December 30, 2006Foreign Affairs

Death for murderous dictators?

The vastly different fates of the two butchers

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

In May 1988, the Shias, who are in a majority in Gilgit, rose in revolt against the Sunni-dominated administration. Zia put an (Special Services Group) group commanded by Gen Musharraf in charge of suppressing the revolt. Gen Musharraf transported a large number of Wahabi Pakhtoon tribesmen from the NWFP and Afghanistan, commanded by bin Laden, to Gilgit to teach the Shias a lesson. These tribesmen under bin Laden massacred hundreds of Shias.

In its issue of May 1990, Herald the monthly journal of the Dawn group of publications of Karachi, wrote as follows: In May,1988, low-intensity political rivalry and sectarian tension ignited into full-scale carnage as thousands of armed tribesmen from outside Gilgit district invaded Gilgit along the Karakoram Highway. Nobody stopped them. They destroyed crops and houses, lynched and burnt people to death in the villages around Gilgit town. The number of dead and injured was put in the hundreds. But numbers alone tell nothing of the savagery of the invading hordes and the chilling impact it has left on these peaceful valleys.”

Gen. Musharraf started a policy of bringing in Punjabis and Pakhtoons from outside and settling them down in Gilgit and Baltistan in order to reduce the Kashmiri Shias to a minority in their traditional land and this is continuing till today. [The Acorn]Saddam Hussein got death, because he fell foul of the United States, lost a war, got caught, stayed alive through the legal proceedings wearing a natty suit and a personality that alarmed Iraq’s newly installed rulers. Gen Musharraf gets dinner at the White House because he knows what’s good for him (down to the bit about proper attire).

Saddam’s victims may have secured retribution or justice or whatever they prefer to call it. But let’s bin the rubbish about the America’s reasons for putting him to death (you are, of course, free to believe that the Iraqi court was independent). The most that can be said about hanging dictators and heads of state is that it serves to deter others. The clever ones know that that’s not true either. The real message is unless you have one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council backing you, don’t mess with America”. The clever ones get it.

Update: The Times of London says as much.

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