Monday, February 27, 2006

Musharraf's Plight

Stratfor weighs in on the General's predicament.

Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has called for a March 1 meeting of Pakistan's National Security Council (NSC) to discuss the consequences of nationwide protests against the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in European newspapers, the Lahore-based Daily Times reported Feb. 27.

That Musharraf is summoning the country's top political body -- comprising Pakistan's senior-most civil and military leaders -- after days of demonstrations centering on the Mohammed caricatures indicates two things. First, the issue is no longer about the cartoons, as the protest organizers, mostly Islamist groups, have used the controversy to begin mobilizing anti-government sentiment to enhance their political standing against Musharraf's government. Second, it reveals that the Musharraf government is in a predicament where it is slowly but surely being pushed into a corner with fewer means of maintaining its grip on power.

Not only does the perception that Musharraf is being cornered boost his domestic political opponents' confidence, it also begins to rattle Washington, given that the U.S.-led global war against terrorism depends heavily on Musharraf being both the driver and navigator for Pakistan. Musharraf's approach to staying ahead of the political curve has involved leveraging his domestic position to enhance his international standing and vice-versa; so this turn of events places him in a critical spot in which opponents will force him to concede to their demands if he cannot regain the upper hand at home -- rendering him unfavorable to Washington. Losing his standing with Washington will then have a boomerang effect at home
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2 comments:

libertarian said...

PR: from the pen of the same intrepid author who questioned the conventional wisdom of Pakistan's failure with democracy, comes this tantalizing question.

Best regards

cynical nerd said...

I am still willing to stick to my assessment. All this protest/shmotest is for pure American consumption onlee.

Watch out for Bush to dole out more aid during his visit without making any demands on democratization or reforming the education system. Once every party (military, islamists, mainstream) get's their due, the protests will disappear in a day.

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