Musharraf Resigns

It had been expected for days but evidently, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's resignation over national television has brought about a profound sense of relief that he will leave peacefully:

"I don't want the people of Pakistan to slide deeper and deeper into uncertainty," Musharraf said.

"For the interest of the nation, I have decided to resign as president," he said. "I am not asking for anything. I will let the people of Pakistan decide my future."

Musharraf has been a keen ally of the West in the fight on terror, receiving billions in military aid from the U.S. and launching attacks on militant groups near the country's border with Afghanistan.

He was expected to turn in his resignation to parliament Monday.

"It will be accepted, there is no second opinion about that," said Iqbal Zaffar Jhagra, the secretary general of the junior partner in the ruling coalition, the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).

Musharraf quit as the ruling coalition was taking steps to impeach him.

Local media reports said he had been granted "safe passage" out of the country.

Musharraf's legacy will be a mixed one both for the Pakistani people and his western allies. The first fewe years of his rule were marked by economic growth and a strong anti-corruption stand - both of which made him popular in Pakistan.

But his troubles started when he was given what amounted to an ultimatum by the United States after 9/11 - either you are with us or you are against us. Musharraf reluctantly acceded to our demands and it cost him domestically as the US invasion of Afghanistan was hugely unpopular with the Pakistani people. 

At this point, it must be said that cooperation during the Afghanistan war by Pakistan was generous and very important. It is likely that the operation would not have gone as well without the assistance of Musharraf and the Pakistani army.

Results in fighting the War on Terror were much more mixed. In fact, Musharraf proved a weak reed in the fight against al-Qaeda. He received around $11 billion in aid for his efforts to fight terrorism - aid he used to build up his military for a fight with India over Kashmir rather than help his army in getting control of the lawless provinces where al-Qaeda and the Taliban to this day roam free.

It is true we received valuable intel from Pakistan. But their lukewarm support of the new Afghan government as well as some tacit support for cross border raids by the Taliban into Afghanistan more than outweighed any assistance in the War on Terror Musharraf gave the US.

Can we blame him? We placed Musharraf in the impossible position of supporting an unpopular war and expected him to take care of the remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. We respected his wish that we not base troops in his country (which would have caused riots in the streets) while hoping against hope that he would be more aggressive in curtailing their activities. Instead, he was forced into a series of humiliating defeats in the provinces where he was compelled to sign agreements that in effect, ceded large swaths of territory to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

In retrospect - which always allows for 20-20 vision - we probably should have insisted on a return to civilian rule years earlier. But there were concerns that the Pakistani secular parties would want no part of our war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In the end, this became a self fulfilling prophecy as the new government has sought accommodation with the Taliban rather than war - with mixed results. It remains to be seen whether we will be forced by circumstances to go into Pakistan ourselves and clear out the Taliban infestation. Such a move would be disasterous for our relations with the Pakistani government but may become necessary if they cannot control their own borders.

Our complex, frustrating, and ultimately failed relationship with Musharraf is the kind of thing that happens in war. No good solutions to nearly insoluable problems doomed it from the start.

It had been expected for days but evidently, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's resignation over national television has brought about a profound sense of relief that he will leave peacefully:

"I don't want the people of Pakistan to slide deeper and deeper into uncertainty," Musharraf said.

"For the interest of the nation, I have decided to resign as president," he said. "I am not asking for anything. I will let the people of Pakistan decide my future."

Musharraf has been a keen ally of the West in the fight on terror, receiving billions in military aid from the U.S. and launching attacks on militant groups near the country's border with Afghanistan.

He was expected to turn in his resignation to parliament Monday.

"It will be accepted, there is no second opinion about that," said Iqbal Zaffar Jhagra, the secretary general of the junior partner in the ruling coalition, the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).

Musharraf quit as the ruling coalition was taking steps to impeach him.

Local media reports said he had been granted "safe passage" out of the country.

Musharraf's legacy will be a mixed one both for the Pakistani people and his western allies. The first fewe years of his rule were marked by economic growth and a strong anti-corruption stand - both of which made him popular in Pakistan.

But his troubles started when he was given what amounted to an ultimatum by the United States after 9/11 - either you are with us or you are against us. Musharraf reluctantly acceded to our demands and it cost him domestically as the US invasion of Afghanistan was hugely unpopular with the Pakistani people. 

At this point, it must be said that cooperation during the Afghanistan war by Pakistan was generous and very important. It is likely that the operation would not have gone as well without the assistance of Musharraf and the Pakistani army.

Results in fighting the War on Terror were much more mixed. In fact, Musharraf proved a weak reed in the fight against al-Qaeda. He received around $11 billion in aid for his efforts to fight terrorism - aid he used to build up his military for a fight with India over Kashmir rather than help his army in getting control of the lawless provinces where al-Qaeda and the Taliban to this day roam free.

It is true we received valuable intel from Pakistan. But their lukewarm support of the new Afghan government as well as some tacit support for cross border raids by the Taliban into Afghanistan more than outweighed any assistance in the War on Terror Musharraf gave the US.

Can we blame him? We placed Musharraf in the impossible position of supporting an unpopular war and expected him to take care of the remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. We respected his wish that we not base troops in his country (which would have caused riots in the streets) while hoping against hope that he would be more aggressive in curtailing their activities. Instead, he was forced into a series of humiliating defeats in the provinces where he was compelled to sign agreements that in effect, ceded large swaths of territory to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

In retrospect - which always allows for 20-20 vision - we probably should have insisted on a return to civilian rule years earlier. But there were concerns that the Pakistani secular parties would want no part of our war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In the end, this became a self fulfilling prophecy as the new government has sought accommodation with the Taliban rather than war - with mixed results. It remains to be seen whether we will be forced by circumstances to go into Pakistan ourselves and clear out the Taliban infestation. Such a move would be disasterous for our relations with the Pakistani government but may become necessary if they cannot control their own borders.

Our complex, frustrating, and ultimately failed relationship with Musharraf is the kind of thing that happens in war. No good solutions to nearly insoluable problems doomed it from the start.