American media highlights Musharraf’s role in combating terrorism

American print and electronic media paid tributes to former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who passed away in Dubai Sunday, as a U.S. ally in the campaign against al-Qaeda, but noted that he faced “growing resistance at home in a land seething with anti-Western passions.”

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Since his death was announced on a weekend, the State Department has not yet issued a statement. However, the story made headlines in newspapers and television channels and emphasized his role in fighting terrorism.

The New York Times stated in a detailed font page story, “From the moment he took power in a bloodless coup in late 1999 to his resignation and self-exile under threat of impeachment in 2008, Mr. Musharraf offered the world the swashbuckling image of a former army commando and ally of the United States who guaranteed a measure of regional stability in the upheaval after 9/11 and the subsequent United States attack on Afghanistan.”

“The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan forced Gen. Musharraf to choose between Pakistan’s alliance with the Afghan Taliban and Washington’s demand for cooperation in the war on terrorism,” the Washington Post, another prominent newspaper, wrote. His decision to support the West sparked violent Islamist groups that have terrorized Pakistan ever since, despite his domestic disapproval.

According to The New York Times, “Washington’s demands for firm action against Islamist militancy collided with competing pressures from Pakistani Muslims who were resentful of Mr. Musharraf’s close ties to Washington,” the same point was emphasized.

The Times stated, “In fact, Mr. Musharraf’s efforts to maintain some democracy while ruling as an authoritarian and to promote secularism in a country where religious radicals wielded broad influence brought him few friends and a growing roster of enemies.”

Times’ Correspondents Alan Cowell and Stephen Kinzer wrote in a joint dispatch, “By the time he suspended the Pakistani Constitution and imposed emergency rule in late 2007, the patience of President George W. Bush, who had once called him a ‘courageous leader and friend of the United States,’ was wearing thin.”

The report stated, “Yet even in exile, Mr. Musharraf continued to see himself as a potential savior.”

‘Mr. Musharraf attempted to broker a peaceful settlement in 2001, as the United States prepared to attack Afghanistan. “Mr. Musharraf also set out to find a peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute,” he wrote, “and he threw in his lot with the United States and backed the American campaign that forced the Taliban from power.” He met with Indian leaders several times and agreed on ways to ease tensions. The two nations played their first cricket match in 15 years in 2004 in front of a delighted television audience of several hundred million.

According to the Washington Post, “Gen. Musharraf, who was 56 at the time, cut a figure that was difficult to define,” his coup was condemned abroad but welcomed in Pakistan. He was a career army officer who served in the highly skilled Special Services Group and held numerous commands. He detested civilian politics’ elitism, which he referred to as “sham democracy.” However, he was also the son of a diplomat, a moderate Muslim, and a fan of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the army officer who established modern Turkey.

“When he was in charge, General Musharraf established a comprehensive reform plan. He promised to depoliticize state institutions, make government accountable, address social issues, revive the economy, and stop Islamic fundamentalists from exploiting religion.

“Generesis Musharraf made progress in reviving Pakistan’s overburdened economy. However, many of his objectives were met with strong social, religious, or bureaucratic opposition or were sacrificed for political convenience. He backed off his plans to modernize seminaries, make “honor killings” illegal, and change the laws that punished rape victims.

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