Goodbye Musharraf Reax
Some thoughts from around the web on the Pakistani strongman resigning. Frankie Martin:
An overwhelming percentage of Pakistanis are opposed to Musharraf's war against militants in Pakistan's tribal areas, seeing it as an unnecessary American intervention that has made Pakistan less secure. The US must understand that in voting to impeach Musharraf, Pakistanis wanted to vote against the US and the way it is conducting its "war on terror" in Pakistan.
Troy at Abu Muqawama:
Of interest/concern to the readers of this blog is the future of Pakistan’s efforts against militancy. A fair amount of the population views the conflict against the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban and their fellow travelers in FATA and NWFP as a Musharraf/American driven effort, not a Pakistani one. What will happen in the post-Musharraf era? Will Pakistan’s civilian government continue to pursue the extremists? Even if they decide to do so, can either the government or the Army provide the leadership necessary to do so? Military operations against militants are continuing in the NWFP, with nearly 500 killed recently, yet the Taliban continues to collect taxes throughout the Tribal agencies.
In a proximate sense, this seems unambiguously good Musharraf is right to think that fighting the impeachment drive would be a disaster for Pakistan. And in a long-term sense, it would serve the United States well to shift from too much of a reliance on a relationship with Musharraf specifically to a broader engagement with Pakistani society. In the medium-term, however, what I’m hearing from people is that the problem now is that the governing coalition will have to actually do something. Thus far, their post-election agenda has mainly been focused on sidelining Musharraf and moving back to full civilian rule. That’s understandable, but during this period long-festering problems with the economy and in the frontier regions have deteriorated. The focus on Musharraf was, among other things, a way to avoid taking full responsibility for dealing with Pakistan’s considerable problems.
Pakistan just had a slow-burning, people-powered, secular revolution and they forced a sitting dictator - who had the complete confidence and support of the only superpower in the world - out. Peacefully. Without any bloodshed. Without any crazy mullah grabbing the nukes and blowing up the world. Without inflation hitting 10,000,000%. Without any riots. With suicide bombings in Lahore. With two regions embroiled in near civil-war. With the same corrupt politicians in charge. With the unshakeable faith, the belief, that they deserved justice. That they deserved the right to have the power to act. That they were citizens of their country, not keeps.
This is unprecedented. This is historic. This is a momentous time in the history of this nation. It has successfully forced accountability - through peaceful and legal means - on its leaders. The people of Pakistan - lawyers and all - have exercised their agency.
Just because Musharraf is out doesn’t mean things are going to get better. In fact, it’s a mistake to view any country, but specifically Pakistan, as the product of a single strongman. To go back to something I wrote on Friday, the job of the next administration is to build ties with Pakistanthe nuclear-armed South Asian power that, among other things, has an uninvited guest named Osama bin Ladenthat go beyond the contingency of the moment. It’s inconceivable that the Bush administration could have surveyed the post-9/11 landscape, observed the centrality of Pakistan to the war on terror, and said, "You know what we should do? Base our ties to Pakistan on a mercurial dictator." The next administration may have to distance itself from the U.S. in order to underscore the end of the Musharraf era, and if so, that’s a mistake the U.S. can ill-afford at a time of resurgent al-Qaeda in Pakistan and rising U.S. casualties in Afghanistan.