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'Musharraf becoming increasingly powerless'

The president is rapidly becoming powerless, ridden by internal Pakistani politics, external pressure by the US, a report says.

india Updated: Oct 10, 2006 17:13 IST

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is rapidly becoming powerless, ridden by internal Pakistani politics, external pressure by the US, and the perilous state of his own hold on power, a report has said.

Pakistan too, is sliding toward religious extremism and potential rebellion, said an article in the American Thinker.

Musharraf is currently facing enormous danger, and it could be gauged by several recent developments in Pakistan, which have pushed Musharraf into a corner where all he can really do is play for time.

"With his own life in constant danger from half a dozen different sources and with his need to satisfy both domestic factions as well as the US, Musharraf has been attempting to juggle an anti-terrorist and pro-terrorist policy that has only served to please no one and make his own situation dicey indeed," said the article extensively quoted by the Daily Times.

It added: "Simply put, Musharraf has promised too much to both the US and the Taliban and is unable to satisfy either side."

Citing several instances how Musharraf was being overwhelmed by events and circumstances, the article said that the conservative political parties were gaining power, ISI was exercising constant interference and independence, and, in Balochistan, separatists had resumed their 50-year-old rebellion against the central government.

"On top of all this, his power base in the army must be tended while fending off calls for him to step down next year in time for elections.

Those elections could legitimise extremists in sympathy to both the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

The people of Pakistan are extremely angry at Musharraf for his equations with Washington, and they may, if given the opportunity, raise up anti-Western leaders who would make Pakistan a Taliban ally rather than a country on the front line in the war on terror."

The article further said that in order to deal with all of this, Musharraf had chosen to give in to pressures placed on him by external forces, while trying to keep some of the internal factions from uniting against him.

"His policies - sometimes wildly contradictory - reflect the realities of a nation being buffeted by militant extremism and a desire among its intelligentsia for modernity," it added.

"Alliances with conservative parties have proven to be problematic. When the United States requested that he close some of the more radical madrassas where anti-western hate is regularly preached, Musharraf tried to oblige but was ultimately blocked by those same religious parties who supported him in Parliament.

According to the American Thinker, those madrassas are being used by the Taliban to radicalise their fighters before sending them off to fight in Afghanistan," added the article.

It concluded by saying: "In this way, Musharraf is almost like an American tar baby. The US is stuck with him for as long as he can survive. How long that will be, depends on Musharraf's knack for avoiding the assassins blade and his complex political manoeuvrings.

Because, like it or not, Musharraf is still the best ally America has in the war on terror.

And, he will remain so as long as he can continue to juggle the clashing interests and competing factions that threaten to bring him down at any time.

First Published: Oct 10, 2006 14:30 IST