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Drawn Conclusions > editorials

"The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer."

Henry Kissinger. New York Times, Oct. 28.1973


"The power of Shahid’s cartoons are acute. Take a close look if you dare. Instead of euphemisms, find direct statements; instead of evasion, find candor. The skill of illustration is matched by the acuity of vision..."

Norman Solomon







Nov 9, 01:28 PM

Musharraf Will Die

Musharraf will die. It is just a matter of time. I am still not sure if the script is taken from a le Carre novel or an Austin Powers movie. Perhaps it is a bit of both. The characters – bearded mercenaries fighting in a region of the world known as Waziristan in towns like Azam Warsak, Shin Warsak and Kaloosha. The story’s anti-hero is a Pakistani general being courted by a fickle Superpower while attempting to make peace with an estranged twin to his east. Then there is the brainless American President and his blaring Anglo-poodle. Having once choked on a pretzel he is now compelled to find the anti-Christ to justify his Presidency. And at the center of all this intrigue is a Mr. Bin Ladin, a disgruntled construction magnate, who decides to challenge both Islam and the most powerful military in the world from a cave.

The pot is bubbling and the stew simmering, and the script now calls for a death. There have been countless, innocent civilian deaths. The latest – two hundred dead in Madrid. But the death I am alluding to is that of the precarious President Musharraf. Terrorists have a habit of striking hard and at the heart. The way it works is simple. There is no central command that organizes global atrocities. Someone once referred to this setup as a franchise operation. The theorem goes: every dispossessed, bored, dispassionate zealot who has a bone to pick will terrorize. They are semi-autonomous and run their own show but receive the franchise “al-Qaida-pep-talk”, courtesy of al-Jazeera, every week. This keeps their ideology on track and their anger focused.

Unfortunately for Musharraf the war on terror is being fought on Pakistani soil and the spokespeople are American. The US Secretary of State Colin Powell slapped the scarlet letter on President Musharraf by saying Washington would elevate its military ties with Pakistan, making it the major ally outside of NATO. Islamic extremists must be seething at the apostasy. The American statement when reading between the lines actually reads, “General Musharraf you are the canary in this cess-pool of a mine shaft. Bring us al-Zawahri and Osama or you’re toast.” Already the opposition in Pakistan is reacting to such comments in the National Assembly. Several members belonging to the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas are calling the situation a “complete capitulation to the American dictates and the massacre of tribesmen by pitting the Pakistan Army against its own people in South Waziristan is utterly unacceptable.”

It is the same story time after time. The characters are just different. You want a villain…actually bin Ladin is quite transposable, spell his name backwards and you have Nidal…remember Abu Nidal, the prima donna terrorist of the eighties? Musharraf and Anwar Sadaat – no two histories are similar yet there are uncanny analogies between the two. If you want stupidity in the US administration…well, Dan Quayle will match Dubya word for word.

Unfortunately the world operates like a photocopier. Grievances are photocopied, and copied again, from generation to generation. A time comes when the issue is so distorted, like a tenth generation photocopy, that the original grievance is no longer legible. What exactly does bin Ladin want? Does he want the Americans out of Saudi? Or does he want to reclaim Andalusia (Spain) for the fifteenth century Caliphate? Is he against the French banning of the headscarf? Or is he just bored of the luxuries afforded by his subterranean lifestyle.

Why will Musharraf die? Because it is the only act these zealots think will make sense. They look at their muddled photocopy-of-a-grievance and are embarrassed at their confusion. In a rage of bewilderment they lash out. Musharraf has survived two assassination attempts and as the saying goes, “third time lucky.” Like Rajiv Gandhi before him Musharraf’s death is ordained. But how? The General has all the obvious bases covered – American hardware will jam any surface-to-surface missiles, an armor plated Mercedes will thwart the suicide bombers, and an engaging cricket series between India will suspend any scheming. But like Rajiv, it is not the obvious that will pull the curtain on Musharraf but the ordinary…the least expected.

Like Rajiv’s wreath-bearing girl this potential purveyor of death could very well be someone ordinary. A scenario? Musharraf is sitting in the garden on a white rattan armchair on a hot afternoon. He puts down the newspaper to pour himself a cup of tea. Oblivious to the fact that the tea and milk have been switched for chemical compounds he pours “milk” into his tea. The chemicals catalyze when the sulfate, which has been substituted for the sugar, is spooned into the teacup. The ensuing explosion kills the General and the valet.


Reuters later reports that the valet, Khidmaat Khan, hailed from Wana in South Waziristan. The entire subcontinent capitulates and goes up in flames. Ralph Nader is voted in as the President of the United States.


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