NYT attacks Powell for praising Musharraf
An influential American daily has sharply criticized US Secretary of State Colin Powell for lavishing "undeserved praise" upon Pakistani "military dictator" Pervez Musharraf for democratic progress instead of urging him to "stop manoeuvering against unfettered elections and the country's main secular parties".
"Such declarations diminish American credibility as a consistent force for democracy," The New York Times said in an editorial.
Powell, it said, struck a "somewhat surreal" note in Islamabad when he announced that Washington was preparing to designate Pakistan a "major non-NATO ally," easing access to military sales, it added.
"Pakistan's efforts to capture Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri are welcome, but it is excessive to offer even a symbolic promotion to one of America's 'least reliable' allies, the paper said in an editorial.
Behind a "constitutional facade," it said, Musharraf rules as a military dictator, accountable to no civilian authority and basing his power on Pakistan's armed forces.
"It is the army high command that General Musharraf must negotiate with if he truly wants to move against the Taliban, Kashmiri terrorist groups or the nuclear weapons establishment," it stressed.
Musharraf, the Times said, would deserve praise if his troops captured Al Qaeda's No 2 leader, al-Zawahiri, whom they think they may have surrounded near the rugged border with Afghanistan.
"Short of capturing Osama bin Laden himself, there could be no clearer way for General Musharraf to demonstrate how valuable his cooperation can be," it added.