Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rumblings in the Barracks

AP reports today that a group of retired Pakistani Army generals, Navy admirals and air marshals (that is, Pakistani Air Force generals), all members of the "Pakistani Ex-Servicemen's Society" have put their names to a statement calling on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to resign.
The statement says that the President no longer "represents the unity and the symbol of the federation as president. . ." that Musharraf's resignation is thus ". . . in the supreme national interest and it makes it incumbent on him to step down." The Times of India and The Hindu say that the signatories include a former Army chief (General Mirza Aslam Beg, a somewhat interesting figure in his own right), as well as Lieut. General Hamid Gul, a former chief of the very powerful Pakistani military organization. Another Indian publication, Sify, identifies some other very senior retired officers.
Interesting that the statement was issued after the President left on a visit to Europe. I wonder if the Army is taking the President's calls, or if the generals back home maybe are a little busy ? They have company, anyway. Musharraf is not home, but interesting people are sure visiting. Admiral William J. Fallon, US military commander in the Middle East, is meeting today or has met with Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Pakistani Army Commanding General who recently replaced Musharraf in this post. Hopefully Admiral Fallon gets out of the country before any further personnel changes occur.
Speaking of embarrassments, Musharraf is supposed to meet Secretary of State Rice in Switzerland, tomorrow. Presumably the President isn't planning to retire before that very interesting little chat.
I think we're maybe getting close to curtains for the Musharraf government, if the opinions of the retired officers accurately reflect views in the barracks. One retired general, the President's spokesman, Maj. General Rashid Qureshi, (quoted in the Los Angeles Times) says this doesn't amount to anything, but I wonder. When one is president by virtue of coup d'etat, it is always a good plan to be certain the troops will shoot, and in the right direction.

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