Musharraf's Options Shrinking
July 20, 2007
The Pakistan Supreme Court's 10-3 decision to reinstate Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry is a major blow to Pakistan's beleaguered president, Pervez Musharraf. Coming on top of the violence that has occurred since the raid on Islamabad's Red Mosque, it leaves Musharraf and the army with shrinking political options as they struggle to reassert control and maintain internal security. Musharraf faces an unpleasant choice: either to undertake a period of authoritarian rule (he has said he won't) or to take his chances on an electoral process that has become much more uncertain for him. Neither path is a sure winner for him. The second, paradoxically, may improve the odds of Pakistan finding its feet, but only if it can be combined with a vigorous campaign to eliminate, or at least marginalize, the extremist threat. The United States needs to handle the situation with care but to push consistently for respect for Pakistan's legal system and constitution.