Sunday, January 04, 2004

Long live Musharraf?

The US is set to assist in Pervez Musharraf's survival as the Pakistani "President", although the US has not yet given him bodyguards, ala Hamid Karzai. Also, the US believes that pro-US Gen. Muhammad Yousaf Khan would be made leader of Pakistan should Musharraf die.

The United States, which views Gen. Pervez Musharraf's survival and the stability of Pakistan as key to its campaign on terror, has extended its efforts to protect the Pakistan president.

Two attempts on Musharraf's life last month have led the U.S. to share its intelligence information. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials are also in Pakistan to help investigate the attacks on Musharraf, a report in the Washington Post said Saturday.

[...]

The United States has not yet provided bodyguards, a step taken to safeguard Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.

However the CIA, which became active in Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks to uncover Al Qaida terrorists, has urged Musharraf to take a tougher stance against extremist groups. It has been routinely informing Pakistan's security services about terrorist movements within the country.

Unlike the US, Pakistani experts say the most immediate threat to Pakistan's stability would not be the security of its nuclear arsenal, which is under strict army control. They fear a domestic upheaval by Islamic groups, some of which chafe at Musharraf's pro-American position, the Post said.

If Musharraf were to die in an attack, U.S. military and intelligence officials believe the Pakistani army would quickly move to appoint to his post the army vice chief of staff, Gen. Muhammad Yousaf Khan, viewed by U.S. officials as pro-American and likely to continue Musharraf's prosecution of Al Qaida, the Post said.

However, South Asian experts do not agree with the U.S. officials on this. They say the army would only assert itself and shove the civilians into the background if something were to happen to Musharraf.

Teresita C. Schaffer, a former ambassador to Sri Lanka who heads the Centre for Strategic and International Studies' South Asia programme doubts if the army would allow civilians to take over. "The security of the nuclear weapons is as good or bad as the security of the Pakistan army," Schaffer said. "Yeah, you have to worry about it" but not because of Musharraf.


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