Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Musharraf's limited options

Here's a reasonably insightful piece by Teresita Schaffer, who directs the South Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In wake of the Pakistani Supreme Court's decision to reinstate Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry, whom Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had kicked out back in March, Schaffer believes:

"Musharraf faces an unpleasant choice: either to undertake a period of authoritarian rule (he has said he won't) or to take his chances on an electoral process that has become much more uncertain for him." After some analyisis and description she receomends: "Rather than simply sticking to Musharraf like Velcro, we should emphasize the larger dimension -- Pakistan itself. U.S. policy and public diplomacy should focus on the need to respect Pakistan's law and constitution and carry out genuinely free elections ..."

I think the U.S. should distance itself from Musharraf too, but also distance itself from the very notion that it ought to have a big say in Pakistan or should spend resources trying to influence the country. We might need a proper relationship to get permission to go after bin Laden in the Northwest provinces (if the U.S. really wants to do that, which I wonder about), but that doesn't necessarily imply supporting or opposing the current president.

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