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Who Dares Challenge Musharraf? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf was the first to fire the bullet of the latest multilateral, tiresome and perhaps losing battle.

Pakistan has become the most critical issue in the world today owing to the importance of the country and the serious complications of the event.

The question is: Can any country call the current Pakistani government to account even if it strongly disputes the actions of Musharraf?

The answer is definitely no, since Pakistan is the most important country in the game of political balances right now. And if Pakistan weakened, or was embroiled in chaos or a vacuum of governance then this would be tantamount to a victory for Iran. Such victory would undoubtedly be an ultimate victory. The international concern would focus on saving Pakistan instead of stopping Iran. There is also similar concern regarding the triumph of Al Qaeda which is said to be located on the borders of Pakistan and capable, in the light of chaos, to grow rapidly under the guardianship of border tribes.

This is why no concerned government, including the American government, could take the risk of angering whoever rules Pakistan regardless of his practices.

Some have justified Musharraf’s action as he resorted to declaring a state of emergency asserting that he had a conviction that chaos is inevitable with the upcoming elections and even after them.

They believe that if he won, the opposition would accuse him of rigging the elections and would take to the streets in confrontation. On the other hand, if he loses the elections and ultimately the presidency, then the opposition would aim at preventing him from returning to leading the army. If this happens, extremists will consider his defeat a victory for all moderate movements. Thus, and this is the opinion of Musharraf’s allies; there is no choice but to eliminate extremists before they begin attacking the regime. And so be it. Musharraf was keen to clarify this fact to all parties.

Even though the new “coup” of Musharraf had temporarily suspended the rise of fundamentalists and other extremists, the US government still denounced such action that is customary of it. It is unlikely that Washington would besiege or antagonize Musharraf’s regime by blocking aid or even reduce the level of cooperation with him. Therefore, the duty of all Pakistan’s friends is not to weaken Musharraf’s regime by boycotting it but rather support it by directing him to adopt political reform, not confrontation and embroilment in chaos. Everyone is looking forward to seeing a stable and prosperous Pakistan, just like its Indian neighbor. However, stability can never be sustained except in a clearly defined political system that respects the rules of circulation of power. And this is where today’s dilemma lies; how to support Musharraf given that when he is in power he stirs internal struggles that intensify chaos and if he is ousted from governance he might stir even more trouble.

It was expected that the General would lead the process of political reform in a peaceful manner, but this hope diminished when Musharraf declared a state of emergency. It is still hoped in this vast country of various trends that the presidency would be determined through the ballot and accordingly, a new future of rule in Pakistan would be set to put the country back on track once again.

Also, we are facing the dilemma of Musharraf; the country needs him yet it is in a predicament because of him. Pakistan is now placed between the rock that is a shattered internal political situation, and a hard place that is the surrounding perimeters resulting from Al Qaeda and Iran.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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