Ever since 9/11, Gen. Musharraf's rule over Pakistan has put the U.S. in a bind, presenting us with the tradeoff between having a strong ruler at the helm of a volatile nuclear state with a sizable population of Islamists and supporting a military dictator. This news (via the Washington Post) will make it increasingly difficult for the U.S. to justify its support for Musharraf, especially given the Bush administration's interest in democracy promotion:
Police throughout the country raided the homes of opposition party leaders and activists, arresting at least 500. Top lawyers were also taken into custody, and 70 activists were detained at the offices of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in the eastern city of Lahore. Police confiscated the equipment of journalists covering the raid and ordered them to leave the premises. All independent television news stations remained off the air for a second straight day. The prime minister, meanwhile, said that elections could be delayed for up to a year.
Condi Rice said
the U.S. will review the $150 million in monthly assistance we provide to Pakistan, but it seems to me that the administration will likely wait to see if this state of emergency rule lasts beyond a few weeks. Another piece of analysis
in the Post
looks at how Musharraf started the year off with high popularity with Pakistan, but the more actions he has taken to solidify his grip on power, starting with clashing with a judge over his refusal to give up his post as army chief, the more unpopular he has become, forcing him to take yet more extreme measures to tighten his grip on power.