised to scupper his recent re-election by a pliant parliament and briefly suspended the constitution, setting back expectations of a restoration of democracy. The top court's chief justice remains under house arrest, along with other prominent judges and lawyers.

The political turmoil comes as Pakistan's army is increasingly engaged in combat with pro-Taliban militants in the tribal areas and other parts of North West Frontier Province.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday that the United States was willing to send a small number of combat troops to Pakistan to help fight the insurgency there if Pakistani authorities asked for such help.

Gates said the Pakistani government has not requested any additional help in the weeks since al-Qaida and affiliated extremists have intensified their actions inside Pakistan. He stressed that the United States would respect the Pakistanis' judgment on the utility of American military assistance.

Also Friday, Pakistan successfully test-fired a medium-range, nuclear- capable ballistic missile, the military said, in one of the country's routine tests of the missiles in its arsenal.

Time flies. Last year at this time, Musharraf was in Davos with a new book out and I predicted that he was going to "cash in" and get out. He didn't. We didn't know then what would happen in the next year and we don't know what the coming year will bring. But one thing is for certain. We'll know more in six months.


  1. Yeah, not much mention of the 460 mile range nuclear missile tested, by our number one ally in the "War on Terror". The photo I saw on FOX, it looked like a cruise missile.

    Meanwhile, though the Egyptians said they'd close the Gaza border, they failed or did not try very hard.

    The Voice of America reports

    Gaza Palestinians Continue to Cross Into Egypt for Fourth Day
    By VOA News
    26 January 2008

    Thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are crossing into Egypt for a fourth day since militants destroyed a border barricade Wednesday.

    For the first time, hundreds of vehicles crossed into Egypt Saturday, after a group of militants used a bulldozer to open a new section of the barrier.

    On Friday, Egyptian border guards fired water cannons over the crowd but failed to stop hundreds of Palestinians from passing through the crossing.

    Palestinians are crossing the border to buy goods made scarce by a blockade Israel imposed on the Gaza Strip last week in response to Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel.

    De facto breaking of the Israeli blockade. No matter the rhetoric or spin put on the situation. The Egyptians will not fire on Palistinian civilians with any weapon other than water cannons.

  2. AHN, all headline news reports the Egyptians did try, but failed to stop the shopping spree.

    ... On Friday, the Egyptian authorities had tried to close the border. However, violent clashes with the Gazans made them withdraw.

    Mariam al-Shal, a Palestinian woman told the AFP, "If only they would let us live, breathe a bit. Don't shut the border on us," reports BBC News.

    According to an U.N. estimate, as much as half the population of Gaza has crossed over to Egypt since the blockade.

    Taher Nono, a Hamas spokesperson told the Boston Globe on Friday, "We insist and urge our Egyptian brothers that there must be a mechanism to allow the passage of people and goods through the Rafah crossing in a legal and organized manner."

    Meanwhile the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak said that he is willing to host talks between Hamas and its secular Palestinian rival Fatah, in order to resolve the crisis.

    He also urged Israel to lift the blockade.

    Eygpt not entering into talks with Israel, but with Hamas and Fatah.
    With Fatah now being refered to as a secular faction.
    The situation has spun out of Israels' control. The momentum is now in the hands of the Palistinians.

  3. And in the hands of the Egyptians whether they like it or not.

  4. Looks that way.

    The public rhetoric not to be trusted. Mr Bush was in Eygpt just last 16JAN08. He was in Saudi Arabia and Israel just before then.

  5. What Sharon realized is that world public opinion had so turned against Israel that a new way had to be found. He decided that withdrawal had to occur so that Israel would be allowed to defend itself against an implacable enemy without world intervention.

    This business with Gaza seems to be a continuation of that policy and lately, I have seen a more critical eye turned towards the Palestinians. Since total war and complete domination are now verbotten, Israel must endure some short term pain in order to achieve the long term gain of its neighbors cooperating to control the terrorists.

  6. Two States or One.
    The TransJordan option for Palistine has been discarded, the descendent of Mohammed protected from the masses of Palistinians that would then control Jordan.

    The One State solution would destroy Israel as a sectarian State, as Mr Olmert pointed out.

    The Two State option has been decided upon and is the way forward. By definition Israel will have little or no control over a Palistinian State. Or there is no hope for a cessession of violence.

    The migration to Palistinian sovereignty accelerated by Mr Bushs' tenure ending next year. He is committed to the Two State Solution and has promised to achieve it. Mr Bush is steadfast and single minded in his efforts to achieve his Goals, collateral damage be damned.
    He has proven that, time and again. Especially in foreign policy matters. Iraq and Immigration standing out as prime examples.
    There will be no public surge to derail the Two State Solution as there was with Comprehensive Immmigration Reform.
    Palistine being more analogous to the Iraq adventure than Immigration.

    If the Paki Army dumps on Musharraf they will line up behind the new Prime Minister?
    Mr Bhutto or Mr Sharif?

    Sharif is said to be a more amiable to the Taliban then the Bhutto clan, but who really knows?

    Both Sharif and Bhutto clan supported the Paki nuclear development, in the past. Both are allied or have at least lived in Saudi Arabia.

  7. Over at westhawk he links to
    Pakistan's Musharraf Says No US Troops

    DAVOS, Switzerland -- Pakistan's president said Friday U.S. troops cannot do a better job than his forces in routing the Taliban and al-Qaida, and the United States should increase its presence in Afghanistan instead to deal with the growing insurgency there.

    Pervez Musharraf reiterated that Pakistan opposes any foreign forces on its soil and said "the man in the street will not allow this _ he will come out and agitate."

    Musharraf was responding to a question about reports that the U.S. government was considering far more aggressive covert operations in Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates' offer Thursday to send a small number of combat troops to Pakistan to help fight the insurgency there if Pakistani authorities ask for help.

    "This cannot be done by any U.S. force," Musharraf told several hundred VIPs at a breakfast on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum. "Please don't think that the U.S. forces have some kind of a magic wand and they'll come and lead to success."

    "This environment is worse than what they're facing in Afghanistan. The mountains are higher, and there is no communications infrastructure," he said.

    Then doug link to this, about the Paki Army withdrawing its senior members from political appointments

    Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
    Support for Mr. Musharraf within the army, which is considered Pakistan�s most important institution and is under growing pressure from the insurgency, is hard to gauge accurately, said two Western diplomats who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The successor Mr. Musharraf has chosen to lead the army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, is not expected to abandon him in the short term, the diplomats said.

    They noted that General Kayani took steps last week to distance the military from politics by issuing a directive that army officers were no longer permitted to contact politicians. He has also been reported to be likely to recall army officers who had been posted to top slots in government departments when Mr. Musharraf was in charge of the military.

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  9. Musharraf does speak to the truth when he says:

    He stressed that there is "total" U.S.-Pakistani cooperation on military tactics and strategy on both sides of the border, and "good coordination" on intelligence.

    "They wouldn't be able to achieve anything that we haven't been able to achieve, so let them handle Afghanistan," Musharraf said. "They need more force there, by the way. So therefore, please add force there before you think of sending them across into our borders," he said.