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The General In The Labyrinth

To regain Washington’s favour, Musharraf has to take tough steps

The General In The Labyrinth

The waiting game was over, and Washington was no longer beating about the bush. This was the reaction in Islamabad over the US State Department report. Analysts are already predicting the heating up of the LoC from the Indian side with Clinton’s approval. For Islamabad, there’s finally realisation that there seems no way out but towards chaos. Either it gets ready to flex its muscles as New Delhi prepares to avenge Kargil or it creates a situation at home that isn’t far from mutiny.

"The military regime is under enormous pressure from Washington to de-escalate tensions with India in Kashmir and cease support for the Taliban. And if the US and regional neighbours like Iran start to undermine the Taliban, without agreement or quiet compliance from Pakistan, it will place Washington and Islamabad on a collision course. Though the US does not have the assets on the ground to influence Afghan leadership changes, western frustration with the Taliban is rising. Pakistan remains the key to sustaining peace in Afghanistan and Central Asia and there are signs the military regime has become deeply aware of its regional responsibility," writes columnist Ahmed Rashid from Washington.

There is only one way out for the Pervez Musharraf government. Something Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif lacked the moral courage or the political will to do: ban all institutions where armed training is provided. These institutions are there for all to see and visit. Two, "cleanse" the Afghan refugee camps which are sanctuaries for those involved in military activism. Three, tighten border control with Afghanistan and tell the Taliban to put up camps in areas where there is relative calm and prepare for the return of over two million Afghans.

The religious parties lack the blackmailing powers they enjoyed under civilian rule. In fact, the Jamaat-e-Islami would be lost without the CTBT, the only issue it uses to browbeat the government. But is the government itself ready for such a radical change? That’s a question only Pervez Musharraf can answer.

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