By Saeed Minhas
ISLAMABAD: As discussions on the UN commission report continue to dominate conversations around the capital, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the diplomatic community, especially envoys from the US, UK and even certain European countries, have a soft spot in their hearts for former president Pervez Musharraf – notwithstanding the fact that the UN report is especially critical of his handling of the aftermath of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.
Apart from their sympathies for the former dictator, diplomats are keeping their eyes and ears open for any word on public, political and military reactions to the report. Things have become even more interesting following reports that a certain military officer, who was head of the intelligence corps at the time of Benazir’s death, may be on the government’s hit-list. In addition, the mention of the black Mercedes that carried Rehman Malik, Babar Awan, Farhatullah Babar, Zulfiqar Mirza and Tauqir Zia away from the scene of the crime moments before the former prime minister was ambushed has also prompted much speculation.
A certain Miss Simon, who heads a major oil company catering to the needs of the US and Europeans, recently opined that “Musharraf was a great leader and had he continued to serve, he would have done wonders for this country.” This was enough to enrage many businessmen and politicians at this particular gathering in the cool serenity of the Margalla Hills, and the ensuing debate was highly indicative of the fractured
polity we are living with
But first, the Musharraf dilemma. The ‘love’ many in the West have for Musharraf seems to be misplaced, especially when one looks at the language the UN report uses to describe how both the UK and US spearheaded Musharraf’s ouster and how the Saudis and the Emiratis aided them in this endeavour. On this issue, one US diplomat said, “We were just trying to help Pakistan by negotiating a safe return for Benazir Bhutto so we could concentrate on our joint mission in Afghanistan.” Simon, perhaps missing her free rides with the ousted general, was quick to add, “You know how hard the self-exiled leadership was pressing the US and UK to find them a way back into Pakistan before the next general elections; and how Mushy (as she remembers her buddy) had to go through with this deal, even at the cost of his own political support (referring to the Chaudhrys of Gujrat). You cannot even imagine how Mushy was lured into trap simply on the premise that Ms Bhutto would help him carry on the joint ventures with the Western powers to make this country prosperous and the world safer.” She went on to say that Saudi Arabia and UAE were there as a surrogates because of their brotherly ties with the Pakistani establishment, before getting an elbow
from an accompanying western diplomat.
Local guests intervened here to remind Ms Simon that her Mushy was not kicked out by Pakistanis, but was shown the door after he lost the trust of the new UK and US administrations because they felt that Mushy failed to deliver on his promises. With a wry smile on her face, she feigned ignorance, saying, “What are you talking about mate?”
One guest, who was once a part of the intelligentsia and is now a leading businessman, burst out saying “One wonders, if Mushy was so invincible, why the Lawyers’ Movement was championed by the neo-cons and conservatives within the US establishment; and why Joe Biden, then the vice president-in waiting, had such a great interest in ensuring that Aitzaz Ahsan kept in touch with the US embassy in Islamabad.”
He said that though Joe Biden was not officially in the saddle by November 2008, but everyone knew Obama and his deputy would be taking over in Washington DC and were in the process of getting all sorts of briefings from the bureaucracy on issues like Iraq and Afghanistan and, of course, Pakistan. Then-deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was invited to US shores to a hero’s welcome, at around the same time when the UK and US were busy brokering a deal between Benazir Bhutto and Musharraf. Daily Times