Asif Zardari holds the cards

The most powerful man in the country today appears to be Asif Ali Zardari. To all intents and purposes, his actions during the coming days will determine the future course of Pakistan. If he bends to Bush’s pressure and fails to remove Musharraf, the country is headed for troubled times (by the way, George Bush may now be the only friend of Musharraf in the West). But if he restores the judiciary, and Musharraf leaves, people will heave a sigh of relief. Today’s bullish performance of the Karachi Stock Exchange gives an indication of things to come.

If there’s one segment of the population which wants Musharraf and the old order to stay, it’s the businessmen and industrialists. They feel that the PPP, the MQM and the Q-League will form a coalition government, and things will continue as they were before (more privatization and corruption, more stock exchange and property scams, etc.). But if Zardari follows the path of least resistance (perhaps to save himself from the corruption charges still pending against him), he will lose the support of his party, which will be in danger of splitting.

Let’s hope he acts in a statesman-like manner and takes the best course for the country’s future.


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