November 8, 1999
PAKISTAN UNDER MUSHARRAF: 'THE GENERAL SETTLES IN'
Editorialists in a number of geographic regions examined the 25-day-old rule of General Pervez Musharraf in an effort to determine the directions Pakistan might take under military rule. By far the bulk of the commentary emanated from Pakistan, where the media offered expressions of support for the Musharraf regime coupled with calls for a return to democracy, and neighboring India, whose papers viewed with alarm the installation of "the latest military dictator" to serve as head of Pakistan. Elsewhere, most observers were disturbed by Mr. Musharraf's "surprise coup." These writers focused on Pakistan's possession of nuclear weapons and its alleged role as the "home of Islamic extremists and terrorists" as cause to worry about the "stability" of the subcontinent. This group, which stood staunchly in favor of a return to democratic rule in Pakistan, also feared that democracy for that country would be "postponed indefinitely." Some, however, such as London's conservative Times, found good reason to accept Mr. Musharraf's "reluctance" to give a "timetable for relinquishing the...power he now holds," saying: "There seems to have been no dark-glasses-and-jackboots excess so far.... General Musharraf shows every sign of being sincere about cleaning up the mess that his predecessors made of Pakistan's democracy." Following are highlights in the commentary:
VIEWS FROM PAKISTAN: Pakistani dailies registered mostly positive assessments of General Musharraf as a "reluctant coup-maker" who "seemed determined to govern the country not by the law of the jungle but by the law of civilized people." Lahore's center-right Nation and others praised his appointments to the governing National Security Council, depicting the members as "persons with a liberal outlook...[who could] facilitate the new regime's ability to communicate with the outside world." A substantial body of commentary, however, sounded the theme that democracy remains "the best hope for Pakistan" and voiced disappointment that the holding of a public referendum "seems to have been put on the back burner for the time being." Articulating this view, second-largest, Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt contended: "The general must not take the public's disappointment with former governments to mean that the people do not favor democracy or that they want the military to share power."
WARNINGS FROM INDIA, 'EVERY POSSIBILITY OF WAR WITH PAKISTAN': Following the most recent outbreak of violence in Kashmir, where guerrillas attacked the regional headquarters of the India army late last week, Indian pundits were convinced that the "main objective" of General Musharraf's regime might "well be to give even more support to...[anti-India] terrorists" and that "India must be ready for war" with its neighbor. The centrist Times of India and others argued that India must engage the U.S. and other countries, such as Russia, China, Iran and the Gulf states, in "dealing with schizophrenic Pakistan."
U.S.' DILEMMA: Many analysts outlined what they saw as the U.S.' "dilemma" in dealing with the new ruler in Islamabad, saying that Washington had to walk a fine line between "not wanting to send a message that it condones military takeovers" and not wishing to alienate a country "that openly boasts nuclear technology."
EDITOR: Kathleen J. Brahney
This survey is based on 64 reports from 16 countries, October 18 - November 7. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.
PAKISTAN: "Turning Around Sagging Relations"
Hassain Ali Shahzeb maintained in the centrist News (11/7): "The United States and the Western world...cannot openly endorse military takeovers, no matter how popular they might be because it will send the wrong signals.... It would be a negation of a standing policy.... In a symbolic rejection of the military rule, the U.S. government has excluded Pakistan from President Clinton's proposed visit to the region next year. This is a significant development and it will have long-term negative effects for the normalization of relations between the United States and Pakistan."
"Now To Work"
The centrist News urged (11/6): "Now that the federal team is almost complete, it should get to work at once. The critical task of national rebuilding must begin in real earnest to soothe the skeptics and silence the critics."
"Half Empty, Half Full"
Ikram Sehgal penned this op-ed piece in the center-right Nation (11/6): "Great hope has been vested by the broad masses of the people of Pakistan in the military regime, a 'soft' martial law without its usual teeth never before seen in this country and one dare say, in recent history. The aspirations aroused in the people are scary, the military rulers will have to rise above themselves to ensure that the great expectations of the masses are not frustrated.... Whatever time frame is set out, whether three, four or even five years down the road, the referendum on military rule should be part of the ultimate transition electoral process."
"Musharraf And The Demands Of Democracy"
Second largest, Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt emphasized (11/6): "The general must not take the public's disappointment with former governments to mean that the people do not favor democracy or that they want the military to share power. The people want a clean, effective democratic government that can solve their basic problems, and strengthen the country's defense and economy."
"Referendum Put On Back Burner"
An op-ed column by Tariq Butt in the center-right Nation noted (11/5): "The idea of holding a public referendum proposed by some political parties, but rejected by major political forces, seems to have been put on the back burner at least for the time being."
"India's Losing Battle"
An editorial in the centrist national News judged (11/5): "Things are quickly heading towards an uncontrollable situation and it may not be long before history repeats itself and 1990 is re-enacted.... The people of Kashmir are committed to carry on their struggle until they win their right to self-determination."
"The Fog Will Take Time To Clear"
The center-right Nation front-paged this commentary (11/4): "Musharraf was not the tense, grim-faced commando-jacket-clad general that he was on the night of the coup. He came across as a banter-savoring charming man at ease with the limelight, confident enough to face the press alone. To keen observers Musharraf's much-awaited first press conference...this makes it obvious he is fully in command of things.... His refusal to set a deadline for the completion of his National Clean-Up Operation can be justified on the grounds that the issues...are complicated and time-consuming.... But the other side could be that if it is successful, it could become the basis for a new experiment for governing the country. Something that is in part representative and in part controlled, or which is a fully representative system but which functions under the hawk-eye of the Armed Forces of Pakistan under a new constitutional arrangement."
"Important But Sensitive"
The centrist News declared (11/4): "Strengthening the federation through devolution of powers to the provinces and, from there to the district and local levels is a priority item on the chief executive's agenda. It is an ironic comment on Pakistan's predicament that this important issue should be espoused by a non-elected regime as a consequence of an elected government's craving to snatch powers from the provinces."
Shahwar Junaid indicated in the center-right Nation (11/4): "Mid-level politicians and technocrats appear to be hedging their bets in the hope of being accommodated in the new setup in the future. Many of them espouse the cause of democracy before representatives of foreign media in order to remain acceptable to the international community, but are furiously lobbying for positions: apparently they expect the present power brokers to endure one way or another."
An editorial in the Peshawar-based independent Frontier Post intoned (11/4): "Since General Musharraf seems determined to govern the country not by the law of jungle but by the law of civilized people, it would be unwise to push him to act otherwise. In any case, the priorities of the masses are not what are those of these hopefuls impatiently waiting in the wings.... General Musharraf's reform sword is as much, if not more, important as is his accountability axe."
"Selecting A Dream Team On Merit"
A news analysis by Iram Sehgal in the center-right Nation held (10/29): "In the matter of changes in the army, the chief executive has shown surefootedness in making promotions and appointments which have been nothing short of brilliant.... In his moves in the civilian sphere, he has also done very well, except that in a couple of places he seems to have compromised in the sense that the appointees may be good in their relative fields but below the expectations of public perception which expected a higher quality.... All the governors are men of good standing that reflect the will of the military regime to provide the citizens of Pakistan with an administration that is fair and just."
"Moment Of Truth"
The centrist News indicated (10/29): "It is axiomatic that the economy is the make-or-break issue for the new government--indeed for the country....
"With a military government bracing to back what will hopeful be wide-ranging reforms, the country's economic managers can no longer afford to be faint-hearted. The bottom line for them and for the country is: Reform or perish."
"A Cautious Beginning"
Syed Talat Hussain opined in the center-right Nation (10/27): "The first batch of members for the National Security Council and the cabinet...are well accomplished experts in their respective fields. Further, they are all persons with a liberal outlook on life, have vast exposure to the West and know how that system works. Most of them are internationally known and are well connected...whether in banking or in the social sector. This may facilitate the new regime's ability to communicate with the outside world to which a deliberate indication is being given that the present set-up will be anything but conservative and right-wing."
"NSC And The Cabinet"
The center-right Nation maintained (10/27): "The piecemeal announcement of the cabinet...leaves an air of uncertainty which is not consistent with the new regime's aim of creating an image of efficiency.... Also, since there is now no parliament to answer to, the chief executive must evolve a mechanism to make NSC-cabinet decisions transparent. Some other priorities also need to be kept in mind. Included in these are some form of a political agenda leading to a return to a democratic set-up within a given time frame."
An editorial in the Peshawar-based, independent Frontier Post judged (10/27): "[The members of the new NSC have] all the freedom and independence to take bold and unpopular decisions.... But their biggest disadvantage is that they have to take all those unpalatable decisions that their predecessors should have taken, but didn't, to keep the people set on the path of national cohesion, socio-economic progress and democratic order. Understandably, not all these steps may go down well with the masses. But much of the sting from this imminent public backlash can be avoided by the government by its being ruthlessly active on accountability.... They must not fritter [this chance] away."
"Back To Democracy?"
General R. Mirza Aslam Beg argued in the centrist, national News (10/27): "There are only two main options before the military high command...to seek validation through a referendum or through the Supreme Court...[or] revive the constitution and the assembly to elect a new leader of the house, and seek validity for military intervention from the assembly.... Democracy is the hope for Pakistan."
"U.S. Tilt Towards India"
Nusrat Mirza asserted in second-largest, Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt (10/27): "We...have no hesitation in saying that America...is an important country for us, and that we want to work with it while keeping our sovereignty and independence. Military government in Pakistan should be taken as an internal matter. We are uncompromisingly against any harm to Pakistan [due to the military government] or an absolute U.S. tilt in favor of India."
"Working Toward A Cure"
An editorial in the Peshawar-based, independent Frontier Post (10/25): "The military leadership would do well to install a high-powered accountability set-up, ensure its functional independence...and then leave it alone to chase the culprits and show them the scaffold.
"For its part, it must single-mindedly concentrate on laying the foundations of a forward-looking, corruption-free, egalitarian democratic polity that could later be built upon by elected civilian governments.... That must get its fullest attention for the ultimate good of the nation."
"Democracy, What Democracy?"
An op-ed column by Abid Ullah Jan in the Peshawar-based, independent Frontier Post indicated (10/25): "Our struggle for democracy will remain completely ineffective if it is accompanied by submission to American hegemonism.... The UK and the United States must legitimate their concerns for democracy through their equal treatment of democratic and totalitarian states around the world. They must revive an international policy environment where real democratic progress is equally rewarded, and authoritarian repression, whether it be in Egypt, Iraq, or Algeria, is seriously sanctioned."
According to an editorial in the center-right Nation (10/25): "[Musharraf] should announce a time frame for his rule and begin rehabilitating a political process that can lead to the revival of democracy in the country."
"Pakistan At A Crossroads"
An op-ed column by Farrukh J. Karamat in the center-right Nation emphasized (10/25): "The need of the hour is for a government of technocrats--people who are qualified in their respective fields and who are above political bickering and allegiances.... Such a government cannot be brought in with the backing of military, nor would that serve any purpose. It has to be an elected and legitimate outfit."
"The General's Talks"
An op-ed column by Nasim Zehra in the centrist News held (10/22), "That Musharraf is well intentioned and of absolute integrity is encouraging.... Also it is noteworthy that in bad times on the home front, Washington can be no savior--neither of nations nor of individuals.... The reluctant coup-maker Musharraf has the task of genetic engineering on his hands. At least until now, by not establishing alliances with the old and the discredited, he has tried to create new soil and new genes for laying the foundations of a new political culture."
"Change Of Tone In U.S."
An op-ed piece by Hassan Ali Shahzeb in the centrist News said (10/22): "Contrary to the initial reaction from Washington...there is a growing sense of acceptance for the new setup in Islamabad.... While insisting on the return to democratic rule, the sanctions imposed, as mandated by U.S. law, were no more than symbolic in nature."
"Why Can't U.S. Push Pakistan To The Wall?"
Zahid Malid remarked in Islamabad's rightist, English-language Pakistan Observer (10/22): "There are numerous instances where the United States has had good relations with countries that do not have an iota of democracy. If the United States can grant Most Favored Nation status to some of these countries, then there is no reason that it should react blindly to a temporary deviation which had become an absolute necessity because of the peculiar circumstances in Pakistan. I would, therefore, urge protagonists of democracy not to ignore these realities while expressing their apprehension about the army's action."
"U.S. And Our New Government"
An editorial in the pro-Muslim League, Urdu-language Pakistan said (10/22), "It should be noted that the change of government is Pakistan's internal matter and Pakistanis are fully capable of solving their country's own problems.... The general perception is that this is the first military government in Pakistan that has been formed without a prior 'green' light from the United States. This 'made in Pakistan' regime should continue to adhere to an agenda 'made for Pakistan.'"
"A Critical Time"
An editorial in the centrist national News stated (10/21): "The challenge before the military leadership, is to jolt the system, perform the more urgent reform tasks, put in place a civilian structure capable of doing the rest and withdraw itself. Only by doing so will the national cause--including a revival of institutions and the restoration of democracy--be served."
An editorial in the center-right Nation averred (10/21): "In fact, if only the Kashmir issue is resolved and other issues remain unresolved, the process of normalization with India can move apace without any serious obstacles."
"Chief Executive's Interview And National Aspirations"
An editorial in the second-largest, Urdu-language Nawa-I-Waqt opined (10/21): "The American media, diplomats and army officials have suddenly started praising General Musharraf for his intelligence and liberalism.... The fact is that no ruler can become a favorite of the United States, India or the West unless he agrees to abide by their agenda.... There is no need to displease the United States or go to war with India, but the impression must not be strengthened that like previous governments, the present one also promotes [American and Indian] policies. It is heartening to note that the general has made no mention of either the Lahore or the Washington Declarations."
INDIA: "Outrage In Srinagar"
An editorial in the nationalist Hindustan Times held (11/5): "General Pervez Musharraf evidently does not share his civilian predecessors' reluctance to let the world know how closely Islamabad works with the terrorist groups.... So, his administration's main objective may well be to give even more support to the terrorist groups operating in India than the earlier regimes. Wednesday's outrage [in Srinagar], therefore, is probably only the first of a series and the Indian security forces will have to be far more vigilant than before."
"India Must Be Ready For War"
Columnist Hiranmay Karlekar had this to say in the right-of-center Pioneer (11/5): "There is unlikely to be any improvement in the ties between India and Pakistan as (General Pervez Musharraf) is the latter's chief executive officer. Rather, there is every possibility of a war, perhaps sooner than later... A person who indulges in bravado tends to be shallow and rash, and General Musharraf's Kargil misadventure suggests that he tends to be both.... The danger of a war is all the more real in these circumstances because, as indicated by the Kargil intrusion, General Musharraf has a tendency to gamble. And he may gamble with a war with India if the domestic situation becomes too hot for him, which may happen at a none-too-distant a future if he does not make way for a democratic government."
According to an editorial in the right-of-center Pioneer (11/2): "[On Pakistan,] although vital U.S. sanctions remain in force...many sense a softening in its attitude towards General Pervez Musharraf's military dictatorship. While it is entirely up to the United States to deal with any regime in any manner it pleases, India cannot be expected, particularly after the treacherous intrusion in Kargil, to return to the Lahore process until Pakistan stops promoting cross-border terrorism."
"Road Map For Millennium Foreign Policy"
Sidhart Bhatia opined in the right-of-center Pioneer (11/2): "For the first time ever, a bankrupt, unstable country possessing a nuclear bomb with a long record of renegade adventurism is being run by the army and the world seems to have no definite answers to deal with it. The United States, Pakistan's longest standing friend in the world, has not been able to come up with a refined and cogent response to the military takeover.... The Clinton administration could do little more than signal that while it desired the resurrection of democracy, it was willing to do business with the general."
"It Doesn't Matter Who We Talk With"
Pundit K. Subrahmanyam argued in the pro-economic-reforms Economic Times (11/2): "In India, there should be no reservations in dealing with General Musharraf or a successor general so long as the Pakistani leadership, in its own national interests, takes steps to cut down on its terrorist forays into India, particularly Kashmir. Without any fanfare or publicity and without changing their rhetoric on Kashmir, Pakistan can quietly stop its terrorist activities. This is the only rational option [General Musharraf] has and if he adopts it he would not find India failing to reciprocate wholeheartedly."
"Prescription For Pakistan"
Pundit K. Subrahmanyam penned this analysis for the centrist Times of India (11/1): "The United States has to engage Pakistan now. So should India.... Dealing with this schizophrenic Pakistan cannot be done by India alone. It needs the help of other countries such as the United States, Russia, China, Iran and the Gulf states which are also affected in different degrees by this unstable and potentially dangerous state situated in a geostrategically vital area."
"Gain For Musharraf"
An editorial in the nationalist Hindustan Times reasoned (11/1): "Since the very occupation of a chair, whether by hook or by crook, confers a certain legitimacy, it is not surprising that both the United States and the Commonwealth have now indicated that they will give Pakistan's latest military dictator some time to prove his credentials.... The difference...between military rule in Pakistan and in other countries is that there is rarely any civilian protest in the former because democracy has not struck roots there. As a result, the army is not seen as an agent of oppression. This peculiarity of Pakistan makes it easier for the Western governments to come to terms with it."
"Return To Democracy?"
The Mumbai-based, pro-BJP Daily intoned (10/29): "The United States and the UN should insist and persuade the general to restore democratic rule as soon as possible and to give a fair trial to Sharif and his men instead of sentencing them to death for treason. In the interest of peace and security in the subcontinent, the military rule in Pakistan must end in the near future."
"Zia By Another Name"
The centrist Times of India had this editorial (10/27): "Any expectation that General Musharraf would model himself on Turkey's Kemal Ataturk stands demolished now that the composition of the National Security Council and the cabinet is known.... [Yet] it is in our interest to persuade [General Musharraf] that his success...will depend upon peace and tranquillity with India. Continuing support to terrorism in India, especially in Kashmir, will spell inevitable doom for Pakistan. In India, a twin-track policy of engagement and effective containment of terrorist adventurism is called for."
"The Hawk Swoops In Pakistan"
The right-of-center Indian Express featured this analysis (10/26) by veteran columnist Kuldip Nayar: "The point which Washington should be pushing is the date for election. It should be held within 90 days, as laid down by the constitution. It is the United States' responsibility to restore civil administration in Pakistan because it is Washington which is trying to sell Musharraf to the world."
"The Case For A Proactive Approach"
Associate editor K. K. Katyal insisted in the centrist Hindu (10/25): "The United States' present stand is that it will continue to do business with Pakistan but not 'business as usual.' The positive assessment of General Musharraf has led the United States to believe that he can be depended upon to initiate a serious dialogue with India on outstanding matters, including Kashmir.... More surprising, Washington counts on him to take on the fundamentalist Taliban in Afghanistan.... New Delhi finds it hard to be optimistic about the general, thanks to tell-tale evidence of his deep-seated animus against India.... New Delhi cannot be blamed if it is wary of his moves and does not put as optimistic an interpretation on his words as do the Americans."
"U.S. Nod To Pakistani Coup?"
Washington correspondent N.C. Menon stressed in the nationalist Hindustan Times (10/25): "The military coup in Pakistan has left the United States uncomfortably perched on the horns of a dilemma....between the compulsions of realpolitik and the need to adhere to professed political principles.... In a somewhat odd choice of words [with reference to] a country that just went under military rule and had its constitution revoked, Inderfurth said Pakistan 'can serve as an example of a progressive Islamic democracy because it is a link--both economic and political--between the Indian Ocean and Central Asia.'"
"The Democratic Dream Remains"
Professor Mushirul Hasan of Jamia Milia University argued in the right-of-center Indian Express (10/23): "As Washington prepares to do business with yet another dictator, the sound and fury against the coup has quietened down. This is how it has always been."
"U.S. To India: Don't Shut The Door On The General"
This analysis by senior editor Seema Guha appeared in the centrist Times of India (10/22): "The United States is fully aware of India's misgivings about Pakistan's new military regime. Yet in talks with Indian leaders, Washington's appeal to the Vajpayee government is 'don't shut the door on the general.'"
"Our Jaded View From Washington"
The centrist Times of India carried this analysis by senior editor Manoj Joshi (10/22): "So concerned are the Americans over Pakistan and over the task of preventing the collapse of one of their last outposts in Southwest Asia, that they are willing to overlook everything--missiles from China support to the Taliban and cross-border terrorism against India--and now the military overthrow of the legally constituted government. Pakistan will continue to get a favored treatment in the name of preserving its pro-Western orientation...while India will be asked to make concessions to further this goal."
The centrist Times of India opined (10/21): "Pakistan's unique, military-controlled nuclear weapon status has had the blessings of the United States for at least the past 18 years. The latest military coup in Pakistan has not brought about any material change in regard to the command and control of that country's nuclear weapons."
"India Should Help In Resolving Pakistani Crisis"
Strategic affairs editor C. Raja Mohan penned this analysis in the centrist Hindu (10/21), "Whether New Delhi likes it or not, India will be drawn into the vortex of Western diplomacy on managing the political crisis in Pakistan.... It is absolutely essential for India to be involved in diplomatic consultations on the political future of Pakistan. Instead of adopting a sullen attitude toward a possible bailout by the Western nations, India must actively intervene in the debate. India may or may not be in a position to influence the current thinking on Pakistan. But New Delhi should try and give a 'reality check' to many assumptions in the Western debate."
BANGLADESH: "The Military Coup In Pakistan"
Conservative, Islamic, Bangla-language Sangram maintained (11/1): "U.S. Ambassador Milam, who had gone to Islamabad to let the military rulers know about President Clinton's stance, returned unruffled on being informed of the attitude of Pervez Musharraf. The intellectuals who lost their peace of mind over democracy in Pakistan will get a shot in the arm if they listen to Musharraf's ideology. He has praised Mustafa Kemal. It is feared that he will follow Kemalist policies.... If Musharraf wants to survive for the time being, he must compromise with Islamic politics."
"U.S. Stance Toward Pakistan's Coup"
Anti-West, Bangla-language Inqilab attested (10/26): "Those who follow the trends of South Asian politics have no doubt that the United States will support Pakistan in the ultimate analysis. Although the United States has been shouting for democracy worldwide, it supported Algeria's military junta and also supported Indonesia's Soeharto for 30 years. The present military rulers of Pakistan enjoy popular support. If the United States does not support this popular regime its strategic interests in South Asia will suffer."
SRI LANKA: "Pakistan: A New Face Or Passing Phase?"
An editorial in the government-owned and -controlled, English-language Observer said (10/22): "The emphasis on civilian technocrats in the newly formed administration...in Islamabad seem to indicate a very businesslike attitude by the generals.... Delhi, however, is justifiably cautious in its reaction to the Pakistani troop pull-back.... Nevertheless, the fact that the man who must have been part of the military command structure that oversaw the entire Kargil cross-border operation is personally initiating a unilateral troop withdrawal...is something which Delhi must take into consideration very seriously."
BRITAIN: "Pakistan Plebiscite"
The conservative Times' editorial stressed (11/5): "Pakistan's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, remains reluctant to give a timetable for relinquishing the political power he now holds. He has repeatedly argued that it is too early to put a date on when Pakistan's corrupt body politic will be healthy enough for government. That is what generals too often say. But, counter-intuitive though it may seem, there is a good case for taking this general seriously.... There seems to have been no dark-glasses-and-jackboots excess so far. Instead, General Musharraf shows every sign of being sincere about cleaning up the mess that his predecessors made of Pakistan's democracy."
"U.S. Struggles For Right Response To Pakistan Coup"
The independent Financial Times said (10/22): "Pakistan's military coup last week has posed a dilemma for U.S. policymakers. While not wanting to send a message to the world that it condones military takeovers, Washington appears to have concluded that what leverage it has would serve only to further destabilize a country which now openly boasts nuclear technology."
RUSSIA: "General Acted On Impulse"
Aleksei Tamilin wrote in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (10/27): "While the world has unanimously condemned Musharraf for overthrowing a civilian government, Pakistan is elated. Apparently, its people know better what they want. It was hardly justified, either, for some media to be hysterical over last year's nuclear tests in Pakistan. The military, better than anyone else, realizes the dangers of using nuclear weapons."
Aleksandr Rudakov concluded in nationalist opposition weekly Zavtra (# 42, 10/22): "With the new political format in Pakistan, which looks very much like the 'Turkish model,' the West will be able to do away with lots of unnecessary 'formalities' and have a better chance to control and guide that country's military leadership, assigning it important strategic tasks. Controlled by the military, Pakistan is preparing to play the role of a 'regional superpower' whose sphere of influence will include Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia. It will also 'monitor' Chechnya."
"Islamic Factor Gains"
Pavel Bykov commented in reformist weekly Ekspert (10/18): "Events in Pakistan, regardless of Musharraf's stand, have upset the balance of forces in the region. Ruled by the military, unpredictable Pakistan, with its 15 nuclear warheads, is a major destabilizing factor in world politics. The 'surprise' coup is more evidence that the Islamic factor is becoming more serious and less predictable."
CROATIA: "Pragmatism Rather Than Principles Is What Counts For U.S."
Fran Visnar commented in government-controlled Vjesnik (10/20): "What is striking is that Washington is firmly opposed to military coups only when they happen either in countries that are too weak, or in regions that are not of vital interest to the United States. These double standards are nothing new, and all those who want to be America's friend or close ally must know in advance that they are only valuable as long as they are useful and usable in various ways.... Pervez Musharaff is very well aware of that, and he will take maximum advantage of Pakistan's geopolitical weight. One shall not rule out that, soon enough, Washington will spread out red carpets for him and receive him as a head of state."
KAZAKHSTAN: "Situation In Pakistan"
Official Yegemen Kazakhstan (10/22) advised its readers: "More than ten days have passed since the military coup in Pakistan. Nobody tried to resist and to protect the civil government. That means that the civil government hadn't done much for its people. The military...also hasn't taken strict measures.... The international community is concerned about any state that experiences such a transitional period and has dangerous nuclear weapons."
POLAND: "Twenty-Six Years Of Military Rule"
Andrzej Jonas observed in military weekly Polska Zbrojna (10/22): "[The Pakistani] generals then are confronted with very complex problems: How to maintain the international credibility of the state, restore its efficient functioning, curb corruption among politicians, and rebuild the economy? The objectives are very difficult to achieve. And they are not likely to be attained unless democratic mechanisms are employed and the military are back in the barracks."
TURKEY: "Dance Of The Generals"
Zafer Atay predicted in economics/politics Dunya (10/27): "It would not be surprising to see Bin Laden handed over to the Americans soon. Musharraf started a fight against corruption in Pakistan. The Pakistani military administration has issued a declaration and ordered the businessmen with close political links to pay back the bank loans they had received. Pakistan, 52 years after independence, has wasted 25 years under military juntas."
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
BAHRAIN: "U.S. And Pakistan"
According to a commentary by Mahdi Rabee in leading, semi-independent Al-Ayam (10/18): "When America led the collective international condemnation of the military coup in Pakistan, it did not do so because of its concern over the restoration of democracy and political pluralism in Islamabad. Nawaz Sharif succumbed completely to American pressure and pulled back his fighters from Kashmir. He fought what Washington calls Islamic fundamentalism and stopped supporting the Taliban whose territory is a safehaven for Osama bin Laden. That is why it was not strange to see the United States condemn the military coup in Pakistan--because the military may provide greater support to bin Laden."
CHINA: "A Change In U.S. Policy Toward South Asia?"
Zou Qiang judged in intellectually-oriented Guangming Daily (Guangming Ribao, 11/4): "Unlike its usual attitude, the United States reacted calmly to the recent developments in Pakistan. Moreover, after evaluating Pakistan's nuclear tests last year, the United States has 'kindly' lifted part of the economic sanctions on Pakistan. In fact, the United States has not at all changed its policy towards Pakistan, and all the moves it has made are for its own economic and geo-political interests.... It is believed that the United States will not easily change its South Asian policy of favoring India and still having doubt and worry about Pakistan."
PHILIPPINES: "A Troubling Coup"
Calixto Chikiamco contended in the independent Manila Standard (10/24): "That the military coup happened in a country that is a nuclear power, in conflict with another nuclear power, and is the home of many Islamic extremists and terrorists is bad enough, but what is more disturbing is that it runs counter to the recent global trend toward democratization....
"Could Pakistan just be an aberration? Or could it be the start of a counter-trend--failed states that will reject democracy and embrace either military dictatorships or religious dictatorships (as in Afghanistan?)"
THAILAND: "India Wrong To Postpone SAARC"
The lead editorial of the top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post judged (11/6): "Admittedly, the sidelines of these (SAARC) summits often are venues for personal contact and provide opportunities for countries to talk socially of other worries they may have bilaterally. If this contact is what India feared, it could easily have opted not to participate in the social activities. But to bring the whole of SAARC to a standstill weakens the organization's aim to push ahead with its agenda for development and stability through regional cooperation among member states. India is, therefore, not just punishing Pakistan but its own people and the people of Bhutan, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Most of all it is punishing Nepal, which has already expended time and, more importantly, money that it can ill afford to waste. India must realize that it will have to talk with the military leaders of Pakistan sooner or later. The sidelines of the SAARC could have provided that forum."
CANADA: "The General Settles In"
Serge Truffault penned this analysis for liberal, French-language Le Devoir (11/2): "Everything indicates that democracy will be set aside as long as a clean sweep of civil society has not been carried out.... For now, it is clear that the strong man of the regime...General Pervez Musharraf...intends to strengthen his grip on all the wheels of the state by using Nawaz Sharif as a scapegoat for all the ills that afflicts Pakistan.... Musharraf indicated that he envisaged holding a referendum in order to verify or quantify the feelings of Pakistanis toward his own actions.... The general abstained from fixing a date for this referendum that greatly risks being transformed in a plebiscite that would ensure the military takeover of Pakistan for a longer period of time. Consequently, we may presume that the long-expected appointment with democracy will be postponed indefinitely."
ARGENTINA: "Pakistan And The Nuclear Threat"
An editorial in leading Clarin expressed this view (10/23): "The possibility that Islamic fundamentalist sectors might reach power [in Pakistan] as they did in Afghanistan is one of the major concerns.... The ghosts of a territorial division or an escalation of war with atomic bombs have been set aside by a military coup, a lamentable solution to a probably worse situation for Pakistan and the world."
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