General Pervez Musharraf is poised to rule Pakistan for another five years. Not because he wants to, he says, but because no one but he can reform Pakistan.
General Musharraf is the third Pakistani general in fifty years to seize power proclaiming a self-anointed reform agenda. Each time the United States and its allies nodded in agreement. But Musharraf is no Gorbachev, nor is he Kamal Ataturk, who pushed internal reform on their societies after recognizing the rot within.
All of Musharraf's attempts at reform resulted from international pressure. Feeble at best, they have invariably avoided the type of structural changes Pakistan needs if it is ever to break out of its recurring, worsening crisis.
Given General Musharraf's diminishing domestic popularity, some fear for his survival. But a real threat "from the street" seems most unlikely. The public, disillusioned by the kleptocratic regimes of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif that preceded Musharraf, is far too wretched and ambivalent to rise up.