President Musharaf’s Judas kiss

Northern Alliance leader Burhanuddin Rabbani is prepared to hold summit talks with the Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, in the United Arab Emirates in the very near future, the alliance's foreign minister is quoted by Kyodo Wire as saying. It is also reported that Pakistan will welcome a visit by Afghanistan's Northern Alliance chief Burhanuddin Rabbani. So, the agreement of the meeting between the two leaders has decisively been reached. The leadership of the United Anti-Taliban Front has repeatedly spoken out its readiness to establish good neighbourliness with Pakistan, especially after the latter toughened its stance towards the Taliban and closed its diplomatic mission in Islamabad, according to ITAR-TASS news agency. Certainly, Pakistani President Musharaf can boast of some success on the foreign affairs’ front. But it is patently not the case with his internal affairs. Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s former president, thinks that Gen. Musharaf’s positions have weakened. “After the fall of Kabul, Gen. Musharaf’s regime became much weaker, and his positions are unstable,” Ms. Bhutto said in an interview published on Thusday in the Indian Express newspaper. In her view, “Although Gen. Musharaf has somewhat strengthened his positions in the army, his personal positions are shaky. This is obliquely confirmed by the rumours that he is guarded not by Pakistani commandos.” It is not for the first time that Ms. Bhutto speaks her mind of the situation in Pakistan. “After the dramatic change of tack in Pakistan which earlier supported the Afghan Taliban and has by now become a US ally, the fundamentalist takeover cannot be ruled out,” she said in an interview for the French press. Actually, it is nothing new in what Ms. Bhutto has said, neither then, in the wee hours of the anti-terror campaign, nor at present. True, Pakistan was afraid that if it rebuffed the USA, the latter would turn to India, which, of course, Pakistan could not tolerate. True, Gen. Musharaf is taking risk. Yet, his efforts in the Afghan settlement are very likely to be appreciated by the Western community. Coupled with economic benefits (in the form of sanctions being lifted and the Pakistani foreign debt being written off), this could help Gen. Musharaf remain seated in the presidential chair. In the meantime, the latest information coming from Pakistan augurs bad for Gen. Musharaf. The Pakistani Pashtuns threaten to kill Afghan non-Pashtun refugees in retaliation for the killings of Pakistani mercenaries in Afghanistan, according to the RIA Novosti news agency. A number of religious party leaders and local Pashtun clan heads have also come out with threats, according to the News newspaper. Furthermore, the situation has noticeably exacerbated in Pashtun Diaspora in Pakistan lately (it is a vast territory stretching along the entire border with Afghanistan). Non-Pashtun Afghan refugee families have already been attacked and ousted in Dir and Swat provinces. Pakistan is concerned with such a development. The authorities had recently to move from the Kotki refugee camp in Bajaura area to Peshawar up to 500 Afghan non-Pashtun families to protect them from likely mob law. It is also reported that in some Afghan refugee camps near Peshawar, e. g. in New Shamshatu, the authorities had to divide the refugees by their language and ethnic background. Each group has been settled on a separate territory. UN Refugee Commission workers and the Pakistani guard are taking pains to prevent clashes between the refugee groups. President Musharaf is now sitting on a powder keg which can go off any moment. And Pakistan is known to possess nuclear arms, after all… God forbid!

Dmitri Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru

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