Musharraf Mulls Over a Career Change

Rick Moran
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has a decision to make.

Following the coup that brought him to power and a sham referendum that legitimized his power grab, the Army Chief of Staff promised a coalition of Islamic parties he would resign that post by 2004 if  they supported his election.

Typically, Musharraf reneged on that promise and has ruled the country as President while maintaining his position as head of the Army.

Well now that he's in political trouble, Musharraf is once again reaching out and promising a coalition partner that he will resign the Army if they back him:


Pakistan's embattled President Pervez Musharraf may quit as army chief in return for support from political parties to re-elect him for another term, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The offer is being discussed by Musharraf's aides with self-exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in London as part of a power-sharing pact, the Dawn newspaper said.

Musharraf, who has seen his popularity plummet in recent months, wants to get re-elected president for another five years between mid-September and mid-October, before his term as army chief expires at the end of the year. Under his plan, a general election will then be held at the end of the year or early next year.
Bhutto is no paragon of virtue herself having been accused of widespread corruption during her 2 shots in office (she was deposed both times). But she is a powerful force in Pakistani politics with a magic name. Her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was a beloved ex-prime minister executed by the military junta led by General Zia in 1979. Benizir is not exactly pro-western but would certainly be a viable alternative to many other candidates. If Musharraf can cut a deal with her, he can probably win in a walk in the election scheduled for December but which may slip to January or later if Musharraf can't get his political ducks lined up in a row.

As it stands now, it appears Musharraf has made a decision:



"President Musharraf has offered to doff the uniform even before the presidential elections," the English-language Dawn reported. "But in the trade off, he wants all political parties to agree to elect him president ... after the new assemblies come into being following the next general election."
The faction in the military that backs Musharraf would be relieved to see him step down as Chief of Staff as would many other elements in Pakistani society. It would mean that Musharraf would no longer be above the law as the Supreme Court would be able to rule against him once he gets out of uniform (the court is precluded from handing down any rulings against the military at the moment). And the democratic forces in Pakistan - disorganized and fractious at the moment - could coalesce to bring to power something more like a representative government than what they have now.

This situation bears watching over the next few days as Bhutto has given Musharraf a deadline of August 31 to make a deal. After that, all bets are off and she may return from exile to challenge him directly for the leadership of the nation.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has a decision to make.

Following the coup that brought him to power and a sham referendum that legitimized his power grab, the Army Chief of Staff promised a coalition of Islamic parties he would resign that post by 2004 if  they supported his election.

Typically, Musharraf reneged on that promise and has ruled the country as President while maintaining his position as head of the Army.

Well now that he's in political trouble, Musharraf is once again reaching out and promising a coalition partner that he will resign the Army if they back him:


Pakistan's embattled President Pervez Musharraf may quit as army chief in return for support from political parties to re-elect him for another term, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The offer is being discussed by Musharraf's aides with self-exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in London as part of a power-sharing pact, the Dawn newspaper said.

Musharraf, who has seen his popularity plummet in recent months, wants to get re-elected president for another five years between mid-September and mid-October, before his term as army chief expires at the end of the year. Under his plan, a general election will then be held at the end of the year or early next year.
Bhutto is no paragon of virtue herself having been accused of widespread corruption during her 2 shots in office (she was deposed both times). But she is a powerful force in Pakistani politics with a magic name. Her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was a beloved ex-prime minister executed by the military junta led by General Zia in 1979. Benizir is not exactly pro-western but would certainly be a viable alternative to many other candidates. If Musharraf can cut a deal with her, he can probably win in a walk in the election scheduled for December but which may slip to January or later if Musharraf can't get his political ducks lined up in a row.

As it stands now, it appears Musharraf has made a decision:



"President Musharraf has offered to doff the uniform even before the presidential elections," the English-language Dawn reported. "But in the trade off, he wants all political parties to agree to elect him president ... after the new assemblies come into being following the next general election."
The faction in the military that backs Musharraf would be relieved to see him step down as Chief of Staff as would many other elements in Pakistani society. It would mean that Musharraf would no longer be above the law as the Supreme Court would be able to rule against him once he gets out of uniform (the court is precluded from handing down any rulings against the military at the moment). And the democratic forces in Pakistan - disorganized and fractious at the moment - could coalesce to bring to power something more like a representative government than what they have now.

This situation bears watching over the next few days as Bhutto has given Musharraf a deadline of August 31 to make a deal. After that, all bets are off and she may return from exile to challenge him directly for the leadership of the nation.