Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced his resignation on Monday, 10 days after leaders of the two-party ruling coalition demanded his impeachment. Musharraf’s departure marks the end of a long relationship with the U.S., which has sent Pakistan more than $10 billion in aid since Musharraf became one of the first Muslim leaders to pledge support for the war on terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. (The Washington Post)
What the commentators said
“Musharraf was ineffectual, corrupt, duplicitous, and brutal,” said Robert Spencer in Jihad Watch. But his departure only boosts the stock of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who has advocated imposing Islamic sharia law. So the leadership that follows Musharraf could be “even worse—which is, of course, the stated reason why the U.S. stayed in his corner for so long.“
It certainly wasn’t because he delivered on his promise to stamp out terrorism, said Jane Perlez in The New York Times. Musharraf ended Pakistan’s support for the Taliban in Afghanistan after 9/11, but he never got his intelligence service to sever its ties. Now the Taliban are making a comeback in Afghanistan, and are sheltering al Qaida in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
The U.S. will have to wait and see who replaces Musharraf, said Richard Fernandez in Pajamas Media's Belmont Club blog, to know what his departure will mean. One school of thought expects the opposition coalition of Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, to fall apart now that their common enemy is gone; another assumes that Pakistan’s military will fill the void. “The West will simply have to wait to see what turns up.”
The ruling coalition is certainly in for a test, said Kamran Rehmat in Al Jazeera online. The election of a new president and the reinstatement of judges deposed by Musharraf can move the country forward or pull it apart. If the two parties in the coalition can’t hold things together, “the end of Musharraf's rule may signal the beginning of real political drama.”