Bush Urges Pakistanis to Keep Musharraf

Pervez Musharraf may have come to power via a military coup, declared martial law, violated the constitution, and been an obstacle in the fight against al Qaeda but President Bush hopes the Pakistanis will let him continue to run their government.

Bush Urges Pakistanis to Keep Musharraf Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif told hundreds ofprotesters outside the deposed chief justice's house Thursday that President Pervez Musharraf's rule was The Bush administration is pressing the opposition leaders who defeated Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to allow the former general to retain his position, a move that Western diplomats and

U.S. officials, from President Bush on down, said this week that they think Musharraf, a longtime U.S. ally, should continue to play a role, despite his party’s rout in parliamentary elections Monday and his unpopularity in the volatile, nuclear-armed nation.

The U.S. is urging the Pakistani political leaders who won the elections to form a new government quickly and not press to reinstate the judges whom Musharraf ousted last year, Western diplomats and U.S. officials said Wednesday. If reinstated, the jurists likely would try to remove Musharraf from office.

Bush’s policy of hanging on to Musharraf has caused friction between the White House and the State Department, with some career diplomats and other specialists arguing that the administration is trying to buck the political tides in Pakistan , U.S. officials said.

Officials in the White House and the intelligence community fear that the longer Pakistan remains without a new government, the deeper the gridlock, threatening the progress made in the elections toward greater stability and helping the country’s Islamic extremists.

One Western diplomat said, however, that the strategy could backfire if Pakistanis feel betrayed after voting to kick Musharraf from office. “This is dangerous,” said the diplomat.

No joke.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    Maybe he’s floating an idea to stay in office past 2009.

  2. Steve Plunk says:

    There’s a lot to be said for stability and measured change in a volatile country like Pakistan. I see nothing wrong with counseling caution and patience.

  3. cian says:

    I don’t know Steve, the developing politics of the situation would suggest the US starts looking for the new Musharraf and nail down whatever commitments can be made in relation to the continuing existence of Al Qaeda along their borders. Whether you consider Musharraf has been a friend to us or not, it looks like his time is up.

  4. Jim Henley says:

    If “freedom” means anything, surely it means the freedom of American officials to tell Pakistanis who have won elections which dictator they should keep obeying.

  5. Steven Donegal says:

    The Washington Post ran a story yesterday to the effect that Bush would spend his last year in office focusing on foreign affairs. All I could think was “God help us.”

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    The Devil you know.

  7. anjin-san says:

    Freedom is on the march!

  8. legion says:

    Wow – each time I think I’ve seen a new low in conservative hypocrisy, they find another rock to dig under. Just as in Iraq, democracy’s fine – as long as you elect the people we would have put in power over you anyway. There really is no significant difference between these thugs and the old Soviet Communists.

    To run with cian’s train of thought, a significant chunk of Pakistan’s (and the entire region’s) instability can be directly traced to Musharraf’s weakness and corruption – keeping him in power is pretty much guaranteed to maintain the status quo of a resurgent Taliban and never seriously looking for OBL & AQ. But Bush is too stupid, short-sighted, and insulated from reality to grasp this.

  9. grampagravy says:

    Bush and company think election results are just “suggestions.” There are no surprises in this story.

  10. Aaron says:

    One Western diplomat said, however, that the strategy could backfire if Pakistanis feel betrayed after voting to kick Musharraf from office. “This is dangerous,” said the diplomat.

    I would hope that most Western countries hire a better class of diplomat than this, someone smart enough to notice that Musharraf’s presidency wasn’t on the ballot.

  11. John Burgess says:

    What Aaron said: Musharraf wasn’t running for re-election. It’s like Bush stepping down on Nov. 5 become somebody won the election on Nov. 4.

    That some Pakistanis believe that the vote kicked Musharraf out of office only shows that some Pakistanis don’t understand their own political system very well.

  12. grampagravy says:

    The election in Pakistan was very much about removing Musharraf, and if the new government doesn’t do it there will be hell to pay in Pakistan.

  13. Paul says:

    George Bush may have come to power via a coup, declared martial law, violated the constitution, and been an obstacle in the fight against al Qaeda, but in November Musharraf will urge the USA to keep Bush and jettison President-elect Obama.

    No joke.

    I guess Bush sees something he likes.