Between the proverbial 'rock and a hard place'*
Can General Musharraf continue to have his cake and eat it too ? He played a master stroke by aligning with the United States immediately after 9/11. Not that he had much of a choice. It was that or risk being treated as a pariah. In view of Pakistan's proven role in the nuclear bazaar, if it did not offer full cooperation in the war against al-Qaeda it,too, would have faced retaliation. The General weighed things over and decided that between the wrath of hardline Islamic fundamentalists and that of the mighty United States he would rather deal with the fundos at home and hitch his star to America.
He got amply rewarded. The U.S. decided to accept his version of the A.Q. Khan
story, that for years Dr. Khan almost singlehandedly carried out a secret operation to sell and export nuclear technology to rogue nations, including North Korea and Iran. Pakistan received loads of cash and military aid. The aid is still flowing.
The fundos, however, were not happy. Their discontent with Musharraf is well-known. There have been attempts on Musharraf's life. There are reports that Pakistan tacitly overlooks al-Qaeda acitvities along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. It is difficult to maintain such a precarious balancing act but Musharraf has been successful until the recent airstrike
at Damadola to kill Ayman al-Zawahri
which resulted in the death of 17 civilians. al-Zawahri was not present when the target was hit. It was bad news for Musharraf. All Pakistanis
, not only the fundos, were enraged by the botched operation and took to streets to demonstrate against America. Pakistan filed an offcial protest.
The wily Musharraf will survive. America needs his help. U.S. aid to Pakistan might be increased to appease Musharraf and the people of Pakistan but the United States will not be deterred from striking at a target if and when intelligence is received about terrorists taking shelter at any location. The neocons in America are fundos in pinstripes. They will not let Musharraf off the hook before extracting their pound of flesh. Musharraf knows it; the Pakistanis
ought to take a pragmatic view of the real world. Pakistan lacks a viable alternative to Musharraf. Better Musharraf than a Koran quoting mullah or return of corrupt Bhutto and her husband.*****
"My enemy's enemy is my friend."
---A Middle-Eastern maxim