Friday, August 10, 2007

Stick a fork in Pervez Musharraf

Pakistani strongman General Pervez Musharraf, has reportedly backed away from his threat to declare a state of emergency after a 17 minute telephone conversation with US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Musharraf was mulling the emergency declaration as a response to an increase in domestic terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists, but conveniently, the state of emergency would also have the (purely coincidental, I'm sure!) side effect of postponing elections.

Of all the world's dictators, only Pervez Musharraf and Kim Jong-Il have a nuclear arsenal. Unlike his North Korean counterpart, however, Musharraf's country is politically devolving into anarchy, and his own political position is now almost totally untenable. Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup, has long found himself at odds with Pakistan's politically powerful state security services, but for a while, he enjoyed some measure of popular support from a populace that had lost confidence in his predecessor, Nawaz Sharif. Musharraf repeatedly cited a plan to remove himself from power, as dictators are wont to do, after single handedly fixing Pakistan's innumerable political and social problems. Well, obviously, Musharraf couldn't fix Pakistan, but now, his popular support has nearly vanished, and he's lost the confidence of nearly every politically important sector outside the high command of Pakistan's armed forces, which he still (unconstitutionally) leads.

Where his alliance with the United States once provided critical aid in his struggle with domestic Islamic militancy, Pakistan's population now views him as nothing more than Washington's puppet. Recent comments by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama about the possibility of America violating Pakistani sovereignty to attack Al Qaeda targets in Waziristan. This blunder, however naive or foolish on Obama's part, hit Musharraf like a ton of bricks. His innumerable critics immediately jumped on the gaffe, saying that no matter who the next president in, Pakistan is at risk because Musharraf is an American puppet.

And so it goes. Musharraf has been down for so long that it's starting to look like up to him. With the state of emergency canceled, the path is clear to free (if not necessarily fair) elections that could pave the way for his removal from office. Musharraf, at this point, would probably like nothing more to get the hell out of Pakistan before he's knocked off in yet another coup. If Musharraf survives through 2008, he'll be lucky. If he survives in office? That would be nothing short of a miracle.

1 comment:

beakerkin said...

Don't be so certain Musharaf is on the way down, He plays good cop bad cop with the USA. Moreover, a destabilized Pakistan could usher BJP into power in India.