Recently Musharraf has stirred much controversy at home when he described Ariel Sharon as a great soldier and a courageous leader. However, his appraisal of Sharon runs counter to the widely held belief amongst Pakistanis that Sharon is nothing more than an Israeli tyrant hell-bent on the destruction of Palestine and a sworn enemy of Islam.
Sharon’s atrocities against the Palestinians such as the Sabra and Shatila massacres, the unlawful confiscation of land, the construction of Jewish settlements, the expulsion of refugees and the relentless butchery of innocent civilians cannot be equated with bravery. The disproportionate force used to perpetrate such vile acts speaks volumes about the cowardly nature of Sharon’s leadership.
If this is how Musharraf measures courageous leadership then he will not be disappointed to note that his acts of brutality against his own people in Waziristan which includes, razing villages, slaying innocent civilians and expelling families from their homes puts him on par with the likes of Bush, Sharon, Putin, Karimov and Vajpayee. All of whom have used over whelming force to massacre innocent Muslims and extend the rule of tyranny over them.
Yet there are still those who argue that Musharraf’s encounters in Waziristan makes his courage rank above those of his contemporaries and even surpasses the valor Alexandra the Great. Mike Green, special assistant to the US President commented that Musharraf had launched an operation in an area that even “Alexander the Great was afraid to enter.”
In many ways Musharraf has emulated Sharon’s brutal tactics and employed them against his own people in the tribal belt. The images of terrified Palestinians have become intertwined with pictures of petrified Pakistanis and are firmly etched on the psyche of the Pakistani people. No matter how hard Musharraf tries to forge closer ties with Israel he will not be able to overcome the resistance offered by Pakistanis who have become increasingly antagonistic towards his anti-Islamic policies.
Ever since Musharraf received a $3 billion dollar economic package during visit to Camp David in June 2003, he has been trying to raise the specter of peace with Israel amongst the Pakistani public. He said,” What is our dispute with Israel? We should think.” In January 2004, Shimon Peres invited Musharraf to visit Israel. Musharraf responded, “If the relations between the two countries are established, then I would be pleased to make a visit to Israel.” In the same month, Shaukat Aziz, now Prime Minister of Pakistan met the Israeli Foreign Minister. Speaking after the meeting, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Office said Israel ”doesn’t see Pakistan as an enemy,” but rather ”as an important country in the Muslim world with which it is interested in normalizing ties.” Hitherto, Musharraf has failed to generate any sort of domestic support for his quest to embrace Israel.
Musharraf’s regime is not alone in its desire to see Pakistan’s relationship with Israel normalized. Both the military and civil governments in the past have held public and clandestine meetings with Israeli officials and explored ways of recognizing the Jewish state. These contacts have been going on since 1952 and were spearheaded by Zafarulla Khan, the then, foreign minister of Pakistan. Later the contacts between the two countries intensified, especially when Pakistan fell under America’s sphere of influence.
In the nineties, Pakistan’s Peoples Party (PPP) led by Banazir and Pakistan Muslim League under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif made several attempts to recognize Israel, but because of domestic pressure failed to make any progress.
However in the aftermath of September 11 and with Musharraf at the helm of the Pakistani army, America is still holding out for a possible recognition of Israel. America hopes that Pakistan’s recognition of Israel will encourage other non-Arab Muslim countries to do the same. In this way, America is seeking to isolate the Palestinians and changing the issue of Palestine from an Islamic issue to a parochial one. America’s newfound confidence in a Pakistani leader like Musharraf is based on his zeal to sacrifice Muslims in preference for siding with the enemies of Pakistan and Islam. In American eyes, Musharraf has a commendable record of putting the interests of America and her allies ahead of Pakistan’s national interests.
Musharraf sacrificed the Taliban in preference for the Northern Alliance to dominate the seat of power in Kabul. The Northern Alliance is a sworn enemy of Pakistan. Musharraf then proceeded to abandon the Kashmiris by consolidating India’s grip over Kashmir through several humiliating concessions. The recent welcome given to Pakistan’s archenemy Advani epitomises Musharraf’s fondness for siding with the enemy.
Like Sharon, Advani throughout his life has shown utter contempt towards Muslims and Islam. In 1992, Advani led a convoy of Hindu fundamentalists to demolish the Babari Masjid in Ayodhya. In 2001 Advani and his party the BJP played an instrumental role in fuelling communal riots in Gujarat that resulted in slaughter of thousands of Muslims.
Yet despite this, Musharraf has chosen to entertain Advani and overlook the fact that in 1947, Advani was charged by Pakistani police for conspiracy to assassinate Jinnah. Musharraf all along has claimed to be a patriot and an admirer of Jinnah, but when given the opportunity to take Advani to task he became negligent of his duty.
Clearly Islam and patriotism have failed to arouse Musharraf’s passion for protecting the honor of Pakistan. Then on what basis has Musharraf pledged his allegiance to Pakistan.
In the past, Muslims of the sub-continent had Mir Sadiq a two-faced leader who at a crucial time quickly disowned them and pledged his loyalty to the British Raj. Today the Muslims have Musharraf, more agile than Sadiq, except that he has pledged his allegiance to the American Raj.