A reader writes:
Ed Morissey's sneers at Richardson are based on pure ignorance. Richardson is right. The US should push to get rid of Musharraf and they could do it by cutting off the $150 million a month that goes to subsidising the Pakistani military. The new Army Chief of Staff General Kayani would have Musharraf gone in a second and would return to the country to a semblance of democracy within six months because he understands the damage that military rule does to a military's image -- that will only get worse after BB's assassination. Democracy won't be perfect but it will be better than this.
Here's why the US should not support Musharraf:
-- He's an illllegitimate leader with no popular support (see recent IRI polling). He has had to prop himself up by repeatedly declaring martial law. Pakistanis don't hate us because we are western, they hate us for propping up a miserable unelected government.
-- On November 4th, the day after the declaration of martial law (it was not a state of emergency -- that is a specific constitutional measure in Pakistan) Musharraf released 28 jihadis, including three found with suicide vests, in exchange for 200 soldiers who had surrendered to a jihadi group without a fight. That's what our close ally in the war on terror has been up to.
-- He's been playing a double game with the US and the Islamists, dribbling out the occasional al Qaeda suspect in return for billions in cash -- none of which has gone to the war on extremism (see NYT stories last week but also see extensive research in a book called Military Inc by Ayesha Siddiqa. Why go on paying him to do nothing -- a democratic election would bring to power those who have no interest in supporting jihadi groups.
-- Jihadis have been political allies of the military (but not of the PPP) since the 1970s. The Pakistani military channelled billions to the worst jihadis in the 1980s, created the Taliban in the 1990s and have supported it quietly since 2001, allowing it to maintain bases in Quetta. The military supports jihadi groups because they are useful in supports its vision in Kashmir and Afghanistan and because they undermine nationalist Pashtun and Balochi forces at home which the Punjabi dominated military sees as its real threat.
-- Musharraf has unravelled the Pakistani consitutions, provoking extensive violence in Balochistan and elsewhere. The country is at real risk of implosion as long as he rules and there are no free and fair elections.