Pakistan's military dictator President-Gen. Pervez Musharraf is currently confronting the biggest crisis of his nearly eight-year rule -- all because he ticked off some lawyers.
As part of his effort to rig Pakistan's presidential election scheduled for this fall, the Perv removed from office one of Pakistan's strongest independent political leaders, Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. The firing has turned Pakistan's legal community against Musharraf. It's sparked growing street demonstrations and emboldened Pakistan's civilian political parties. Writes ace Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid in the March 22 Washington Post: "In the rapidly unfolding crisis in Pakistan, no matter what happens to President Pervez Musharraf -- whether he survives politically or not -- he is a lame duck."
Will Musharraf be toppled? I don't know. I do know, however, that if he finds himself on the pointy end of a coup d'etat soon, he shouldn't feel too glum. The Perv has a bright future ahead of him as a jujitsu instructor.
For readers who aren't as steeped in the blood sports as I, jujitsu is a Japanese martial art. Because skilled practitioners are known for their ability to use their opponent's force to their own advantage, jujitsu has become a synonym for skillfully outmaneuvering stronger, faster foes. And since 9/11, no world leader has more deftly jujitsued the United States than the Perv.
After 9/11, the United States turned its angry attention to South Asia. Afghanistan's Taliban regime was al-Qaeda's patron and Pakistan was the Taliban's patron. Bin Laden did the crime from the Taliban's house. Pakistan built the house, furnished it and paid the cable bill.
With the world's most powerful military heading in his direction for revenge, Perv pulled a jujitsu move. He didn't resist U.S. anger -- he redirected it to his benefit. The United States came to South Asia for a fight. The Perv opened his arms and gave Bush a hug. I am America's friend, Musharraf insisted. I will be your ally, but I need your help. Without billions in economic and military aid, Perv said, my military dictatorship will collapse. Prop me up and I will help you. If I fall, the Perv threatened, I might be replaced by someone who doesn't hug as well.
Eager for a War On Terror™ ally in the region, the United States fell facedown on the jujitsu mat for Musharraf's offer. The United States has given $10 billion in aid to Pakistan since 2001 and has turned a blind eye as the Perv has trampled on all political opposition. As recently as last September, Bush stood next to the Perv in the White House and called him "strong defender of freedom," whose courage and leadership he admires.
And the whole time, the Perv continued doing all of the bad stuff that made the United States mad at Pakistan in the first place.
A partial list of Pakistan's archenemy-like actions since 2001:
1. After the United States invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan actually evacuated Taliban fighters from Afghanistan to help them evade capture.
2. Last year, the Perv signed a truce with Pakistani tribal leaders that effectively ended his government's half-assed effort to drive Taliban forces out of Pakistan. As a result, Taliban fighters have been using Pakistan as a base from which to carry out bolder and more numerous attacks in neighboring Afghanistan. NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan are preparing for a spring offensive that will see the heaviest fighting in Afghanistan since the American invasion.
3. In 2001, terrorists supported by Perv's government attacked neighboring India's parliament. The result? A military mobilization by both sides that nudged the world in the direction of nuclear war.
4. The Perv refuses to let Americans, or any other foreign officials, interrogate Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan. Khan sold nuclear-weapons technology to North Korea, Iran and Libya, among others. That North Korea has nukes is at least partly Pakistan's fault. That Iran is accelerating its enrichment program is also Pakistan's fault. If Khan told the United States what he sold to Iran and North Korea, the United States would know better how to respond to those countries. Instead the Perv has allowed Khan to remain under "house arrest" in a mansion probably paid for with nuclear-weapons money.
So if you're reading this, Perv, please, come to the United States. Our dojos need you.
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