Analysis: Musharraf's Faltering Grip
Council on Foreign Relations
March 27, 2007
Prepared by: Carin Zissis
A few weeks after Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf suspended Iftikar Chaudhry, Pakistan’s chief justice, demonstrations boil on around the country. Protesters accuse the president of violating the constitution (al-Jazeera) in order to silence the judge who questioned his authority, though Gen. Musharraf denies (Rediff) the claims, saying “there is a conspiracy against me”. At the same time, the Supreme Court demanded (Reuters) the government provide information about some four hundred people who’ve vanished into police custody since Pakistan allied itself with the United States in 2001. CFR Fellow Manjeet Kripalani discusses Pakistan’s domestic unrest in this new podcast.
While protests related to the judicial crisis continue across Pakistan, Gen. Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 bloodless coup, also finds himself under increasing U.S. pressure to resolve growing extremism in the country’s semi-autonomous tribal areas near Afghanistan. In February, Vice President Cheney dropped by to warn Musharraf he risks cuts by Democratic Congress to the $300 million in military aid proposed by the Bush administration if his forces fail to control militants seeking haven within Pakistan’s borders.
Despite the warning, Musharraf’s government recently entered a controversial agreement (AP) with the tribal area of Bajaur whose leaders pledged not to shelter foreign militants. Critics decried two previous deals in North and South Waziristan as tantamount to surrender because they were made with Taliban leaders. Zahid Hussain, a senior editor for Pakistan’s Newsline, says the initial North Waziristan deal of 2005 “relieved the pressure on the army, and so, on Musharraf” while empowering local Taliban leaders. In a Weekly Standard article about al-Qaeda’s presence in the tribal lands, journalist Bill Roggio calls the Bajaur agreement “another pact with the devil.”
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