ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf continues to declare that parliamentary elections will go ahead on February 18 as planned, despite the political and social turmoil in the country. We spoke to The Real News Senior News Analyst, Aijaz Ahmad, in New Delhi and asked him to describe the situation in Pakistan at this point.
AIJAZ AHMAD, SENIOR NEWS ANALYST: Political crisis in Pakistan seems to be getting worse by the day. President Musharraf has taken off his uniform and is now acting as a civilian president, but he’s yet to be fully accepted by any of the major political currents in Pakistan’s civilian life or in Pakistan’s broad society in general. On the military front, the new commander in chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, seems to have issued an order that no senior military commander can have a meeting with Musharraf unless he seeks permission from General Kayani himself. So for all his bluster, Musharraf would seem to be quite isolated both in civilian life and probably also among his military colleagues. The US has stepped up its pressure for a military solution in Afghanistan, committing more troops, something like 3,000 Marines, to Afghanistan, pressing Canada to contribute more troops, openly criticizing the NATO forces not to be competent enough and committed enough to the fight in Afghanistan, pressing above all the Pakistan government to invite the CIA and the US special forces to broaden and expand their operations in Pakistan. No one, except perhaps the late Benazir Bhutto’s party, the PPP, is really willing to give the United States that opportunity. The cricketer-turned-politician, Imran Khan, has said that if the US troops were to come to Pakistan in any appreciable numbers, there would be a quagmire in Pakistan probably larger than what the US is facing in Iraq. And in saying so, Imran Khan seems to be representing, really, a majority sentiment in Pakistan. Therefore Musharraf has said categorically—and I believe in this he may actually represent the viewpoint of the military highbrows in Pakistan—that Pakistani armed forces are quite capable of taking care of the problem in Pakistan and they need no foreign troops. So the United States now really doesn’t know what to do.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.