Weinbaum: On Eve of Reelection Musharraf Has Bought Some Time
Council on Foreign Relations
Interviewee: Marvin G. Weinbaum, Scholar–in–Residence, Middle East Institute
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor
October 3, 2007
Marvin G. Weinbaum, who served as an analyst on Pakistan and Afghanistan in the State Department from 1999 to 2003, says that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has gained political time to stay in power by agreeing to give up his post as head of the army if he is reelected president on October 6. He also says that Musharraf is strongly inclined to help the United States, but “the base reality is that whatever Musharraf’s sincerity, whatever his willingness to help the United States, certainly against al-Qaeda and less so with the Taliban, he doesn’t have the capacity to do that,” he says.
There’s a presidential election on Saturday in which President Pervez Musharraf is expected to be easily reelected. In advance the Musharraf government said on Tuesday that amnesty would be given to Benazir Bhutto, the exiled former prime minister, if she came back as she has indicated she would do on October 18. This follows weeks of contacts between the two sides. Today in London she denied she’d been offered amnesty. It’s a bit confusing since she heads the largest opposition party, the PPP, and she said the party is considering whether to pull out of parliament. Can you sort out this situation?
Both statements are correct. If the government has announced it is dropping charges against Bhutto and her husband, and at the same time she announces that there’s no deal, what she is in effect saying is that there’s no quid pro quo here that she’s willing to acknowledge. At this point it doesn’t serve her interest to do so.
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