Musharraf Nearing His Last Days As Dictator?
I believe that Pervez Musharraf may be entering his last days as Dictator of Pakistan. His actions over the past few years have awakened a genuine Democratic movement in the Country. Today's deportation of Nawaz Sharif is just the latest in a long list of moves by Musharraf that have been unpopular with ordinary Pakistani's and seem to run contrary to basic Democratic principles. Also see Report from Bloomberg. This is bad timing for Musharraf, because people were already getting tired of him, even without Nawaz Sharif in the picture. He also has his hands full with Muslim radicals who want to see him gone for other reasons.
Now Benazir Bhutto says that she will return to challenge Musharraf... and she may get the same greeting that the other former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif received when he arrived. She will likely be detained as well. This will only turn more people against Musharraf and will further weaken his grip on power.
Musharraf is feeling pressure from 3 different sides at the moment:
1). The radical Muslims who are against his crackdown of Taliban and Al Qaeda elements in the Country.
2). From the U.S. which wants to see him do more to fight radical elements in his Country, but also wants to see him remain as dictator because he is convenient for them (so they think). It would seem like a more sensible approach for the U.S. to support Democracy in Pakistan and to support elected leaders like Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, but the U.S. has decided to support stability instead... or what they think is stability.
3). From a strong and growing Democracy movement from ordinary Pakistani's who are tired of his dictatorship and who want to see a return of some semblance of freedom & Democracy in their country. Although Sharif and Bhutto are enemies, what Pakistani's are more concerned with is a return to a more Democratic system.
This Democracy movement is backed by the National Courts in Pakistan... and the stage appears to be set for another clash between Musharraf and the Supreme Court over the Sharif deportation.
It appears that Musharraf will try to do everything he can to see that at least two major leaders of the Democracy camp (Bhutto and Sharif) don't interfere with his rule over the country.
In the end, I believe it will come down to who the Army actually decides to support. This always seems to be the case in Pakistan since gaining their Independence. Whoever gets the support of the military will lead the Country. In this case, things will probably get to a point where the Army will have to choose between sticking with Musharraf, or supporting the groundswell of ordinary Pakistani's and returning the Country to some sort of Democratically elected civilian leadership.
I just find it ironic that the U.S. is supporting the Dictator...instead of Democracy. The Pakistani people are paying attention to the U.S. on this... in fact, the World is watching... and I know they see the hypocrisy. But it wouldn't be the first time that the U.S. supported Dictators over Democracy. The list of U.S. supported Dictators is long... including Saddam Hussein.