Pervez Musharraf 'will exit in days'
The Telegraph reports:
One close confidante said that the president believed he had run out of options after three of the main parties who triumphed in last week's poll announced they would form a coalition government together, and also pledged to reinstate the country's chief justice and 60 other judges sacked by Mr Musharraf in November.
"He has already started discussing the exit strategy for himself," a close friend said. "I think it is now just a matter of days and not months because he would like to make a graceful exit on a high."
US policy in Pakistan and Afghanistan is now in crisis.
That's democracy ain't it. Now we'll see whether there is broad support in Pakistan for the fight against radical Islam. Better that we know it now than after mooted plans to move masses of troops into Afghanistan eventuate, only to discover that the Pakistani logistical rear has gone over to the other side.
The current opposition coalition headed by by Asif Zardari, the widower of Benazir Bhutto and the PML-N, headed by Nawaz Sharif, a former prime minister have enough votes to unseat Musharraf outright. Musharraf's party lost so badly all of its 22 Federal ministers were not returned to the assembly. So there is no question that Musharraf is deeply unpopular.
Nawaz Sharif is the the focus of worry about the future of Pakistan. He's returned from a 7 1/2 year exile in Saudi Arabia; he's been a prime minister twice and it was under his watch that Pakistan detonated its first nukes. AQ Khan bought election ads for him in the recently concluded campaign. He is reputed to have met with Osama Bin Laden. He favors Sharia law. In other words, he is the perfect Usual Suspect. On the other hand, he's a known quantity. He's been in office before and the world didn't end.
But it's inevitable that both Zadari and Sharif will try to assert civilian control over the military. That was why the "international community" pushed for the elections. And this was what was elected.
Two issues will now be disputed. First, whether to continue fighting the Islamists on the Northwest Frontier. CNN is reporting Zadari as apologizing for the Musharraf policy of fighting the Balochis, "where intelligence officials believe Taliban leaders may be holed up". (Hat tip: Astute Blogger) The second will be the whether the continued security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal can be guaranteed.
It seems obvious that US policy in Pakistan is at a crossroads. And since the campaign in Afghanistan is strategically linked to Pakistan, that whole theater must now be re-evaluated as well. And as Cannoneer points out, the logistical train supplying Afghanistan is now that much more dangerous.