The Austin Chronicle

Perry and Musharraf Do Lunch

By Richard Whittaker, July 15, 2011, News

Gov. Rick Perry continues to build his résumé before his anticipated presidential run. However, his latest quest for national headlines involved breaking bread with a deposed military dictator sought in his own country on charges of conspiracy to murder. On June 12, Perry tweeted a picture of himself and his wife Anita with former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and his wife, saying that they met "for lunch. Had a great discussion." Why was the former Pakistani leader in Texas? Nominally, he's on a highly lucrative speaking tour. But the real reason he's not in Pakistan is that he is in exile. Musharraf seized power in Pakistan through a 1999 military coup; since he left office in 2008 under threat of impeachment, courts have issued warrants against him for conspiracy to murder in the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

There also are still-unresolved questions about how Musharraf could not know that Osama bin Laden was hiding in the Pakistani military city of Abbottabad during his presidency. His unannounced meeting with Perry could be intended to help both men's presidential aspirations, as Musharraf has claimed he will seek re-election and has been railing against the recent U.S. decision to withhold $800 million in military aid to Pakistan. At press time, Perry's office had not returned multiple requests for a comment on the lunch, but Texas Democratic Party Communications Director Kirsten Gray said, "It's interesting that the governor who thinks Juarez is in America is trying to pad his foreign policy credentials."

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