This morning’s newspapers bring more news that Pervez Musharraf’s days as president of Pakistan are numbered. Even as the retired general is gallivanting around Europe, meeting with other movers and shakers at Davos, his base of support among the Pakistani military is crumbling. According to news accounts such as this one, more than 100 senior retired military officers have called on Musharraf to resign. It’s not hard to see why: The military sees that Musharraf’s credibility is shot, and they do not want him to tar the entire institution.
As the Musharraf regime teeters on the edge of collapse and Islamic extremists continue their reign of terror, the Bush administration’s Pakistan policy, which was closely tied to the general, lies in tatters. Pakistan is fast emerging, if it has not already, as the most critical battleground in the Global War on Terror, or whatever we’re calling it these days. Thus it is good to read that the U.S. is planning to offer more assistance to the Pakistani armed forces and perhaps even send more Special Operations forces to hunt down the terrorists.
But sending commandos and military aid is seldom enough to quell a growing insurgency of the kind that Pakistan faces. A prerequisite for success is a legitimate government that can mobilize the people against the terrorists. That is what Pakistan lacks at the moment, and will lack as long as Musharraf continues to cling to power. It is high time the Bush administration realized that, and pushed its pal out the door.