Musharraf refuses to crack down on Taliban, says HRW
Daily Times, June 16, 2007
WASHINGTON: President George W Bush’s alliance with President Gen Pervez Musharraf came under fire on Thursday at a hearing in the House of Representatives on human rights as a Republican lawmaker said: “The US should not be supporting a military dictatorship” in the South Asian country.
Shortcomings in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Uzbekistan were the designated subjects of the House subcommittee hearing, and a panel of witnesses did not spare the three countries severe criticism.
But an official of Human Rights Watch (HRW) added Pakistan to the mix, with a scorching description of the Musharraf government as “the most egregious, and harmful, example of a human rights double standard in American foreign policy today.”
Tom Malinowski, of the HRW’s Washington office and a former State Department official, excoriated Bush for supporting Musharraf “against anyone who criticises his continued dictatorial rule over Pakistan.”
“This appears to align the US behind one man against virtually every decent segment of Pakistani society – against the very people in the country who are most likely to be America’s friends and to support a moderate, modern course for Pakistan,” Malinowski said.
Musharraf is estranged from moderates, is relying politically more on Islamic militants and refuses “to crack down on the Taliban elements who are killing American and NATO troops in Afghanistan,” Malinowski said. “It is a classic case of muting human rights concerns to protect a security relationship,” the human rights advocate said. “But it is in fact as contrary to US security interests as it is to America’s commitment to democracy.”
The senior Republican on the subcommittee, Rep Dana Rohrabacher, endorsed Malinowski’s criticism. “The army is allied with radical Islam and always has been.” “Let’s not support a military dictatorship in Pakistan,” Rohrabacher said. ap