Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf has made a second coup. Over his eight years of military dictatorship, he had dressed his government up in the outward trappings of ‘democracy.’ He allowed (stage-managed) parliamentary elections in 2002. The same year, he ran for president in a referendum with no opponent, such that he could not lose.
The Supreme Court ruled against him in his attempt to dismiss the uncooperative chief justice, and the same court had been set to rule on whether he could remain as president (he was just reelected to the post by the stage-managed parliament he had helped install).
Musharraf appears to have concluded that the Supreme Court would rule against him, thus his coup-within-a-coup, which at last throws off the tattered facade of democratic institutions and reveals the naked military tyranny underneath. Pitifully, Musharraf explained that he had to make the coup in order to ensure the transition to democracy he says he began 8 years ago. Apparently the “transition” (i.e. Musharraf’s dictatorship) will last for the rest of his life.
The Bush administration had been attempting to get Musharraf to take off his uniform and cohabit as president with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who has been allowed back into the country. But all that it accomplished was to set the stage for a major confrontation between the civilian political parties and the military.
Keep your eye on Barnett Rubin’s blogging from Pakistan on this issue.
For background see my recent Salon.com piece on the collapse of Bush’s foreign policy toward the Middle East. And Sherle R. Schwenninger’s excellent essay in the Nation on Bush’s failed foreign policy.