Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Is Mushie Really Quitting the Army?

It's a firm he's worked for since 1964, the Pakistani Army. Like Zia before him, Musharraf rose to the top in his military and then took over the government to boot. Now, under intense pressure at home and from the US, the Pakistani President is about to resign his command - or so we're told.

What I can't figure out is just how a head of state, a nation's very commander in chief, can ever actually resign as commander of his military. After all, President Musharraf was supposed to be General Musharraf's boss, wasn't he?

Then there's the question of succession. The man Musharraf has appointed as his successor, General Ashfaq Kayani, a former chief of the country's powerful intelligence service, is expected to take charge tomorrow. Kayani headed the ISI, Pakistan's powerful Inter-Service Intelligence agency, a hotbed of Islamist radical power within the Pakistani military. It was this same outfit that literally created the Taliban. Couldn't Mushie have found some stooge from the artillery or maybe the catering service?

It might be unwise to read too much into Musharraf's change of wardrobe. Even if this is a step ahead for democracy in Pakistan, it's not a very big step.

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