The sooner Mush retires from public life, the quicker the prevailing crisis will end

November 29th, 2007 - 4:05 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov 29 (ANI): Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has stepped down as chief of the army, but the prevailing political crisis will continue to remain in the country until the retired general gives up the President’s office, according to the Washington Post.

The daily said in its editorial today that Pakistan took an important step towards ending its political crisis when Musharraf shed his military uniform yesterday as the army chief the position from which he staged his 1999 coup against a democratically elected government and from which he imposed de facto martial law this month yet he clings to office.

The army is Pakistan’s most powerful institution, and without his uniform, Mr. Musharraf is unlikely to remain an autocratic ruler for long, the Post said, adding: Until Mr. Musharraf can be induced to give up those powers, and the president’s office, the forces that should be fighting Islamic extremism in Pakistan instead will continue to war with each other.

Pointing out that Musharraf won the support of US President George W Bush six years ago by portraying himself as a leader capable of uniting Pakistan against al-Qaeda and the Taliban while building secular democratic institutions, the paper said, Now he has become the primary obstacle to both causes.

His crackdown on the country’s judiciary, news media, human rights advocates and centrist political parties has turned them, along with most of Pakistan’s population, irrevocably against him.

It went on to say that Musharraf’s assumption of a new term as President is a gross insult to those groups and institutions, because he acquired the mandate by staging an improper election, then fired the judges of the Supreme Court before they could rule on its legality.

Musharraf tearfully retired from the army after being pressed to do so by Bush, the editorial said, adding that he allowed the leaders of the two largest political parties (Benazir and Sharif) to return home from exile at the urging of the United States.

To his credit, Mr. Bush has also called on Mr. Musharraf to lift martial law and allow the parliamentary elections scheduled for January to be free and fair. Free elections would, at least, force Mr. Musharraf to share power with a civilian Prime Minister as well as with the new army commander, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, it added.

Underlining that the Bush administration nevertheless retains a residual and counterproductive attachment to the fading strongman and that last week Bush said that Musharraf “hasn’t crossed the line” and “truly is somebody who believes in democracy, the daily said: In fact, this month’s coup decisively demonstrated Mr. Musharraf’s contempt for democracy and pushed him across a line he cannot erase.

It concluded that even if Musharraf allows free elections, he will not cooperate with civilian leaders he despises or be cured of his autocratic impulses.

If Pakistan’s moderate centre is to have a chance of defeating al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Mr. Musharraf will have to retire from public life. The sooner he and Pakistan’s army get that message from Washington, the quicker the current crisis can be ended, said the Post. (ANI)

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