ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's chief justice wanted President Pervez Musharraf to dissolve the national assembly and let him oversee the election months before he was suspended from office, the head of military intelligence said on Thursday.God bless Reuters, because in four grafs, they explain the entire story in a nutshell, so I don't have to.
The crisis over Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry's suspension three months ago has resulted in the most serious challenge to General Musharraf's authority since he took power in a military coup eight years ago.
Chaudhry's suspension has sparked a countrywide campaign by lawyers and opposition parties for restoration of full democracy.
The timing is bad for Musharraf, as he has controversial plans to be re-elected by the sitting national and provincial assemblies later this year.
But I will, because I pay myself by the word. Think about this: Musharraf wants to be re-"selected" by the Pakistani people, who elect the assemblies directly, and those bodies then select the President. The Chief Justice for Pakistan mentions he would prefer, for the people's sake, presumably, to oversee the election directly.
Chaudhry, according to statements by Major-General Mian Nadeem Ijaz Ahmad, Director-General of Military Intelligence, had been cozying up to the Pakistani intelligence and security communities...you know, the same guys who helped fund Al Qaeda attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center?...in an effort to pressure Musharraf (and perhaps save his own hide).
Six of one, half a dozen of the other, if you think about it: neither Musharraf nor Chaudhry would have American interests completely at heart unless it was more expedient to their own political future to do so.
Interestingly, Chaudhry may end up winning by default:
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has berated his coalition for leaving him isolated in a crisis that threatens to destabilize a country on the front line of a global anti-terrorism campaign, a newspaper reported.Desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess. It seems astounding to me that, given the power this man yields, that his best bullying tactic is...whining?
Musharraf, who is also army chief, is facing the biggest challenge to his authority since he took power in 1999, over a crisis he precipitated by suspending Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on March 9.
But his government backed off new powers to shut down broadcasters following widespread criticism of media curbs introduced since protests erupted over Chaudhry's suspension on misconduct accusations.
[...]"I bluntly say you always leave me alone in times of trial and tribulation," the paper, citing unidentified participants at the Wednesday meeting, quoted Musharraf as saying.
"I see the party nowhere. You people are not mobilized," he was quoted as telling ruling Pakistan Muslim League members.
Contrast that with the Bush administration, practitioners of the art of ruthless politics: "you're either with us, or with them" is not just a mantra for the Global "War" On Terror, you see, and it would be foolish to think otherwise.
In fact, one reason cited for the stunning Democratic victory in 2006 was the dilemma faced by moderate Republicans who were coerced into backing in lockstep the GOP agenda. You can't run from a vote, and as John Kerry's campaign proved, you can't even run from the "right" vote. Karl Rove's biggest blunder in this administration was not having the political savvy to realize that hegemonies of any stripe never last very long, and that his client would have been better served had he allowed even a modicum of dissent on issues that really didn't matter to the true base, like Terri Schiavo, like abortion, like gay marriage.
Like the Iraq invasion.
And yet, with his popularity in the toilet and the country literally turning its back on him and the page on his administration, Bush isn't whining.
He's certainly not whining about the Republican party, despite the fact that they are defecting (including their voting base) in droves now, and choosing their next poison for 2008.
Perhaps that's a benefit of a democracy just starting to decline, as opposed to a democracy in shadows already. Knowing we have at least the sham of free elections ahead of us next year, it likely makes office holders on their way out resigned to the facts on the ground, rather than making them more desperate to tighten their grip on power.
I was watching the Stanley Cup finals last night...good on you, Ducks...and as the game wound down, Mike Emrick started to talk about the feelings of players on both sides, and how do you get yourself up to playing out the last several minutes of the biggest game of your season, if not your life, knowing you've already lost?
I guess you try to find something you can build on next season, or salvage some dignity, if there is no next season for you.
Bush is trying to salvage some dignity, which is kind of like watching a small puppy try to drag a car with its teeth. His desperate attempts to form coalitions with Democrats to enact mealymouthed legislation so that his entire legacy isn't "Iraq, Iraq, and Iraq" is cute.
Musharraf is trying to find some moral victory, even if the game doesn't appear to be lost. He gambled on the US despite a large Islamic population, assisted us without assisting us, and pissed both sides off.
And that's just sad for him.