US Should Stick with Musharraf: Daniel Markey

By Khalid Hasan

Washington, DC: Daniel Markey, a former US State Department official, now working at the Council on Foreign Relations, has urged the US to “hold its nose and stick with Musharraf.” In a one-to-one debate with Husain Haqqani of the Boston University, Markey said that Musharraf currently occupies a unique position in Pakistani politics and could still serve as an essential transitional figure in the future. “That said, Musharraf should neither be oversold nor given a free pass. He is a flawed leader, one who has failed to achieve many of his own stated goals for Pakistan or to advance Washington’s counter-terrorism agenda as rapidly as Americans might like. His declaration of emergency rule represents another serious stain on his record and threatens to undermine two of his biggest accomplishments — Pakistann’s strong economic growth and the proliferation of its private electronic media outlets. Musharraf’s signal shortcoming has been his inability to build a political party with grassroots appeal.” To the question if Washington should hold on to Musharraf, Markey’s said, “In the immediate term, Musharraf offers Washington continuity in the face of uncertain political transition ... Under even the smoothest possible transition scenarios, Musharraf’s departure would interrupt bilateral cooperation on military, counter-terrorism, and intelligence matters for days or weeks - with uncertain consequences for US security.” Markey said Nawaz Sharif’s constituents have little interest in implementing policies designed to tackle the deeper roots of extremism and militancy in Pakistani society or in building sustainable democratic institutions. He said the PPP is the only large party that might conceivably fight for a more progressive, reform-oriented agenda. Haqqani was of the view that the US should dump the former army chief and president because under his rule, terrorism in Pakistan had increased and terrorist safe havens have expanded. Billions of dollars in US aid to Musharraf’s authoritarian regime have done little to stem the tide of anti-Americanism sweeping the country. The decision to impose emergency rule has been a disaster. Musharraf himself is part of the problem. He has dithered in shutting down homegrown jihadi networks. The army is Pakistan’s most influential institution precisely because of US support, not independent of it. By abandoning Pervez Musharraf, the US could signal that it will not tolerate Pakistan becoming another Burma or a nation permanently dominated by its military. (Courtesy Daily Times)

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