Rani Singh

Washington rules, doesn’t it?

Washington rules, doesn't it?
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The News reported yesterday that US diplomats have told PPPP Co-Chair Asif Ali Zardari that they “Will not allow anyone to destroy” their “huge investment” of more than $10 billion in President Musharraf:

“Sources said the fact of the matter was that Musharraf was the most unpopular man in Pakistan but he was still the most popular Pakistani in the White House and very popular in New Delhi. Top Indian officials have given many hints to international media before February 18 that they like Musharraf more than anyone else in Pakistan...

...The Bush administration needs Musharraf to stay in power not only for the war against terror but also for implementing a new Kashmir plan before the presidential election in the US later this year.”

Dawn News TV reports today that the White House is desperate to have at least one trophy – a solution to the Kashmir problem – for Bush before he bows out but this is causing conflict with the US State Department.

The dispute over Kashmir is unresolved and has caused wars between India and Pakistan. Washington and London worry since both countries are nuclear-armed and maintain entrenched positions, though diplomatic talks occasionally take place between the neighbours. Meanwhile, an insurgency movement has been running in the Valley in Indian-held Kashmir since the eighties, fertile ground for factions of militant extremists.

Washington and London may exert pressure on the new Pakistani power-brokers, hoping to solve the Kashmir stalemate as well as trying to keep their man in post. Zardari and Sharif have said today that Parliament will decide Musharraf’s future, which means – for now at least – the President may not be calling in the furniture removers.

The News writes:

“A close aide of president, Tariq Aziz, completed his homework on a new Kashmir plan just days before the Feb 18 elections. He recently spent many days in Dubai, where he met important Kashmiri leaders from the Indian-controlled Kashmir with the consent of New Delhi.”

I believe a solution to the Kashmir problem now or in the near to mid term is well-nigh impossible; positions are far too polarised.

The EU observer report has been released following a press conference; there are some reservations expressed. 

Zardari and Sharif jointly hosted a press conference yesterday, after two hours of talks between the two leaders and their teams. Of the choices of possible coalitions discussed by international analysts, we now know the outcome – Sharif has announced that he and the PML (N) have been invited by Zardari to form Governments with the PPPP both at the Centre and in the Provinces.

 “In principle we’ve agreed to stay together,” said Zardari. “We have reservations towards the Q League,” he added later, referring to the pro-Musharraf party. And Sharif said, “We’ve accepted each others’ mandates.”

Zardari stated that the first resolution to be addressed jointly by the two leaders will be the request for a UN probe into the assassination of his late wife Benazir Bhutto.

On the judiciary issue, (an immediate restoration of the judges as requested by Sharif could lead to the restoration of corruption cases against Zardari) the PML (N) leader read the following words from a piece of paper:

“In principle, there is no disagreement on the issue of the restoration of the judiciary; we will work out the modalities when we get into Parliament.”

We haven’t been told precisely how and precisely when any proposed restoration of the deposed judiciary might happen.