A leading Brussels-based think-tank has called for the resignation of Pervez Musharraf, saying that the Pakistani President is no longer, if he ever was, a factor for stability because he lacked domestic legitimacy.
"Following (Benazir) Bhutto's assassination, he has become even more a source of divisiveness. His departure would not violate the democratic process, because he is president only by having violated democratic norms," the International Crisis Group said.
Suicide attacks, political assassination and an expansion of terrorist and jihadi presence are all occurring under Musharraf’s rule, the ICG said in a hard-hitting report.
"There is no objective reason to anticipate that his departure would worsen the instability that already exists," the ICG said, pointing to Musharraf’s dubious record in Afghanistan.
The ICG went as far as to say that if Musharraf refuses to resign voluntarily, it is in the interest of the military establishment, his sole bastion of support, to distance itself from its former chief lest it, instead of him, become the target of public hostility.
"Particularly the US, which maintains close ties with it, should encourage the military leadership under General Ashfaq Kiani's command to protest its ability to serve Pakistan by persuading Musharraf to resign in the interest of national reconciliation," the ICG suggested.
"Instead of backing a deeply unpopular authoritarian ruler who is seen as complicit in the death of Pakistan's most popular politician, they must instead support democratic institutions and the people of Pakistan. It is time that the West acknowledges that only a legitimate elected government, led by one of the moderate parties, would have the authority and the popular backing to return Pakistan to its moderate democratic moorings," it added.