March 28, 2002 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Musharraf reportedly told the US ambassador in Islamabad that he would rather "hang himself" than extradite Sheikh Omar Sayeed. I had made an earlier front page post on the issue of extradition, Omar's in particular, and most opinion then seemed to feel that he would be extradited. I am interested in your opinion on whether it's Musharraf who is playing games with the US, only to sustain power, all the while allowing the US to feel that they are playing him.
posted by bittennails (33 comments total)

fwiw, there's a piece in the Washington Post by Jim Hoagland today that references the remark. Personally, I find little surprising about the idea that Pakistan would never extradite the guy. *shrug*
posted by zoopraxiscope at 12:48 PM on March 28, 2002

Why should they, really? It was a crime committed on their soil against a foreign national who was in no way affiliated with any foreign government.

You really need to find another horse to beat, bitten. This one's dead.
posted by donkeyschlong at 12:58 PM on March 28, 2002

Also, bitten, The Times of India, hardly impartial, flagrantly misquotes Musharraf. The correct statement, according to Hoagland:

The intelligence service is a house of horrors waiting to break open. Saeed has tales to tell. And that may explain a comment from Musharraf that U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin reported back to Washington: "I'd rather hang him myself" than extradite Saeed, the Pakistani president reportedly said in their conversation.
posted by donkeyschlong at 1:04 PM on March 28, 2002

yeah, Times of India sure isn't exactly an unbiased source when it comes to reporting on Pakistan.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 1:18 PM on March 28, 2002

This entire thread reminds me of those who listen to Rush Limbaugh...his listeners want to hear that Liberals are bad, so that's what he tells them. He exaggerates and infers ideas that don't exist to appease his audience.

It's no secret that India wants its citizens to view Pakistan in a negative light. In third world nations, it's much easier to create propaganda because those who are better informed don't have the means to defy govt. actions/voices.

My problem now is quite simple: we live in the greatest country in the world, and yet we still try to spread propaganda instead of finding the truth. How sad.
posted by BlueTrain at 1:32 PM on March 28, 2002

bluetrain: Your opinion of the greatest country in the world might differ from others.

and yet we still try to spread propaganda instead of finding the truth Whose the "we"?

donkeyschlong: Oh, good catch on the wording used, my apologies, when I posted the article I had only read the TOI story, after zoopraxiscope linked to the Hoagland story and you mentioned it, that I read the JH story. That's sad for me to see in the Times of India, my first job was as an illustrator for the Economic Times, and the editors then '94-'96 were very upstanding gentlemen (most of them) but this is pretty low. fyi, both papers are the same company and share an office building in delhi.

I am also not trying to beat a dead horse, to me the horse is still around, very active and quite alive from India's point of view, and mine. I think the earlier thread has good reasons for why/how extradition works, I feel omar should, so he can be tried here.
posted by bittennails at 1:58 PM on March 28, 2002

sorry, forgot to mention, the hoagland story is titled: Pretense of an Ally. It is essentially questioning his position too.
posted by bittennails at 2:01 PM on March 28, 2002

Um, hate to be a spoiler, but bitten -- and donkey -- I think you need to re-read the opening paragraph of the Times of India story. Either it's been changed, or bitten paraphrased it wrong in the post.

Musharraf reportedly told the US ambassador ... he would rather hang Sheikh Omar Sayeed, key accused in the Daniel Pearl murder, himself rather than extradite him....

Proceeding now on the original question, rather than the rather obvious fact that India has a more sharply-drawn view of these events, we can say that it may not be that substantive an issue. Certainly the goal for Americans is justice, especially if it is swift and sure, with the question of who carries it out being secondary. The Pearl murder was heinous, but it isn't, as noted, the equivalent of other terrorist acts. In normal circumstances a murder case wouldn't trigger extraterritoriality. It's a little harsh to claim that this is a sudden outbreak of expediency -- the alliance with Pakistan has expediency written all over it. We're just a lot better off making that expedient choice than, say, lumping Pakistan in with the Taliban. Expediency has governed our diplomacy over the Indo-Pak nuclear confrontation. When you're choosing allies, you don't always get seamless cooperation -- just take a look at some of the major decisions of World War II.

I think the only question here is whether American diplomats are really fooling themselves with respect to Pakistan and Musharraf's cooperation, or whether they're simply putting on boots before wading into the morass. Despite rhetoric, our goal is not the martinet-like saluting of everyone we enlist. The goal is the destruction of al Qaeda and affiliated Islamist terror groups such that they cannot effectively attack us. The process by which we get there, be it principled or expedient or adaptable as necessary, is simply the means.
posted by dhartung at 2:48 PM on March 28, 2002

The FPP is misleading.

The TOI story says: Musharraf reportedly told the ambassador he " would rather hang Sheikh Omar Sayeed, key accused in the Daniel Pearl murder, himself rather than extradite him...." If you extrapolate what Hoagland quoted, this is what the statement amounts to. Also, the statement is paraphrased in TOI. It is hardly what I would call a 'flagrantly misquote"

The Times of India story attributed the remarks to Jim Hoagland's story in Washington Post and drew further inferences from it. The writer doesnt try to disguise his opinion that 'Bush administration continues to coddle Pakistan'. This reflects the mainstream Indian media opinion. What is wrong or propagandist about that? There are a lot of people in USA who believe that mainstream media in USA gives stories some kind of slant or other. Does that make US media propangandist?

If you read the Jim Hoagland story, it is a lot more damning in its implications than the TOI story:
" False allies are often more troublesome for America than declared enemies. The moral and diplomatic drift on Pakistan now strongly resembles the failure of the first Bush administration on Iraq in the late 1980s. ... The second Bush administration is on the road to making exactly the same mistake with Pakistan."

Where the author went wrong is in concluding that Bush's South Asia policy is coming under 'blistering attack in the US media.' That is just wishful thinking.

Also, I would tend to think that the meeting between Musharraf and Chemberlain was a private meeting. I tried to look up other references to those remarks on google. No dice so far. The attributions are probably through some background briefing by some staffer or other. So there is a lot of scope for interpretation in situations like thse.
posted by justlooking at 2:54 PM on March 28, 2002

Umm, on posting, Dhartung has already made the key point that I made. Sorry about being repititious (is that the right word?)
posted by justlooking at 2:56 PM on March 28, 2002

You know I really cannot tell, I posted it the way I read it, now unless they changed it or my brain tricked me into seeing it the way I posted it. There was no attempt on my part to change any wording, and as I did not save a copy of the page while I was posting the article, there is no way to verify this.
posted by bittennails at 3:03 PM on March 28, 2002

They definitely changed it. I remember it explicitly.
posted by donkeyschlong at 3:06 PM on March 28, 2002

Also, Hoagland's alarmist equation of Pakistan with a retro-Iraq is just plain over-reaching. Yes, we used Iraq to fight a proxy war against Iran, just as we used Pakistan as a conduit in the Afghan proxy war against the Soviets. But it's worth noting that Iraq was and is run by a devious megalomaniac with major territorial aims, whereas Pakistan has always been fairly eager to please us (making allowances for endemic corruption) and the only reason they strayed from us during the nineties is because we more or less abandoned them after the Cold War thawed out, leaving them to negotiate the post-Soviet Afghan mess within the scope of their limited and fairly clumsy abilities. Their only territorial dispute or aspiration has been Kashmir, which they've clamored repeatedly for the US and UN to intervene in. The politics of South Asia is decidedly a different beast from the politics of the Middle East.
posted by donkeyschlong at 3:17 PM on March 28, 2002

I guesss you guys are right. Hate to have to swallow my own words, but my wife also says she got the same impression when she read TOI this morning as bitternails. That's at least three people!

Its very sad. They used to call TOI - 'The old lady of Boribunder' was so staid and centrist.
posted by justlooking at 3:19 PM on March 28, 2002

Phew, for a moment there I was questioning my sanity.
posted by bittennails at 3:29 PM on March 28, 2002

Donkeyschlong: I agree with you that South Asia is a very different beast and that Pakistan has been a very good ally of USA throughout its independent history. But it is also true both US (and Soviet Union) chose some rather unsavory allies throughout the cold war era.

Pakistani democracy - to a certain extent - is a casualty of US machinations in Pakistan. US turned a blind eye to Zia's Islamization of Pakistant. CIA was so busy using Pakistan as a conduit for guns and training into Afghanistan that they let ISI gain in power and some say encouraged it. They were in a way responsible for the large scale introduction of guns and drugs into Pakistani society. Unfortunately, during those days everything in the world was subservient to the objective of winning the cold war.

One likes to believe that US objectives (and hopefully the means too) have changed. Now that US is the sole superpower, democracy, human rights et al are a more important priority in the scheme of things.

From my limited understanding of Pakistani politics and the military dictators there - I gather that the generals have always been for status quo ante. Musharraf may be a great guy and he may give Pakistan 'stability'. But without long term structural, education, financial reform Pakistan would not become truely stable. Generals are rarely the best vehicles for delivering that. Only Kamal Ataturk succeeded in doing that in Turkey. But all the hush hush talk about wide scale corruption in Turkey reinforces one's belief that that army eventually needs to walk away from power even in the best case scenario).

Without stability and opportunities for the poor in Pakistani society, you would not have stability in South Asia or more importantly to us - in India.

I totally understand and appreciate the logic behind US support of Musharraf. But I also fear that this is in danger of becoming long term strategy. Hoagland may have overreached. But from our past experience of dictators in Pakistan, we dont feel too good.
posted by justlooking at 3:49 PM on March 28, 2002

Good points, justlooking. The key difference between Musharraf and Zia, however, is that Musharraf is almost single-mindedly secular in his conduct -- he comes from a tradition that abhors the religious recidivism of the Zia camp, a recidivism which took parasitic advantage of our heavy-handed Cold War policy in the region. Pakistan would do well to follow Turkey's lead at least in the short term. The divorce of religion from government would be a great leap forward.

One reason why Pakistan isn't as fundamentally susceptible to the ills of the Middle East is that it's still basically India -- i.e., it has that tradition, that legacy. It's still one of the so-called "converted" countries -- Islam doesn't run nearly as deep there as the extremist minority would like to believe.

And above all, you are correct in noting that nothing so much as social reform -- namely, alleviating poverty and illiteracy, etc. -- will address these issues. But I think in Pakistan's case, it's not an unattainable goal. There's hunger for it at the common level. The elites just need to stop raiding the coffers whenever foreign powers replenish them.
posted by donkeyschlong at 4:21 PM on March 28, 2002

I remain hopeful on Pakistan, mainly because Musharraf isn't a lightweight -- though he may in the end prove too much of an intellectual for the job of dictator. He's made some really insightful points, well received in the West to be sure, about the problems his society faces, both Pakistan singly and the Islamic world in general. So I wish him well, even though I lament the means by which he got the job.
posted by dhartung at 4:50 PM on March 28, 2002

I wish I could feel that way, hopeful, about Pakistan. But I have many concerns with the the level of acceptance of the country to content itself and learn to live under military rule. I suppose people have to adapt to some extent, but what scares me is that there is very little dissent in Pakistan against military governments, and what there is comes from groups even more extreme than the concept of acceptable dictators.

I agree with the concept of social reform and education etc. I always wonder how many in Pakistan really want that, and how effective are the minorities that truly want to live in a democratic free Pakistan. Without a certain amount of time spent being a free country with an elected government, who preferably aren't too corrupt, how are they to learn to appreciate the difference.
posted by bittennails at 5:08 PM on March 28, 2002

What an insipid thing to say, skallas, this is probably the first time in Pakistan's history that it's leader has been given such worldwide attention, and in what has it been, 30 years or so, that they have been so close to war with India. I find it an appropriate time to talk about the subject, admitted prejudice and all.

posted by bittennails at 5:35 PM on March 28, 2002

"admitting you're prejudiced and expecting anyone to take you seriously.' well now, perhaps i should go through out this bio on Dr. King (MLK) he admitted to prejudices...alot took him seriously...bad comparison? remember skallas 'dust' is mostly dead skin. (i like that one though;)
posted by clavdivs at 7:38 PM on March 28, 2002

Umm, I don't feel that your dictionary analogy applies to me, my prejudice is in my opinion a liitle more complex for so cut and dry an explanation.

The part I might agree with would be the first preconceived judgment or opinion which I have in my way attempted to question and understand as an adult.

an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge This I disagree with, I feel I have just grounds and sufficient knowledge for my feelings.

an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics I do not feel I have an irrational attitude of hostility towards all Pakistanis, I have a certain ingrained hostility that I deal with, towards the actions of the varied governments and policies of Pakistan in relation to India. But that has never stopped me from looking at it from various points of view.

Lastly, to suggest any racism on my part, of the kind the word is most widely used to suggest is ludicrous, as races go, me and at least all the punjabi pakistani's are the same people, who follow different religions, all my ancestors on both sides are from the punjab that is now pakistan. I have no issues of the kind you are implying with pakistani's.

And climbing a high horse, skallas after feinging great disdain in participating, all the while doing so, is kind of lame , wouldn't you say?
posted by bittennails at 8:01 PM on March 28, 2002

(bangs on table)
posted by clavdivs at 8:48 PM on March 28, 2002

skallas, Times of India did change their story. I saw the story quoting Musharraf as saying that he would rather "hang himself" than extradite Sheikh Omar Sayeed. This was later changed to the present verison. Confused me as well.

As regards bittennails "prejudice" I recognize that feeling as the lamentable but familiar distrust between India and Pakistan. If it was truly prejudice then bittenails would not be so open to discussion and so self-aware about it. (at least according to my definition of prejdice). Distrust between India and Pakistan runs so deep that if I had a penny for each Indian and Pakistani who are distrustful of each other ...

Its hard to avoid this kind of mutual feeling when you have such a bitter history as India and Pakistan have (a bloody partition, three wars, fear of nuclear war). Sad but true.

bittennails, coming back to the topic, I do not agree with you that there is very little dissent in Pakistan against military rule. Its hard to judge what people really want in a military dictatorship, but the picture I get from reading Pakistani media and newsgroups etc. does not leave me with that feeling. SOme people might be ok with Musharraf staying in power right now, because they perceive that the alternative might be worse. But I think that thats a short term thing.

Just my .02
posted by rsinha at 9:11 PM on March 28, 2002

Pakistan - Afghan border region -- Taliban Social Register

Afghan Commander Hazrat Ali told the private news agency in Jalalabad, capital of the eastern Nangarhar province, that all military preparations have been made by the Taliban and al-Qaeda members to launch the guerrilla war in the preamble to a long-term campaign against the U.S. and its allies.

BBC Profile - General Pervez Mussharaf
posted by sheauga at 9:16 PM on March 28, 2002

Ok, I just wanted to make a few different points. Ended up writing a really long post ....

1. Donkeyschlong: It might be dangerous to classify Zia as communal and Musharraf as secular. Zia had a secular education (he went to St Stephens in New Delhi), didnt show any inclination to be religious (before it became politically expedient for him) and was handpicked by Bhutto - a fairly secular leader himself (The fact that he hung Bhutto later is a different matter altogether)

Pakistani polity is largely run by the feudal elite, the army generals and to a certain extent by the nuveau riche industrialists. Mostly - from what I know - they aren't a terribly religious lot. I am told that many of them have a regular bootleg supplier who supply them with good quality scotch. They administer Islam to the people, dont practice it. ISI is a different matter. They are religious, so are many in the middle tier of army or the foot soldiers.

Zia didnt give free rein to the Mullahs because he believed in Islam. He did it because he needed a foil for popular discontent. It might be a mistake to believe that personal belief system has much to do with the actions of most leaders in South Asia in general and Pakistan in particular.

Musharraf could be a very secular peson. It is expedient now for him to show himself to be secular. I wontn't be terribly surprised if he acquires religion down the line.

Having said that, I too think Musharraf doesnt seem to be cut from the same cloth as the army generals whose path he followed to power. He seems to be genuinely trying. You need an outsider to reform the system. He is a Mohajir (doesnt belong to the Punjabi officer class of Pakistani army) and doesnt own (at least officially) huge tracts of land handed down to his family. It might just work. But also for the very same reasons, his position might be weaker than other military leaders.

2 Dissent is very much alive in Pakistan. What seems to be happening is that the educated, liberal middle classes in South Asia have started shying away from participating in politics. Some genuinely came back to politics when Benazir came to power for the first time. Many people feel incredibly betrayed by their leaders. People reposed their faith first in Benazir and then in Nawaz Sharif and felt cheated by both. In that sense the Pakistan story is not very different from the Indian Indian.

3. The history of animosity towards Pakistan in India is complex, painful and often shaped by the impact of partition, riots, political exploitation of religion etc. Both sides have been deeply inhumane. Let me try to describe it from a different perspective. I have a friend whose family ran away from -what is now Pakistan - with the clothes in their back and nothing else. His aunt was born in a ditch. He grew up in a household which couldnt banish the memories of their dead men. I have another friend who was brought up in a joint family in Kashmir. His uncle retired as the head of the intelligence bureau in J&K. In the first three months of 1989, he had seen his uncle shot right at the premise of his house (that guy lived), had seen his house attacked by militants in the middle of night and has had his schoolbus in Srinagar stopped by a mob which wanted to burn the bus down (that particular incident ended in tragedy. The jawan riding shotgun in the bus, aware that the kids of the entire army top brass is riding in it apparently panicked and simply walked out and machine gunned the crowd.) They left Kashmir before the middle of that year. It is kinda hard to tell him that there may be decent people on top in Pakistan. My ancestral home is in Calcutta. Kids there often hear Muslims in Kidderpore celebrate a Pakistani win in Cricket (a national pastime) with firecrackers.

I am not saying these things justify instances of communalism in India. Specially in the light of what happened in Gujarat recently, I feel incredibly ashamed. You would hear stories which are much much worse from Muslims in Gujarat.

But to call someone from India a bigot simply because he doesnt like Pakistan is simplistic.

4. Racism: 1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2 : racial prejudice or discrimination
ref: Merriam-Webster OnLine

Large number of people Northern India and Pakistan have similar racial origin. In fact, Northern India probably has more in common with Pakistan (in terms of culture, language, food habits, social norms) than with Southern India. I dont think what is between India and Pakistan is racism
posted by justlooking at 10:13 PM on March 28, 2002

bittennails, this is becoming ridiculous. Every time we have a discussion regarding Musharraf or Pakistan, you seem to misinform the audience or blatantly reveal your bias. How can you possibly consider yourself credible or intelligent when you don't have an open mind? Of course, I would be blowing smoke if I didn't provide links, so here:

(One) That would not be the precedent, dhartung, in india we also have a muslim law, for example, divorce's are handled differently, we allow the muslims to follow that shitty koranic? law of saying divorce 3 times and legally the woman is divorced, no non muslim in india can do that.

(Two) My concern and trepidation stem from the fact that regardless of the forward thinkers and visionaries and just plain intelligent followers of islam, there are MORE who are of the fanatic bent.

(Three) Wulfgar, I completely disagree, pakistan has offered terrorists, namely the LeT (Lashkar e Taiba) and the Harkat al Mujhaideen full access to training grounds in POK regions, and the Mullahs have the run of the place, and don't you worry soon enough India will bomb these guys to hell, we just need someone like Indira Gandhi with a few balls to pull it off.

(Four) 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.

I tried to make this as concise as possible. You're blatantly biased, and therefore lose any credibility on this issue. We have similar folk like you in the Middle East debates held here. It's nothing to be ashamed of, but please don't expect to be taken seriously.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:28 PM on March 28, 2002

Pakistani police and U.S. commandos arrested about 35 Islamic militants -- including suspected al Qaeda and Taliban members -- early Thursday, police said. Authorities conducted the early morning raids in Pakistan's eastern Punjab province, near the Indian border, in at least two Pakistani cities, Lahore and Faisalabad.
posted by homunculus at 11:44 PM on March 28, 2002

bitternails, instead of wondering all the time what Pakistanis think about issues, why dont you take time out to talk to one around you. Or you can check my profile and write an email. Leave your prejudice at the door please. The mentality of All things India GOOD, and All Things Pakistan BAD is old, and frankly its not the other way around in Pakistan.
posted by adnanbwp at 1:46 AM on March 29, 2002

I'll have to agree with adnan there. I've spoken with Pakistanis on occasion about India and they almost always have balanced things to say about it -- namely that it is a nation of contrasts and animosities, but also rich with "islands of excellence" and a genuine world power in the making.
posted by donkeyschlong at 2:30 AM on March 29, 2002

skallas: I had assumed you had read the earlier comments in this thread where I clarified what happened regarding the post and the TOI story. As stated earlier I applied no spin, but it seems, fell to the spin applied by them, which they corrected, and I already responded to here, so calling me out, had already taken place by the time you began to participate, and as bluetrain points to some previous comments you might have realized that on this issue I have already called myself out. I don't hide from my feelings, I try to discuss them, if you don't wish to, don't.

justlooking: You seem to get what I mean, about the racism thing, it's difficult for to explain really what the india v/s pakistan thing equates to, I know it's not racism the way the world looks at racism, but I also understand that for some people it comes off as such, and I do try to avoid giving that impression, but...

on the rest of your comment, yes, I hope dissent is alive and kicking in Pakistan, just wish there was a louder voice demanding change...maybe that will and is going on in ways I am not aware of.

My families experience is quite similar to the one you described during the partition, my dad was on one of those trains when he was 16, then started his life at the refugee camp in Karol Bagh in Delhi, and went on to retire as an admiral and the vice chief of the Indian navy, he was in the navy for 40yrs, fought all the wars and generally hates Pakistan. I grew up with this as a military kid and the bias was always there in my life, the bias I described earlier, but I have had a different life (no refugee camps etc, to permanently instill or harden my position like my dad's) and I question the animosity and my feelings a lot, and this is what probably keeps me interested in the goings on in that scenario.

bluetrain: please read clavdivs first comment in this thread. I am not ashamed of this at all, it's the other way for me, I want to know, and question, and feel I can and do.

adnan: good point, I must say that for all the muslims whom I have known and grown with and lived with in boarding school, college dorms and the like, I have never had a pakistani citizen as a friend, there were not a lot in India to meet, during my childhood and early adulthood. My muslim contemporaries in India expressed the same as all of us, I don't ever recall any admittance of shared beliefs with any pakistani policy etc. But in a forum such as this, where you for example participate, I thought that someone like you might participate and talk from a pakistani perspective, and you have, before. I feel I get good feedback on these issues here, (not only from pakistanis) some threads are more constructive and get me thinking in ways I did not before, unlike this one which devolved into me offering explanations for my assumed racism.

Oh, I also am a little more open to, india=good/pakistan=bad, I am quite aware of the fact that India is as much a player in this, and lots of us (indians) have behaved quite deplorably, past. present and future. I don't view this as quite so simple. Maybe I shall take you up on that email offer the next time I am perplexed or am in a conversational mood.
posted by bittennails at 5:50 AM on March 29, 2002

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