Pakistan’s Supreme Court, packed with allies of President Pervez Musharraf, dismissed most of the challenges to Musharraf’s re-election Monday. Musharraf has promised to resign as army chief once his election is confirmed. He also promised to hold parliamentary elections in January, although opposition leaders said the voting wouldn’t be fair unless he lifted emergency rule. (The New York Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
Musharraf has to go if Pakistan is to be saved, said The Washington Post in an editorial (free registration). Every big step he has taken recently “has been aimed at preserving his hold on power, at the expense of his country.” The Bush administration should realize that its best interest lies in siding with democratic forces in Pakistan, not in propping up a ruler the people don’t want.
The U.S. tried serving as “a marriage broker” between Musharraf and the opposition, said H.D.S. Greenway in The Boston Globe (free registration), but that was “spectacularly unsuccessful.” The U.S. got Musharraf to drop corruption charges against opposition politician Benazir Bhutto so she could return from exile. Musharraf promptly put his “bartered bride” under house arrest, making a “failed prime minister” look like a hero of democracy.
Now Washington is gambling on a new policy, said The Dallas Morning News in an editorial. The U.S. military is going to try to enlist “religiously conservative tribesmen” in northern Pakistan to fight Taliban and al Qaida fighters near the Afghan border. The strategy worked in Iraq, where Sunni tribesmen have helped fight al Qaida, but “adding guns to an already volatile mix is a risky way to pull Pakistan back from the brink.”