‘Musharraf will be gone in days’

‘Musharraf will be gone in days’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, August 14, 2008

The Pakistani president is likely to quit soon. But don’t expect democracy to rush in: the military’s habits die hard

There is never a dull moment in Pakistan. As the country moved from a moth-eaten dictatorship to a moth-eaten democracy the celebrations were muted. Many citizens wondered whether the change represented a forward movement.

Five months later, the moral climate has deteriorated still further. All the ideals embraced by the hopeful youth and the poor of the country—political morality, legality, civic virtue, food subsidies, freedom and equality of opportunity—once again lie at their feet, broken and scattered. The widower Bhutto and his men are extremely unpopular. The worm-eaten tongues of chameleon politicians and resurrected civil servants are on daily display. Removing Musharraf, who is even more unpopular, might win the politicians badly-needed popular support, but not for long.

As the country celebrated its 61st birthday today, its official president, ex-General Pervez Musharraf, was not allowed to take the salute at the official parade marking the event, while state television discussed plans to impeach him. Within a few days at most, Musharraf will resign and leave the country. Pakistan’s venal politicians decided to move against him after the army chief, Ashfaq Kayani, let it be known that there would be no military action to defend his former boss. read more