What happened
Opposition leaders in Pakistan boycotted a meeting on preparations for parliamentary elections, but President Pervez Musharraf refused to restore the constitution despite complaints that the voting wouldn’t be fair under emergency rule. (Bloomberg)

What the commentators said
The U.S. will soon have to choose between Musharraf and the opposition, said Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune. Backing Musharraf could “push more Pakistanis to extremism” if he keeps “treating moderate opposition as criminal.” The trouble is, replacing him with another “incompetent, corrupt and unsustainable” civilian government would do the same thing.

Everyone seems to think the only way to keep Pakistan from collapsing is to pick wisely between Musharraf and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, said Salman Ahmad in The Washington Post (free registration). But “Pakistan's future lies with neither of these ‘leaders.’ The key to moving forward lies” in supporting “the Pakistani judges, lawyers, journalists and rights activists fighting for the rule of law.”

As Pakistan “totters,” said Frederick W. Kagan and Michael O’Hanlon in The New York Times (free registration), one thing is certain. The U.S. can’t let “a nuclear-armed Pakistan descend into the abyss.” Like it or not, “we need to think—now—about our feasible military options in Pakistan, should it really come to that.”