The General spoke to the UN General Assembly two days ago; met with Our Fearless Leader before that, and with Sardar ji today. He weaved democracy, terrorism, hope, conviction, and CBMs (Confidence Building Measures not Continental Ballistic Missiles). There is some talk about the “disappointment” of The General remaining the general. But, honestly people, I ask you: What is a general without his vardi [uniform]. Nothing. Absolutely worthless. Just a run-of-the-mill civilian with some expensive dogs and nice cigars. The pattern is so familiar. US will support a military dictator because he is fighting a proxy war for the US. And, in the end, The General will fall in battle and the Pakistanis
will be left holding the check – a country held hostage.
Lets start with the Assembly address. Filled with the usual homilies. Although, The General did seem to give a bit on the Kashmiri issue by mentioning the “the people of Kashmir”. One would not be amiss in thinking that Kashmir was un-inhabited if one went by political discourse in Pakistan. Still, on Pakistan:
One thing that is NOT happening in Pakistan is any “transformation”. Dictators come and they go (only via opus Dei). Pakistani democracies are akin to Iraqi WMDs….lots of talk about them but no sign on the grounds. The more he insists on democracy flourishing in Pakistan, the bigger the disconnect gets.
The General, earlier, meet with Bush and they talked about a host of issues. Most news-reports described that Bush “nudged” Musharraf into being “democratic”. But more significant discussion took place between the two leaders:
Q Does President Musharraf have a take on the situation in Iraq? Any counsel or thoughts for President Bush?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, not in any detail. Actually, they spent much of the time talking about President Musharraf’s concept of what he calls “enlightened moderation.” He has — he’s written in The Washington Post, actually, he published an article I guess about two months ago on this concept, and it’s something that Pakistan, working with other secular enlightened Muslim states, like Malaysia, for example, or Turkey, have brought into the Organization of Islamic Conferences — and the notion, what they’re after is trying to have enlightened scholars interpret Islam, because Islam is a religion that should be timeless, that should be adopted to the times. And the problem with the extremists is that many of these more extreme mullahs are trying to return to the fourth caliphate, you know, trying to move time, the clock back two centuries. So he talked a bit about that. And in that context, the two leaders also talked about — and the President talked about his interest in Pakistan’s efforts at domestic reform of the economy, moving forward with democratic institutions and the democratic process as part of this overall concept of enlightened moderation and development.
Q Did Bush lean on Musharraf to relinquish his military title by the end of the year?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, they had a more general discussion about the importance of enlightened moderation and the President’s support for the process of reform and democracy in Pakistan as part of that.
I am sure the facts about Musharraf and Singh’s birthplaces blew the lid off Bush’s mind. WHOO! Dangbit Dat! I do like that the “enlightened” Muslims (I picture some glowing beards, maybe?) is creeping into the political lexicon. It gives me hope because I have a few terms of my own that I am pushing lately: “empowered” Muslims, “democratized” Muslims, “not-living-under-a-dictatorship-or-kingship-sponsored-by-US-money-and-military-power” Muslims. Just around the corner, these terms.
Still, here was the gem in the briefing:
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes. The Afghan elections, again, President Musharraf has helped with out of country voting so that Afghan citizens in Pakistan can vote and can participate in the election, which was logistically, you know, a big step, but very important for the success of the election. And President Musharraf reiterated that.
I’m going to pass on our election. These leaders are always interested in how it’s going, but — you know what the Hatch Act is? (Laughter.)
Q: But the Hatch Act does not — it only affects your political activities, it does not affect your ability to answer a question about the discussion –
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Wow, you –
Q: I do know a little bit about the Hatch Act. (Laughter.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: All the leaders, frankly — from Singh to Koizumi to Musharraf — they’re all curious how it’s going.
Q: So they would all raise it in a general sense with the President?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Right. Right. But I’m going to leave it at that. They’re all politicians. They’re all politicians, and at one time or another they all have their own elections, or their own congresses or their own parliaments. And it’s something that, you know, when these heads of state get together, it’s one thing — whether they’re English-speaking, or Japanese-speaking, Christian, Muslim — it’s one thing they all have in common, is that they have to deal with elections and parliaments and they always, in my experience, talk about it.
Clash of civilization, my posterior. We can ALWAYS have the politicians connect.
I did like the [imagine a snooty voice now] you know the Hutch Act is? takedown.
Today, Sardar Ji and The General met. I hope they did hatch some secret plan because, we know the Pakistani press will undoubtedly assert that The General made a secret plan to sell-out Kashmiri mujahideen. And I hope that Sardar Ji threw his tea-cup and punched his pillow because the Indian press will undoubtedly assert that he was not assertive enough. Politics as usual, everywhere.