Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pakistani voters reject Musharraf —and U.S. policies

It looks like Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf may be on his way out, following elections held in that country yesterday. Although finals votes have not been counted, there did not appear to be any tampering or intimidation by the ruling party, as had been feared by many. From the New York Times:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistanis dealt a crushing defeat to President Pervez Musharraf in parliamentary elections on Monday, in what government and opposition politicians said was a firm rejection of his policies since 2001 and those of his close ally, the United States.

Almost all the leading figures in the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, the party that has governed for the last five years under Mr. Musharraf, lost their seats, including the leader of the party, the former speaker of Parliament and six ministers.

Official results are expected Tuesday, but early returns indicated that the vote would usher in a prime minister from one of the opposition parties, and opened the prospect of a Parliament that would move to undo many of Mr. Musharraf’s policies and that may even try to remove him.
In parliamentary elections, of course, voters vote for the party rather than the candidate. So in theory, Musharraf could decide to try to hold onto the presidency even if his party is not in the majority. However, most observers believe he knows that would be a futile — perhaps even deadly — decision.
“Musharraf should be preparing a C-130 for Turkey,” Mr. Ahsan said, referring to Mr. Musharraf’s statements that he might retire to Turkey, where he spent part of his childhood.

Two politicians close to Mr. Musharraf have said in the past week that the president was well aware of the drift in the country against him and they suggested that he would not remain in office if the new government was in direct opposition to him. “He does not have the fire in the belly for another fight,” said one member of his party. He added that Mr. Musharraf was building a house for himself in Islamabad and would be ready soon to move.
Now, let's see how Dana Perino and the rest of the White House gang spin this one ....

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