Yesterday saw the interesting spectacle of Pakistan’s former dictator/coup leader Musharraf addressing an audience at Rice University on the decision of the Obama Administration to suspend its aid package of $800 million.
This was interesting for so many reasons, not only because of the fact that Musharaf was only talking in America as he is wanted for investigation in his native land over a series of allegations, not least of which is complicity in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
Throughout his tenure in office he paid repeated lip service to the White House whilst clearly turning a blind eye to events that were going on in his own country. Whist the attention of the world was on the events in Afghanistan, smart thinking recognised that the real war would be waged in what became known as the AfPak region, a tactic acknowledgment that Pakistan, the west’s ally, was indeed harbouring perpetrators of political terror.
This was brought home to the wider world with the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and few now believe that Zawahiri will be found anywhere other than in this region.
The decision to withhold this aid package reflects what I hope to be a new realist approach at the Pentagon as espoused by the new Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta, the only man who brought a semblance of order to the Clinton White House during his tenure as Cfief of Staff.
The chaos in this part of the world has been exacerbated this morning with the news that Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Afghan President’s contentious brother, has just been assassinated.
Political violence shows no sign of stopping in this part of the world, and the continued channelling of western aid has shown no sign of having achieved much. So why will the aid package no doubt be reinstated at some point in the near future?
Just the small matter of Pakistan’s status as a nuclear power…