Musharraf says Bin Laden is dead.
January 18, 2002 8:09 PM   Subscribe

Musharraf says Bin Laden is dead. I feel this a ploy to get US troops off the ground in Pakistan, after the situation seems to have turned regarding US opinion in J&K, and his internal troubles. Here is and interesting take on US policy towards India's stand. When the Americans say they will help in Kashmir if they are requested by both parties, they are aware that they will never get that invitation from Delhi. It is precisely that confidence which makes them comfortable in making such statements Add to this the comment's India's defence minister made on CNN today...more inside
posted by bittennails (22 comments total)
I was trying to find a link on CNN about his interview, but was unable to, will add it to this thread when it gets posted.

Basically what he said was that the US government is not the Indian Government, when pressed by the reporter that the US wanted the Indian armed forces to stand down.
posted by bittennails at 8:12 PM on January 18, 2002

Dead, for a ducat, dead!
posted by geoff. at 8:18 PM on January 18, 2002

Wow, that sure would be a lot more convenient for Musharraf than bin Laden being alive and in Pakistan.

And bin Laden is the most wanted man in the world, with months of intense news coverage and years of intelligence inquiries, so how come this little kidney problem didn't come up before?
posted by kirkaracha at 8:26 PM on January 18, 2002

kirkaracha, it's been fairly common knowledge that bin Laden was suspected of being in ill health as a result of kidney problems for some time now.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:35 PM on January 18, 2002

Um, call me crazy, but the guy's a multi-millionaire AND has a small army at his command and I seem to recall a news story that one of his right-hand men was a physician. I'm sure he could scare up medication and treatment if he needed to.

No harm in hoping it's true, though.
posted by jonmc at 8:36 PM on January 18, 2002

He's dead. The military establishment loses though if the war is over this quick. They still have to build up support for their next invasion.
posted by fleener at 9:06 PM on January 18, 2002

CNN says he's dead.

MSNBC says he's alive.

Who do you beleive?

posted by entropy at 9:11 PM on January 18, 2002

I'll believe it when I see it simulcasted on all news networks.
posted by riffola at 9:51 PM on January 18, 2002

Actually, entropy, both CNN and MSNBC agree in reporting that Musharraf believes bin Laden to be dead, and that U.S. officials are dubious. I have no reason to believe that any of these conjectures is being inaccurately reported. Let us know, though, if any respectable news organ actually reports as news that bin Laden is or isn't dead.
posted by Zurishaddai at 9:53 PM on January 18, 2002

i'll never believe microsoft.
posted by wantwit at 10:06 PM on January 18, 2002

Bin Laden being dead is probably a bit of reach at this point.

If he were actually dead and if that news were to be leaked with some evidence, it would add momentum to the faint voices that want the US troops to leave Afghanistan (of course it would rob Bin Laden of the mystique). I suspect the Bin Laden camp followers more than anyone else would like to have the 'Infidels' depart Afghanistan. Nevertheless, be it for money, be it for petty political gains,I think someone or other would have leaked the news if he were actually dead. Musharraf like any head of state of an Islamic republic is acutely conscious of his people's distaste for the continued presence of American defence forces in Pakistan. He is probably doing his bit to hasten the departure of US troops.

Even if he is dead, I dont think current US political leadership would like to remove its troops from that theatre before they are reasonably confident they have gotten the top tier of the Al Quida leadership that may still be there (unless of course domestic support in US for such activities wavers significantly).

TOI's argument is kinda thin. The state department in general and Powell in particular still seem quite friendly to the current regime in Pakistan and may not be above wanting to step in (with the Palestine mediation going nowhere ...). US State department has successfully brocked the sale of Israelly arms to India until the current crisis blows over. In fact, per Indian media, senior white house officials are considered to be more sympathetic to India than the state dept.
posted by justlooking at 10:17 PM on January 18, 2002

Personally, I think he's more help to us alive and free than dead. Six months ago bin Laden was a powerful symbol of defiance against the west. Today, he's a powerful symbol of what defiance to the west buys you. No government will tolerate him. Most of his closest allies are dead. His financial resources are drying up as fast as we can freeze them. And, as long as he's alive, there's a chance that sleeper cells will try to contact him, which will make them easier to track down.
posted by electro at 10:49 PM on January 18, 2002

Kaushik: think about this a bit, the friendliness professed towards pakistan is aimed at a purpose, imagine that purpose gone, Musharraf is a dictator[military] who seized power, he has at best a tenous grasp on his country, economically and strategically whose side if it has to be taken, will the US tilt towards, the largest democracy in SEAsia or??

To add to the situation, Russia is on India's side, and last week we saw China finally head into India with a serious economic package, can you imagine how sidelined Musharraf is really feeling right now. Powell is playing a calculated game, appease him till it is appropriate to let him go, it's easier to let the dictator go than an elected government, re: Musharraf is akin to Arafat, in a realistic political sense [or not] but eventually economic reality will set in, and in that case for the US to pressure India vs Pakistan will result in a very bad situation for the US in SEAsia.

Old histories do not apply anymore, since the Soviets collapsed, SEAsia is a whole new ballgame, and India is in a pretty sweet position vis a vis all the superpowers, you just can't ignore a country that has billion people, who are politically free. [as much as reality permits]
posted by bittennails at 11:08 PM on January 18, 2002

Actual, totally unscientific CNN online poll (it's under the main headlines and the weather thingie): Do you think bin Laden is dead, or alive?
posted by raysmj at 11:08 PM on January 18, 2002

there is no Bin Laden.
posted by tolkhan at 11:08 PM on January 18, 2002

there's a chance that sleeper cells will try to contact him
Aren't sleeper cells the ones that stay dormant until they are contacted? If they took the iniciative, they wouldn't be sleepers.
posted by Zootoon at 4:58 AM on January 19, 2002

Well, go back 18 months or so and Musharraf + Vajpayee was looking like the best hope for a real solution in Kashmir in a long time. I think they can get there again, especially if India is pragmatic about accepting the Line of Control, which they seem to be. Short of independence and accession (equally impossible), Pakistan really has to look at some sort of autonomy agreement.

The US isn't really needed to "intervene" here. They were doing OK before.

As for the US view on Musharraf, he's the devil we know. We're almost certain that anybody else would be more Islamist and more insecure. But "Mushy" as his fans call him seems to have gotten a lot of domestic support for his forthrightness and bold Trumanesque approach. I saw him called "the first leader we've EVER had that the world takes seriously" i.e. as an international statesman. His UN speech was very well received. The US would prefer to keep these positive results in hand, so India can't hope for too much of a tilt. At the same time all this has been an opening for a recognition of the changing realities in the region, and our interests do coincide with India's much more than in the past.
posted by dhartung at 5:57 AM on January 19, 2002

I agree with skallas. "There's nothing to see here, move along" and all that. It's pretty clear CNN contrived/manufactured this "news item" ... if anything, claims of Musharraf's supposedly tenuous position are greatly exaggerated, especially given that he's bolstered his position both at home and on the world stage in the past half-year. His recent comments to the international press have made it apparent that he has no interest in appeasing extremist elements in the country, and much of the population seems to agree with him.
posted by donkeyschlong at 8:30 AM on January 19, 2002

When's the last time you suppose Bin Laden was hooked up to a dialysis machine?
posted by KLAX at 11:21 AM on January 19, 2002

I absolutely have an issue with Pakistan, Both my parents are from the part of Punjab now in Pakistan. They lived through the partition and maybe some of their hatred has been passed on to me. But his is an issue I care about, I am concerned with India, and it's future, I thought that should have been evident by now.

What I have been learning from these posts though, has struck me as strange. I don't agree with most opinions people have of Musharraf, I personally find Military Dictators offensive, and do remember regardless of all his current talk, this is the man that masterminded the Kargil incursion into India, without which he would not have been able to wrest control of Pakistan. I have grave misgivings about him.
posted by bittennails at 11:23 AM on January 19, 2002

Oh, that was in response to skallas's post.
posted by bittennails at 11:24 AM on January 19, 2002

Bitternail: I would like to believe you are right (per your post wrt mine). The US government has definitely been a lot more friendlier to India in the last few years. But I think it would be a mistake to bank too much on it right now.There are too many conflicting constituenices that the US foreign policy establishment needs to keep happy. Any one of them can upset the applecart. The potential market opportunity in India has bought it some friends in corporate America. But while democracy and human rights are all very good, they have not mattered as much as in framing US foreign policy as strategic interest has. I have a tremendous amount of respect for USA. But US foreign policy (strictly in my opinion) has always been driven by short term interests. In the current scenario that doesnt make me feel very secure. Much as Indian defense establishment loves the American interest in India, they (from what I have heard) feels the same way.

It would also be a mistake to think Russia and China are on India's side. There are plenty of people in Russia who like India. But Putin's first priority is sorting out his domestic mess. He needs the West more than the West needs him. If there is ever a dispute and US decides to try to arm twist India, the best that India can expect from Russia is a veto in security council to save our face (with some not so gentle arm twisting of their own behind the curtains).

China and India are competing for US private capital, technical know how and joint ventures. There are also huge unresolved territorial issues between these 2 countries and some unacknowledged competitiveness.

If push comes to shove, if Al Quida is truely taken care of and terrorism from across the border continues, probably the only interest that the outside world would have in the dispute would be to ensure that these 2 nuclear countries dont go to war. That's why Vajpeyee is trying to get as much as he can while the issue is on the world agenda.
posted by justlooking at 5:23 PM on January 19, 2002

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