The Twilight of Pervez Musharraf

It is said that political power in Pakistan flows from the three A’s: Allah, the Army, and support from America. Of the three, it is the army leadership that has the clearest means of ridding the country of Pakistan’s president in uniform, Pervez Musharraf. And that’s the main reason any power-sharing deal with former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is unlikely to end Pakistan’s political turmoil.

Musharraf hoped to extend his presidency this fall without caving in to opposition demands that he renounce his military position and restore a civilian rival to the post of prime minister. But few international leaders face such a wide range of sworn domestic enemies.

Since seizing power following a 1999 coup, Musharraf has survived at least three serious assassination attempts. His anti-terrorist partnership with the United States fatally undermined his political alliance with Pakistan’s religious conservatives even before his government stormed Islamabad’s Red Mosque in July, killing more than 100 people. The threat of terrorist attacks inside the country will continue to rise.

Musharraf also has plenty of secular enemies. Their anger, inflamed in March when he tried unsuccessfully to sack the Supreme Court’s independent-minded chief justice, rages on. The court recently ruled that Nawaz Sharif, who Musharraf unseated eight years ago, must be allowed to return from exile.