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a democratic dictator? « Previous | |Next »
August 19, 2008

So domestic and international pressure has finally compelled Pervez Musharraf to quit as President of Pakistan, nine years after he took power in a military coup. Though Musharraf leaves Pakistan in the hands of the same politicians that he had repeatedly denounced he had no choice. It was quit or be impeached once once both the army and the US refused to back his bid to stay in power.


Musharraf made his country a key player in the "war on terror" and made himself an indispensable component of the US's policies in the region after Pakistan abandoned its traditional Taliban allies in Afghanistan, thereby paving the way for their ouster from power in the US-led invasion of 2001. If Musharraf's exit was a part of the American game plan, then the question is whether his successor in post-Musharraf Pakistan will be any better in balancing these US needs with Pakistan's own interests.

Afghan officials have openly accused sections of Pakistan's military of backing the Taliban in Afghanistan. Nato appears to be losing the ground war in Afghanistan, where it is struggling to beat the Taliban, an irregular guerrilla force armed with hand-held rockets and rifles. Nato is losing because conventional troop formations supported by heavily armed aircraft cannot easily defeat insurgents who resort to roadside mines and suicide bombers and who have the support – willingly or not – of the local population.

There is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. What is needed is an effective international civil reconstruction and aid programme to persuade Afghans there is something better than being ruled by the Taliban. That hasn't happened and the Taliban have closed in on Kabul to such an extent that it is now dangerous for troops, aid workers and civilians to travel on the routes to the south, east and west of the capital city. Presumably the Taliban aim to cut off supply routes to Kabul.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:25 PM |