A recent New York Times article, aptly titled ‘One Bullet away from what?“, cited worries of US administration in dealing with Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan.
The US officials are of opinion that Islamic elements consists only of a fraction of national vote bank. Having secured 11% votes in 2002 elections (and expected to get much less than that in up coming elections) they are not a big threat in reality and that if General Musharraf were removed, a doomsday scenario would not necessarily follow.
Also, a faction of US administration believes that Musharraf is using the terrorism cover to bring in more US Aid (in terms of money and hardware) to Pakistan.
In case something happens to Musharraf and there are no elections, another general might step in. As per succession plans, the vice chief of the army, Gen. Ahsan Saleem Hyat, would take over as the leader of the army and Mohammed Mian Soomro, an ex-banker and Chairman Senate, would become president.
General Hyat, who is secular like Mr. Musharraf, would hold the real power. But it is unclear whether General Hyat would be as adept as Mr. Musharraf at keeping various interest groups within the military in line.
As The Australian puts it:
The report could be an attempt by Washington to pressure General Musharraf to take stronger action against militants in Pakistan’s border areas near Afghanistan, where the Taliban and al-Qa’ida are operating. But it might also indicate the President’s allies in Washington are about to pull the rug from under him.
The report came at a time when Pakistani media is vibrant with the events in wake of Justice Iftikhar Choudhry’s dismissal. Also, US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher has arrived in Pakistan from Afghanistan. This is his second visit in two months.