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Roundtable on Turmoil in Pakistan

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We made it clear to the president that we would hope he wouldn't declare the emergency powers he declared. Now that he has made that decision, our hope now is that he hurry back to elections.

SEN HARRY REID, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER, (D) NEVADA: By staying so bogged down in Iraq's civil war, President Bush has made it harder to respond to the Pakistani problem and other challenges throughout the world.


HUME: That's Harry Reid's view of what is causing the trouble in Pakistan, or at least the problem for the president.

Some thoughts on all this now from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, Mort Kondracke, Executive Editor of Roll Call, and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, Fox News contributors all.

Well, the administration is saying that it wants Musharraf to knock it off, to shed his military uniform and authority, and move quickly toward elections. How much pressure are they really willing to put on a man who clearly has been an ally in the war on terror, Mort?

MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: I don't think half enough. President Bush ought to be calling Musharraf himself and delivering the message instead of having Condi Rice do it.

Or--the pattern on this is that if you really want to get Musharraf's attention, you send somebody over there to read him the riot act. After 9/11, we got Pakistan to turn against the Taliban by sending Richard Armitage over to threaten all kinds of terrible--

HUME: But wait a minute--he was the deputy at the time.

KONDRACKE: That's all right, but he went there.

Dick Cheney went in February to read the riot act to Musharraf because Musharraf was playing footsie with the tribal chiefs who was playing footsie with Taliban in the northwest territories.

So dispatch Cheney. Have him go there and say we want elections next January. We want you to get back on track here.

The question then is "Or else what?" Well, that's a big question, because I don't think we're going to cut off aid, because Musharraf--

HUME: Would you recommend doing so?

KONDRACKE: I recommend that Dick Cheney put up a good act to make it sound like we might

HUME: You mean a good-sounding empty threat, right?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes, I think you should consider cutting of some aid, because Musharraf is not fighting terrorists. That's what the money is supposed to be used for.

So what does he do? He declares a state of emergency, martial law, and says it's--

HUME: He didn't say "martial law."

BARNES: OK, well, it is martial law. That's pretty picky, Brit.

But in any case, he says it is all this Muslim terrorist activity that's doing it. So who does he go after? Does he go after them? No, quite the contrary. He goes after the people who are his potential allies- -lawyers and judges and so on, and people like that.

And instead of going after the Taliban in the northwest territories, he makes a deal with the Taliban up there. He doesn't attack them. He makes a new deal. He releases some of their terrorists in exchange for troops.

And then reaffirms his treaty from a couple of years ago where this peace pact with the leading Taliban guy there that says we will leave you alone as long as you don't attack Pakistan troops, but you can have all the foreign fighters you want who come in here--meaning al-Qaeda--and you can let them in and they can attack American troops in Afghanistan, and so on.

This is a disaster. He is not doing anything that helps American interests or freedom or anything like that at the moment.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, we talked about the Shaw that way in the late 1970s, and we got rid of him, or his people did, and we stood by. And we know what succeeded him.

We have to be really careful in Pakistan. We have only a single interest in Pakistan, and that is stability. And we don't have the right answer as to how it is to be achieved.

Yes, Musharraf had a truce , but that's over. He sent his troops into the northwest territories again, and they have not succeeded.

But he is an ally in the war on terror. He flipped after 9/11 under our pressure, but we have to grow up and realize not every issue and crisis in the world is a result of American action or Bush action, or--

HUME: Inaction.

KRAUTHAMMER: --inaction, or, to take it to the extremes of Harry Reid, who often does, into absurdity, the war in Iraq.

This is an internal problem, where what you have in Pakistan are three factions--the Islamic extremists and the two westernized elements--the army, and the elite represented by Bhutto and the lawyers and others.

And the catastrophe is that the two westernized elements are now attacking each other as the Islamists sit and watch and wait to either attack or cause chaos or take more terrorism action.

KONDRACKE: But Musharraf has been an enabler of the Islamists. By suppressing democratic opposition he has allow the Islamist to assume the mantle of being the opposition.

Now, it is not a hopeless situation yet. One, Benazir Bhutto was allowed back into the country. Two, she has not been arrested, and she is still communicating with everybody that she wants to. He has not ruled out elections by January.

This is all coming to a head this week, as she is going to preside at a meeting of opposition leaders. And then she's saying that if he does not go on television and say that these elections are going to happen, free and fair by January, that she's going to bring her people into the streets.

Now, that is going to be the moment of truth. Does he arrest her?

HUME: What do you think will happen?

BARNES: He will probably arrest her.

But, look, Charles is right. Musharraf is an important ally in the war on terror. We need an ally in the war on terror, and sometimes he is and sometimes he isn't. Right now he isn't.


KRAUTHAMMER: Right now he's all we have. And we ought to broker a deal if we can between him and Bhutto, which we tried and failed. Otherwise, you don't throw away an asset who is the only guy around standing right now.

For more visit the FOX News Special Report web page.

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