Musharraf playing 'double game', says expert | india | Hindustan Times
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Musharraf playing 'double game', says expert

A leading US expert on South Asia says that Musharraf is ambiguous on his terrorism stance.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2006 17:08 IST

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is playing "a double game" on the war on terror and the US must start leaning on him, a leading American expert on South Asia said Monday.

Describing Pakistan as "the most difficult area" in the region, Dennis Kux told a gathering here that while Musharraf cooperated with the US vis-à-vis Al Qaeda, it was not so in the case of a resurgent Taliban.

"He does play a double game of sorts," said Kux, senior policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, speaking at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.

One reason for Musharraf's ambiguity in the case of the Taliban was the porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan where the militia is now active and also due to the pro-Taliban ruling dispensation in Balochistan province.

Warning that the US may be repeating the mistake it committed in the 1980s by promoting the military regime of Zia-ul Haq, Kux said: "We should be leaning on Musharraf, not publicly but in private... We could be leaning on him more in this area. Too bad it hasn't happened."

Kux, a retired State Department South Asia specialist who dealt with India and Pakistan for more than two decades, was speaking on "US and South Asia".

He covered a broad sweep of how the US looks at the world, and pointed out that South Asia was one region that was "relatively brighter, particularly India".

On Pakistan, Kux was harsh on Musharraf, the Pakistani army chief who seized power in 1999.

Kux said Musharraf had managed to convince the US administration that he was "better than the devil".

At the same time, radicalism had dramatically increased in Pakistan, Musharraf had failed to reach out to moderate leaders like Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif and not done enough to inject political stability.

"Musharraf simply hasn't done much," Kux said, referring to issues ranging from social indicators to the war on terror. "He makes some noises and then backs off. You don't see him addressing some of the fundamentals.

"I think we (US) have given him too much of a free ride. (But) if we walk away (from Pakistan), it will not be too good for Musharraf, Pakistan and India."

Kux was highly optimistic about Indo-US relations, crediting Washington with broadening the road map of friendship including on the military front. "Earlier we used to talk at each other, now we talk with one another."

Kux also spoke about the Indian diaspora in the US. "The Indian Americans have not only changed the image of India but built a bridge with India."

He admitted that despite the growing warmth in bilateral ties, there were continuing divergences.

"My own reading is India doesn't want to get locked in (US embrace). We won't agree about everything. But we agree about many things."

Kux referred to the India-US nuclear deal and remarked that if it got finalized ahead of President George W. Bush's upcoming India trip, "it would be a great visit. If not, it would be a good visit.

"This (US) administration's motives are to help India. See India as a natural balancer (vis-à-vis China), not militarily but politically. Good relations with India are a bipartisan issue in the US."