Talking to myself about foreign policy, US politics, technology, &c.

Pakistani Democracy Not Quite Dead?

In Pakistan, President Musharraf also faces a threat diametrically opposed to that of Al Qaeda – the fact that the country is nominally a democracy.

Despite the parlous state of affairs there, the not-quite-elected president may have finally reached the outer limits of his authoritarian consolidation; after booting out the Chief Justice back in March, the Supreme Court said “um, no, you can’t do that” and reinstated him.

Months of protests have shown that there are still some folks out there concerned about this state of affairs. Musharraf could have upped the ante by preventing the Chief Justice from taking his seat or perhaps simply sacking the whole lot of them.

Oh, also, he may have to give up either the presidency or the leadership of the armed forces. Considering he only has the former because of the latter, it’s not a pleasant prospect.

Musharraf is a fascinating and rather sympathetic figure; he’s clearly a technocratic leader who isn’t doing a bad job for the economy, and has been a useful ally to the US. Pakistani friends tell me they really like him – too bad about the whole democracy thing, but he’s all right, they suggest.

Still, the threat of Islamists overrunning government ala Hamas seems unlikely given a real election, so I can’t see the Supreme Court’s moves as anything but a good thing.

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