Monday, January 7, 2008

Our Friends in Pakistan

After the assassination of US-ally Benazir Bhutto, who was pressured by the Americans to be allowed back into Pakistan after years of exile, over the objections of President Musharraf, our great and glorious President declared that we would "support democracy" in Pakistan. And how do we interpret "supporting democracy" in Pakistan? By supporting the its dictator, Pervez Musharraf, of course. The irony in all of this is that the reasoning for why the US must support Musharraf is that he is our only pro-American link in the country, among national political figures, who will help us "fight terrorism."

What makes these sentiments even more offensive, albeit comical, is that the man who wrecked our planes into our buildings and murdered over 3,000 Americans on 9-11 is walking free in the western provinces of Pakistan with the oblique support of President Musharaff. For those connoisseurs
at Fox News, who still believe the current regime is helping us find bin Laden.

Pakistan 'not particularly looking for' bin Laden: Musharraf

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Pakistan is not specifi
cally looking for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, as there is no proof he is in Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf said Sunday.

"We are not particularly looking for him, but we are operating against terrorists and Al Qaeda and militant Taliban. And in the process, obviously, combined, maybe we are looking for him also," the Pakistani leader told CBS television in an interview aired late Sunday.

Asked what Pakistan was doing to find the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Musharraf said it was fighting extremism and terrorism.

"We are fighting first of all Al-Qaeda. Let's take Al-Qaeda. We have arrested or eliminated about 700 Al-Qaeda leaders ... which other country has done this?"

"Well, which other country has Bin Laden?" his CBS interviewer replied, inciting a sharp retort from the Pakistani leader.

"No, I challenge -- I don't accept that at all. There is no proof whatsoever that he is here in Pakistan."

Mahmoud Ali Durrani, Pakistan's envoy to the United States, sought to clarify Musharraf's remark, in an exchange with CNN.

"I think the president is suggesting that neither we, nor the US, has any intelligence where exactly Osama bin Laden is," Durrani said.

"He may be in Afghanistan," the ambassador said. "He may be in the border region. If we knew where he was, we would have taken him out."

Durrani noted that US and other foreign intelligence agencies believe bin Laden to be sheltering in the tribal area along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

But "that's just speculation," the envoy said.

"Believe me. If they knew or we knew we would have taken him out," he said.

"And when Musharraf says that he's not specifically looking for Osama, what he really means is that we are totally focused on destroying Al-Qaeda and the Taliban network and not just one person."

The New York Times reported that under a proposal being discussed in Washington, CIA operatives based in Afghanistan would be able to call on direct military support for counter-terrorism operations in neighboring Pakistan.

Politically, this should be par for the course in the game of blowback. After all, our closest ally in the Middle East, other than Israel, is Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Osama bin Laden, most of the leadership of al-Qaeda, and fifteen out of the nineteen 9-11 hijackers, as well as a majority of the foreign fighters who die in suicide attacks in Iraq. You have to love friends like this in the war on terror. It makes one almost forget the days when we were allies with bin Laden and Mullah Omar back in the 1980s, or as President Reagan used to call the Afghan Mujahideen, "freedom fighters."

So, while the man who helped engineer the slaughter of 3,000 people in the 9-11 attacks over six years ago sleeps comfortably tonight, just remember who is not particularly looking for him, or the allied government that supports those non-lookers.

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