How embarrassing, Mr Musharaf.
Posted by Exile on October 31, 2006
I wonder what is really going on in Pakistan. Prince Charles is there on an official visit and should have been to one of Pakistan’s new “model madrassa” schools. After the sudden attack on a madrassa in Chenagai, six miles north of Khar, which is the main town in the Bajaur tribal region bordering Afghanistan, plans were immediately changed. But I think there may be more to this than just prudent security. If one reads between the lines, it would appear that Musharaf didn’t know the hit was on.
The Prince of Wales’s controversial visit today to a madrassa in the border town of Peshawar has been cancelled over fears for his safety, after calls by Islamic leaders for revenge for a Pakistani airstrike that destroyed another religious school about 60 miles (100km) away.
His security team considered the trip to Peshawar the riskiest of his tour and had tried to keep the planned journey a secret. But details of his programme, including the name of the madrassa, were published locally, adding to security concerns.
Which brings me to the conclusion that the security team is not all that secure. But it’s what follows that raises a few interesting questions for me.
Diplomats were surprised at the timing of yesterday’s military raid because Pakistan’s leadership had been hoping for calm during what they saw as a chance to improve relations with Britain.
The cancellation will embarrass President Musharaf because the royal visit was meant to showcase how Pakistan is modernising its religious seminaries after claims by Britain and other Western governments that these schools are a breeding ground for extremists.
Military commanders denied that the strike was an attempt to demonstrate to the world how Mr Musharaf was keeping his promise to clamp down on militant training centres.
Diplomats were surprised at the timing; It will embarrass President Musharaf; Military commanders denied…
Surely, if Musharaf is in control of the country and the military, then all this would have been discussed with him before the raid took place? Or is the army acting on it’s own? Or is someone else pulling the strings? Someone obviously set this in motion, apparently without telling the boss. And exactly right on the very day when the biggest diplomatic visit to Pakistan for years is to take place? That’s what I call timing. Either really good, or really bad, planning, depending on your end goal.
Is Musharaf finally losing his grip on the whole affair? He has recently survived two assassination attempts, so he is not well loved by all, and now this piece of embarrassment. Was it engineered?
I leave the last remarks to the army spokesman and The Times.
Major-General Shaukat Sultan, the army spokesman, said: “We received confirmed intelligence reports that 70 to 80 militants were hiding in a madrassa used as a terrorist training facility.”
Among those killed was Liaquat Hussain, a local cleric believed to be a close associate of Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s second in command, who has a $25 million bounty on his head.