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Wednesday, 14 November, 2001, 12:40 GMT
How vital is President Musharraf's role in the coalition?
Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, on a diplomatic tour of key coalition countries has pledged to continue to back the US-led war on terrorism, including sharing intelligence information.

It is his first trip outside Pakistan since the 11 September attacks, taking in Paris, London and New York, and ending with an address at the United Nations General Assembly on 10 November.

General Musharraf had initially hoped the campaign in Afghanistan would be short and has called for a stop to the military strikes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Although the president's position seems to have strengthened since the war began, his visit comes at a time when the potential for Muslim hostility in his own country has increased in the face of continued allied bombing in Afghanistan.

What position should President Musharraf take to prevent further hostility in Pakistan? What role should he play in the global coalition against terrorism? Do you think a diplomatic tour like this is necessary to show his support for the coalition?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

President General Musharraf made an impressive speech at the UN on Saturday which covered a lot of issues. While there are some who are wary of the US support for a military dictator, they must also realize that this dictator has done more in his two years to clean up the Pakistani politics than anyone before him military or elected. His point on the "root causes of terrorism" need to be addressed urgently. The reality is that regional political conflicts do breed resentment and a sense of depravation which as we have already seen translates into terrorism. I hope that we can use this opportunity to address these issues sincerely and swiftly for the benefit of those who are suffering, for if we do not a new brand of terrorists will try to strike fear in our hearts.
Moez Dharani, USA

The West has come to appreciate Musharraf's leadership

Jason, USA
Pres. Gen. Pervez Musharraf is a courageous man. The West misunderstood the situation in Pakistan when he took over from a corrupt and inept elected regime - "sham democracy," as Musharraf rightly described it and mistreated him and Pakistan as a result. Now the West has come to appreciate Musharraf's leadership. And Pakistanis, who justly venerate their "Great Leader," the father of the nation, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, now need to realize that Jinnah, if alive today, would likely do the same as Musharraf is doing.
Jason, USA

Unfortunate to see these world politics take a new shape at every turn and today Mr. Musharaff who is the core designer and master mind for the breeding of terrorists and creation of the Taleban and remained a cause of deaths of many civilians talks about peace and anti-terrorisom in UN. God bless this coalition which has zero focus and has a very short term focus about the realities of the future of South Asia by supporting and believing a person like General Musharaff. This is what is called ugly and dirty politics, I suppose.
Ravi, India

General Musharraf is an opportunist feeding on the crumbs thrown to him by the West. If 9th September crisis did not happen and he was not pressured and later bought by the U.S., he would not have done what he is doing now. He was rejected by the world at large as a leader of a nation and was perceived as a dictator. Clinton refused to meet him at one of the UN meetings and the American press treated him as a pariah.

Suddenly he is the best thing that ever happened since sliced bread and a "national hero" to some Pakistanis. Who knows, he might even get a Nobel peace prize from an organization that did not give it to Gandhi. Wouldn't that be a surprise! This shows the hypocrisy of the U.S. and Britain. When they need somebody, then a blind eye is turned to all shortcomings. Where is all the talk of democratically elected governments that U.S. espouses? Musharraf's motivation to help the U.S. is the colour of money and nothing else. Musharraf goes back to show "his" people a gift of billion dollars. Of course, U.S. is showing the money to show to Musharraf what can be taken away if he didn't cooperate. I think the whole thing stinks of hypocrisy. With their newly discovered "friendship" with Pakistan, U.S. will once again succeed in alienating India and pushing it to align with Russia even more, who has been a more reliable friend over the years.
Praveen Srivastav, USA

Let's get one thing clear, Mr. Musharraf wasn't asked for his help, he was told to provide all necessary support. A country whose economy runs solely off massive foreign aid has no choice but to say "yes" to its debtor's wishes. You're fooling no one, Mr. Musharraf. The US is holding your feet to the fire - and rightfully so - and you know it.
Guru S., USA

He is the hero of our nation.
Abid, Pakistan

Musharraf had no choice - if he had refused to help the US, the US and her allies could have bombed Pakistan for giving support to the Taliban.
Bob - New York, USA

President Musharraf should pack up all the Pakistanis protesting against his policies and send them to Afghanistan. After all, if these protestors love the Taliban such a lot, they should live under them. It is easy to sit in Pakistan and support the Taliban from here, however these protestors should show some courage and live under the "true Islamic System" in Taliban controlled Afghanistan.
Faisal Shafi, Pakistan

It was amusing to watch President Bush embrace General Musharraf as a strong ally of the US. Wasn't it only last year during his election campaign that Bush was stumped by a journalist when asked to name the leader of Pakistan?
Fahad, Pakistan

Sure, musharraf had no option besides joining US, but that decision is logical and based on a sincerity of intent, just like the one he had demonstrated in resolving dispute with India over Kashmir.
S Patel, USA

The USA and Pakistan certainly make for strange bedfellow

Nicole Morrison, USA
The USA and Pakistan certainly make for strange bedfellows: the leader of the free world sleeping with the self-appointed dictator of a pseudo secular state. My intuitive distrust of the general's motives was reinforced by his comments at the UN General Assembly on Saturday. He did exactly what President Bush admonished nations not to do. By asking the Assembly to consider the "root causes" of terrorism, and referring to Israel and India, asking them to question who the real terrorists of September 11 were. If there is any ambiguity in General Musharraf's mind about that issue, he clearly is not a trustworthy partner in this coalition.
Nicole Morrison, USA

Mr.Musharraf is brave and strong muslim. He is trying his best to show the world that Pakistan is not supporting terrorism. I think Pakistan is playing a smart and powerful role and this will be clear in the near future.
majid sharif, vancouver, canada

President Musharraf has done the right thing by travelling outside Pakistan and telling the world of what 90% of Pakistanis think of the whole situation. If President Musharraf is a puppet then I wonder what are we going to Call Mr. Blair?
Imran Siddiqui, Canada

General Musharraf's rule in Pakistan may be undemocratic, unconstitutional and unrepresentative, but he has now got an excellent opportunity to turn Pakistan into a liberal, moderate, tolerant and modern society. When the Afghan problem is resolved, he should then immediately turn his attention to have a negotiated settlement with India over Kashmir. A friendly and open relationship between these two countries will be of great benefit to this poor and populous region of the world.
Dr M A Sheikh, UK

I think President Musharraf is taking a big risk by joining the US coalition against the terrorist. Many in his country are not extremists, but they do disagree with the bombing, as do I. I think that there should be more intelligence gathering and less physical force. It's like trying to reach a mosquito that bit you by destroying a beehive. The bombing is just an action to pacify America's angry and anxious feelings against an invisible enemy.
Huayna Capac, Peru

General Musharraf has done what is best for Pakistan and the world in this stand against terrorism. In doing so he has put his own life and his government in danger and the world community must provide strong support to Pakistan during this time of crisis. Also, his recent statements about the US losing the propaganda war must be taken seriously since it is one of the few honest opinions from that part of the world. The coalition (Pakistan included) should jointly step up the positive propaganda campaign before this fragile coalition comes under further stress from extremist elements around the world.
Raza Haider, Pakistan

Courting military dictators and unelected regimes is what gets us into messes like the current one

Steve B, Scotland
This is the same general we had sanctions against for nuclear testing, isn't it? Sajad made a telling comment about the West helping Pakistan against India when the Afghan troubles are over. Either the unelected military dictator has already been promised that or he's being led down the garden path. Either way, this has worried me since this recent campaign began. Courting military dictators and unelected regimes is what gets us into messes like the current one. It's ignoring the long-term for short-term gain.
Steve B, Scotland

Pakistan is a key ally, and General Musharraf should be commended for leading a government of whom the Pakistani people approve. The nations of the west should reward him by dropping restrictions on textile trade, among other things. Good for us, good for Pakistan.
Scott, USA

Musharraf has rekindled the old friendship that was enjoyed by the US in the times of General Zia

Sajad, England
Musharraf has rekindled the old friendship that was enjoyed by the US in the times of General Zia. It is a true commitment towards peace and harmony in the world. Pakistan has shown itself to be the most positive ally in the coalition, stronger even then my homeland, the UK. Maybe the whole world will now realise that Pakistan has always been true. Pakistan is helping the coalition, once this is over the coalition must help Pakistan with its struggle against the occupying illegal forces of India.
Sajad, England

As Hazel said, " Musharraf has allowed himself to become a puppet of the USA forces." I would like to ask Hazel, isn't the UK and other countries of the world playing the same role? I would like to say Musharraf has courage and spirit to support the coalition against "Global Terrorism" being a Muslim country. Pakistan's message is very clear that Islam is peace-loving religion and does not support terrorism against any other religion.

Only 3% of Pakistan's population are radicals and extremists but it is these people who are shown to the world. The other 97% of the population does support brave and daring Musharraf. It would be highly appreciated if the world media could show this.
Bilal Dawood Hansrod, Monash University, Australia

Musharraf has allowed himself to become a puppet of the USA forces. I ask myself why the USA chose Pakistan as a staging post and not India, which tends to be more predisposed to accepting outsiders than Pakistan. If Musharraf is ever ousted by his own nationals whilst the USA forces are still there then the Islamic extremists and all they stand for will have won.
Hazel, UK

The majority of the people in Pakistan do not support the US war on Afghanistan. So Musharraf can do what no democratic government can, which is stifle the public and prevent them from expressing their views. He is arguably the most critical Cog of the coalition, and the west has abandoned its clarion call for 'democracy' and 'people's will' to suit this situation. Who knows what the long-term costs of this 'unprincipled' support would be?
Raghunath R, United Kingdom

Musharraf had no alternative. The only thing the US needed was airspace and the US planes would have flown over Pakistan even without permission! Could Pakistan have shot down US planes flying over its air space?
Kumar Suresh, India

I think even the Pakistani Government has forgotten the fact that they created Taleban and now Pakistani television is calling them terrorists in their national news broadcasts. Very strange World Order.
R.S.Mani, India

This man has chosen to save his people of Pakistan and put himself in a precarious position

Shujah, UK/Pakistan
Gen Musharraf has taken a brave stance in fighting Terrorism. We should realise this man has chosen to save his people of Pakistan and put himself in a precarious position. Not only did he save Pakistan from a corrupt government over 2 years ago he has now made Pakistan more accessible to the Western world and trying to alleviate the perception the West have of Pakistan and the Pakistani's.
Shujah, UK/Pakistan

What general Musharraf has done, he has done for his nation and people and for what is RIGHT, after all the vast majority of Muslims feel what happened on September 11 was wrong, I just hope now that the USA and its allies see why a whole nation was overjoyed at his coup, and hope Pakistan is not double crossed by the west again. So I think general Musharraf is not only brave but a just Muslim leader, if only all our Muslim leaders were like him.
I. Ul-haq, London, UK

Musharraf did what was best for Pakistan. He might not be an elected leader but he sure is much better than all the elected leaders who came before him in Pakistan. But I do hope and pray that America does not use Pakistan like the last time and leave it on its own to clear up the mess once the job is done.
Neha, Canberra, Australia

As vital as coalition itself, Pakistan strategically was very important to USA. Without Pakistan's support, USA coalition would have gone to dogs, literally. General Musharraf has shown great maturity in choosing sides. One can argue that there were doubts about USA's stand on pointing fingers towards Osama, legally. True. It was known fact that there were 'terrorist camps' in Afghanistan Osama might not have directly ordered the attacks on American soil. There's great deal of probable cause exist that those terrorists had some connection with Al-Qaeda. Mr. Musharraf had analyzed the situation brilliantly and his move I believed saved the world from '3rd. world War.' He should be considered for his cause for 'peace.'
Habib Hemani, USA

He is a reluctant ally

Robert Morpheal, Canada
I do not think that General Musharraf is a wholly reliable ally. He is a reluctant ally. Within the Islamic realm Pakistan and its people tend to be looked down upon and scorned as though second class Moslems by both Persians (Iran) and Arabs (Saudis, etc.). Therefore they are called upon to do more and better for any favoured cause. Why we are likely to see a lot of covert support for extremism and for terrorism from Pakistan, even if General Musharraf does not give such support any official sanction. He has likely placed himself into political and perhaps personal danger by his unpopular stance against a long history of Pakistanis being lured towards service to causes such as Al Qaeda and the Taleban.
Robert Morpheal, Canada

Musharraf's support to US led airstrikes on Afghanistan is the main column. If Musharraf withdraws its support the whole coalition will collapse.
Khalid M Bhatti Helsigør,

General Musharraf has followed the courage of his conviction - he is a mighty man who is respected by a lot of people. He needs to carry out this tour to prove that he is 100% behind the coalition.
Will Faulkner, Hale, Cheshire

Mr Musharraf is an honest and brave man

A. Hassan, UK
Mr Musharraf is an honest and brave man. His action showed in Aaggra that he and his country wants peace. He is the man who first invited Indian Prime Minister to come and talk. How anybody thinks now that he is a man of war? He opens the door for the world and stands with the world against the terrorism. Although the people of Pakistan are not in the favour of attack, he said first time to American President that we are on your side. I think without the help of Pakistan the alliance will never win the war against terrorism. At the moment Pakistan is only the country that is mostly affected by the Afghanistan war but the President of Pakistan is still in the coalition. He is the first Muslim leader who said that there is enough evidence against Osama bin Laden to bring him to justice. I think everybody should appreciate him about his action against terrorism.
A. Hassan, UK

I feel the Pakistan President has no moral right to say that he is fighting terrorism in today's world as he himself has supported the regime in Afghanistan and supported terrorism in India. Western nations are making a mistake in supporting him by giving aid, as they will one day suffer as in the same way as they gave aid to Osama bin laden
Asim Kumar, UK

I think that the world should appreciate what Musharraf is doing for the allies by supporting them to fight terrorism. He is showing the world that the Muslims are not terrorists and in doing so, he is taking a risk and the consequences can be lethal for the country. What is at stake is the country's poor economic condition, which has been worsened by this prolonged attack. Pakistan is a key player in this whole episode and the time is ripe for him to become an Islamic countries spokesman/leader and he is now leading from the front and showing the world that the Islamic countries do support this cause. Musharraf has matured in the past few months and the bold step his military regime has taken under him was not expected to be adopted by any civillian government.

If he is asking for an economic support from the West, I don't blame him for that!!! You are bound to get some incentives for your un-conditional support. The world at large has been really un-kind to this nation in the past and the time has come for this country and for her leaders to play an important role in the world's politics. The activities in Kashmir should not be linked to terrorism as it is a freedom fight and if there is any doubt, one should exercise the UN resolution and can bring about a permanent solution to this issue.
Shahid Arshad, Pakistan

I think Musharaff has made a very courageous decision to join the coalition against terrorism

Sirmad Shafique, UK
I think Musharaff has made a very courageous decision to join the coalition against terrorism. I think he understands the problems of terrorism as he is an army man and is used to dealing with a neighbour who have resorted to such measures over Kashmir. As far USA is concerned, if they just abandon Pakistan (as in the past) if/when they succeed in Afghanistan, there will be a lot more resentment towards them afterwards than there already is, in the extremist factions.
Sirmad Shafique, UK

Mr Musharraf has made a very good point today saying that people in his country are now seeing this conflict as against the poor. Why isn't the west looking at why Sept 11 happened? Parents in this country are being told not to smack there kids but the US is treating Afghanistan like a class room of kids and beating them for the action of one kid (Person). It is sad the history behind Mr Musharraf but even so we all must listen to what everyone says - friend or enemy - to stop future attacks.
D Read, UK

Coalition? What coalition? Except for Britain, nations are only paying lip service to the USA, and so is Musharraf. They will do only as much as they can without causing damage to themselves. The "coalition" is for the consumption of the American public only.
Haru, USA

He has shown enormous courage and determination

Tassie Bader, San Fransisco, USA
Yesterday when General Musharraf overthrew a corrupt democracy and took over the reins of government in a bloodless coup, he was heavily shunned and criticised by the USA for imposing a military rule - the only kind of rule that has ever worked in a country of 30% literacy. Today he is an important ally of the US because his country geographically suits US interests. The reality as I see it is that Musharraf has taken a risk on his own life by taking a pivotal stand in the war against terrorism in a country where there is growing hostility against US bombing in Afghanistan. No matter what his record has been in the past, this man has shown enormous courage and determination, and basically has made a decision that is in the best interest of his country.
Tassie Bader, San Fransisco, USA

Musharraf would have ideally preferred to stay out of this conflict. However, that was not an option so he chose the second best option. Musharraf and Pakistan's future now squarely rests with the west's attitude, post cessation of hostilities in Afghanistan. If the US throws Pakistan away like a dirty tissue as it did after the Soviet retreat from Afghanistan, Musharraf is likely to be unseated and Pakistan handed over to the extremists.
Naveed Kamal, Pakistan

Regardless of his position on the home front, his fortuitous collaboration with George W Bush has ensured that America will never accuse him of having seized power without an election. As far as the alleged alliance and the UN is concerned, he is now free to be a dictator for life.
Saradiel, Sri Lanka

Who can you trust nowadays? Yesterday's enemy is today's best friend and a cornered cat is unpredictable.
Victor D, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Musharraf is a man of war and should not be trusted by anyone. He rules occupied India and he is making a mockery of the USA and her allies.
Mr AS Thakur, UK

Musharraf must clean up his own act. He is already showing signs of wavering on the action against Afghanistan.
Rahul, UK/India

Musharraf is sure to lose credibility

Alan Leggett, USA
Musharraf is sure to lose credibility. You can fool some people some of the time but not all the people all of the time. He talks about the sanctity of law but overthrows the constitution. He talks about anti-terrorism but supports Jihad against India. He warns the US about the Northern Alliance but created and nurtured the Taleban. Something smells and sooner or later it will bite.
Alan Leggett, USA

General Musharraf did what a true patriot should do, he did what was best for his country. In the face of a risk to personal security, he acted as a leader should, with great courage.
Arin Bhattacharjee, USA

Musharaff has been very pragmatic by extending support to the United States in this war against terrorism. He has rightly concluded that Islamic fundamentalists have far more say in national affairs than a good many Pakistanis might like. If he can beat the Islamists, South Asia can look forward to increased cooperation between its most powerful nations - India and Pakistan. More importantly, it will also result in the diverting of resources to spur economic growth instead of military adventures. I hope the Indian government realises this and helps Musharaff in any way it can.
Deepak Navnith, USA

Musharraf in my opinion is an opportunist

Neel Shah, India
Musharraf in my opinion is an opportunist. Don't get me wrong, I would do what he is doing if I were in his place. Nevertheless he has negotiated a quid-pro-quo with America. But America will just use him, like they use everyone else and then leave him to deal with the local unrest by himself.
Neel Shah, India

Pakistanis are now reaping what their leaders have sowed by encouraging the fanatical elements in Pakistani society to flourish. These leaders did their best to undermine democracy and human rights. They accepted terrorism as the means of solving regional disputes. The fanatics are now out to get Musharraf and his cabinet and only time will tell whether he is succeeded by a Taliban-like regime or Pakistan finally breaks free from the clutches of this virulent trend of sectarianism and religious fanaticism. Any failure of Pakistan as a state spells serious consequences for the sub-continent.
Srinivas Bangarbale, USA

For the first time in the history of the Indian Subcontinent, India and Pakistan are on the same side fighting world terrorism. Maybe this could lead to the settling of the Kashmir issue in a way amicable to Pakistan, India and the people of Kashmir.
B. Sugavanam, Austria

Mr Musharraf is nothing but an opportunist. Now that he has been cornered by US with one single statement "Either you are with us, or with terrorists", he had no other option but to go against the people (Taleban, Mullahs and fundamentalists) whom he and Pakistan harboured for decades. What can you say about the regime that is openly supporting terrorists even now?
J. Ghalt, USA

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