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January 4, 2008
Influential ICG calls for Musharraf to resign
An influential policy outfit, the International Crisis Group, has called on President Musharraf to step down.
Citing "A Way Forward in Pakistan," the ICG, which is made up of scholars and former diplomats, believes that the Pakistani president is an obstacle to stability:
If Pakistan is to be stable in the wake of Benazir Bhutto’s murder, President Pervez Musharraf must resign and a quick transition follow to a democratically elected civilian government. These foreign policy bluebloods don't explain how exactly Pakistan gets from Point A (Musharraf) to Point B (a "quick transition" to democratic government). There's the little matter of the Pakistani military not to mention an intelligence service hostile to democracy itself. Short of an invasion by a foreign power to force the issue of an election held in a vacuum of power, it's very difficult to see how Pakistan achieves "a quick transition" to anything except chaos.
After Bhutto’s Murder: A Way Forward for Pakistan*, the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, concludes that Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup, is no longer, if he ever was, a factor for stability. Particularly the U.S. must recognise he is a serious liability, seen as complicit in the death of the popular politician.
Unless he steps down, tensions will worsen and the international community could face the nightmare of a nuclear-armed, Muslim country descending into civil war from which extremists would stand to gain. “Bhutto’s death has drawn the battle lines even more clearly between Musharraf’s military-backed regime and Pakistan’s moderate majority, which will settle for nothing less than genuine parliamentary democracy”, says Mark Schneider, Crisis Group's Senior Vice-President.
Musharraf is not a creation of the Bush Administration. He came to power in 1999 for reasons having nothing to do with America and everything to do with the internal dynamics of Pakistani politics and the long time uneasy relationship between the civilian government and the military. His agenda is not Washington's or the International Community's agenda. This has made him an enormously troubling and difficult ally in the War on Terror.
But an ally he is. And to consider throwing Musharraf off the bus at this point is pretty close to madness. It is he that is standing between the extremists and Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. And as unreliable as he might be, Musharraf is still someone who can get the process rolling toward democracy.