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The President Who Left without a Coup

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sahab Fatemi

Finally, the general withdrew from power without his uniform to usher equations of the land of Pushtus into a new phase. It is certain that Islamabad will enter a new political phase after dismissal of Musharraf and assessment of changes should be postponed until future time due to internal complexities of Pakistan. Pervez Musharraf, the former president of Pakistan, saw his political standing much undermined after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Some sources related to Pakistan People’s Party are still trying to introduce Bhutto’s assassination as a premeditated plot by Musharraf.

Even wearing civilian dress could not protect Musharraf against political crises, while some analysts maintain that after the incident at La’al Mosque of Islamabad, presence of Musharraf at the top of the political equations of Islamabad had become meaningless. Some Pakistani politicians including Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari had taken extensive measures to eliminate Musharraf from power and their efforts, finally bore fruit. Recently, the head of Pakistan People’s Party announced that the party will soon introduce a replacement for Pervez Musharraf. The announcement by Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of Benazir Bhutto led to speculations that Pervez Musharraf, the former president of Pakistan and a close ally of the United States, who seized power through a coup d’état in 1999, will be no longer preset in the political equations of Islamabad.

A short time after resignation of Musharraf, Zardari told a group of PPP activists in Lahore that the day when they would introduce their candidate for presidency was near. After empowerment of Peoples’ Party and Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz branch, there were speculations about dismissal of Musharraf from power. Zardari continued by saying that Musharraf was an illegal president and the Peoples’ Party will find a legal way to oust Musharraf. Nawaz Sharif also called on Musharraf to step down. At the same time, opponents of Musharraf were not unanimous about his impeachment.

In other words, despite agreement of all opposition groups about dismissing Musharraf, they are very different about how to achieve that goal. Recent negotiations between leaders of two opposition parties about impeachment of Musharraf were fruitless. At the same time, people like Zardari insisted that Musharraf should be tried at court. Political equations in Pakistan have been always difficult and complicated. There are many clues leading to every political incident in Pakistan. Recently, something odd happened in that country; a president stepped down after 9 years without being afraid of assassination, suspicious death or coup d’état. However, history has shown that Pakistan is not lenient and merciful toward its presidents, especially a president who has been in power for nine crisis-ridden years.

Pervez Musharraf was the 12th president of Pakistan. He was also chief of staff of Pakistani Army and the fourth general to have ruled his country following a coup. Musharraf dismissed the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif on October 12, 1999 and occupied the highest executive post. Afterwards and following a referendum on June 20, 2001, he became the president of Pakistan.

Shortly after his election, many people filed lawsuits with Pakistani courts calling for a probe into his qualifications.

On May 12, 2000, the Pakistani high court ordered Musharraf to arrange public elections for October 12, 2002. He promised to continue his efforts to restore democracy. He organized an election on April 30, 2002, but the poll was boycotted by most political groups in Pakistan. In reality, “the general without uniform” had expired for most Democrats and traditional Republicans in the United States. Even the neoconservatives in Washington were not able to support him anymore. It is certain that the White House is planning new changes in Islamabad and this did not go in agreement with continued presence of Musharraf in power. Among people who have been considered as possible substitutes for Pervez Musharraf, few are more renowned.

Asif Ali Zardari, one of the two leaders of Peoples’ Party and a former senator; Nawaz Sharif, a former prime minister and an old opponent of Musharraf, as well as Muhammad Mian Soomro, chairman of Pakistani Senate are more likely to supplant Musharraf. Before being a victim of political complexities of his country, “the general without uniform” has fallen victim to redefinition of “Islamabad– Washington–al Qaeda” triangle. Like many former politicians of Pakistan, Musharraf failed to spend comfortable years in power. He recently announced that he would stay in Pakistan and will not leave the country. At the same time, some sources have noted that he may request political asylum from the British government.

Musharraf is going through dire straits right now. Two-thirds of Pakistani people are calling for his trial. According to an opinion poll conducted by Gallop Institute, 26 percent of Pakistani people have asked for Musharraf to be pardoned. Some 15 percent of Pakistani people have regretted his resignation, and 63 percent have called for his trial. Certainly, Musharraf’s resignation will usher Pakistan into a new juncture of its history and will have many security, economic, and political consequences.

Source: http://www.resalat-news.com/

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