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Volume 3, No. 10 - March-April 2004

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The War on Terror: A Backstage Glimpse
Subodh Atal

[For this month's Satire issue, Kashmir Herald through its deep-throat contacts managed to get the transcript of a discussion between Pakistani Dictator-Chief Executive-President-Commander-in-Chief Pervez Musharraf and US Secretary of State Colin Powell during Powell's recent visit to Pakistan. Here we present that discussion.]

Venue: Islamabad, Pakistan.

When: March 17th
[Secretary of State Colin Powell arrives in Pakistan and is greeted by Gen. Pervez Musharraf]
Gen. Musharraf: Welcome to the 52nd American state, Secretary Powell, you must come more often, we are here to serve you.

Sec. Powell: General, we are old friends. Let's cut out the crap and get to business. I am here to deliver a very important message from President Bush.

Gen. Musharraf: I am always only too eager to do the President's bidding. Let me know what my President desires and I will produce it for you. In fact we here excel in predicting what he wants, and try to have it ready in advance.

Sec. Powell: Mushy, you know that Kerry has now become the Democratic candidate. He is leading my President in almost every poll that keeps on coming out. President Bush is looking for a bounce. And it's got to be something better than what we did with Saddam last December.

Gen. Musharraf: Don't worry, Secretary Powell, I told you we excel in predicting the President's desires and being ready to serve him. We have our military in South Waziristan in anticipation. They are very close to getting the Al Qaeda leadership.

Sec. Powell: Mushy, we can't mess up this time. We trusted you in Tora Bora, and you let the evil ones slip away. Kerry and his friends are using that in the campaign. They claim we forgot about Al Qaeda and so our President should not be re-elected.

Gen. Musharraf: Sir, we didn't have the best people in the military at that time, they were too primitively jehadi in their outlook. I have placed the best officers in the right positions now. I expect to see immediate results.

Sec. Powell: OK, what do you think you can deliver now?

Gen. Musharraf: Wait a minute sir. You know I can't deliver without paying the price here. You remember those assassination attempts. Don't you? I do need to bring something back to my countrymen so they don't turn against me.

Sec. Powell: Well, our CIA now thinks they are not sure those assassination attempts were real.

Gen. Musharraf: Sir, with due respect, don't you think you should be skeptical about your CIA? Didn't they drop the ball on the Iraqi WMDs?

Sec. Powell: Let's not go there, and let's stick to business. OK, tell me what's your price and what can you deliver?

Gen. Musharraf: Glad that you asked sir. We knew you were coming with needs, and we have prepared accordingly. We are going to surround and attack Zawahiri's hideout in South Waziristan even as your plane takes off back for Washington. We will deliver him dead or alive. Oh for the price, this is big in my country. You know that only 6% of my public, and even less of my military and the ISI support the United States. We would like you to ask Vajpayee to hand Kashmir over to us, no more haggling over it.

Sec. Powell: No, Mushy, I was just there and asked Vajpayee about Kashmir. He said he can't do that otherwise he will be in trouble in their elections. He wants to drag it out so that Indians don't get too disturbed. He wants you guys to play cricket first.

Gen. Musharraf: (cursing under breath) That's too bad, I don't think I can deliver what you are asking for. The ISI will assassinate me if I don't get Kashmir in return for the Al Qaeda bigwigs.

Sec. Powell: Not that assassination talk again! I can't get you Kashmir, but I can get you the next best thing. I can make you guys a non-Nato ally on par with Israel and Japan.

Gen. Musharraf: Well, that's still not enough. But I can do something for the President, still. Now I am not sure if it is Zawahiri or the IMU's Tahir Yudesh that we can get. But I can do an interview on CNN and say we have surrounded a high-value target, and they will think it is Zawahiri. I will lead them on. Once CNN says Zawahiri is surrounded, you can bet that your President will get the nicest bounce in the polls -that's what you want. Don't you? And don't worry, there's six months to November - anything is possible with finding Zawahiri and OBL, perhaps we can work that out too.

Sec. Powell: OK, I will be watching CNN in the plane. If I don't see this interview, I will ask my pilot to turn back to Islamabad and then I will come to question you about who else is involved in the nuke WalMart. I will need to run the timing of the capture of the two by Rove. We will be getting back to you on that.

Gen. Musharraf: Sir, Sir, please not the nuke WalMart again. I told you I was 400% sure it was a solo job by AQ Khan.

Sec. Powell: OK, then you know what to do so I don't ask you those questions.

Islamabad, March 18th

[Gen. Musharraf reveals on CNN a "high-value target" is surrounded by the Pakistani military in South Waziristan, hints it might be Zawahiri, then meets with his ISI chief, Ehsanul Haq]

ISI chief Haq: Sir, everything is in place.

Gen. Musharraf: Really? Don't tell me Zawahiri really is there. We are not giving him up until those Americans pay the right price. This non-NATO ally thing is fine, it will get us some nice weaponry to threaten India with, but we still don't get Kashmir. All it does is keep us on par with India.

ISI chief Haq: Don't worry sir, Zawahiri is somewhere else, safe in our hands. And we won't let you down - your honesty will be appreciated in international circles- there really is a high value target in the area - Tahir Yuldesh of the IMU.

Gen. Musharraf: Does that mean we plan to finish off the IMU? You know that the Americans are serious. They want to see blood.

ISI chief Haq: Well, I did take care of Yuldesh. He has a tunnel that he can escape through. Let's not say anything about the tunnel until a few days from now. We can pretend we discovered it after much fighting. But we will kill some of the IMU guys - they are Uzbeks and Chechens anyway.

Gen. Musharraf: OK, let's make sure this is choreographed perfectly. Those damn CIA and NSA guys are taping our communications, they better not discover what we are up to, otherwise Powell is going to have his plane turned around and ask me more about AQ Khan, and you too!

ISI chief Haq: Got it sir, we will take care of the rest. Salam-alekum

Gen. Musharraf: Remember, if this gets messy, I don't have any clue what you guys are doing. Walekum-Salam.

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