Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

Looking past Musharraf and the role of the Pakistan Army


June photo of President Musharraf and Army Chief General Pervez Kayani/Ho NewAmid the feverish speculation about when, how and where President Pervez Musharraf will go, analysts are already looking beyond to the future of Pakistan in a post-Musharraf era. One theme stands out: while the consensus appears to be that the Pakistan Army will not step in to save Musharraf, it might well intervene in the not so distant future if it believes it needs to save the country.

“Musharraf’s departure will highlight the problems that confront the country, which is in the grips of a food and energy crisis. Inflation is out of control,” writes Tariq Ali in the Los Angeles Times. ”The price of natural gas, used for cooking in many homes, has risen by 30%. Wheat, a staple, has seen a 20% price hike since November 2007 … According to a June survey, 86% of Pakistanis find it increasingly difficult to afford flour on a daily basis, for which they blame their new government.”

He adds that over the last 50 years the United States has preferred to work with the Pakistan Army rather than civilian rulers. ”Nothing has changed. The question being asked is, how long before the military is back at the helm?”

Waving the national flag at independence day ceremony/Mohsin RazaShuja Nawaz, who has just published a book about the Pakistan Army, writes in the Washington Post that the military “would rather not be drawn into the current political squabble. They want to give the civilians the ‘time and space’ to operate government as best as they can.”