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Post tells Bush: Don't bank on Musharraf

Post tells Bush: Don't bank on Musharraf

Author: Press Trust Of India
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: March 3, 2006
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/archive_full_story.php?content_id=88874

Introduction: Washington Post editorial says President Pervez Musharraf is 'unreliable', has broken pledges

In a strongly worded editorial ahead of George Bush's Pakistan visit, a leading US daily today warned him against banking on "unreliable" President Pervez Musharraf who has "suppressed secular democratic parties in the country while striking deals with Muslim extremists."

Bush is being "a lot more credulous" than most Pakistanis who have long ago stopped believing the public pledges of a leader who has broken them on more than one occasion," The Washington Post said.

"Despite General Musharraf's many promises, Pakistan remains a deeply unstable country where the threat of Islamic extremism is great and growing. Though the general may be a tactical ally of the US against that threat, his refusal to restore democracy in his country has only made it worse," it said.

Musharraf has been promising to restore democracy since his coup, yet throughout his years in power he has sought to suppress Pakistan's secular democratic parties while striking deals with Muslim extremists, it said.

"It's time for the US to stop banking on this unreliable General and start planning for the democratic government that should succeed him," it said. Bush paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan yesterday to show support for its emerging democracy, which he rightly said was being watched by "people all over the world," the paper noted.

Then Bush flew to India, where his visit centers on the growing common interests the US shares with the world's largest democracy. It's hard to ignore the contrast with the third stop on Bush's foreign tour this week.

It makes the point that surrogates of the General have now begun suggesting that Musharraf will not postpone the elections scheduled for next year. "In short, Musharraf clearly hopes to prolong his military regime indefinitely, while continuing to enjoy heavy political and economic support from an American president who has dedicated his administration to advancing democracy in the Muslim world." However, the Post said that Bush appeared to understand the General's game and was making at least a modest effort to head it off.

In a speech to the Asia Society before his tour, Bush said "the US and Pakistan understand that in the long-run the only way to defeat the terrorists is through democracy" that "Pakistan still has a distance to travel on the road to democracy" and that "the US and Pakistan both want the elections scheduled for next year to be successful."

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