Musharraf a 'serious liability and should resign'

January 3, 2008, Sydney Morning Herald:

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is seen as complicit in the death of the opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and Western governments should stop supporting him, the International Crisis Group says in a new report.

The President has become so unpopular that his continued leadership of the country means "the international community could face the nightmare of a nuclear-armed, Muslim country descending into civil war", the Brussels-based think tank said.

The ICG said Musharraf was a "serious liability", called on him to resign and for a quick transition to a democratically elected civilian government ...

"By continuing to back him, Western governments might not just lose the battle for Pakistani hearts and minds, but could also be faced with the nightmare prospect of a nuclear-armed, Muslim-majority country of 165 million descending into violent internal conflict from which only extremist forces would stand to gain." ...

The president of the ICG is former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, who served under the Hawke and Keating governments.
Robert Spencer - Bhutto Dead, Democrats Clueless:
Neither candidate seems to have any awareness of the harsh reality that has led Bush to back Musharraf's regime for so long, despite its authoritarian character and its spotty commitment to counterjihad efforts. With a September poll showing Osama bin Laden enjoying the approval of 46% of Pakistanis, with 66% believing that the United States is engaged in a war against Islam and 43% approving of Al-Qaeda, it is entirely within the realm of possibility that free democratic elections in Pakistan would lead to the election of a pro-Osama, pro-jihad government -- just as elections in the Palestinian Authority led the jihad terror group Hamas to power. Musharraf is indeed odious, but Bush has calculated that he is better than the jihadist alternative. And indeed, his regime’s reputation may be worse than the reality: David Frum has noted that the Musharraf regime has “presided over important economic reforms and impressive economic growth: an average of 6.5% per year since 2003. The World Bank reports that under Musharraf, poverty in Pakistan has declined ‘significantly.’”

In light of all this, to posit “democracy and human rights” as the solution to all of Pakistan’s ills is just as short-sighted as Jimmy Carter was in the 1970s, when he abandoned the Shah of Iran – not least because of his poor human rights record -- and allowed the Ayatollah Khomeini, whom Carter praised as a fellow “man of faith,” to take power in Iran. The result? According to Steven F. Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute in his book The Real Jimmy Carter, “Khomeini’s regime executed more people in its first year in power than the shah’s SAVAK had allegedly killed in the previous 25 years.” A democratically elected regime in Pakistan would likely behave the same way, dwarfing Musharraf in brutality.

There are no good or easy choices in Pakistan, a land that provides yet another illustration of the limitations of seeing democracy as the cure to all the ills of the Islamic world.
Gareth Evans - clueless? Gareth Evans - a serious liability and should resign? It would appear so.

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