October 20, 1999
PAKISTAN: MIXED REVIEWS OF MUSHARRAF'S DEBUT
Opinionmakers worldwide weighed in with mixed views on the newly installed military regime in Pakistan, where Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif just over a week ago. While most observers shed no tears over Mr. Sharif's abrupt, forced exit from the scene, a considerable number expressed reservations about the direction in which the Pakistani military would take the country. Many worried that there was now "no guarantee" that Pakistan would not use nuclear weapons against its neighbor and rival, India. Some, such as Israel's independent Jerusalem Post and an Australian daily, stressed that the takeover was a "military coup with Islamic overtones," and worried about a "nuclear-armed" Pakistan now "in the hands of coup-happy soldiers." Others, however, registered diametrically opposed opinions. Paris's right-of-center Le Figaro, for example, taking note of General Musharraf's statements on Islam as a religion which "fights against bigotry," concluded that his "surprising change in style" could mark the "beginning of a change in doctrine." Dailies in Bangladesh, Europe, and the Philippines emphasized the new regime's need to "placate international criticism" in order to keep funds flowing into Pakistan. Additional themes follow:
FROM PAKISTAN, AWAITING 'DEEDS' AND A 'TIME FRAME': Pakistani papers scrutinizing General Musharraf's address to the nation last Sunday concluded that there was "much to be welcomed" since, in the words of Karachi's centrist News, "he touched on precisely the issues that had been agitating the people." That said, however, the News and many others wondered whether Pakistan was in for a "prolonged period of military rule" since the general's remarks had fallen short of spelling out a precise time frame for a return to "true democracy." Dailies, such as right-wing, pro-Islamic unity Jasarat, likewise stressed the nation now "wants to see the practical steps the administration is taking for implementing [Mr. Musharraf's] agenda." On the positive side of the balance sheet, Pakistani pundits praised the speech for "being instrumental in allaying...apprehensions the U.S. might have...[about] the new man in power."
INDIA ASSESSES MUSHARRAF'S 'SUGAR-COATED BULLETS': The vast majority of dailies in India concluded that the "coup" in Pakistan spelled "bad news" for India. Writers there viewed Mr. Musharraf's speech with skepticism, dismissing the general's pledge to carry out a "unilateral military de-escalation" along the Indo-Pak border as "the stuff of public relations" which "said nothing about the real area of possible conflict, the Line of Control" in disputed Kashmir. Dailies also judged that Mr. Musharraf's words were "directed" at the West, and groused about Washington's purported "Pakistan-centric" policy. "The U.S. will back any of the key players in Pakistan, including an armed forces gone irremediably fundamentalist," charged the centrist Times of India.
ASSESSING U.S., INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY'S REACTIONS: Not surprisingly, Pakistani dailies voiced outrage that "two monstrously humbuggish groups"--the EU and the Commonwealth--had "pontificated" about the ousting of Mr. Sharif. In contrast, papers there and elsewhere concluded that the U.S.' more "measured" response indicated that Washington wants to give General Musharraf "a chance to show his cards" before passing judgment.
EDITOR: Kathleen J. Brahney
EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 64 reports from 28 countries, October 13 - 20. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.
PAKISTAN: "Sensing The Future Course Of Pakistan"
An op-ed by Shireen M. Mazari in Karachi's centrist, national News argued (10/20): "General Musharraf's address to the nation on October 17 was significant not only in what it said, but also in what it left unsaid.... For instance, no mention was made of any envisaged time span for the restoration of 'true democracy' that the general committed to in principle. This omission was all the more stark because in their usual cacophony of ignorance, the major powers have been clamoring for the 'restoration of democracy' as soon as possible--as if the sole purpose behind the military takeover was the removal of the Sharif government and now that that had been achieved, the decaying system should be left to continue functioning as it had been.... General Musharraf has sent a clear signal to these external forces that until the country's internal institutions and domestic polity are stabilized, there can be no question of a 'restoration of democracy.'"
"A Wise Move"
The centrist, national News also had this editorial (10/20): "Any opinion on an administration's intentions must be based on its actions, not just words. On this criterion, the new military-led setup in Pakistan seems to mean business at least as far as the process of normalization with India is concerned.... Acknowledging the significance of this unilateral military CBM [i.e., the general's de-escalation announcement], President Clinton said that he was pleased over the 'conciliatory tone' of Pakistan's chief executive. Those in the West--as well as in Pakistan and India--who had feared hardline, jingoistic rhetoric from the new government must have also been reassured by Musharraf's courageous move. But this 'conciliatory tone' can go on only as long as India is willing to reciprocate.... Pakistan has hinted at a fresh approach; India must respond in the same spirit."
"Reactions To Takeover"
Lahore's center-right Nation asserted (10/20): "Foreign reaction to the army takeover in Pakistan has so far been tentative and mild. No foreign country has demanded a restoration of the ousted prime minister.... On Monday, Clinton expressed satisfaction over the conciliatory tone of the chief executive, though he simultaneously expressed disappointment over the failure to set a timetable for return to democracy. General Musharraf's TV address on Sunday was indeed instrumental in allaying a number of apprehensions the United States might have initially entertained regarding the domestic and foreign policies...of the new man in power.... Apparently, the United States wants to provide General Musharraf a chance to show his cards. While the United States and the Commonwealth countries remain firmly committed to democracy, their principal concern is safeguarding their own interests, irrespective of who is in power in Pakistan. Their commitment is to their own agenda and not to any individual ruler."
"A Reassuring Speech"
An editorial in the second-largest, Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt (10/20): "The general is active now on the domestic front. It is expected that he will complete his seven-point agenda quickly and return to barracks, after putting in place a democratic system free of feudal attitudes.... This way Western critics will be silenced as well."
"U.S. And Allies' Responsibility"
Popular Urdu-language Din's editorial held (10/20): "By unilaterally withdrawing its military from forward border positions, Pakistan has thrown the ball in India's court. Now it is the responsibility of the United States and its allies to make India respond positively to Pakistan's initiative."
"U.S. Ready To Give General Some Time"
Karachi's right-wing, pro-Islamic unity, Urdu-language Jasarat judged (10/20): "The United States' attitude, as compared to the U.K.'s, is quite flexible because the former realizes the geopolitical importance of Pakistan and has shown a realistic approach regarding the recent changes in Pakistan. The comments made by the U.S. ambassador the other day reveal that it does not anticipate any tensions in Pak-U.S. relations. The United States is ready to give General Musharraf some time."
"A Daunting Task"
An editorial in the centrist News maintained (10/19): "The anxiously awaited address by the country's Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf has been generally well received because he touched precisely the issues that had been agitating the people. The seven-point reform agenda comprises the exact same issues and omissions that were being repeatedly stressed in the independent press."
"Musharraf's Address To The Nation"
The center-right Nation's editorial stressed (10/19): "There is much in General Pervez Musharraf's address to the nation that needs to be welcomed.... Setting forth of good aims and objectives is one thing and devising ways and means of achieving them is another. General Musharraf has announced the first step in that direction.... The question...[is] whether these tasks, some of them of a complex nature, can really be accomplished even within a relatively broad time-frame."
"Pots Calling Kettle Black"
An op-ed by Brian Cloughley in the centrist News indicated (10/19): "Two monstrously humbuggish groups pontificated about the dismissal of the rampantly corrupt Sharif regime: they are the European Union and the Commonwealth. Never reluctant to take on soft targets, both demanded immediate 'restoration' of democracy in Pakistan. They don't know what they are talking about, because there was no democracy.... Pakistan was not democratic; it is being placed on the course to democracy, and the critics should shut up until there is something to really criticize."
"Making Up For The Past"
Suroosh Irfani averred in the centrist News (10/19): "In the lived experience of Pakistan's electoral politics, democracy had become synonymous with personalized rule and shameless corruption even, as the 'elected representatives' never stopped invoking it."
"A Tough But Achievable Agenda"
The Peshawar-based, independent Frontier Post asked (10/19): "Are we looking at a prolonged period of military rule in Pakistan? This is a question that has no easy answer. Most citizens expect the military to clear the mess that the last couple of civilian governments created. This is frankly asking for the moon.
"We believe that if those who have used politics to amass fortunes were punished, it would be a great service to the nation. The ultimate objective for the present set-up ought to be this: pave the road for a new dynamic leadership to emerge."
"The Speech Is Over...Now Work, Work And Work"
Leading, mass-circulation, Urdu-language Jang noted (10/19): "The announcement regarding the immediate withdrawal of troops from Indian borders is a message to the entire world that Pakistan does not want an environment of tension in the region. This move has been welcomed internationally and now India has to take a step in this direction."
"The People Await Practical Steps"
Karachi-based, right-wing, pro-Islamic unity Jasarat insisted (10/19): "Despite the sincerity manifested in General Musharraf's speech, the nation wants to see the practical steps that his administration takes for implementing his agenda. The people have heard such flowery discourses many times in the past. Now it is the duty of the army to seek a national public consensus on various issues confronting the nation."
"Waiting For Implementation"
Sensational, Urdu-language Ummat stressed (10/19): "In a semi-literate and developing country like Pakistan the exploitation of democracy has made people weary of democrats. General Musharraf has not denied the importance of democratic values, but has promised the nation to restore a democratic system wherein the people will get their due rights."
"People Want Good Governance, Economic Revival"
An op-ed by Ismail Khan in the centrist News held (10/18): "The military has won and the political leadership, thanks to their lack of wisdom and foresight, has once again met its waterloo. Pakistan is back to square one.... The people's expectations from the new military rulers are no different from the ones they had from the deposed prime minister--good governance, corruption-free administration and economic revival."
"A Government Of Technocrats?"
An editorial in the center-right Nation contended (10/18): "Restructuring of the economy is overdue. But whether it can be done within a short time frame, is in some doubt. That brings us to the question: What time frame does the military have in mind to set things right?... Most of our so-called technocrats carry political baggage of one kind or another."
"U.S., Western Pressure And Government's Responsibility"
Second-largest circulation, Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt told its readers (10/17): "Through pressure and temptation, the United States is trying to trap Pakistan.... General Pervez Musharraf and his associates, like brave soldiers, have to reject these pressures and take the nation into confidence to receive their complete voluntary support."
"Nawaz Sharif's Treason Is Inexcusable"
According to an editorial in Islamabad's popular, Urdu-language Ausaf (10/17): "After the Washington declaration, the primary importance the United States attached was...the sanctity of the Line of Control. Our naive and sacked prime minister and nation's bloodsucker leech, Sartaj Aziz, surrendered to this [U.S.] command....
"If Nawaz Sharif had not been sacked, we can say with great certainty, that they would have, somehow, completed this mission [of dividing Kashmir into two parts]."
"The Real Test"
Readers of the centrist News saw this editorial (10/16): "The road map for a return to 'real democracy' must...be announced to prevent any misgivings on this crucial count.... The ultimate objective of restoring democracy must not be lost sight of. Otherwise, as in the past, the effort will have been in vain."
"State Of Emergency"
In the editorial view of the center-right Nation (10/16): "What worries one...is that [the decree] has not specified the time limit for [military] rule."
"Broad-Based National Government"
An op-ed piece in the Islamabad-based, popular Urdu-language Ausaf held (10/15): "The future of the country rests on the formation of a broad-based national government, which could be formed within or outside of the [existing] assembly."
"The National Imperative"
An editorial in the centrist national News contended (10/15), "There is no substitute for democracy, particularly for a country as diverse as Pakistan. Nonetheless there is a consensus also in the sad fact that the democratic experience of the past three years in particular, compels that a special and concerted effort be made to address the key outstanding problems facing the country. Without doing that, Pakistan cannot move forward."
"Need For Accountability"
An editorial in Islamabad's rightist, English-language Pakistan Observer said (10/15): "People want the launching of a ruthless process of accountability to retrieve the looted national wealth from all those who mercilessly plundered the resources of the country--be they from the PPP or PML, or any other party or group.... Now it is up to the army leadership to find ways and means to realize this longstanding demand of the masses."
INDIA: "A Small Step For Mankind"
The right-of-center Indian Express had this editorial (10/20): "Pakistan is stalled in a strange bend in the road, not knowing whether it is under martial law or not. And despite the initial overtures of its new chief executive, India is not sure how to treat Pakistan. The withdrawal of troops from the international border is the stuff of public relations, because Musharraf has said nothing about the real area of possible conflict, the Line of Control.... The problematic area is Kashmir, and there he has committed himself to the familiar policy of offering moral and diplomatic support to the putative freedom fighters.... In effect, he has not given any indication that he is interested in a meaningful dialogue. He is continuing in the best traditions of Indian-Pakistan diplomacy and directing his words at the Western world.... And it seems to have worked with the principal audience...the United States.... Until Musharraf talks explicitly about his intentions and schedule for change, he will have neither the cooperation of the people of Pakistan not that of his immediate neighbor."
"Musharraf Avoids Cures, Prescribes Placebos"
The centrist Times of India featured this analysis (10/20): "The new dictator of Pakistan...has offered India sugar-coated bullets in his Sunday address.... He announced CBMs cleverly designed to have international resonance despite having zero positive impact on the ground situation.... Even the limited withdrawal mentioned is from the jump-off positions that the Pakistan army had occupied since the Kargil air strikes.... The Vajpayee team's education in Clinton administration biases has been furthered by Washington's tepid response to the overthrow of a democratic regime with close links to it.... The surprise in New Delhi indicates that there is an inability to accept that Washington pursues a Pakistan-centric policy in the subcontinent and not (as was assumed) a Nawaz-based one. Thus the United States will back any of the key players in Pakistan, including an armed forces gone irremediably fundamentalist. This combination of covert Musharraf belligerence and visible Clintonite gullibility will provide difficult moments ahead for Indian diplomacy, as the country gets pressured again to match sham Pakistani 'concessions' with substantive Indian ones."
"Beyond Half Measures"
An editorial in the centrist Hindu said (10/20): "Pakistan's new strong man, General Musharraf, should go beyond the half measures that he has announced in his much-delayed address to the nation..... Much like his professed commitment to the democratic path, which is meaningless in the absence of an accomnpanying timeframe...the unilateral military de-escalation along the international border with India can turn out to be nothing more than empty rhetoric without a promise of action to ease the tension over the more volatile Line of Control that divides Kashmir.... New Delhi...views the coup as a major setback to plans to move on the bilateral track.... The bilateral dialogue must...continue to remain suspended.... The international community...must press for the restoration of civilian rule at the earliest. Washington, whose initial reaction to the coup was to call for a return to democracy, seems to be reviewing its hardline attitude even as it tightens mandated economic sanctions.... General Musharraf...must realize that the present honeymoon with his long suffering people, who seem to have accepted his coup for now, can sour as quickly. There is no enduring alternative to democracy."
Pundit K. Subrahmanyam penned this analysis in the centrist Times of India (10/18): "Sovereignty does not vest in the people of Pakistan as in a secular democracy, but in Allah. The Pakistani Army does not, therefore, have the basic democratic orientation in which it would consider itself as an apolitical instrumentality of a democratic state. Most Pakistanis, in fact, believe that the army is the ultimate arbiter in the affairs of the state.... The army in Pakistan needs India as an enemy to enable it to play the role of an ideological guardian. It is not in the interest of the Pakistan army to have amicable relations between the two countries. Therefore, Kargil happened, and the logical consequence of Kargil is a fourth spell of martial law, though it may not be called by that name."
The right-of-center Indian Express insisted (10/16): "By suspending the constitution and placing the affairs of his nation under the control of the armed forces, Pakistan Army Chief Pervez Musharraf has nudged his people into yet another dark age.... This week's coup d'etat has conclusively ended [Pakistan's] hesitant experiment in laying the foundations for civil society.... The very fact that the genesis of the coup is traced to Sharif's July retreat from Kargil portends an extended bout of high alert on the border. It also indicates that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's intent to revive the Lahore process will have to be shelved for some time. Yet even as vigilance is stepped up, New Delhi has no option but to constructively engage Islamabad in CBMs, no matter how tenuous the confidence they offer....
"The West...too, will have to walk a tightrope, balancing the impulse to refuse to do business with the generals and the need to negotiate restraint."
"One Coup Over The Sharif's Nest"
The centrist Times of India featured this analysis (10/17): "Is an army takeover the legitimate answer to a 'failed state?'.... There appears to be widespread acceptance of boot rule [in Pakistan.]... Those who naively believed that military coups were a thing of the past and that democratic processes had taken root in Pakistan have been proved wrong.... Today, the issue for Pakistan-watchers is not whether a civilian government is put in place or not under American pressure, but the very survival of democratic institutions.... Having experienced repression under various martial law regimes, the people have remained mute spectators to the army moving into the corridors of power. This is understandable, though disconcerting. What one cannot comprehend is the ill considered responses of the political elite."
"Martial Law Again"
An editorial in the centrist Times of India emphasized (10/16): "A nuclear Pakistan cannot be allowed to fail economically and, therefore, General Musharraf can be fully confident that the United States has no choice but to come to terms with him. The sole superpower of the unipolar world has to watch its options vis-a-vis a nuclear-armed Pakistan army. Pakistani nuclear arms are an effective deterrent against U.S. pressures on its army."
"Coup In Pakistan Is Bad News For India"
Brahma Chellaney, independent adviser to India's National Security Council, wrote in the centrist Asian Age (10/15): "India will have to guard against a possible increase in covert Pakistani aggression, especially in Kashmir. The coup has strengthened elements who saw Pakistani withdrawal from Kargil as a capitulation to U.S. pressure and are determined to take on India.... Links between the Taliban and the Pakistani army are likely to grow stronger.... The star-crossed U.S. presidential visit to South Asia is being called upon to negotiate yet another roadblock, the military coup in Pakistan and its unfolding aftermath.... The presidential visit...is once again in jeopardy. The visit cannot obviously take place if democracy continues to be banished.... The United States still has clout over the Pakistani army...but the end of the Western interest in Afghanistan and the strengthening of sanctions have led to a dwindling number of Pakistani officers training in the United States.... Falling short of the ideal [of a return to civilian rule,] however, the United States would like to settle for a military-civilian government, again necessarily as a short-term arrangement, allowing the collapsing economy a breathing space to recover its balance."
BANGLADESH: "Pak Army Shows Its Claws"
The independent Daily Star observed (10/16): "Now that the army has taken full control of [Pakistan], the thing to watch is the policies it will follow.... The main issue is the revival of the economy, for which the army will need international support which may not be forthcoming without a clear timetable on restoring democracy by holding a free and fair election."
NEPAL: "Restore Democracy"
Government-owned Rising Nepal held (10/15): "Whatever the army's plans...it will certainly not be the interest of Pakistan to keep at bay too long the process to restore democracy there. Pakistanis deserve to have democracy just as most other South Asians do."
SRI LANKA: "The Most Dangerous Place On Earth"
An op-ed by Dayan Jayatilleka in the independent Weekend Express judged (10/16-17): "Out in the border areas, the chickens have come home to roost from Pakistan's days as a U.S. proxy in the new Cold War, in which the ISI, (the Pakistani Intelligence Services) were the patrons of various militant Islamic Afghan organizations. Indeed the fiercely fundamentalist and totalitarian Taliban itself is said to have been a creation of the ISI.... Pakistan succeeded in pushing Kashmir back into the international headlines. More importantly though, it lost the support of a traditional ally, the United States, which...'tilted' toward India. Islamabad has succeeded in putting Kashmir on Washington's front-burner or thereabouts. Meanwhile, there is no up side for Sri Lanka. We live in the little shack at the foot of the sub-continental volcano."
BRITAIN: "Harsh And Hasty"
The conservative Times had this editorial view (10/19): "Yesterday's suspension of Pakistan from the Commonwealth was both harsh and hasty. Instant expulsion was the toughest possible response.... Pakistan's situation is genuinely unusual. General Musharraf took power illegally. Yet the previous elected leader had spent two years systematically undermining every institution of democracy and condoning corruption that brought Pakistan close to bankruptcy.... General Musharraf's first steps--a crackdown on corruption, an easing of military tensions with India, and attempts to reassure the world that he can bring in democracy by the back door--are encouraging. The speed and severity with which Britain and Commonwealth have turned on Pakistan are startling.... The punitive decision will make it easier for richer bodies, including the IMF, to rush to impose sanctions on a state near bankruptcy--a recipe for disaster."
"Time And The General"
The conservative Times' editorial stressed (10/18): "General Pervez Musharraf's nationwide address yesterday...was clearly aimed at Washington and the outside world. Indeed, he went out of his way to underline his wish for friendly relations with the United States and insisted that Pakistan would continue its foreign policy unchanged, observing all commitments and obligations. His speech...was a sober, reasoned challenge to his countrymen.... He deserves to be heard. On virtually all matters, what he said was sensible... But General Musharraf knows that whatever he does to tighten up fiscal law, ensure clean government and fill the interim administration with competent technocrats, there is little he can do if his country goes bankrupt. And that depends largely on others. If America and the Commonwealth introduce sanctions, and if the IMF cuts off vital aid, the floundering country will sink deeper into chaos and despair.... Rather than restoring civilian government quickly, in this case it would make more sense to allow Pakistan a little time to revive democratic institutions battered by years of abuse."
"General Promises In Pakistan"
The lead editorial in the independent Financial Times concluded (10/18): "There is clearly some sympathy in Pakistan and in the outside world for what the general has done. Mr. Sharif was a disgrace to the country that had elected him.... The danger is that the lack of preparedness that showed through yesterday will lead to a sense of drift in which the military eventually has no option but to tighten rather than relax its grip. If that happens, Pakistan's plight could still be even worse than it was before."
"Blundering Into Danger"
The liberal Guardian opined (10/15): "The new military ruler of Pakistan appears, quite literally, to have lost the plot. Mr. Sharif may be a rogue. But he is an elected rogue."
FRANCE: "New Trend Against Bigotry"
Patrick de Saint-Exupery argued in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/19): "The speech by the new master of Islamabad, General Musharraf, in which he reminds everyone that the principles of Islam is to fight against bigotry, is a change in style. Coming from a leader of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, these remarks come as a surprise. It is the first time that a high military official, who has become a national leader, sends out such a warning. Although he is most certainly sending a message to the Western world, the warning can also be interpreted as the beginning of a change in doctrine."
GERMANY: "Wait And See"
Right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine carried this commentary (10/19): "While U.S. President Clinton was expressing disappointment that the new regime in Pakistan had not proposed a timetable for the return to democracy, Clinton's representative in Islamabad was praising Musharraf's 'patriotic motives.' The split reaction accurately reflects the dilemma facing the West and the United States in its dealings with the newly militarized country. On the one hand, there is no room in today's world for military dictatorships that turn democratic processes on and off as they wish. On the other hand, nobody should pretend that deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was a shining beacon in the fight against corruption and inefficiency. And there is no arguing that the U.S. administration at least weakened Sharif's position when it sent him scurrying back home like a schoolboy during the Kashmir crisis with precise instructions, thus turning the military against him. Pakistan depends more than ever before on financial assistance from abroad. But the new rulers have got to earn it, i.e., by pursuing a moderate foreign policy course. The partial military withdrawal from the border to India is a sign that Musharraf may have understood at least that."
Michael Stuermer opined in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (10/19): "The world cannot be indifferent to the question of where things go from here in Pakistan. The Commonwealth states consider expulsion, which could have consequences for the game of cricket, and Mrs. Albright calls for a return to democracy, as if such a thing had ever existed in Islamabad. Pakistan's problems are too big for simple answers. In terms of Pakistani affairs, there is no relying on democracy in the country. What the country needs is a technocracy that will lead it into the modern age in areas ranging from land and tax reform to the registration of voters and campaign fund control. Whether it is appropriate for the military...to assume this role is questionable. Most important of all for the moment, the military must realize the urgency of all things nuclear and exercise the kind of moderation necessary for a nuclear power."
"Return To Democracy Is Pakistan's Only Recourse"
Centrist Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung of Essen maintained (10/18): "If one recalls that Pakistan has never made much progress under the military, then the only recourse left is a return to democracy, as underdeveloped as it may be in Pakistan."
ITALY: "Clinton Opens To Pakistan"
An unsigned analysis in leading business Il Sole-24 Ore held (10/19): "On target, the speech by Pakistan Executive Chief Pervez Musharraf...has prompted the interest of the White House.
"President of the United States Bill Clinton greeted with satisfaction the General's remarks and subsequent withdrawal of his troops from the borders.... The British Commonwealth has reacted differently.... But the signals coming from Washington are certainly Musharraf's first diplomatic success."
"The 'Non-Nation' That Frightens The World"
Gianni Sofri judged in pro-DS (leading government party) L'Unita (10/17): "The Pakistani generals who carried out the coup do not love the United States...[but] in the short term, Pakistan will need the United States in order to obtain IMF funds, while the United States will need Pakistan in order to control international Islamic terrorism, which represents a threat to Pakistan's stability as well."
RUSSIA: "West Won't Sink Ally"
Dmitry Babich remarked in reformist weekly Moskovskiye Novosti (10/20): "All that General [Musharraf] risks by suspending democracy is being left without vital Western loans. But then, the Americans began to lose patience with Pakistan long before the coup.... The Pakistani elite hopes that the West will not 'sink' its former ally altogether."
Aleksei Tamilin observed in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (10/19): "[General Musharraf] poses as a liberal and moderate leader favoring the coexistence of all confessions. From the Pakistani military, it is a quite unusual statement.... For the first time in Pakistan's history, a general speaks of democracy and, most importantly, a 'de-escalation' of military actions against India.... Even though Islamic extremists and Kashmir militants rejoice, it is perhaps for the first time, some observers in Pakistan note, that military rule may have a positive effect."
"Pakistan Cannot Do Without Foreign Aid"
Sergei Guly pointed out in reformist Noviye Izvestiya (10/19): "The new regime cannot improve the economy without outside aid. The Clinton administration's sympathizing with Musharraf is not enough to make the international community come around."
"Military Regimes Only Make Problems Worse"
Aleksei Tamilin filed from New Delhi for centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (10/16): "Now that General Musharraf has become the chief military administrator and sole ruler of Pakistan, it is clear that the 'internal jihad' forces have won. Nobody in South Asia and around it can feel safe now.... It is commonly known that military regimes never solve internal problems--they only make them worse. The Musharraf regime is no exception."
BELGIUM: "U.S. Annoyed By Friend Pakistan"
Foreign affairs writer Freddy De Pauw pointed out in independent Catholic De Standaard (10/16): "There is a chance that, just like earlier rulers, [General Musharraf] will seek good relations with the United States. Washington hopes that it may prevent new adventures by exercising pressure through the IMF. Pakistan urgently needs new credits. However, that was also the case in the spring when Pakistani troops invaded India's part of Kashmir and gave the start for the current crisis."
KAZAKHSTAN: "Nobody Can Guarantee Security"
Independent NTK TV daily news (10/14) opined: "Taking into account the unpredictable behavior of Pakistani military leaders, nobody can guarantee that they will not use nuclear weapons during the next irritation in Pakistani-Indian relations.... General Musharaf is one of most aggressive politicians towards India."
FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA: "A Spontaneous Act"
Liberal, independent Makedonija Denes observed (10/15): "The 'pots and pans' of the government are divided, some of them are civilian, the others military. Their relations are strictly defined. Musharraf can say that 'it is stable and quiet on the streets of Islamabad' and that the situation is under control, but the fact that he broke the fundamental, indisputable democratic principle will always sit on his shoulder. His 'good will' towards an election of a legitimate leadership instead of unconstitutional military rule does not absolve him from his spontaneous act. The new leaders of Pakistan cannot be better than Sharif's men, whatever Sharif's sins."
"The Generals Are Doing Another Round"
Left-of-center Utrinski Vesnik ran this analysis by Dimitar Culev, the paper's foreign affairs specialist, who judged (10/15): "What is especially disturbing to the rest of the world...is that no one can remember that a military regime in Pakistan brought some good to the relations between the two subcontinent's powers."
NORWAY: "Dreary Times In Pakistan"
Leading, conservative Aftenposten insisted (10/19): "For long Pakistan has been a misruled country, where politics have been stuck in corruption that permeates the society, abuse of power, religious fanaticism and putting aside of ordinary people's needs.... Other countries have urgently requested the coup generals to reinstate civilian rule. If they, contrary to expectations, were to follow the requests, the road for Pakistan would still be long because the civilian politicians have been just as bad as the military."
POLAND: "Salvation Through A Coup?"
Adam Szostkiewicz posed these questions in center-left weekly Polityka (10/20): " The most important question now is how Pakistan will try to overcome the crisis: through another military dictatorship or by giving power to the civilians soon? Will Pakistan flex its muscles in front of India, where a belligerent mood also prevails and where power after the recent elections is still in the hands of anti-Muslim nationalists? Or will it aim at improving the management of the state and control Islamists?"
SWEDEN: "A Nuclear Power In Political Chaos"
The independent, liberal Stockholm morning daily Dagens Nyheter stated (10/14),
"No one wants a chaotic Pakistan--a nightmare in Western capitals.... It is obvious that efforts to reduce nuclear weapons and to strengthen arms control must be intensified. The problem is that, in this regard, there is now a lull...and responsibility for this to a great extent rests with Russia, Great Britain, France, China, and not least the United States of America, where policies have given India and Pakistan the arguments which they needed to develop their own weapons. A breakthrough is badly needed and the five (major powers) must lead the way.... It is said that the control of nuclear arms will not be affected by the coup. This statement is not a thoroughly calming one."
THE NETHERLANDS: "Keep Watch On The General"
Centrist Algemeen Dagblad has this editorial (10/19): "General Musharraf, who took over the power in Pakistan, deserves to be received with suspicion. Not only because he committed a coup against a government that was elected in a proper way, but also because of his plans for the future, which include that the military will stay in power as long as necessary. He wants peace with India but at the same time he expressed absolute support to the brothers in Kashmir. Such support is not in accordance with his approach toward India."
TURKEY: "Pakistani-Style Democracy"
Oktay Eksi penned this front-page editorial in mass-appeal Hurriyet (10/19): "The justification for the military coup is typical nonsense.... The military regime leaders are talking about saving the country from its political, economic, as well as institutional corruption.... If such a preservation had actually existed, Pakistan would have already been saved from all its troubles after undergoing its previous military regimes... After suffering from the corrupted civilian politicians, it seems the people of Pakistan are now going to suffer from the military."
ISRAEL: "Pakistan Moves Backwards"
The independent Jerusalem Post had this lead editorial (10/17): "It is dubious whether Pakistan has ever embraced the democracy it often loudly boasted of. Since its founding 52 years ago, its governments have been run by the military or bullied by the military. Now this bad-tempered mess of a nuclear-armed country has fallen once again into the hands of coup-happy soldiers.... The military has taken over an unstable country with a tendency to fundamentalism that only last year became openly nuclear. This year it initiated a dangerous war over divided Kashmir, only to climb down under pressure from Washington in a way that has led directly to the disgruntled General Pervez Musharraf overthrowing the government. Unfortunately, at a time when the United States needed some firm moral high ground on which to stand to denounce this attack on democracy, the Republican-dominated Senate was busy blocking ratification of the CTBT. The authority of a U.S.-backed test ban might have slowed down the India-Pakistan arms race, but as one satirical columnist said, the message from Washington might as well be 'we don't care if Third World states blow themselves up.'"
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "Canberra Has No One To Talk To In Pakistan"
The liberal Sydney Morning Herald ran this commentary (10/19): "In Pakistan, Australia is way off the pace.... For Australia, the problem lies in a decision to cut off all ties with Pakistan's military, imposed after last year's nuclear tests, which led to the withdrawal of Australia defense attaches from New Delhi and Islamabad. Their absence has robbed Australia of specialist advice on the ground in both countries at a time of crucial military developments.... East Timor is obviously a preoccupation, but if Canberra wants a larger role in regional affairs, it needs to learn to deal with more than one issue simultaneously. The coup has been broadly welcomed in Pakistan as a much need circuit-breaker after years of debilitating political instability."
"Evidence Of Islam's Growth"
The business-oriented Australian Financial Review's Internet version had this editorial (10/13): "Coups have been a recurrent feature of Pakistani political life, a symptom of the country's inability to develop representative institutions. The army has been brutal, corrupt and inept, but it is also Pakistan's only truly national organization.
"However, the overthrow of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League government by the Chief of Army Staff, General Pervez Musharraf, was different: a military coup with Islamic overtones.... The Pakistan Army suffered professional and religious humiliation as a result of Sharif's decision to end the incursion by Kashmiri fighters and Pakistani regular soldiers in May. General Musharraf may not be about to relaunch the venture, but he will be looking for other ways to repay India."
JAPAN: "Pakistan's Military Junta Mindful Of International Criticism"
Conservative Sankei's Islamabad correspondent Utsunomiya remarked (10/18): "From now on, the focus of international attention will be shifting to what extent, when or how General Musharraf will implement his pledge of handing the reins of government over to a democratically elected civilian government.... General Musharraf had no choice but to make a speech to placate international criticism, well aware that his country needs international assistance to overcome the present economic crisis. In reality, however, the top army general sees the need to impose military rule until his regime can nip a possible pro-Sharif counter-movement in the bud. Such being the case, he will have to enforce military rule for more time to come."
PHILIPPINES: "Dilemma Posed By The Coup"
University of the Philippine Sociology professor Randolph David Observed in the independent Philippine Daily Inquirer (10/17): "The Pakistanis know that military rule is not the answer to the problems of modern Pakistan. The generals are too fearful of international opinion, and would rather leave the governing to civilians. But as elsewhere in the world, the greatest danger to civilian rule is no longer military ambition but the corruption and unfitness of civilian leaders."
NIGERIA: "World Community Should Frustrate Military In Pakistan"
The Lagos-based, independent Daily Champion held (10/15): "Even as democracy is the first casualty in this military adventure, the ultimate sufferers will be the Pakistani people whose will to be governed by those duly elected by them has been undermined by a self righteous military sustained and equipped from the sweat of the same people.... The international community has a very urgent role to play in the present development. It is commendable that the United States, Britain and India have expressed reservations over the coup in Pakistan. Beyond that reservation, the international community must make these military adventurers outcasts from a civilized world community. Sanctions must, without delay or equivocation, be slammed on Pakistan by all peace loving and civilized democratic nations."
SOUTH AFRICA: "Clear Setback For Democracy"
The centrist Pretoria News opined (10/15): "The military coup in Pakistan--a clear setback for democracy--is all the more cause for regret because the generals there, having frightened off foreign investors, are themselves in no position at all to solve the country's mounting economic and social problems. Whatever happens next, Pakistan is likely to be facing some hard times.... Already the unambiguous message has gone out that a military coup is every bit as hateful to the world today as any regime it may purport to be getting rid of.... Thus far, experts have been playing down the fears of an all-out conflict on the Indian subcontinent. But they have also noted that, if world ostracism impoverishes Pakistan further, the generals will doubtless do whatever they can to raise hard currency--including selling their nuclear technology to certain Middle Eastern countries."
"Remarkable Reaction Of The Interantional Community"
Liberal, independent Cape Times editorialized (10/15): "The world has finally recognized that even the most well-intentioned, responsible, and benign military state is less desirable than a democratic one--no matter what the shortcomings of the leadership of the latter. The military leadership would be well advised to ensure that the coup remains bloodless and that a return to civilian rule is not delayed."
"The Wider Implications"
Afrikaan-language, centrist Beeld averred (10/15): "If we allow democratically elected governments to be brought down through undemocratic means, no election will be worth the paper on which those little crosses are signed."
ZIMBABWE: "Punish The Plotters"
An editorial in the government-controlled Daily Herald held (10/15): "The military coup in Pakistan...comes as a shocking reminder of the past we would all want to leave behind.... Pakistan may be thousands of miles away from us but the military coup there bothers us, just as much as it does the rest of the world. It threatens democracy and may serve to encourage other errant generals to do the same.... All governments and multilateral organizations should not only unanimously condemn military coups, but also take action. It should be made very clear to coup makers that they will not be tolerated but will be isolated and forced out of power.... The IMF and the EU must be congratulated for promising to cut aid. But they should go right ahead and do that. There should be immediate punishment and no deadlines.... This generation has the duty to ensure that military coups do not spill over and haunt us in the twenty-first century."
ARGENTINA: "Rising Tensions"
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo had this editorial (10/16): "It seems that the destiny of the rare and precarious Pakistani democratic experience and the political stability of the area will depend on international pressure. For now, the only pressure that may take General Pervaiz Musharraf back to the barracks does not come from the UN, but from the IMF, whose money Pakistan desperately needs."
BRAZIL: "Another Coup In Pakistan"
A byliner in independent Jornal da Tarde by Ambassador Antonio Amaral de Sampaio concluded (10/19): "Now the emerging danger is that the new government of Islamabad decides to follow the route of revenge. The Kashmir issue persists in accentuating the hostility between the two neighbors, a situation now aggravated by the predominance of the Islamic fundamentalists in that Indian province.... The best perspective would be for the military to quickly call for elections and also that they abstain from provoking India. Presumably the Bhutto's clan, represented by Benazir, would take office again.... Would this lady, linked to the local mafia, have the power and the will to halt the march of Islamic fundamentalism, put a brake on its generals and establish a harmonious relationship with India?"
CHILE: "Pakistan And The U.S."
In its weekly round-up column, influential, conservative El Mercurio emphasized (10/18): "[Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz] Sharif's fall has made evident the loss of power of the United States among Pakistan's military."
COSTA RICA: "The Pakistani Threat"
Conservative La Republica asserted (10/18): "The coup...has produced a dangerous situation that...could cause serious problems for all of humanity.... It is important that Pakistan re-establish constitutional order, have civil government and that the army return to barracks, in order to revive peace talks on Kashmir and avoid the possibility of an immeasurable tragedy."
VENEZUELA: "Allies Cause Just As Many Headaches For U.S."
Leading, liberal El Nacional carried this editorial comment (10/15): "The United States faces a serious dilemma: face a coup that is unacceptable for the world, that violates the United States' doctrines and its international preaching, or to not distance itself from the Pakistani military, since this is the only alternative to keep the region from going out of control. With a de facto government, it will be much more complicated to advance the peace process with India and avoid a new crisis in the Kashmir."
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