U.S. Carefully Adjusts to Musharraf, Pakistan

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is calling Gen. Pervez Musharraf's declaration of a state of emergency in Pakistan "regrettable," as the White House expresses disappointment with Musharraf, a key U.S. ally. Host Jacki Lyden discusses with Teresita Schaffer, a former diplomat and director of the South Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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JACKI LYDEN, host:

Teresita Schaffer served in the U.S. Foreign Service for 30 years, including postings in Islamabad and New Delhi. From 1989 to 1992, Ambassador Schaffer was deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia. She's now director of the South Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and she joins us now.

Thanks very much.

Ms. TERESITA SCHAFFER (Director, South Asia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies): I'm glad to be here.

LYDEN: Secretary Rice called the declaration of the state of emergency in Pakistan, highly regrettable. A State Department notice said that the United States is deeply disturbed, and the White House has called it very disappointing. So in diplomatic jargon, how severe are these comments?

Ms. SCHAFFER: Well, those are fairly strong statements coming from the United States, but not surprising when you consider that Secretary Rice had twice been personally involved in trying to discourage this kind of a resort to extra-constitutional action. So she was obviously personally involved and personally disappointed by this turn of events.

LYDEN: Obviously, it didn't work. What does today's declaration of a state of emergency in Pakistan mean for the future of U.S.-Pakistani relations?

Ms. SCHAFFER: It's obviously a downturn. It means that whatever other dimensions there are to the relationship, the U.S. can no longer look on Pakistan as a country, which is on its way to a meaningful representative government.

I think the way that President Musharraf's (unintelligible) emergency is interesting. The text devoted two paragraphs to the spike in violence that has taken place in the past three months in Pakistan, which I think anyone would agree as a very dangerous state of affairs for Pakistan, in which has very much targeted the army and the basic institutions of the state.

But he devoted six or seven paragraphs to his complaints about judicial interference in the business of government, something, which I think I and most other Americans would look on as a reasonable exercise of judicial independence.

LYDEN: Well, if the United States can't cling to the notion that they're going to the upcoming elections in Pakistan, what can it do? Does it have any choice other than to work with Pervez Musharraf as (unintelligible)?

Ms. SCHAFFER: Well, it certainly will have to continue working with Pervez Musharraf's on the key issues that have driven U.S. policy over the past several years. And that means, primarily on issues touching Afghanistan and on issues touching terrorist violence. The U.S. does not have the luxury of simply saying we don't care anymore. But I think some of the worse will have gone out of the relationship and the U.S. is also likely to be somewhat more selective in its approach to military assistance.

And to focus much more on the kinds of military assistance that are relevant to fighting terrorists and maintaining the integrity of the border with Afghanistan.

LYDEN: What about terrorism within Pakistan? Have been escalation in bombings there? Does the state of emergency give Musharraf a freer hand, if you will, to deal with al-Qaida or Taliban forces reportedly in the mountain bases there?

Ms. SCHAFFER: In theory, yes. I think we're all going to be watching how that actually works out. You got two problems. First of all, we already know that a number of people from the mainstream, non-religious political parties have been put in jail. I don't know one way or another whether the same thing has happened to leaders from the religious parties, who have been fairly supportive of the militants in their verbal statements.

Another issue is, though, how do you fight those who are perpetrating violence against the organs of the state in Pakistan. Musharraf has been willing to employ the army in certain circumstances. That's been very controversial. It certainly is a necessary part of his strategy, but it's not enough. He needs a political strategy, as well.

I think that that's where the state of emergency is actually going to hurt him because he will be operating without any political allies as he tries to figure out the political part of how you put those who are using violence out of business.

LYDEN: Teresita Schaffer is director of the South Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Thanks very much for being with us.

Ms. SCHAFFER: You're very welcome.

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