So, things are continuing to develop in Pakistan, with Musharraf set to resign from his military post in order to pacify calls for Democracy and openness in his country. These calls are increasing, however, with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif re-returning from exile over the weekend. He filed for the upcoming elections, and like fellow PM Benazir Bhutto, he has criticized Musharraf and encouraged anti-government protests. Many in the US and the west in general have been critical of Musharraf and sympathetic towards both ex-PMs.
Now, certainly Musharraf has reacted harshly, but it appears that he is slowly releasing bits of control, and is moving in the right direction. However, his opponents played the media well, and Musharraf got painted, unfairly, as a ruthless dictator.
First, it's important to look at his critics - Bhutto's reign as PM was riddled with corruption charges and various accusations, so much so that she was forced into self-exile. Sharif was no better, with charges of corruption and ties to terrorism, his second term ended with a military coup and his arrest.
Now, all of a sudden, the two are back, seeing Musharraf's uneasy situation as a golden opportunity to grab power for themselves. They are not just calling for political dissent, but for revolt against the government. Is healthy Democracy their real goal, or are they just being self-serving and opportunistic? Add in the fact that Musharraf was re-elected by parliament, and the opposition parties withdrew from the vote to try to undermine it's validity. Basically, opposition forces don't have the votes to force Musharraf from office, so they are resorting to other means.
Under Musharraf's rule Pakistan has improved in terms of government corruption, has improved its economy and its relations with India. Add that to the fact that Musharraf has been the first Pakistani Prime Minister who has been willing to combat terrorism, and it is clear that it is not only in America's best interests, but in Pakistan's best interests that he remain in power, and that opposition leaders run for office, instead of encouraging anti-government revolts. Bhutto and Sharif are power-hungry, and have their own interests at mind instead of those of their country. American politicians and the Bush Administration should continue to urge Musharraf to loosen restrictions on free speech, but publicly they need to move past the pictures the media has painted and deal with the real situation.