MUSHARRAF WATCH….The latest from Pakistan:
Hundreds of riot policemen blocked the opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and her supporters from setting out today on a planned march from Lahore across 160 miles of Punjab Province to the capital, Islamabad.
Ms. Bhutto, barricaded in her home here, called for the resignation of Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, in a telephone interview with CNN this morning. She told a group of reporters by telephone that her political party, which usually commands about one-third of the popular vote, will probably boycott the parliamentary elections planned for January, The Associated Press reported.
Obviously Musharraf is safe as long as has the support of the Army, but it looks like it’s pretty much time to start the countdown clock on that. I’ll be surprised if Musharraf is still in power by the end of the year.
UPDATE: Over at Global Affairs, Manan Ahmed writes that “The tide seems to be receding” and asks, “Is it over?”
It is, if you conceive of it as an instant reaction to an authoritarian step — a flash of anger and frustration that is slowly simmering back down. It is, if you believe that the lawyers and the students represent rather insulated factions of the overall society who do not effect life in a significant enough manner for “ordinary Pakistanis”.
….Yet, I do not believe that these are KwiK E Protests that will just go away. Think back to the amazing crowds — hundreds of thousands — that mobilized for the Chief Justice. Think also of those reports about the unpopularity of Musharraf, the fall from grace of the Pakistan Army, the growing discontent about the state of affairs in Pakistan. None of that has changed. None of those miseries have gone away. The Baluchistan crisis is now the Swat and Baluchistan crisis. The Islamists have not disappeared.
These nascent protests will not go away. In fact, they have awakened a new segment of the civil society against The General. A fact that is abundantly clear to those inside.