Dec 26 2007

A Man To Watch In Pakistan – Nawaz Sharif

Published by at 1:42 pm under All General Discussions

There are some interesting articles out that give insight into the forces working inside Pakistan. Clearly there is a movement inside that country to go full Jihad, and that movement seems to have a series of optional leaders – which we should watch. I have noted previously how ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto has been a mixed bag because of her outreach to Islamists in Pakistan, apparently against an agreement she had with President Musharraf and the US as part of her conditions for her return home (see here and here). I have also noted the rise of Imran Khan, an one time famous cricket player who has been at times touted as a possible new leader of the Taliban. These two options seem bad enough (though I can understand why a Pakistani leader would need to make peace with Taliban elements that are willing to live in peace – at some point). But I caught a hint of another ‘candidate’ which makes these two look reasonable.
His name is Nawaz Sharif, and if this article espousing his characteristics for President is accurate at all then we definitely have one more person who we cannot let control a country that has nuclear weapons:

The United States is watching with anxiety Pakistan’s painful march towards democracy, and it does not like the look of it. The return of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan has completely altered the political calculus and taken Washington by surprise.
Sharif, on his part, point-blank refuses to acknowledge Bush’s recent efforts to bring about Pakistan’s democratic transformation. He would recall his association with President Bill Clinton and stress he didn’t know Bush. On November 28, Sharif touched on Bush’s “war on terror”. Referring to the military crackdown in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, Sharif said Islamabad ought to think before complying with the demands of foreign powers. He caustically added: “This is our country, and we know better how to solve our problems.”

From the wikipedia entry on Sharif I find the Clinton connection is quite interesting. Clinton put pressure on Sharif to back off incursions into India (led by General Musharraf) in mid 1999. By late 1999 Musharraf was in power after a coup from a power struggle with Sharif. Sharif did oversee the acquisition of the nuclear bomb by Pakistan, and clearly was in charge when Pakistani nuclear scientist AQ Khan (father of the Muslim Bomb) was about the Middle East helping to arm unstable Muslim countries like Libya. Needless to say anyone who was in charge of Pakistan when Bin Laden and the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan with connections to the AQ Khan debacle is suspect.

There is some connection made in the article between Sharif and one time ISI leader Hamid Gul:

Gul is a staunch believer in the “Islamic bomb”. Of course, that was also the time in the late 1980s when Pakistan was considering the outright “sale” of a nuclear bomb to Saudi Arabia to rid itself altogether of the irksome dependence on American aid, apart from arranging the supply of Chinese long-range CSS-II nuclear-capable missiles to Saudi Arabia. Gul is an untiring believer in the jihad. Some say he once personally took Osama bin Laden to meet Nawaz Sharif.

The author is truly proud of Gul and his association with Bin Laden (which is not a proven fact it seems). Gul’s wikipedia entry shows a man instrumental in building up the Taliban and 100% opposed to US actions following 9-11, so I note that as a hint to the political preferences of the author. What is truly an eye opener is how the author tries to deflect the US concerns over Sharif’s terrorist connections:

They [America] paint Sharif as a conservative politician who connived with Abdul Qadeer Khan’s nuclear proliferation and hobnobbed with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and argue that he stands in the way of the emancipation of Pakistani women. They cherry-pick from Sharif’s tumultuous political life and find fault with him for just about everything that went wrong in Pakistan in the recent two-to- three decades. But that is grossly unfair. There is almost nothing that Sharif did while in power at which Bhutto didn’t try her hand.

Not a winning endorsement in my mind. It seems we have three pretty poor options for Pakistan’s next President. The article is at least an interesting read into the mind of a Pakistani who would prefer Bin Laden and company win out.
I am adding two other articles for those interested. One discusses the increased terror attacks in the border region with Afghanistan, while the second notes how this continued fighting is actually backfiring on the more strident leaders in the upcoming elections.

Two major tribes in South Waziristan living in Dera Ismail Khan have decided to withdraw their support for Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman in NA-24 citing the opposition leader’s “criminal negligence” in stopping military operations in their areas.

It would seem this part of Pakistan is fed up with the fighting and bloodshed and are about to dump an ‘opposition’ leader because of it.

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