The soldier who fell from grace
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These days, it's tough being Pakistan's President Musharraf. The one time emperor-like ruler of Pakistan no longer wears any uniform of respectability, yet he has to perform the difficult task of remaining on the throne without any clothes on. His own military seems to be turning against him since he is largely seen as an American stooge rather than a man serving the army's interests.
Pervez Musharraf, the president, could have survived had the political parties only confronted him. The country's history bears witness to the fact that no military dictator ever left the throne unless pushed out by his own service. General Ayub Khan was shown the door by General Yahya Khan, who, in turn, was forced out by the army's senior command. Similarly, General Zia-ul-Haq might not have left his position had his own men not disposed of him.
This is not to underestimate the work of the political parties, but the fact is that dictators have never left until an equally strong force — which in Pakistan's case happens to be the military — coerced them. In Musharraf's case, a combination of factors, such as the mild struggle of the political parties, influence of external actors such as the United States, the lawyer's movement, which was a creation of his own folly, and Benazir Bhutto's tragic death proved to be the deadly potion which forced him to take his uniform off. Ideally speaking, he could still continue in power because Washington continues to support the former general. A large part of the American policy-making circle believes that Musharraf alone can protect US strategic interests in Pakistan. After all, the former army chief has done quite a lot in terms of controlling nuclear proliferation, keeping the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme, Dr A.Q. Khan, under lock and key and catching al-Qaeda militants. It had become quite convenient for the US administration to operate in Pakistan through Musharraf.
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