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Pakistan's new civilian president
Pervez Musharraf was sworn in for a second term as Pakistan's president a day after retiring as army chief. "Without his uniform," said The Washington Post, "Musharraf is unlikely to remain an autocratic ruler for long." To defeat the
W
hat happened
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was sworn in for a second term in office on Thursday, a day after he stepped down as army chief under heavy domestic and international pressure. He said he always intended to lead his country to democracy—but before removing his uniform he transferred the power to rescind emergency rule to the presidency. (The New York Times, free registration)

What the commentators said
“Without his uniform, Musharraf is unlikely to remain an autocratic ruler for long,” said The Washington Post in an editorial (free registration). So this is a positive step. But “if Pakistan's moderate center is to have a chance of defeating al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Musharraf will have to retire from public life.”

What happens next could be up to former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, said The New York Times in an editorial (free registration). Sharif needs to establish his “democratic credentials,” and Bhutto needs to “repair” hers after offering to share power with Musharraf. “Their next step should be joining forces to maximize opposition strength and help assure the dictatorship’s defeat.”

“Before speculating on who will win the elections,” said Kamal Siddiqi, editor of reporting at The News in Karachi, in The Boston Globe (free registration), we should worry about “whether they will be held at all.” Terrorist attacks are on the rise, the people aren’t happy about the state of emergency, and Musharraf’s government may become “shaky” soon. “Political events in Pakistan are moving fast, but one can only wonder whether they are going in the right direction.”

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