Big news from the main front of the war on terror today.
Faced with desertions by his political supporters and the neutrality of the Pakistani military, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, an important ally of the United States, is expected to resign in the next few days rather than face impeachment charges, Pakistani politicians and Western diplomats said Thursday.
Having spent a couple months in the country, I would argue that the removal of Musharraf should be viewed as a positive step toward democracy in the 21st century. We can only hope that true democracy will result from this new phase in the tumultuous history of Pakistan.
More below the jump.
This change in the country Barack Obama often mentions when speaking of the war on terror will surely be critical in the months and years ahead. A de-stabilized country could serve as a haven for al Qaeda and the Taliban. Of course, many would argue it has been that way for years.
Musharraf came to power in 1999 in a military coup and annointed himself the title of "President". The fact that the world has kowtowed to him over these past 9 years demonstrates how desperate the west is to have a key Muslim ally in the new global axis of power.
His departure from office is likely to unleash new instability in the country as the two main parties in the civilian government jockey for the division of power.
The United States and Britain, which last year together sought to put a democratic face on the unpopular Mr. Musharraf — who was then also chief of the army — by engineering the return of opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, as his partner in a putative power-sharing arrangement are now virtual bystanders as Mr. Musharraf’s rule comes to an end.
Ms. Bhutto was assassinated in December, and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, now the leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, emerged as a major force urging Mr. Musharraf’s ouster last week.
Is it not clear that if Pakistan were actually home to any oil reserves, the dictatorship that has been Pakistan for the Musharraf reign would have been viewed quite differently by the Cheney/Bush administration?
Let us all take this moment to try and send good wishes to the people of Pakistan, some of the kindest and friendliest people I have ever met. They are the victims of the war on terror.
We can only hope this latest upheaval in this beautiful country will not too adversely affect its citizens.
Update #1: I have been scouring the wires looking for more on this to no avail. Shocking to me that the BBC, Guardian, etc., have nothing. If anyone knows of another source, please list in the comments.
This is one reason I have always loved nytimes.com Items like this make it worth suffering through Kristol, Brooks & the rest who get paychecks from them.
Just last night before I fell asleep I was reading from the last few chapters of "Three Cups of Tea", the extraordinary book by Chris Mortensen and his efforts to build schools in the Muslim world. If you haven't heard of this #1 NY times bestseller, I highly recommend it.
Here is the only relevant article I can find right now from another source, The Economist, but it has no word about the imminent resignation. In fact, it is actually critical of the impeachment efforts.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s move from Iran to Pakistan. Right now, there’s a big move to impeach the president of Pakistan. Talk about your findings in relation to Pervez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto.
RON SUSKIND: Just briefly, one of the big themes of the book is the enormous gap between word and deed, between official spoken morality and sweeping statements and the dark practices of the United States, all of which are coming out. You know, the fact is, that doesn’t work in a hearts and minds era of increasing transparency. It just doesn’t. And ultimately, it bleeds away the most precious fluid, our moral authority, which is the source of true power in the world.
Also, here is a link to a long, marginally amusingpiece I wrote about my experiences in Pakistan a few years back.
And, OK, just one more photograph. Apricots drying on rooftops in the stunning Hunza town of Karimabad.
Finally another source. HuffPo Via the Financial Times (for which you need to sign up to read on their site)
The most interesting points discussed here and on the other HuffPo piece from today are regarding the immunity issue.
...former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose party is a member of the ruling coalition, ruled out "safe passage" for Musharraf.
"Should safe passage be given to someone who has done this to Pakistan?" Sharif asked a crowd in the eastern city of Lahore. "He wants safe passage by breaking Pakistan's law. He wants safe passage by breaking Pakistan's constitution. He is asking for safe passage by selling out Pakistan's sovereignty."