Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf stated the date of the coming referendum, which is to take place to extend Musharraf’s powers. At a meeting on April 9 in the city of Lahore (the capital of Punjab province), the president said that the referendum would take place in three weeks, on April 30. President Musharraf is not at all confused about the fact that almost all parties of the opposition are going to boycott the referendum, both the democratic and Islamic parties.
It is vice versa actually: the brave general is on the offensive now. He started his speech with enumeration of the achievements that have been accomplished by Pakistan under his keen control. Musharraf said that the basic efforts of his government were aimed at struggle against corruption; improving the living standards of the population; the poorest people, first and foremost; and economic reforms. Of course, he could not help paying attention to critics of the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto.
The Pakistani president claimed that it was Bhutto who is guilty of making the country plunge into corruption and poverty. The president added that Bhutto’s government was doing its best in the middle of the 1990s to establish and assist the Taliban movement. Now, Bhutto lays the responsibility on the military command of Pakistan, which Musharraf still belongs to: he is the commander-in-chief of the Pakistani army.
The most interesting thing here is that both Musharraf and Bhutto are right. It is an open secret that the Taliban, as an influential force, was created in Pakistan. The previous administation authorized the transfer of weapons and ammunition to “students,” and this definitely occured with the defense department’s knowledge. The all-mighty Pakistani intelligence, the ISI, took an active part in the establishment of the Taliban movement, and Pakistan was one of the three states (together with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which financially helped the Taliban), which recognized the Taliban government after they seized Kabul. Therefore, Musharraf’s charges are rather unconvincing, to put it mildly.
The question is what was the point of Musharraf stirring up the subject? He probably wanted to deprive Bhutto of her support not only in Pakistan but on the international level as well and obtain this support for himself, the support of the United States of America, first and foremost. The USA seems to be rather happy with Musharraf, since he supported the anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan.
However, the Taliban does not care who originally supported their organization. Now, they are worried about more prosaic issues, such as avoiding the hands of America.
The clashes between the guerrillas and the Indian army started again in Kashmir, while Musharraf was delivering his speech at the meeting in Lahore. Was it incidental or not? Maybe the Pakistani president is going to derive profit from the Kashmir issue?
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov