Musharraf Wins Another Term in Pakistan - Probably

With the opposition boycotting the vote in the national and provincial assemblies, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan had no trouble cruising to victory in his bid for a second term.

Still Chief of Staff of the Army, Musharraf's victory must be ratified by the Pakistani Supreme Court which must decide if the law preventing the President from holding a position in the military applies to the Pakistani president:

"This is a sandblast-proof election, the only kind Musharraf could afford," said political analyst Ayaz Amir.

"He must be thanking his stars that October 6th has come and the country has not shut down. The only fly in his ointment now is the Supreme Court."

The court ruled Friday that the election results cannot be finalized until judges decide whether the general should be disqualified because of his army job. As a result, uncertainty will linger into late October, or even November.

Still, Musharraf and his supporters on Saturday were able to claim victory -- at least for now. Musharraf shrugged off concerns about the credibility of the election.

"If the majority votes for something, it is the rule of the day. That's democracy. There's no problem," he said at a news conference. Musharraf said the vote represented a crucial step in the "transition back to an absolutely normal government system."
Part of that transition back to "normal government" was Musharraf's promise to opposition leader Benazir Bhutto that he would resign his position in the Army before the nationwide elections to be held in late December or early January of next year. Musharraf has reneged on a promise to leave the military in the past so the entire country is waiting to see if the President keeps his word this time.

The opposition boycotted the election not only because Musharraf is still in the army but because they believed new elections should have preceded the vote. Brushing aside those concerns, Musharraf went ahead and held the election anyway with just his own coalition of religious and nationalist parties participating.