Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Musharraf: Embattled, But Not Out…Yet

Posted by K.E. White on April 2, 2007

The judicial crisis in Pakistan continues, threatening President Pervez Musharraf’s regime. Musharraf now faces growing fundamentalist strength in the country, and the possible return of two political foes: Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto. 

But it seems the United States is betting on Musharraf to ride out the storm. 

It seems Musharraf is taking the judicial crisis seriously. So seriously that he’s detaining political opponents:

Pakistani authorities have placed a top Islamic MP under house arrest, ahead of planned protests against President Pervez Musharraf’s removal of the country’s top judge.


The chief of Pakistan’s main coalition of fundamentalist parties, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, has been detained for two days at his residence in Islamabad.

Musharraf is even trying to muzzle New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff

But Islamic and Jihadist factions are still gaining influence:

One incident shows that Pashtun militants are trying to establish their writ in the tribal areas and reacting to the pressure they are facing from the deals between as well the fighting between pro-government tribesmen.

Meanwhile, the suicide bombing in Kharian garrison last week in part was designed to underscore that the jihadist sphere of operations has now expanded into Punjab.

… 

The spread of Talebanisation from Pakistan’s border regions into its heartland could force Musharraf into sharing power with his secular opponents to salvage his own political position and roll back religious extremism.

Lastweek the International Crisis Group said, President Pervez Musharraf has failed to tackle Islamic extremism in Pakistan’s religious schools, which continue to promote a holy war against the West and foment terrorism.

“The Pakistani government has yet to take any of the overdue and necessary steps to control religious extremism,” the group said.

That’s great news for the United States. What will become of Pakistan’s improving relations with India under a jihadist regime?

Pakistan‘s foreign minister said on Sunday that a three-year-old peace process has helped Pakistan and India warm up relations, but they still need to resolve their long-standing dispute over Kashmir.

Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri said the two countries have moved beyond the tensions of 2001 when they had deployed thousands of troops along their border in an “eyeball-to-eyeball” standoff that threatened to blow up into a war.

“Now there is a sea change if you compare the situation to that,” he said at a joint news conference with his Chinese counterpart, Li Zhaoxing.

“We still need to resolve our disputes but the atmosphere is far improved,” Kasuri said.

But, wait, is America really going to support an anti-democratic Middle Eastern regime? Well, yes, but not without diplomatic some heart-burn:

Former Pakistan prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto have stepped up their overtures to the Bush administration, apparently in the belief that that the US alone can nudge President Pervez Musharraf towards holding free and fair elections.

The political rivals, engaged in forging opposition unity from their exile in Dubai and London, have also toured the US in the last month.

After a recent meeting in London, they had chided the West in general and accused it of ‘hypocrisy’ for being keen on democracy in neighbouring Afghanistan, but not in Pakistan.

But the US State Department seems sure that Musharraf will ride out the storm.

 

“I don’t think it’s too much of a question of (Musharraf) being toppled or serious unrest in country,” the official said yesterday when asked whether Washington was concerned that growing protests could lead to the military ruler’s overthrow.

“It doesn’t seem that way at the moment. I don’t see any signs of that,” said the official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, as Musharraf came under increasing pressure to quit over the judicial crisis.

Musharraf, a key US ally in the “war on terror,” has faced the biggest crisis of his eight years in power since ordering the suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on March 9.

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