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Musharraf and his Facebook friends

Matt Frei | 22:01 UK time, Tuesday, 9 November 2010

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President George W Bush may have given his interview in a cramped room that could have passed for a police interrogation cell, but former Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf opted for the library backdrop of the Council on Foreign Relations studio in New York, when I spoke to him today.

He wasn't in the best of moods when I asked him why his country wanted, let alone needed, him back, as he claimed it did - given that he had left just a couple of years ago under a monsoon-sized cloud.

"My countrymen are clamouring for my return," Mr Musharraf told me.

"How do you know?" I asked.

"It's on Facebook... more than 300,000 friends on my page."

The general who came to power with a coup is now contemplating a return to the presidency via Facebook. The marriage of new media and old power. LOL. OMG.


  • 1. At 02:23am on 10 Nov 2010, Francis power wrote:

    Wow! Who needs democracy when you've got social networking? However, General Musharrafe does make a fair point when he says the international community has not stepped up to the plate to offer relief for those afflicted by the floods. 20 or maybe 30 $billion needed he says. How much was enthusiastically given to Haiti this year? Nothing bad about the response for Haiti but I haven't seen the producers of X factor, or anyone else for that matter, rushing to do the same for Pakistani flood victims. Musharrafe says not enough anyway and I expect he's right. The more the international community disenfranchises Pakistan the more likely that scenario of failed state. Now that sounds really expensive.

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  • 2. At 03:57am on 10 Nov 2010, JClarkson wrote:


    Pakistan has it's priorities mixed-up. It's annual defense budget is 7.8 billion dollars. Many more billions were spent on developing and building nukes, in recent years. It's a country with half the population of the US and a GPD, per capita, of $1,100. Less than 100 dollars a month.

    A natural disaster comes along and now the world is expected to kick in billions more. Why? Because they pretend to want to do something about terrorism? Sorry, the world is sort of skeptical.

    Should it fail, as a country? Who knows. I do know that some thing are not worth saving at ANY cost.

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  • 3. At 06:12am on 10 Nov 2010, Kamran Khan wrote:

    Musharaf now a day is a virtual man, who believe more on virtual world than real world. I personally my self clicked like button on his facebook page, just to post my comment over there but that does not mean that I like him or I am his follower. So those whoever click like on his page does not mean they like him. My personal advise to him is to spent his remaining life in peace and enjoy spending the money whatever he took from the US and other donors, who donated the money for fighting so called terrorism and for the earthquake in Kashmir.

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  • 4. At 08:04am on 10 Nov 2010, ZeBirdman wrote:

    Thank you Matt for covering Musharraf and Pakistan in your piece. I would like to give my 2-cents on this issue; however, first I'd like to preface that by giving readers some background about myself.
    I've lived in Karachi, Pakistan my entire life until Sept. 2008 when I came to Los Angeles for college. My family is still in Karachi and I still call it home.

    In my view, Pakistan saw it's most profitable times during Musharraf's rule, especially between 2001 and 2006. As any economic, social or demographic indicators may show you, Pakistan was better off in more ways than not. Our economy was growing and attracting record levels of FDI, employment and inflation were remarkably low, we were mentioned at times in the same breath as Brazil, Turkey and other emerging 'tiger' economies, terrorist attacks were by and large under control and on a lighter note our cricket team did a great job (always a valid indicator!). We had the respect of our peers in the global community, our infrastructure, our tourism, our export industry were all thriving under Musharraf and there are no 2-ways to look at those facts. Yes, Musharraf was not democratically elected but does that mean he is not good for Pakistan? Yes he was iron fisted at times in his rule but at least his fists were clean and did not have blood (read corruption) on them. Pakistan needs stability which Musharraf provided for the best part; Pakistan needs discipline and maturity and a leader who is not overwhelmed, flustered or arrogant with his power (he's been commander in chief of the army and power is not what he is after).

    Democracy is a vote by the people for the people; but a caveat often missed is that the people must have the civic sense, the education to know what and who they are voting for. Does Pakistan have a literacy rate to sustain democracy? I'm sure you can Wikipedia that to find your answer.

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  • 5. At 1:43pm on 10 Nov 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    Musharaff - good or bad for Pakistan?
    I'm not sure, The fact that he is raising money and giving talks in the United States, rather suggest that he has American approval; but then, he has been living in London. So does Musharaff have both US and UK approval?
    Regardless, Obama should have included Pakistan on his Asian Tour. He did not, perhaps because he was cattering to India, smouching up to India like a desperate lover. The repercusion will force Pakistan further towards China.
    Pakistan President, Asif Ali Zardari has visited China not once or twice but several times.
    The Pakistani Military has been upset that the Americans were allowed to walk in and establish a naval base in Ormara in Balochistan Province. Also, US defense contractors have been given free reign. Within this context, Zardari's scheduled visit to China on November 11 takes on real significance. Zardari did not ask the US; he did not even consult with pro-US envoy in Washington, Husain Haqqani. Zardari is not a small fish to the Chinese; he will meet with his counterpart Hu Jintao.
    An overlooked fact: Since September, 2010 the attacks by the Taliban and al-Qaeda have virtually COME TO AN END. There has developed a ceasefire initiative between Pakistan and the militants. Meanwhile, attacks against Afghanistan-bound NATO supply convoys in Pakistan have escalated.
    During Pakistan's recent dialogue with the US, Islamabad was told to come up with a strategic plan against the Haqqani network in the North Waziristan However, Army Chief Kiani, a fervent believer in dialogue, dragged his heals. Washington pressed. Washington threatened via influence with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Asia Development Bank...(The IMF's Assistant Director for the Middle East and Central Asia Department, Adnan Mazarie, said if credit lines to Pakistan are cut, Pakistan would default. Personally, I doubt this could happen because China would not permit it.)
    Pakistan has set aside the bidding process and awarded, without bidding, to a Chinese company the construction of 1,100 megawatt hydropower project in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, at an estimated cost of $2B.
    Approximately 10,000 Chinese workers are engaged in 120 projects in Pakistan including engineering, power generation, mining and telecommunications.
    One of the most significant projects is the major port at the naval base of Gwadar in Balochistan Province. The complex is now fully operational, providing a port to more than 20 countries.
    China provided most of the technical assistance and 80% of the funds; in return, China gains strategic access to the Persian Gulf: the port is just 180 nautical miles from the Strait of Hormuz through which 40% of all globally traded oil is shipped.
    Pakistan's position: Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said that he has received no orders to bring former President Pervez Musharraf back through Interpol, however if the court would issue such orders, the government would comply with them. Interior Minister Malik: “We have no objection to bringing former President Pervez Musharraf back but we have not yet received any orders in this connection.” He further said that he would brief the Interpol General Assembly about the damage caused by recent floods in Pakistan, adding that Pakistan had suffered loss of $140B.
    Dig this: President Musharraf speaking to about 500 people in Edison NJ reiterated/repeated that he had signed an agreement with China for a 1 gig Civilian Nuclear Plant with China called Chasnupp-5 or C-5. President Musharraf also said that Pakistan has Uranium which it can and does mine for its own usage. Pakistan’s Uranium gives it a definite advantage over Bharat which is dependent on supplies from Australia and the US. (I could not confirm that Musharaff actually signed this deal, but if he did...)
    Obama’s high profile Asian trip will serve to push Pakistan into a tighter embrace with China. Pakistan is hoping to join the SCO with China and build a new organization with Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Russia.In addition Pakistan is also working on a Plutonium plant in Kushab. China plans to supply Pakistan with a 5th nuclear energy reactor, accelerating Beijing’s commitments to its energy-starved ally.
    Beijing’s growing support for Pakistan, including military hardware, must be extremely problematic for Barack Obama. Yet, stupidly, Obama has chosen to embarrass Pakistan before the world by not placing this country on his Asian Tour.
    So, bottom-line, Musharraf's future in Pakistan likely depends more on his Chinese links than anything the Americans or UK have to say.

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  • 6. At 3:24pm on 10 Nov 2010, Francis power wrote:

    Fascinating comments from ZeBirdman and BluesBerry.

    Firstly I am struck by a parallel in what ZeBirdman has to say with what I have been observing in sub Saharan Africa. That there is a second generation that are getting first class educations in the worlds best universities. They are learning how to be equally first rate practitioners in business, medicine, education or politics/third sector areas. They are never losing their identity with their mother lands and once they have attained certain career goals they tend to make a decision to return to their original homes and make their contribution to addressing governance and rule of law problems. In other words the things that really turn a place around and its a brave thing to do. It is precisely what will save some places from becoming failed states and moreover, will help these countries to manage their resources and opportunities for the betterment of their economic and social development. We all win from that and ZeBirdman, if that's your aim I wish you every success for the journey.

    BluesBerry, that is a lot to digest and all highly relevant. I am not questioning its accuracy but if what you say is correct it makes me wonder if the United States and China have done some kind of private deal, a sort of great game above the great game, whereby the USA supports the Indian caucus and China the Pakistani one. A division of resources and benefits which could lead to development and stability with a reduced tendency towards conflict in the region. Call me a naive optimist if you like but it might help explain why the Chinese have been so welcoming to UK prime minister David Cameron, which is a puzzle, although when it came to addressing the tricky human rights issue he was made to go and talk to a bunch of students.

    Anyway, if you guy's are right it doesn't look like the Dal Lama will be going home any time soon. And Matt, you may have missed a trick when you interviewed Musharraf!

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  • 7. At 4:31pm on 10 Nov 2010, Francis power wrote:

    I should just qualify my comment about Cameron. During his recent visit to India many commentators felt he was received with rather less enthusiasm. It was attributed by many as being down to the tricky business of the old Empire issue. However, perhaps it's all been more carefully choreographed than that? What were the Americans and Chinese really having that private chat about in Copenhagen for example? Perhaps it was a more strategic discussion about carving up resources and not just how to derail the carbon agenda... They talk all the time.

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  • 8. At 5:49pm on 10 Nov 2010, Philly-Mom wrote:

    @ ZeBirdman4:
    "Democracy is a vote by the people for the people; but a caveat often missed is that the people must have the civic sense, the education to know what and who they are voting for. Does Pakistan have a literacy rate to sustain democracy? I'm sure you can Wikipedia that to find your answer."

    Representative Democracy is simultaneously beautiful and annoying... as you may have noticed while during our most recent elections.

    Oddly enough, full democracy was only gradually introduced here in the States. Originally, only land-owning white guys could vote. This was because the 'Founding Fathers' were concerned that uneducated people without significant financial investment in American economy could overwhelm the educated electorate.
    (Honestly, I think that if George Washington hadn't been a modest farmer, there may have been even more limitations on voters.)

    Then gradually, as our culture and economy grew and changed, these requirements were dropped.
    _ _ _ _ _

    I'm very curious to see what happens in Pakistan in the coming years, and I truly hope the best for all peoples in the Middle East. Peace to all.

    Enjoy LA! I studied there as well. It's an interesting little town. Venice is very entertaining, and I still miss the Santa Monica Farmer's Market.

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  • 9. At 7:39pm on 10 Nov 2010, Philly-Mom wrote:

    A strange thought just occurred to me...
    -- where does 'The Middle East' end and 'SE Asia' start?
    -- and what's the point of dividing Europe and Asia again?

    Maps from 'the other hemisphere' seem so very strange sometimes. ;-)

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  • 10. At 00:44am on 11 Nov 2010, ZeBirdman wrote:

    @ Philly-Mom: Thanks for the feedback. I myself hate it when people compare the robust democracy of USA to Pakistan. USA got democracy/independence in 1776, Pakistan in 1947. I'm sure in USA's first 60 to 70 years things were not as 'rosey' and well off as they have been today and I'm the political stability did not come over time. Saying Pakistan is a failed state and that we cannot handle democracy is like comparing apples to oranges. Let's be fair here.
    Lastly lets hope that Pakistani leaders stop barking under the wrong tree (democracy) and focus their limited energies else where.

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  • 11. At 03:29am on 11 Nov 2010, God_particle wrote:

    @BluesBerry: The detailing seemed too good and too specific to be emanating from just another avid reader. Anyways, kudos on the well authored response!
    @ZeBirdman: If the country in question does eventually fulfill its destiny of ending up a failed state, it would be owing to 3 primary reasons. First, the fundamental frivolity in the thesis of its creation.
    Secondly, the largely illiterate Islamic populace. Thirdly, and perhaps most crucially, the misplaced elitism amongst the rare species that is, the middle/upper middle class educated lot to which you belong.

    You might want to analyze the resounding success stories that Albania, Malaysia, Turkey and to a lesser extent Bangladesh have scripted and indulge in a bit of self inflicted attitude correction. All of these nations began with similar stats that your country enjoyed at her birth and yet evolved in to robust and active democracies.

    Readers here might want to be reminded that every autocratic regime often has its glory years where economic indices indicate pink health. Famous examples include Chile's miracle under Augusto Pinochet and Greece's fast tracked growth era under Georgios Papadopoulos. Students of political science often read of 'benevolent dictators' such as:
    Napoleon Bonaparte, Anwar Sadat, Alfredo Stroessner, Kenneth Kaunda, Józef Piłsudski, Ion Antonescu, Miklós Horthy, Deng Xiaoping, Omar Torrijos, Park Chung-hee and Sukarno. So, to conclude: People are dumb and Political leaders are corrupt anyway. So why not have these benevolent dictators all the time, right? Huh .. this thought, apart from reeking of lack of intellect, exposes the pseudo-elitism and insecurities prevalent in the mindset of the educated class in general which is why they take pot shots while fleeing their homeland all the same.

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