Whither “Savior” Musharraf Pervez?

The rrecent eturn to Pakistan of former dictator, Pervez Musharraf was at least for him was the begnning of his role as “savior” of his country. However, the hatred toward him swept his candidacy aside and almost got arrested. Now the question is what is his future: an ignominous arrest and jail term, or return to the life of luxury in London.

My surprise was second to none when I saw that the former dictator of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, had arrived in his native land with the audacious self-depiction of himself as a “savior.”  My estimation was that it was too soon for him to return to Pakistan; there were too many angry politicians and persons in the legal community and institutions chomping at the bit to get even with him.  One angry lawyer even hurled his shoe at him.  The ultimate “Bush welcome” in Baghdad of December 2008 has become a permanent symbol of popular contempt for unpopular politicians in Muslim countries.  Besides, the people of Pakistan had shown no affinity for the idea of his return.  The professional commando decided to go on a “suicide mission” on his own.  Continue reading “Whither “Savior” Musharraf Pervez?”

Presidential Prerogative: Defining “Victory” in Afghanistan Anyway He Wants!

The day before Leon Panetta’s confirmation hearing as Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ successor, President Barack Obama said during a television interview that his administration has won a “big chunk of strategic objectives” in Afghanistan.  He then proceeded to say, “By us killing Osama Bin Laden, getting al Qaeda back on its heels, stabilizing much of the country in Afghanistan so that the Taliban can’t take it over…it’s now time for us to recognize that we’ve accomplished a big chunk of our mission and that it’s time for Afghans to take more responsibility.”  When you are president, you have the national visibility to define success the way you want. Whether people would believe you or not is an entirely different story.

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Turbulent Aspects of A Proposed “Grand Bargain”

The Indian Press was recently full of stories that Chinese naval officials have proposed to Admiral Timothy J. Keating, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) that the two countries ought to divide the world oceans into two camps: China would take Hawaii West and Indian Ocean and the U.S. would be in charge of Hawaii East. The Chinese officials were reported to have told their American counterparts “… you will not need to come to the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean and we will not need to go to the Eastern Pacific. If anything happens there, you can let us know and if something happens here, we will let you know.” Admiral Keating shared that story with the Indian Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, in the context of China’s high interest in developing aircraft carriers.
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Dealing with Iran’s Exercise of “Smart Power”


The Financial Times, a right of center but highly respected newspaper, could not resist about coming up with a sensational headline: “Hizbollah confirms broad aid for Hamas.”  The Hizbollah-Hamas connection is not exactly an unknown variable, only its specifics are.  Even after the admission of Hezbollah’s deputy leader that his organization is providing military assistance to Hamas, the issue still remains murky and unconfirmed by other sources.  Why, then, is there so much hoopla about Hezbollah’s admission of support for Hamas? Because that reality only underscores the effective exercise of “smart power” on the part of Iran–Hezbollah’s chief backer–in the Sunni Middle East.  That is also worrying the United States, which, under the Obama administration, is relearning to come up with its own smart power-related maneuvers towards Iran.

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Slaying the Beast Called the “Clash of Civilizations”

President Barack H. Obama’s campaign slogans of “a time for a change” and “yes we can” are filtering into his speeches and his actions toward the world of Islam.  He is serious about bringing an end to the poisonous frame of reference that the concept of “the clash of civilizations” presents for Muslims.  In this sense, he is busy slaying the beast that that idea has become in the past fifteen or more years.  President Obama’s interview with al-Arabiyya soon after he entered the White House, his message to the Iranian people on the day of the Nowroze (Iranian New Year), and his trip to Turkey were the most credible examples of that reality.  However, Obama’s battle with the beast is challenging and does not guarantee a victory at this point.


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A War Looking for A Winning Strategy

Assuming that General David Petraeus, the new Combat Commander of CENTO, was victorious over al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), the question of the hour is whether he can replicate that success in Afghanistan.  However, before answering that question, it should be clearly understood that, despite a marked reduction in violence in the  Sunni-dominated region of Iraq, no one can state with any amount of certainty that the United States has really won its campaign against AQI-dominated terror. 


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Pakistan Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Pakistan’s newly elected President Asif Ali Zardari’s speech to the parliament on September 20, 2008 is the continuation of an old balancing act.  However, there are certain differences and similarities between the actions taken by his predecessor, General Pervez Musharraf, in the post-9/11 era, and the one taken by the current government.  But the implications for the long-term stability of Pakistan are grave.


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Iraq: Breaking Up is Hard to Do

If either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton wins the net presidential election, there is going to be a radical change at least in the current size of American troop presence in Iraq.  But if John McCain were to win, the present U.S. commitment would remain the same or would even increase.  But the bottom line regarding Iraq is that making a clean break from there is well nigh impossible for America.  At least three explanations are being offered for not getting out of Iraq.  The first one is that the terrorist-extremists would takeover Iraq.  The second one is that America’s withdrawal means its defeat and soiling of its reputation as hegemon (not used pejoratively here).  And that such an eventuality would permanently damage its presence and interests in that region.  Finally, it is argued that America’s withdrawal from Iraq would lead to an immense boosting of Iran’s clout and influence in the Middle East.  A closer look at these explanations is in order.


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