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Musharraf threatens US with "loose nukes" during recent visit by John Negroponte
I thought this was interesting because information seems to have been for the most part left out of the US media's framing of the visit..
Here's two international stories about it:
Musharraf thumbs his nose at US-The United States-World-The Times of India
Musharraf thumbs his nose at US
17 Nov 2007, 2317 hrs IST,Chidanand Rajghatta,TNN
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WASHINGTON: The Bush administration has egg on its face after its long favoured military dictator Pervez Musharraf bluntly rejected its demand that he lift Emergency, and instead put the fear of "loose nukes" into Washington if the west pressed too hard.
Musharraf told Washington's No.2 diplomat John Negroponte on Saturday that the Emergency is meant to reinforce and strengthen the law enforcement apparatus in the fight against militancy and extremism.
"President Musharraf made it clear to the visiting US envoy that the Emergency can only be lifted once the situation regarding law and order improves," a Musharraf aide told wire services after the two met for two hours in Islamabad.
Musharraf also played on Washington's fear of loose nukes by suggesting that if the elections were held in a "disturbed atmosphere" it could bring in dangerous elements who might pose a risk to control of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
"They cannot fall into the wrong hands, if we manage ourselves politically. The military is there - as long as the military is there, nothing happens to the strategic assets, we are in charge and nobody does anything with them," he told BBC ahead of the meeting.
The public rebuff - and the loose nukes threat - leaves US policy in Pakistan in near tatters, since it was premised on Bush's proposition that Musharraf is his "tight" buddy, a "man of courage and vision" who he could do business with.
The US also believed that it has the leverage to bend Musharraf to its will because it pays the Pakistani military more than $100 million a month for services rendered in the "war on terror" besides millions in military hardware and equipment.
Ahead of the Negroponte visit, US officials had said he would deliver a "tough message" to Musharraf. But instead, it appears it was Musharraf who has sent a tough message to Bush – to butt out.
Threats of an aid cut seem to have made no impression since the administration has already signalled that this was not on the cards because of it need for access into Afghanistan.
The administration's response to snub was not immediately forthcoming, although the US media quoted unnamed official in Islamabad diplomat as saying "In diplomacy, things don't happen instantaneously."
The diplomat insisted that Negroponte "came with a very strong message and he delivered a very strong message."
In the past week Washington has clutched at the crumbs and straws Musharraf has cast amid a growing clamour here to dump the dictator.
Administration officials made much of Musharraf releasing some opposition figures and civil rights activists from prison and relaxing the hold on the media, although thousands remain incarcerated and press freedom is now subject to compliance to new military guidelines.
The Bush administration still believes in the proposition that Musharraf is the frontline ally in its war on terror and its efforts to contain nuclear weapons spread, even though Pakistan, under the dictator, has cut deals with the militants, freed terrorists, and has retreated and lost vast swath of territory, while cracking down on civil society.
It also stands accused of giving nuclear weapons technology and guidance to rogue regimes and while its scientists have parlayed with Osama bin Laden.
Washington's credulous approach is now being sharply questioned by some lawmakers and analysts. "Musharraf is a sharp, intelligent individual who is playing with the naivety of France's, Europe's and America's diplomacy," the French writer Bernard Levy said in a talk this week, arguing that the jihadist threat in Pakistan is not limited to its borders, but is also establishment-based and comes from the heart of the country which Musharraf controls.
"In my experience, unfortunately the red areas are not at the margins, but at the very center," Levy said. "Terrorists and jihadists are like fish in water in Islamabad and in Karachi itself."
Lawmakers who realise this are pressing the administration to cut ties with Pakistan's military establishment, arguing that Washington is losing traction with Pakistani civil society. But an equally influential group is buying Musharraf's argument and stressing that continued backing for the military is key to preventing loose nukes.
This is the weekend that Bush and Washington might have to make a call one way or the other.
Pervez Musharraf 'protecting nuclear arsenal' - Telegraph
Pervez Musharraf 'protecting nuclear arsenal'
By Colin Freeman, Chief Foreign Correspondent
Last Updated: 4:35pm GMT 18/11/2007
Pakistan's military ruler defended his iron grip over the country yesterday, saying it was the only way to prevent his nation's nuclear arsenal from falling into "the wrong hands".
As he sought to justify continuing the emergency rule that he declared two weeks ago, President Pervez Musharraf raised the nightmare spectre of Islamists getting hold of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
He spoke out after receiving a dressing down in Islamabad yesterday from John Negroponte, the United States envoy, who told him that his bans on political rallies and independent media could destroy the credibility of elections planned for January.
But Gen Musharraf insisted the measures were purely to stabilise Pakistan's "disturbed" political climate in the run-up to the polls.
The general hinted that failing to do so could help anti-Western factions get into government and gain control of the nuclear trigger. "They cannot fall into the wrong hands if we manage ourselves politically," he told the BBC. "As long as the military is there, nothing happens to the strategic assets. We are in charge and nobody does anything with them."
The general's evocation of the threat of a nuclear weapon in Islamist hands will be calculated to remind his growing ranks of critics in the West of his continued value as an ally in the "war on terror".
But it also underlines the way his political capital with Western governments, built up over eight years in power, has rapidly diminished as a result of his autocratic actions in the past few weeks.
Critics say his clampdown, under which thousands of lawyers and political opponents have been thrown into jail, is simply a means of extending his hold on power. In Islamabad yesterday, several foreign diplomats said the general was fast losing credibility with his erstwhile foreign backers. "It is checkmate for him," one told The Sunday Telegraph.
Another said: "He has become a liability now and he is only there because they are now looking for his successor."
America's decision to despatch Mr Negroponte, one of its highest-ranking diplomatic troubleshooters, indicates just how seriously Washington views the crisis.
Mr Negroponte also held talks with Benazir Bhutto, underlining Washington's view of the opposition leader as a key player in Pakistan's future despite her fall-out with Gen Musharraf.
She was freed on Friday from three days of house arrest, a move her supporters said was cynically timed to coincide with Mr Negroponte's visit. He is understood to have told Ms Bhutto that Washington opposed the general's suspension of the constitution.
Gen Musharraf appeared unrepentant for his actions yesterday, insisting that Washington privately backed him "200 per cent" and expressing indignation at the way the West had rounded on him in recent weeks. "Did I go mad?" he asked the BBC. "Or suddenly, my personality changed? Am I Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?"
He said all those detained would be released ahead of the elections, although they would face immediate re-arrest if they "agitated" on the streets.
Meanwhile, Pakistan is likely to be censured by Commonwealth heads of government, who meet in Uganda this week. They have said Pakistan has until Friday to meet a string of conditions to avoid formal suspension. Their demands include the ending of emergency laws, the restoration of the constitution, and Gen Musharraf hanging up his army uniform.
Both of them include the information that essentially he told the US to back off and stay out of his business or something might happen to the nuclear weapons that we might not like.
Here's a story by the NY times about the event:
November 18, 2007
Musharraf Refuses to Say When Emergency Will End
By DAVID ROHDE
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. 18 — Continuing to defy the United States, Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, declined to tell a senior American envoy on Saturday when he would lift a two-week-old state of emergency, Pakistani and Western officials said.
In a two-hour meeting, Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte urged the president to end the emergency. But General Musharraf said he would do so when security improved in the country, the officials said. Mr. Negroponte is the United States’ second highest ranking diplomat.
“The president said, ‘I have noted your concerns and I think I will address all of these,’ ” a close aide to General Musharraf said.
In a news conference before he left Pakistan on Sunday, Mr. Negroponte said it would take time to determine whether the American message had an impact.
“In diplomacy, as you know, we don’t get instant replies,” he said. “I’m sure the president is seriously considering the exchange we had.”
The state of emergency remains a major embarrassment for the Bush administration, which has given more than $10 billion in aid to General Musharraf’s government since 2001 and declared him a valued ally. Ten days ago, President Bush personally telephoned General Musharraf and asked him to end the state of emergency, with no result.
The Bush administration has also pushed for General Musharraf, who is army chief as well as president, to resign from his military post. The general has said he will, but not until the Supreme Court certifies his re-election last month to a five-year term as president, which opposition groups say was illegal.
In addition to meeting with General Musharraf, Mr. Negroponte met twice with Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the deputy commander of Pakistan’s army and General Musharraf’s designated successor to head the army. The time and attention paid to General Kayani, a pro-Western moderate, seemed to signal American support for him.
Mr. Negroponte met with General Kayani for an hour on Saturday morning. Then, Mr. Negroponte had a two-hour dinner with General Kayani and Tariq Aziz, a close aide to General Musharraf. General Kayani is widely believed to want to remove the military from politics and to focus on securing the country.
On Nov. 3, General Musharraf declared emergency rule, blacked out independent news stations and began a crackdown that led to the arrest of an estimated 2,500 opposition politicians, lawyers and human rights activists. The move, which General Musharraf has said is an effort to curb terrorism, is widely seen by Pakistanis as an effort by the increasingly unpopular ruler to cling to power.
Mr. Negroponte said he had urged the Pakistani leader to end the emergency, release all political prisoners, resign from his post as army chief and hold free and fair elections in January.
“Emergency rule is not compatible with free and fair elections,” Mr. Negroponte said at the news conference. “The people of Pakistan deserve the opportunity to choose their leaders.”
In a sign of General Musharraf’s growing isolation, the secretary general of the main political party backing him called Saturday for an end to the emergency. The leader, Mushahid Hussain, said that ending the state of emergency would cause “less tension, less political conflict and less polarization.”
“The national interest would be better served,” Mr. Hussain said in an interview with Dawn News, a Pakistani television channel. “The emergency has been having a very negative impact, both at home and abroad.”
A poll in late August and early September by the International Republican Institute, a Washington-based group that conducts democratic training programs overseas, found that 70 percent of Pakistanis supported General Musharraf”s immediate resignation. His popularity is believed to have decreased further since the declaration on Nov. 3.
Western diplomats say they believe that Pakistan’s army still supports General Musharraf, but that there is unease with his leadership. With the army facing a growing insurgency from Islamic militants in the northwest, generals are eager to have an army chief who is focused solely on military matters, they said.
Twice in Pakistan’s history, senior generals have asked military rulers to resign when their conduct was deemed damaging to the army. So far, no signs have emerged that General Kayani or other leaders have asked General Musharraf to step aside.
Mr. Negroponte held a series of meetings that seemed intended to revive an alliance between General Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto, an opposition politician and former prime minister.
On Friday, Mr. Negroponte telephoned Ms. Bhutto. He then met Mr. Aziz, the Musharraf aide who served as a back-channel negotiator in an effort to broker a deal between the president and Ms. Bhutto.
American officials hoped that Ms. Bhutto’s presumed popularity in Pakistan would bolster General Musharraf’s low standing. The state of emergency decree seems to have scuttled any deal, for now.
European diplomats and Pakistani analysts have long questioned the viability of an American-engineered Bhutto-Musharraf alliance. Any government they form would be viewed as a United States puppet, they said, and be unpopular.
In the September opinion survey, only 28 percent of Pakistanis polled named Ms. Bhutto as the best person to handle the problems facing Pakistan, out of seven choices. Seventeen percent named General Musharraf. Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister who is in exile in Saudi Arabia and refuses to negotiate with General Musharraf, received the highest marks, with 36 percent support.
The poll of about 4,000 Pakistanis had a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.
Also on Saturday, hundreds of Pakistani journalists in three cities protested the president’s continuing crackdown on the media.
In the days before Mr. Negroponte’s arrival, the government allowed several independent news stations to resume broadcasting on cable television, but they operate under a strict new law that carries a sentence of up to three years in jail for journalists who “ridicule” the president.
Carlotta Gall contributed reporting from Islamabad.
Considering how much funds their military has received from us, it seems that a threat to cut it off doesn't carry much weight at this point..
This looks especially bad considering all we've done to prop him up and secure his position, as others have said, we have a Musharraf policy, not a Pakistan policy.. and I think now we're beginning to see that that was a mistake.
I'm not sure what kind of leverage we think we have over him, we need his help to root out Al Qaeda in Pakistan, we aren't going to invade him, and apparently he feels confident enough to throw our support in our face and threaten us at the same time..