|Musharraf cooks up an American
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - Pakistani President General Pervez
Musharraf's visit to the United States and his meeting
with President George W Bush on June 24 are likely to
lay the foundations for landmark changes in Pakistan's
policies, including those on Israel, Kashmir, its
nuclear program and the army.
Sources in the
Foreign Office familiar with the agenda say that key
decisions likely to be agreed on by Musharraf and Bush
at Camp David include the following:
A clear road map for resolution of the Kashmir
conflict in which the "Chanab" formula, which envisages
the division of Kashmir along religious lines, is likely
to be adopted. Thus, the Muslim-majority areas would be
allowed to join Pakistan, while the areas where Hindus
and Buddhists are in the majority would remain with
A rollback in Pakistan's nuclear and missile program
pursuant to the resolution of the Kashmir issue.
Deployment of Pakistani troops in Iraq, subject to a
financial deal to be agreed on by the US and Pakistan.
Renewed assistance in Afghanistan to contain the
burgeoning revival of the Taliban movement. Before the
elections scheduled in Afghanistan later in the year,
Pakistan will help the US to eliminate the power vacuum
in the country by mediating talks with the various
Afghan groups, including the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan
of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Taliban and other Pashtun
Cutbacks in the Pakistani armed forces. Pakistan has
already laid off 300,000 personnel.
Recognition for Israel. Initially, the two countries
would establish "track II" diplomacy, and once the
grounds were prepared, Pakistan would announce its
recognition of the Israeli state. In return, the US
would waiver US$1.8 billion in bilateral debt. The US
has already written off $1 billion in return for
Islamabad's support after the September 11 attacks and
for its reversal of support for the Taliban.
Unlike with previous visits, much spadework has
already been done to ensure that Musharraf's visit
results in something meaningful and substantial.
Recently, a US State Department director for South Asia
visited Pakistan and held three separate meetings with
Pakistani politicians, including Chaudhary Ihsan Iqbal
of the Pakistan Muslim League, Nawaz Group, Chaudhary
Eitezaz Hussain of the Pakistan Peoples Party
Parliamentarians, and Professor Khurshid Ahmed of the
Jamaat-i-Islami. According to Chaudhary Ihsan Iqbal, the
US official concentrated on Kashmir, the situation
within armed forces and Musharraf's role as Chief of
Army Staff in politics. He mentioned that the purpose of
his visit was a part of the preparations for Musharraf's
visit to the US.
And for the first time, the
official met top army officers for one-on-one meetings.
These meetings were held in secret, with no official
word on them given to the press.
Minister of Finance, Shaukat Aziz, who is a former
banker in the US and official of an international
lending institution, visited Pakistan's atomic
installations at the Kahota Research Laboratories (KRL).
It was the first such visit of its kind. Aziz was
accompanied by a team of army officers. They toured
highly-classified areas, including uranium enrichment
plants and KRL's mainframe computers. According to KRL
sources, even the prime minister of the country has not
been allowed to visit the premises in the past.
The combined Pakistani parliamentary opposition
took issue with the visit and demanded to know in what
capacity Aziz made it. Initially, there was no reply
from the government, but when opposition parties
maintained that Aziz in fact visited KRL as the "US's
inspector", the government claimed that as Aziz is the
finance minister, he needed to go to the plant for
Pakistan's nuclear and
missile program has been widely capped at its present
level. Two of the country's top scientists, the father
of Pakistan's atomic bomb, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, and the
chairman of the Pakistani Atomic Commission, Dr Ashfaq
Ahmed Khan, were removed from their posts several months
ago. Pakistan has an estimated 15 to 20 nuclear
warheads, but the real issue is its missile program,
which has the ability to carry warheads long distances.
All of the issues on the table in Washington, if
agreed on and fully implemented, would dovetail with US
aspirations for the South Asian region, and would
significantly marginalize China, Iran and Russia. On the
domestic front, though, Musharraf's reputation in some
hardline Islamic quarters as a stooge for the US would
be further damaged, raising the prospects of more
(Copyright 2003 Asia Times
Online Co, Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact [email protected] for
information on our sales and syndication