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|Musharraf a big loser, says paper|
|12/12/01 at 10:09:31|
Musharraf a big loser, says paper
TORONTO, Dec 11: President Gen Pervez Musharraf is a "big loser in Afghan endgame," according to a leading Canadian newspaper.
The Globe and Mail in its front-page analytical report said on Monday: "The United States hailed President Musharraf as a man of courage when he signed on to the fight against Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan's Taliban regime in September. But with the battle in its final stages, Musharraf has ended up at a disadvantage on the political chessboard."
Gen Musharraf, the report added, has few allies in the interim Afghan government that was fashioned out of anti-Taliban opposition groups last week. He has not won political support for pro-Pakistani independence groups fighting against Indian rule in occupied Kashmir. And he has not been able to counter the strengthening of US relations with India.
"Well, he got $1-billion," quipped Ashok Kapur, a political scientist and specialist on South Asian politics at the University of Waterloo, Canada . US President George W. Bush promised Pakistan $1-billion in aid last month.
Last week, the International Monetary Fund announced a $1.32-billion poverty-fighting loan - part of $9.5-billion that has been promised to cushion the effects of the Afghan war. But despite the financial aid, Gen Musharraf is likely to face criticism for abandoning his Islamic allies and joining a US-led coalition, Prof Kapur said.
"We are looking at a picture of fundamental realignment at the international level, where the US, India, Israel and Russia seem to be coming together on a variety of issues and poor Pakistan is left out in the cold," he said.
Quoting David Cortright, president of the Fourth Freedom Forum, an Indiana research institute on security issues, the paper wrote that key posts in the interim government are occupied by members of the Northern Alliance, which had been squeezed out of a role in governing Afghanistan in 1996 by the Taliban with Pakistani support.
"That puts Pakistan's current rulers in a tough spot," said Cortright. "They liked the arrangement with the Taliban, where it was someone they knew," he said. "This new group is less certain."
The Global and Mail claimed that strong links had developed during the 1990s among Taliban elements, members of Pakistan's armed forces and its Inter-Services Intelligence agency, often described as a "state within a state."
The Taliban allowed Pakistan-sponsored groups to train in Afghanistan before going to occupied Kashmir to fight against Indian rule. That posed a dilemma for Gen Musharraf after the United States began its post-Sept 11 campaign against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terror network. He would incur Washington's wrath if he did not co-operate against the Taliban, but risked touching off internal unrest if he did, the newspaper said.
Gen Musharraf, it said, opted to provide Washington with logistical aid and intelligence, then moved to pre-empt opposition by retiring two prominent generals identified with Mujahideen and the Taliban. In return, he let it be known that Pakistan wanted its allies to have a strong voice in the post-Taliban regime.
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