February 04, 2008

Musharraf the Menace

“Al-Qaeda does not exist in Pakistan any more … We have shattered and eliminated their command system there.” – Pervez Musharraf, 2005

How many times have we heard that? Honestly, how many times has Pervez Musharraf come to a place like London and chastised the British people for not managing their terror problem as well as the Pakistanis manage theirs? How many times has he insisted to his American protectors that Al-Qaeda doesn't exist in Pakistan or that Al-Qaeda's leadership is all in Afghanistan?

And then these stories keep popping up in the daily press:

A Libyan al-Qaeda commander who was killed last week in northwestern Pakistan had lived there for years and, despite a $200,000 U.S. bounty on his head, felt secure enough to meet officials and visit hospitals, according to officials and residents of this city.

As he organized suicide bombings and other attacks in neighboring Afghanistan, Abu Laith al-Libi found a comfortable refuge in Pakistan's border region, the sources said in interviews. He met openly with a Pakistani politician and a Libyan diplomat and called on foreign fighters recovering from their wounds.

The Pakistani government contends it has been doing everything possible to capture al-Qaeda figures within its borders. But Libi, who was killed in a missile attack last week, moved unchallenged around the heart of Peshawar, a city of about 1.2 million people, underscoring how freely he and other al-Qaeda leaders have been able to operate in Pakistan.

If Pervez Musharraf were capable of being embarrassed, he would be. TIME Magazine -- who knew TIME was still published weekly? We thought they went the way of LIFE -- has it right when they argue the killing of Libi is a blow to Musharraf as much as it to Al-Qaeda. Over his objections, the U.S. is killing the Al-Qaeda operatives -- in Pakistan -- that he says do not exist.

In the end, of course, only one Western journalist has ever properly grilled Musharraf. Enjoy:

P.S. You're either a "Tom Brady" fan or a "Peyton Manning" fan, and never the twain shall meet. Abu Muqawama is from Tennessee, so no points for guessing which one is his guy. It's always nice to see a Manning end the Pats' season. Well done, Eli. British newspapers, by the way, sound as hilariously awkward trying to describe an American football "match" as American newspapers do when writing about soccer. Exhibit A.