The Pakistani Political Drama Continues: US in Tough Spot

Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif have finally decided to temporarily bury the hatchet and go after their common enemy, President Musharraf. After few attempts on his life and playing a cat and mouse game with the terrorists (for several years) while simultaneously keep the democratic process at bay, Pakistan’s magic man Musharraf enters a new seemingly challenging phase in his political life. This time like many other times in the past seems like the end of the road for him.

Will he survive? Will he take a golden parachute and move to his house in Florida (rumor has it that he owns a cool house in Florida) or will the Sheikhs in Saudi Arabia swap Nawaz Sharif’s apartment to host Musharraf? Will he pull a fast one and check mate his rivals? Will he escalate violence in Kashmir as a temporary distraction? Will Bush and co. fight hard to keep him around or will the abandon him when he most needs them and indulge in tough talk after the fact (a la Georgia)? What role with General Ashfaq Kiyani play in all this?

Getting rid of Musharraf will end army involvement in Pakistani politics at least for the moment. As a result it will raise a semblance of hope for a truly democratic government. However, the reality is that there seems to be little hope of any stability whatsoever post-Musharraf. The current government could fall any day. It is only a matter of time before Nawaz Sharief does the needful to bring down the Zardari government though at the moment he seems more focused on revenge against his arch enemy President Musharraf.

While it is impossible to have sympathy of any sort for someone who has been a dictator (with the blessings of the west), it is very much a scary thought to have a nuclear power with an unstable democratic government and terrorists champing at the bit. Under the circumstances the US finds itself in an enviable predicament (after spending billions over the years) of having to dump Musharraf but with no reliable, committed allies at the helm of the current government as backup.

p.s: There is plenty of uncertainty ahead. The cast and characters are lined up. There is suspense and melodrama ahead. Who are the winners and losers ahead? Right now, anything is possible. Its only a matter of time. The recent independence day celebrations were more like an annoying item number to temporarily stall the action sequences. The current state of Pakistan is like the interval phase in a Bollywood film.

Author: Pran Kurup

Pran Kurup is founder and CEO of Vitalect, Inc.

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