Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

Is Musharraf looking less beleaguered?

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President Pervez Musharraf - April file photoPakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi used an interesting choice of words when he talked to reporters in Paris about the new government’s relationship with President Pervez Musharraf.

Reuters Paris chief correspondent Crispian Balmer tells me that he said the ruling Pakistan People’s Party had established a working relationship with Musharraf after February elections in which the president’s political allies were defeated.

“The reason we have established that working relationship with him is to give stability,” he said. “We realise that this transition from dictatorship to democracy is a delicate transition and let’s not unnecessarily rock the boat.”

Those did not seem to be the words of a government that expects the embattled former army general to step down any time soon, despite a mass rally in Pakistan by lawyers fighting for the reinstatement of judges fired by Musharraf last year.

Musharraf, “shorthand” for Pakistan?

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I finally got around to reading the full text of a speech by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte to the National Endowment for Democracy’s Pakistan Forum earlier this month and the following exchange caught my eye:

President Musharraf/file photoQuestion: “Does the Bush Administration still consider President Musharraf an indispensable ally?”

Pakistan coalition split, not yet estranged

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The split in Pakistan’s ruling coalition could provide a lifeline for President Pervez Musharraf that the Pakistani people believed they’d yanked away in an election three months ago. 

After the Feb.18 poll demolished Musharraf’s parliamentary support, predictions abounded that the politically isolated U.S. ally would be forced from power within weeks or months. Politicians had even talked about impeaching him.   

Pakistan’s coalition government founders

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Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif/Faisal MahmoodWhen former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of the late Benazir Bhutto, agreed in March to form a coalition government in Pakistan, the words of the 19th century British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli seemed apt:

“Coalitions, though successful, have always found this, that their triumph has been brief,” I quoted him as saying, in a posting which asked whether the coalition between Sharif’s PML (N) and Zardari’s PPP would survive.

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