What Actions Should U.S. Take if President Musharraf Fails To Keep Promises?

Posted by Frederick Jones
November 15, 2007
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf

President Musharraf has said that he will conduct elections in Pakistan, step down as head of the military, and restore the constitution by January 15.

What actions should the U.S. government take if President Musharraf does not complete what he has called a "total, complete, democratic dispensation" by the indicated date?

Comments

Comments

John
|
Nevada, USA
November 15, 2007

John in Nevada writes:

I think we should just butt out of other peoples' business, we have yet to deal with our own issues at home.

Charles
|
Florida, USA
November 15, 2007

Charles in Florida writes:

I would urge the Service to go slow in Pakistan. This country is unstable and has been for some time. We should not push for increased instability and pell mell governmental change.

This "strong arm" regime has improved life in Pakistan. This new fomenting of what is going on is little more than an attempt oust U.S. support and for radicals to gain support of the nukes.

I think we should back the current government but persist for change softly and help the country establish a democracy, as their population understands the responsibility for freedom. To push for a sudden change will do little more than risk all in allowing the religious fanatics to gain control. Blow this one and we'll have another Iran on our hands, this time with nukes!

Go slow and keep the pressure for change on quietly while publically helping democratic processes take route. What is in the streets of Pakistan today is chaos and that hurts us.

George
|
United States
November 16, 2007

George in U.S.A. writes:

Keep working with him, but tell him this time we really mean to do something about it.

Michael
|
California, USA
November 16, 2007

Michael in California writes:

I recognize the challenge in balancing the objectives of our foreign policy with the fact that we often make mistakes in backing one party or another in a foreign country, which in the past has ended up costing us dearly in the future. In Pakistan, like other places in the past, we have opted for short term solutions without thinking of the consequences. For backing Musharraf, we now face a situation where the government is ignoring the law in this country. Eventually this government will fall. What do we do then? The US may be able to extend its influence for some time, but not indefinitely. Maybe we can find a way to tap into popular opinion in Pakistan to find a way to achieve our goals and to support good government in this country. But right now there do not seem to be many good options, considering our past policy has painted us into a corner.

Don
|
Oregon, USA
November 16, 2007

Don in Oregon writes:

Do nothing. Promises are like the morning after for a Polk street chicken hawk in San Francisco. Maybe we could threaten to close down Gitmo and release the inmates on supervised parole to Martha's Vineyard? No? We could send a dear Musharraf letter, ending the romance from the lack of democratic conjugal relations and dirty dancing with al Queda. No? I suggest next time we not get in between Pakistan and India. Maybe we'll get a two offer, the two state solution, reduced climate temperatures and fewer radical Muslims after their nuclear exchange. Hum. Less labor an property on the international market means my labor and property values goes up. Works for me.

Zharkov
November 16, 2007

Zharkov writes:

If it hasn't already been done, State could offer to deactivate, remove, and secure Pakistan's nuclear weapons cache.

One major problem for the U.S. world-wide is the public perception that whenever something bad happens in any country, that the U.S. government is behind it.

This perception is particularly strong in Russia (after U.S. funded overt and covert support of "orange revolutions"), some nations in South America (after U.S. covert action resulting in the fall of the Allende government in Chile, Sandanista government in Nicaragua, assassination attempts of Cuba's dictator, etc.), and most of Europe (U.S. military bases in Europe give the appearance of U.S. control of those governments) and in the middle east (after U.S. involvement in the overthrow of the Iranian government twice).

Rather than feed the perception that U.S. officials are trying to subvert every government on earth, America would benefit from reassertion of some semblance of neutrality when it comes to the political affairs of other nations. Otherwise, the Paki nuclear forces may eventually come under Taliban control. Musharraf seems well paid for his loyalty to the U.S. Government and presumably can run his own martial law/political campaign without additional funds.

sheilak
|
Ohio, USA
November 16, 2007

Sheila in Ohio writes:

John does have a good point -- take care of our problems FIRST.

Murat
|
Turkey
November 16, 2007

Murat in Turkey writes:

The U.S. is walking over the edge in Middle East and Asia. While trying to promote democracy, it can-unintentionally though- pave the way for religiously extremist dictatorships. People who have been forced to live far from the "Enlightenment" can easily use their democratic rights in favor of enemies of democracy, leading to a hemlock situation, where democratic rights are used to destroy democracy. In my opinion, for a genuine democracy, improvements in educational and cultural infrastructure of a country should be taken into account as a priority and this should never be neglected.

Schmetterling
|
District Of Columbia, USA
November 16, 2007

S in Washington, DC writes:

I guess I don't understand; this supremely arrogantly worded question: Why does the USG have to do anything with respect to Pakistan, huh? Did Pakistan become a territory of the U.S. when I was looking?

All I know is this: The USG could find no greater ally in the war on terrorism that Gen. Musharraf, and if the American public knew how many terrorist plots have been disrupted by the assistance of Musharraf's Pakistani intelligence services they might have a whole different take on this matter! The fight that Gen. M. Has on his hands to keep Pakistan from going totally over to the Wahhabi radicals, not to mention the Iranians (the Revolutionary Guard has definitely got its evil tentacles in Pakistan) is well-nigh insuperable-yet, what is the USG asking? To threaten him, in a bullying, high-handed fashion: You do what "we" (the "royal we" of course!) want you to Musharraf or else!

Or else, what, State? Pakistan goes totally to Iran and the rads? Because that's really the end result of your pointy little question, isn't it?

joe
|
Texas, USA
November 16, 2007

Joe in Texas writes:

1. Diplomatically: Replacement. Temporary of present Regime.(done as I have just read)
2. Back Benazir Bhutto. As she has the greatest number of supporters and did hold to “opposition” of the problematic govt. A smart move in itself as she was originally aligned to Musharraf and is pro Western.
3. Secure all Nuclear weapons at all cost; remove them if necessary and all contingent paperwork and personal related to the program. Have a contingency ready to do so by force if necessary. Pakistan is more sympathetic with Bin Laden on a “people” level than any other presently. This, other than the strategic nature of Pakistan, is primary.
4. We have no choice but secure the country. The olive branch first, Negroponte will deal with the arrows.
5. Un-shelf our old “Great Game” leaders. Why? How can anyone not see the “miss and disinformation as well as miss direction” scenarios? I honestly believe this is simply part of a greater plan. As I stated earlier: “When one situation calms down, anther is presented”. Bagdad calms down and now -- all energy is re-directed and diplomatic resources stretched. We need more than a few of the “old guard” on the line right now.
6. Find someone to “talk to the people” and get some ears to the ground. We obviously need better Intel out there.

This entire set of events is a win, win situation for the anti Islamic culture. Peacefully or otherwise, they have met propaganda priorities and that in itself is not “normal” to the culture but very tactical in nature. So, who is really behind all this?

mohammad s.
|
United States
November 16, 2007

Mohammad in U.S. writes:

United States must firm action against Mr. Musharraf if he not step down from military chief and release all political prisoners lift ban from media and re-instates the judiciary. If Mr. Musharraf not doing so United States cuts all aid to the Pakistani government and only provide humanitarian aid. U.S. must stand for democratizing transaction.

Bhutan
November 17, 2007

B writes:

Stop all aids and funds towards Pakistan.

Ronald
|
New York, USA
November 17, 2007

Ronald in New York writes:

Re: Musharraf:

Take the action USG always takes:

1- Extend the deadline
2-Change the subject
3-Blame China or Russia
4- Increase military aid
5- Call for elections again
6- Release a statement
7- Reassign Negroponte
8- Focus on North Korea
9- Plan a Conference
10-Hold an Awards Ceremony

Seriously folks, Frankenstein means well, he's
just wired by the USG.

Brian
November 17, 2007

Brian writes:

Should a person be called President by a citizen of a country that understands the true meaning of the title? As an American, I understand President to imply the majority of his country's people have selected him to that position. This is not the case with Gen Musharraf. Perhaps the more accurate title is Dictator? His taking off the uniform does not change the history of his rise to his current position. My point is this, he can no longer don a democratic dispensation to his country while wearing the cloak of the deception of force. He needs to let go of the reigns of power, and allow democracy to decide who should run the country - a free election. But America needs to display the maturity that sometimes elections will not always bear the results we want (i.e. Gaza Strip). But the power of the constitution of democracy (whether America's or Pakistan's) must override our power of force... even when we have the power to make a different outcome. Have we not learned that yet? Perhaps England has learned this, and now we as the World's Power need to let the principles play out in the democracies that are younger than us. The reality in Pakistan is that it being a democracy is a farce... and it is now time for the General to admit it or change. The danger is if what happened in Gaza's election happens in Pakistan, then Iran will have a nuclear ally of the fundamentalist type. So to answer the original question under this light; we need to tread very carefully in Pakistan, and not repeat the same mistake we made in Iran in the days of the Shah - someone else who's title we may have given out to carelessly? What is the ultimate goal of State for the entire Middle East? Does it depend on what the regime in Saudi Arabia thinks it should be - who has funded and populated the Islamic schools in Pakistan? Perhaps the pressure and the same question needs to be asked of them? Tread very carefully.

Tiger
|
Florida, USA
November 17, 2007

Tiger in Florida writes:

What actions should we take? Stop funding him. For that matter, pull out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, etc...Build our missile shield for the U.S. and any real ally that wants it...Bring our troops home and station them on three month rotations on our southern border with Mexico...

I am sick and tired of hearing people complain about the U.S. I am sick and tired of hearing about my country's apparent "failure" to use diplomacy to solve problems. Stark reality check folks: Diplomacy fails if you do what you say you are going to do.

Let's see how the world reacts without the U.S. getting involved, in any way, shape or fashion for a year. No financial aide, no humanitarian aide, military "interventions" or "peacekeeping" missions...

Christina
|
New York, USA
November 17, 2007

Christina in New York writes:

My first instinct here is why are we asking what the U.S. should to after Musharraf fails to live up to his promise? Shouldn't the question for U.S. foreign policy in this moment be what can the international community be doing now in the time leading up to January 15 to help ensure that Musharraf and the Pakistani people reach this goal?

After all, we are all still rational actors in the geopolitical trauma rippling through the Middle East. It is in both U.S. and Pakistani interests to see a democratic Pakistan re-emerge from this period of instability.

We should be applying considerable to pressure to the Pakistani military leadership now, but we should not be taking sides with any political candidate. We should encourage the formation of a coalition committee of Pakistani leaders and heads of state to draw up a detailed plan for transition to democratic elections and ensure that it is a plan that will be accepted by the various political and cultural factions within Pakistan.

Finally, it should be made clear to Musharraf that if he does not take considerable effort to put such a plan into motion that there will be economic and possibly military consequences.

If the U.S. effectively leverages its position now rather than standing by and waiting for failure, then just maybe there is a chance that we won't have to answer this question.

Joe
|
Tennessee, USA
November 17, 2007

Joe in Tennessee writes:

There are a few mistakes, for some reason, in my post.

This entire set of events is a win, win situation for the anti Islamic culture. Should be:

This entire set of events is a win, win situation for the anti-us involvement people of the Islamic culture.

We are losing the propaganda war.

Viv G.
|
United States
November 17, 2007

Viv in U.S.A. writes:

I think an embargo would not help.

This would effect his countrymen, not him.

Kenneth
|
Canada
November 17, 2007

Kenneth in Canada writes:

If Pervez Musharraf does not complete what he promised, give the chimp a tin cup and make him dance while George W. Bush keeps grinding the organ and playing music. After all Musharraf has been holding the tin cup and collecting from the U.S., so do not expect anything to change.

What is really needed is a change of regime by free and fair elections in Pakistan. But advisedly no U.S. pressure or input should be brought to bear on the new leader. Enough is enough, so just get out of Pakistan and leave the people to make their own choices. The U.S. under the Bush Administration has already created a mess in that country, so, leave well enough alone. If Pakistanis want help, let the UN give it.

Kashif
|
United States
November 18, 2007

Kashif in America writes:

Well even though he wasn't elected, Musharraf, from the news I have read so far seems to have done more for Pakistan than the other politicians. Being surrounded by hostile forces I think Musharraf handled himself professionally yet the vested interests surrounding him keep sucking on him like leeches. To top it off the people of Pakistan seem like they want to elect a leader that will end up robbing them for their own interests. If this whole thing blew up in America's face I am sure there will be a number of people (including me) giving the U.S. the good old "I told you so" routine. The problem of poverty will not disappear simply by having a leader that the people want in power, it takes more than just being allowed to make free choices for poverty to disappear and it would be nice if people had the realism necessary to accept that, however, do to people's idealism and false sense of hope or need for hope they consistently can't accept that the world is more complicated than the interests of one country and that a globalized economy has advantages and disadvantages that won't always work in any nations favor no matter how much people protest for it to and that can be good thing because when this false idealism fails then a sense of humbleness can take root through the failure of another bankrupt ideology or hope.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
November 18, 2007

Eric in New Mexico writes:

"What actions should the U.S. government take if President Musharraf does not complete what he has called a "total, complete, democratic dispensation" by the indicated date?"

I am amused by the fact that State Dept spokespersons are not generally available for comment on hypotheticals, yet consider the public "expert" enough to pose a hypothetical to us. OK fine...(chuckle).

Our President has said that one cannot wear two hats and be the leader of a democracy, so he's asked Musharraf to "take off the uniform".

In Musharraf's statements, he is committed to a democratic process, but he faces a paradox on two levels. One of his own making and one created by those intent on destabilizing Pakistan have helped create an air of emergency on a security level that Musharraf felt was only able to be handled by temp martial law to ensure stability during transition and the election process itself.

Not exactly what we would consider an ideal atmosphere to hold elections, but then one must fairly factor in the attempted assassination of Bhutto, al Quaida and Taleban running amok in Waristan, and radical extremists that occasionally hole up in a mosque and I wonder if we faced the same here in 2008, "a hypothetical"- of a leading candidate's attempted assassination, al quaida and Taleban running amok in the Rocky Mountains, and a Muslim version of "Waco" , what would my own government do to ensure a stable transition of government and a safe election process?

Musharraf seems like a fellow who's convinced he's got his finger plugging the hole in the dike desperately trying to keep chaos from flooding his country. Yet knowing that the "controlled chaos" of democracy is a fragile balance that must be achieved, he too knows that only one hat can be worn. His personal paradox is how to take one off and feel like there's someone there to replace the finger he's plugging the hole with.

It may be that he may better serve by transitioning his role to that of a "Secretary of Defense", letting the presidency go, laying the foundation for an orderly transition of political power. This is a big test for Pakistani institutions of governance, and the proper checks and balances that must be inherent in them.

Musharraf is not alone in this responsibility, as it inherently lies first and foremost with the people of Pakistan to build a democracy.
Bhutto herself has been up close and personal with the nature of the emergency that terrorists pose to democratic reform, and she too must take steps to ensure a peaceful process during this transition period. Al quaida will play the situation for all it's worth.

I do not believe this is a situation that America can help resolve by economic pressure with the purse strings of Congress as leverage. I would be loath to see the development aid, the democracy programs funding cut, or the earthquake assistance efforts curtailed, let alone military aid in the war on terror. This would not serve well our national interest, global interests at large, or in the best interest of the Pakistani people, specifically.

Being that we've already "stopped the car in time." once this century (in preventing potential nuclear war with Pakistan and India), I think it would be fair to offer to safeguard Pakistan's nuclear arsenal in the interim if it were deemed at risk of being accessed by terrorists. Putting Pakistan under America's "nuclear umbrella" as it were, security assurances and some trust is required by all to achieve, but it can be done if it be realized in the common interest and the national interest of Pakistan.

Doing so would remove one of the leading motives for terrorists who are trying to destabilize Pakistan. In practical terms, if there is no nuclear "prize" to obtain, the strategic impetus for al quaida ceases to exist in this regard. They'll have to try elsewhere.

I suggest this be offered immediately as it is a win, win for Pakistan and global peace and security in general, and a big loss for extremists everywhere.

I would further suggest that it becomes a possible human rights issue in terms of "responsibility to protect" as defined in the UNGA. Making aspects of the Pakistani national crisis a global concern. One we , in America's national interest have the right and responsibility to help resolve.

I think it would be irresponsible thinking to suggest America simply walk away and not involve ourselves. Had we, along with other concerned nations not been succesful diplomatically in "stopping the car in time" - as the former Deputy Secretary of State put it so eloquently, we'd be witness to a billion dead and a region inhospitable to human life today in all probability.

The actions America should take today are those that would render the hypothetical question asked in this thread moot, by virtue of the fact that we do not want to go there in practical terms, nor does Musharraf.

Patience and building upon common interest is key.

Ronald
|
New York, USA
November 18, 2007

Ronald in New York writes:

Scenario for Pakistan:

It is very possible Musharraf will orchestrate a crisis involving terrorist attacks on nuclear weapons facilities in Pakistan. This would ensure his military dictatorship, and increased financial support from the USG.

yonaton
November 19, 2007

Yonaton writes:

Leave Musharraf alone.

He's got his hands full fighting terrorists. Giving terrorists rights is not going to eliminate them, or the danger they will pose to us.

Peter
|
Rhode Island, USA
November 19, 2007

Peter in Rhode Island writes:

I think we have asked Musharraf to take off the wrong uniform. There is nothing inherently wrong with his command of the armed forces. His actions as President, however, have been less than stellar. So why not encourage him to take charge of the military, concentrate on military actions against the extremists and step down as President? At least a caretaker President could restore some sort of semblance of democracy, free the judicial branch, and most importantly, allow for free and fair elections. Although most of us think Musharraf is finished politically, he should still be free to be a candidate and if the voters freely elect to be President, he can put his civilian suit back on and give up the military for whoever is next in command. (the military is neat like that)

joe
|
Tennessee, USA
November 19, 2007

Joe in Tennessee writes:

QUOTE-so just get out of Pakistan and leave the people to make their own choices. The U.S. under the Bush Administration has already created a mess in that country, so, leave well enough alone END QUOTE.
What about WMD in the hands of a Zealot, or anti Western/American country do you not understand? Iran has openly announced they have full intent of using one on Israel without remorse. Do you think if left to civil war even the possibility of a "Taliban" or fundamentalist Islamic leader would not feel the same?

In American law, I could not even 'threaten' an individual with Murder without legal discourse being applied; but you feel someone who would or could threaten any nation is tolerable?
Was there something you all missed in the over all objective of fundamentalist Islam movement of the terrorist? QUOTE To rid all Islamic countries of Western influence and return to fundamental rule of Islam. END QUOTE

Even disregarding the strategic nature of Pakistan, the Free world cannot afford to aid in the growth of any limiting culture which would/could use WMDs for leverage or threaten weaker or Democratic nations in developing.

What happens in Pakistan will impact much more than simply Pakistan.

For you who haven't been boots to the ground there: The military is marginal in the regions controlled by the Taliban. Most are simply in the army to feed themselves and families. Pakistan is still a country in development economically, with only it's few urban area's profitable.

val
|
Virginia, USA
November 20, 2007

Val in Virginia writes:

Stop disseminate democracy U.S. type around the world. That 's what former Soviet Union did with communism. we dictate to Pakistan, to Georgia, to Kosovo what to do. WRONG.
"Dictators are the best friends of Democracy".

Think about alternatives: corrupted Bhutto government, power of Muslim terrorists, anarchy and destabilization.

Current U.S. policy is dead wrong.

Lucky P.
|
United States
November 20, 2007

L.P. in U.S.A. writes:

As an "overview," if all comes off well, perfectly orchestrated.

Butto's situation can be viewed as an Alekhine's gun situation with the U.S. and her party as the pawns. Nice move as prior to President Musharraf's development, she was Anti-positional and lacked mobility within the framework of past political homeostasis. Her "side" brings in an oppositional nature which is now natured and congealed solidifying others who may not have joined with her.

The only downside: The U.S. will be viewed as "intervening" by anti-Western Fundamentalist. Big deal, but we do need to do more in the Propaganda aspect beyond Voice of America.

Joe
|
Tennessee, USA
November 21, 2007

Joe in Tennessee writes:

@ Val in Virginia -- Nothing really complicated in a 'retort' beyond:

1. Have you been to Pakistan?

2. Have you ever talked to any of the nomadic cultures or Islamic clerics?

3. What is your background for your 'generalized' statements?

4. What are your specific suggestions for improvement?

Dictators are the best friends of Democracy.

In some cases that may be useful for stability over a poor communistic State or pseudo Democratic State or in development for a future democracy by giving the people a voice. However; that statement was really in relation as the opposing juncture as Good is to Evil....

.

Latest Stories

April 22, 2009

Every Day Is Earth Day

About the Author: Billie Gross serves as a Public Affairs Specialist in the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science at… more

Pages