BB’s make-or-break choice

Linked with Praful Bidwai – India.

Published on Khaleej Times Online, by PRAFUL BIDWAI, 22 August 2007.

ALL those who value freedom must feel relieved that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf chose not to declare a state of emergency, which would have allowed him to postpone assembly and presidential elections, due soon. He even seems to be undertaking sobering introspection — to the point of admitting that his popularity ratings have declined and accepting part of the blame for dismissing Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Yet, Musharraf’s decision didn’t spring from some new-found respect for democracy. He blinked because there was pressure from the United States, exercised through threats and a 17-minute long 2 a.m. telephone call by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Secondly, Musharraf probably didn’t want to risk further inflaming popular opinion against the army. Another eruption of public protest would have robbed his regime of whatever’s left of its legitimacy. A just-released Indian Express-CNN-IBN-CSDS-Dawn-News survey says 55.4 per cent of Pakistanis want him to quit as army chief before the presidential elections; only 29.6 per cent don’t … (full text).

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