Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Musharraf Marches On

A year from now, when Bush is gone, what will President Clinton, McCain or Obama do about our most annoying ally, Pervez Musharraf?

Here he is today, sashaying around Paris with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, pooh-poohing the notion that capturing or killing Osama bin Laden is of any importance in the war on terror and insisting that Pakistan is as stable as a rock.

His 100,000 troops on the Afghan border are not "trying to locate Osama bin Laden and (Ayman-al) Zawahri, frankly," Musharraf tells a conference at the French Institute for International Relations. "They are operating against terrorists, and in the process, if we get them, we will deal with them certainly."

As for the instability that led him to declare a state of emergency only weeks ago, Musharraf is sanguine. "I can assure you that nothing will happen in Pakistan," he says. "We are not a banana republic."

We have heard these songs before and, after years of being euchred out of $100 million by the Pakistani President's shell game without finding out where his nuclear weapons are, even the Bush Administration is catching on.

The State Department's counterterrorism chief is complaining about "gaps in intelligence" about the activities of extremist groups in the tribal regions.

"We don't have enough information about what's going on there. Not on al-Qaeda. Not on foreign fighters. Not on the Taliban," he says.

Our next President's priority will be picking a Secretary of State who will stop buying Musharraf's song and dance and make sure we get what we are paying for in Pakistan.

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