'Pakistan election result will decide Musharraf's fate'

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Washington, Feb 20 : Though the people of Pakistan had voted for the formation of new parliament during the February 18 elections, its results will decide the fate of their President Pervez Musharraf, according to Husain Haqqani, professor of international relations at Boston University.

The results of the general elections only reveal that the people have voted overwhelmingly against Musharraf.

"Even though the election was held under rules that favoured his political allies, almost every candidate who served in his government lost. So did all major leaders of the Kings Party that Musharraf cobbled together with the help of his security services soon after taking power in a 1999 military coup," Haqqani wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

Haqqani argues that the defeat of religious parties who Musharraf used as bogeymen to garner Western support is good news "for everyone worried about an Islamist takeover of the world's only nuclear-armed, Muslim-majority nation."

According to the professor, the election results can be considered as a posthumous victory for ex-premier Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated on December 27 in Rawalpindi.

Pakistan Army that is being led by General Ashfaq Kiyani has begun distancing itself from politics.

"The army's refusal to side with Musharraf's political allies sealed their fate. Now, the army must help put Pakistan back on the constitutional path by undoing the arbitrary constitutional amendments decreed by Musharraf as army chief," Haqqani wrote.

Haqqani, who is co-chair of the Hudson Institute's Project on Islam and Democracy, feels that could try and create rifts between the various opposition parties by negotiating separately with them, and could even use intelligence services to bribe or blackmail individual politicians.

"This might be the moment for Musharraf's Western backers to help him understand that annulment or alteration of the election results would plunge Pakistan deeper into chaos," he wrote.

Haqqani who is the author of the Carnegie Endowment book, "Pakistan Between Mosque and Military" (2005), and served as an adviser to former prime ministers, including Benazir writes that even if Musharraf remains to be the president, he would "no longer remain the most powerful man in Pakistan."

"He (Musharraf) has said in the past that he would rather step down than face the ignominy of being impeached by the newly elected parliament, which is now possible. The opposition would be well advised to exercise restraint," he pointed out.

Haqqani also asked Musharraf to accept the consequence of defeat, and "work out an honourable exit or a workable compromise with the opposition."

ANI

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