Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has been weakened by the protests that hit the streets of Pakistan after his controversial sacking of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, but he can still manage to remain in power, the New York Times has reported.
The daily states that the demonstrations against Musharraf’s decision to sack Chaudhry has brought together all opposition political parties against him, but will soon 'fade' out.
A Western diplomat, was quoted, as saying, "The issue will fade out. However this plays out, Musharraf comes out weaker than he has been, but not as weak as for his government to collapse".
A weak Musharraf now has to depend on his political opponents for support as the legal dispute is principally over the constitutionality of the President holding the office of Army Chief, the report states.
In 2003, the Pakistan National Assembly gave General Musharraf the freedom to hold both offices, but this power would come to an end with his term expiring in October 2007.
Musharraf has not said whether he would continue wearing Army Chief’s uniform, and has only declared that he would hold elections this year.
According to former Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar, the sacking of Justice Chaudhry is not the sole reason for the growing protests against the incumbent regime. The discontent has been growing with the “gradual erosion of independent Government institutions”.
"Decent people are not coming forward to say a word in favour of the Government," Sattar told the daily, adding the public outcry after Justice Chaudhry’s suspension stemmed from accumulated grievances, on everything from corruption in government to the entrenchment of the Army in civilian affairs to the "general legitimacy of the government".
Former foreign secretary Shamshad Ahmad in a "stinging" newspaper opinion said, "Either the President is totally cut off from the world of reality or he has deliberately chosen to close his eyes".