The End of the Bush-Mush Affair

By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Tuesday, August 19, 2008; 11:45 AM

President Bush's stormy relationship with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is finally over.

Long after it became apparent that Musharraf was leading him on, and long after it was clear that Musharraf was on his way out the door, Bush still stood by his man.

But now that Musharraf is gone, having resigned in the face of impeachment, Bush is left to pick up the pieces.

Anwar Iqbal writes in Dawn, Pakistan's most widely read English-language newspaper: "Diplomatic sources in Washington described President Bush as Mr Musharraf's 'last holdout' in the US capital. Others in the Bush administration -- including Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- had long given up on Mr Musharraf. But Mr Bush remained faithful to the person he considered a close ally and a personal friend."

Iqbal writes that Bush finally faced up to the inevitable about three weeks ago, after Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani flew to Washington for an intervention: "By the time Prime Minister Gilani met Mr Bush on July 28, Pakistani lobbyists were satisfied that they had neutralised the pro-Musharraf lobby in Washington.

"'President Bush was the last holdout,' said [a think-tank expert who worked with the Pakistani ambassador to Washington]. 'But after a good luncheon at the White House with people who had their hearts in the right place, Mr Bush also realised that he can no longer save Mr Musharraf'.

"The prime minister took a team of 'Musharraf experts' with him to the luncheon and they played a key role in persuading Mr Bush to stop supporting the Pakistani leader.

"'Once this was done, the Pakistanis knew that the Americans will no longer try to save Mr Musharraf, so they made their move [for impeachment],' the expert said.

"While Mr Bush had accepted the argument that Mr Musharraf could no longer be saved, he still wanted to make sure that the Pakistani leader was not penalised.

"Besides sending his own ambassador to the coalition leaders to negotiate a safe exit, indemnity from penalisation and a secure stay in Pakistan or abroad for Mr Musharraf, Mr Bush also asked two key allies -- Britain and Saudi Arabia -- to help."

Jane Perlez writes in the New York Times that Musharraf announced his resignation "after months of belated recognition by American officials that he had become a waning asset in the campaign against terrorism.

"The decision removes from Pakistan's political stage the leader who for nearly nine years served as one of the United States' most important -- and ultimately unreliable -- allies. . . .

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