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A General in civvies

A General in civvies
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First Published: Thu, Sep 20 2007. 02 20 AM IST

Updated: Thu, Sep 20 2007. 02 20 AM IST
General Pervez Musharraf’s strategy for survival has finally become clear, after months of political turmoil in Pakistan. He plans to quit as chief of the army staff, before taking the presidential oath—but only after he has been re-elected by the outgoing Parliament…
The important question is how long Gen. Musharraf, who has no natural political constituency and who has made himself deeply unpopular, would survive in civvies as President. He has been reluctant to end military rule because it means abandoning his only source of power. The army is taking a hammering in its campaign against Islamist militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas. It has lost 59 men since the start of the month, and militants are still holding 250 soldiers hostage after a convoy was hijacked in South Waziristan. If he leaves the army, he loses operational control over it and, with it, the ability to contain dissent.
Re-election by Fiat
(The Washington Post)
Last month Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf seemed ready to rescue himself from a mounting political crisis by striking a deal with his country’s secular political parties—a step he should have taken long ago… On Monday, the electoral commission his government controls issued a legally questionable ruling that would allow Musharraf to orchestrate his re-election as President in the next few weeks without giving up his position as army chief of staff.
The likely result of the general’s actions is that, instead of uniting against the growing threat from Islamic extremist groups, Pakistan’s secular institutions will continue to wage a destructive political war against each other… It’s doubtful that the general would pursue this course, if not for the tolerance and support he enjoys from the Bush administration, which has repeatedly signalled that it prefers the short-term benefits of alliance with an autocratic general to the uncertainties and messiness of a return to democracy…
Musharraf to shed ‘skin’
(Khaleej Times)
Finally, it seems Opposition pressure, nose-diving public opinion ratings and legal bindings have pushed Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to quit as the chief of army staff when his overextended term expires on 15 November…
A proud army man, General Musharraf has himself described the uniform as his “second skin”. Having it peeled off while he clearly harbours no such desire at heart will no doubt be hard for a man who has made (one enemy too many) in the wake of the war on terror, finding legitimacy in the presidency and token of strength in the army general headquarters. And while ruling party stalwarts will vehemently deny this, the step is a vindication of both the judiciary and the media, without whose combined pressure there was no question of what is arguably the country’s most powerful seat buckling under pressure…
If elected...
Things have not become as clear as one would have wished after the counsel for President Pervez Musharraf pledged to the Supreme Court on Tuesday that his client would give up his army uniform “if elected president” …What happens if he is not elected? Will Gen. Musharraf, in that case, continue to remain the army chief and breathe down the necks of the President and the Prime Minister?…One wishes President Musharraf had shown a bit more confidence in himself… Under the circumstances, it would have been in the fitness of things if he had decided to fight re-election as head of state after discarding his uniform rather than doing so “if elected for a second term”…
The time for manipulating the Constitution and for weird legal contrivances is gone. The people of Pakistan want unadulterated democracy—democracy as (it) is understood the world over.
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First Published: Thu, Sep 20 2007. 02 20 AM IST
More Topics: Pervez Musharraf | Pakistan | Views | OtherView |