Balancing between the US and Pak fundamentalists proved fatal for Musharraf

August 18th, 2008 - 9:24 pm ICT by ANI  

Pervez Musharraf

Islamabad , Aug 18 (ANI): Walking the tightrope of keeping the Americans on his side and allowing the religious extremists to thrive in Pakistan proved to be fatal for Pervez Musharrafs.

The New York Times reported that after 9/11 Pakistan became one of the most crucial allies of Washington in its campaign against terrorism. But, Pakistan s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency never severed ties with the terror group the Taliban.

Musharraf began his tenure as President after grabbing power from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in October 1999 with a wave of support from a public weary of a decade of weak and corrupt civilian government.

He had promised to tackle longstanding problems, including the spread of madrassas, the religious schools that had become breeding grounds of Islamic extremists.

But the madrassas remained untouched, mainly because Musharraf handed the task to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which was opposed to the plan, according to Jehangir Tareen, a former minister of industries and special projects in the Musharraf cabinet.

Tareen said, One of his greatest shortcomings was his disdain of democratic methods, and civilian politicians.

In 2002, Musharraf ordered a referendum on his legitimacy as president in which no opposition candidates were permitted to stand and rallies by opposition political parties were banned.

After parliamentary elections six months later, Musharraf engineered political support from the Pakistan Muslim League-Q.

And when conservative religious parties swept the parliamentary elections in the North-West Frontier Province , Musharraf sought their support too.

Musharraf fired the Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in March 2007, when he was about to face elections, fearing that the judiciary might undermine his re-election.

But widespread support for Chaudhry from lawyers across the country turned into a vibrant anti-Musharraf campaign.

In November, Musharraf declared a state of emergency and fired 60 judges.

By the time he lifted the decree in December, he was seen as an unpopular dictator, and by then, his main political opponents, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, had returned to Pakistan to run in elections.

At the end of December Bhutto was assassinated, postponing elections that were scheduled for the beginning of January.

But Asif Ali Zardari, Bhuttos widower picked up the reins of the Pakistan Peoples Party, and in February elections, the two parties swept into power. They formed an uneasy coalition that left Musharrafs political party flailing for support.

Musharrafs failure to manage his double game between the Americans and the religious extremists may have proved to be his undoing. (ANI)

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