October 6, 2007

Musharraf Wins, If The Court Lets Him

Pervez Musharraf took another giant step towards his transformation from a military dictator to a civilian leader today. He won his election to the presidency with little trouble from his rivals, but he has to await a ruling eleven days from now by the Supreme Court to determine whether he can take office:

Pakistan's military ruler Pervez Musharraf won a landslide victory in a controversial presidential election Saturday but the Supreme Court might yet snatch another five-year term away from him.

Musharraf, a key US ally who seized power in the world's only nuclear-armed Islamic country in a 1999 coup, swept to an easy win over token rivals in the vote by national and provincial parliaments.

But the embattled general must now await a decision by the Supreme Court, which said Friday that the winner cannot be officially declared until at least October 17 while it hears legal challenges.

It wasn't exactly close. Pakistan selects its president by parliamentary vote plus votes in four provincial assemblies. Musharraf won 252 out of 257 votes in Pakistan's parliament, and initial reports from the provinces show similar ratios in those votes. Clearly, Musharraf set the table well for his election, and one has to wonder at the Saddam-level percentage of victory as to exactly what that entailed.

Musharraf doesn't exactlty have friends at the Supreme Court. He attempted to fire its Chief Justice over charges of corruption, a handy method of Musharraf's for getting rid of political opponents. The Court and the nation rebelled, which is one of the reasons he reached out to Benazir Bhutto for support -- and why she insisted on his resignation either as president or army chief of staff as the price for it, as well as a pardon for herself.

Still, the court didn't exactly go out of its way to stop Musharraf from transitioning to civilian authority. They ruled in his favor more than once during the last couple of weeks prior to this vote when they could have insisted that he resign his position with the army first. The court's decision to hold its ruling to October 17th could be a measure to ensure that Musharraf complies with the Bhutto amnesty and other promised reforms before giving its blessing. The court will probably prefer to see an imperfect process in the return to civilian rule rather than torpedo it over relatively minor problems and thus extend the military junta.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (6)

Posted by Ron C | October 6, 2007 10:17 AM

The courts final ruling is foregone, Pervez Musharraf will be president.

But, do not look for Mrs. Bhutto to become Prime Minister - it just won't happen, in my view.

Posted by Peyton | October 6, 2007 12:26 PM

Check out the pictures at FoxNews and elsewhere - designed for what audience?
Happy Musharraf supporters carrying signs that announce:
"We love Musharraf"
"Go Musharraf Go"
"No legitamacy to illegitimates"

All in proper English. How about that. All scrawled in grassroots supporters living rooms?

Posted by Rose | October 7, 2007 2:11 AM



God be with them all, praise God.

Posted by coldwarrior415 | October 7, 2007 8:45 AM

Peyton, never spent any time out in Pakistan have you? Some of the most educated people in the region, and English is mandatory in the schools from elementary level through college (outside of Waziristan and Islamist controlled areas). Yes, the unwashed masses of Karachi and elsewhere in Pakistan (outside of Waziristan and those areas controlled by Islamist fundamentalists) are quite proud of their abilities in English and their educations. Even a 10-year-old child in most parts of Karachi can paint a nice sign in the most elegant English. Perhaps a lot better than most kids the same age in our schools here in the States.

Musharraf won the election by a hefty margin, some might call it a mandate, a landslide. He did so I believe because he has stated many many times that Pakistan must enter the 21st Century with vigor and determination. He, and other Pakistanis, see India next door, and have you been to India lately? The growth of the middle class in India over the past two decades has been staggering, even for Indians. High paid, high skill jobs abound, and go unfilled many times, hence the high wages offered, because of the rapid growth in technology based industries and services. Modern, almost Western, housing is going up like bamboo all over the country. Young Indians in their 20's have ready access to wealth and money their parents could only dream about. Part of our present oil price problem is to a very large extent because the Indians are now serious consumers of oil for their industries, for their new cars, for the trucks that transport construction materiel all across the nation.

Musharraf wants this same level of progress across Pakistan. It is a sure way of ending Pakistan's second class status among nations, it is a sure way of eliminating ancient feuds between Indian and Pakistani. It is Musharraf who has done more to normalize relations with India, far more than any other Pakistani leader, ever.

Maybe, just maybe, the middle class and professional class in Pakistan sees their opening to enter the 21st Century as co-equals to the rest of the world.

They saw how Bhutto ran things, twice, and that got them what? A massive overpaid government bureaucray instead of real jobs. Bhutto created jobs that drained the economy rather than provide the conditions for jobs that improved the national economy.

The Islamists by and large want to dispense with both the government sector jobs and those 21st Century jobs...they wish to go back a few hundred years and make Pakistan a nation of goat herders and agrarians. Ignorant and easy to control.

Given the choice...entering the 21st Century, or a new and larger dependent government bureaucracy draining the national coffers, or 15th Century goat herding and stubble survival farming...if you were a young kid in Karachi, or Quetta, or Lahore, what would be your choice?

Posted by Peyton | October 7, 2007 10:46 AM

Great perspective, ColdWarrior.

It's very difficult to find commentary on Pakistan that would yield insight on the general education level. Yet, the Pakistani immigrants here have an amazing work ethic and strong skills, and those don't come from being rioting savages in the streets.

Another good example of the myopic, agenda-driven perspective that the MSM peddles, and how that even affects people who actually pay attention to foreign affairs.

Posted by coldwarrior415 | October 7, 2007 11:12 AM

Peyton, even here at Captain Ed's "Website for Wayward Boys and Girls" one finds little commentary on Pakistan, even though, among world leaders to chose from, Captain Ed has certainly brought up Musharaff often enough.

We do suffer from a cultural myopia about Pakistan, and the entire South Asian region. Thus, stereotypes prevail, and rabidly false stereotypes at that.

From my observations, I find Musharaff a cut above the norm. He is certainly a lot better than Zia al-Huq. Has a sense of realism. Is educated and well-read. Also has a deep sense of nationhood. And for this? Too many in the West want him deposed or forced to step down in favor of someone else. But in favor of what? A collapse of Pakistan entirely? Bhutto brings to the table a different perspective, but also a good deal of baggage from her previous two incarnations.

As an old and dear now-former Pakistani offical told me 15 years ago, "She [Bhutto} went to Radcliffe. What more need I say?"

And that is something in Bhutto that she hasn't yet reconciled with the wholesale corruption she and her party and her family engendered throughout Pakistan during her tenure, not to mention her obtainig solid non-aligned "credentials" praising and supporting Bob Mugabe and Kim Il-song and others of the same cloth along the way.

Unless there is some sort of disaster out in Pakistan, another massive earhtquake, or the Islamists killing their hostages in the Northwest, or something else that "bleeds therefore it leads" in the headlines, most Americans don't give Pakistan so much as a passing thought. Same holds true for the stereotypes about India. They have Starbucks and Pizza Hut out there on the Sub-Continent. Imagine that? And they make some pretty decent energy efficient automobiles as well. And as a population India has many many more Ph.D's than any other Third World nation...as they enter the First World.

Hope to get back to Pakistan before I die. Sunset on Clifton Beach, walking in the foothills of Skardu, flying low in a small plane over the Punjab, having a fruit flip at the Sindh Club (imagining myself to be Kipling), sitting on Kim's Cannon at Lahore...so much to see, such a beautiful country. Such generally wonderful and warm people as well.

One of many countries I have lived and worked in over the years that offers so much, just waiting to be given or obtaining the opportunity.

Post a comment