Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pair of Pakistan Politics Posts!

Whilst we're on the Pakistan blogging, immense respect is due to the Pakistan Policy Blog. It looks like Nawaz Sharif is coming home - like football, remember that? - apparently because the Saudis insisted that he be released from exile in Jeddah. The PPB makes the very good point that Musharraf has been gradually mutating into Nawaz over the last few years; now, one of the reasons why the general doesn't want him back is that there is a niche for him, or the general, but not both.

To govern in Pakistan he needs the unqualified backing of one of the two big power blocs, Sindh or the Punjab, and the acceptance of the army, which is mainly Punjabi. This was the plan, after all; Benazir would return and give the government some actual popular support and her powerbase in Sindh, and Musharraf would stay on in a suit to reassure the Punjabis and the army. Now it looks like she's coming, like it or not, and so is Nawaz Sharif; in which case, if she can bring herself to treat with him, nobody needs Musharraf any more.

As far as I can make out, he's got himself into this position entirely of his own making; calling a state of emergency has just pissed off everyone, including his only non-military support, the Punjabi bourgeoisie - who of course have a ready-made replacement limbering up in Saudi. And there is nothing Pakistan needs less than either a) a US-armed tribal ex-Taliban movement or b) a powerful Saudi influence. But the defining factor of Musharraf's career is his Napoleon complex.

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