Pakistan warns US of entering border regions to fight al-QaidaThe Associated Press
President Pervez Musharraf warned that U.S. troops would be regarded as invaders if they crossed into Pakistan's border region with Afghanistan in the hunt for al-Qaida or Taliban militants, according to an interview published Friday.
Musharraf, whose popularity has plummeted amid a surge in extremist attacks in recent months, also told Singapore's The Straits Times that he would resign if opposition parties tried to impeach him following next month's parliamentary elections.
Pakistan is under growing U.S. pressure to crack down on militants in its tribal regions close to the Afghan border.
The rugged area has long been considered a likely hiding place for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his top deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, as well as an operating ground for Taliban militants planning attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan.
The New York Times reported last week that Washington was considering expanding the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency and the military to peruse aggressive covert operations within the tribal regions.
Musharraf told the Straits Times that U.S. troops would "certainly" be considered invaders if they set foot in the tribal regions.
"If they come without our permission, that's against the sovereignty of Pakistan. I challenge anybody coming into our mountains," he said in the interview in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. "They would regret that day."
Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup eight years ago, is also under growing domestic pressure.
The party of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and the other main opposition grouping are predicted to make gains in the Feb. 18 polls. They have vowed to oust Musharraf if they emerge as winners. Musharraf is seen as vulnerable to impeachment over his decision to fire Supreme Court judges and suspend the constitution last year.
"If that (impeachment) happens, let me assure that I'd be leaving office before they would do anything. If they won with this kind of majority and they formed a government that had the intention of doing this, I wouldn't like to stick around," he said. "I would like to quit the scene."
“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."
Saturday, January 12, 2008
The Pressure Cooker
How would you like to be the leader of Pakistan?
In a remote, backward, feudal part of the world struggling with modernity, Pervez Musharraf lives in a pressure cooker. He is in a bind; a vice as he as he performs a balancing act between opposing forces which have been unleashed and strengthened by the current rise of Islamic extremism and the fall of the Soviet Union.
If he is still around in February 2009 he's going to feel even more pressure from the United States to do something about the extremists in the FATA areas of Northwest Pakistan.
******Desert Rat also noted this article in one of Friday's threads. ******
Musharraf knows his real problem is not with the US violating his sovereignty. His problems are with the opposition politicians, al-Qaeda, the Taliban and their sympathisers in the military, and the lawyers in his country. Another problem for Musharraf are those in the west, especially the media who insist that he resign. He is being squeezed from all sides and I don't envy the man. If occasionally he finds it necessary to make statements such as the one quoted in this article, we in the west shouldn't get our knickers twisted in knots.
It's not a good situation in Pakistan and from our viewpoint, progress in the WOT has been woefully inadequate as Musharraf seems to start and stop military actions in the Tribal areas but he is the ally we are stuck with for now. Stratfor has said that we can expect 2008 to be a stalemate year in Afghanistan. They say that we can expect a large increase in suicide bombers but neither NATO nor the Taliban have the wherewithal to advance their causes in southern Afghanistan. Musharraf is not the only one walking a tight rope.
Posted by Anonymous at 1/12/2008 07:20:00 AM